by Laurie-Ann Copple
“You Must Follow Me” – Laurie-Ann Zachar Copple, 2021
Growing in and through But God moments
My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA. I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.
During our last broadcast, we looked at principles on how to overcome. We learned that we win victory through focusing on God rather than circumstances. This means we focus on his power and his love for us. We must trust him even though it doesn’t make sense. We must be consistent and not stop. Remember Heidi Baker’s words that if we do not quit, we will win. This means that we must continue in pressing forward, one step at a time. We must also be obedient to how the Holy Spirit instructs us, directly and through scripture. At times it may be difficult, but in the end it is worth it. You also become stronger through the process. Don’t forget to worship, and replace fear with love. Keep grateful for all the little things, which keeps your focus on what God is doing. That way you can prepare for a coming season of joy. That’s actually the beginning of a winning streak, for you are no loser. You are a winner in Christ. Remember that. You are a son or a daughter in Christ.
Sons and daughters often go through seasons of intense kindness from God, even in difficulties. Tony and I call these the kindnesses of God – TKOG. Our life and ministry has been full of them ever since we prepared to come to South Africa. These included favour, open doors, opportunities, gifts, finances just when we needed them, and so much more. Then our lives took a different turn, and I became sick; first with HS, and then with breast cancer. Did this stop us? The cancer nearly did because of the decision of the travel insurance company to repatriate me, however we strongly believed I must stay in South Africa for the chemotherapy. It has been expensive, but we have been blessed with finances through friends, family, ministry partners, and windfalls just when we need to pay the bills. We needed to stay to wrap up our ministry, and also to reduce risks to my health.
This is our season of BUT Gods. A Biblical BUT God story is from Joseph, when he was sold as a slave by his brothers. His life dipped lower when he was stuck in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and seemed to be stuck there for a while. Then finally, he was remembered by the cup bearer who Joseph had interpreted a dream for two years earlier. His dream interpretation gifting was used to turn his life around. One moment he was in prison, the next, he was ministering to the Pharaoh, like he did to Pharaoh’s cup bearer. He was in prison BUT GOD turned his life around, and he became the prime minister of Egypt. He also remembered God’s purposes for his time as a slave and an inmate. It seemed the years were wasted, but they were not. Joseph helped and did good to his employer Potiphar, before his false accusation. Joseph helped in the prison, and he helped in Pharaoh’s palace. When he was reunited with his brothers – the same brothers who sold him into slavery, he in time revealed himself to them in a way that would save face. There was no retribution, but instead a loving explanation in private. Listen to Genesis 45:4-8. “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. 5 But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. 6 This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors.[a] 8 So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser[b] to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.” ‘But Gods’ always have a story and nearly always point to God’s faithfulness and goodness – as provider, healer and so much more.
Joyce Meyer also points to ‘But God’ moments. She gives examples like, “”I thought my family would never change, but God…” “My life was spiralling out of control, but God…” “There was a time I thought I’d messed everything up, but God…” [Joyce Meyer, “But God: When A Holy God intervenes” article, Christianpost.com, December 8, 2012 https://www.christianpost.com/news/but-god-when-a-holy-god-intervenes.html ] The Bible says that Satan comes only to kill, steal and destroy, BUT God came so we can enjoy our lives. Just read John 10:10, where Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” This But God moment is the one when God intervenes. Life may seem to go one way. Things may seem hopeless, but then all of a sudden a holy God intervenes and everything changes. Meyer shares that one of the main prayer requests she receives is for loved ones who don’t know God and they’re in some sort of trouble. When you know God and you see people living miserable lives and you can’t get through to them, it’s heartbreaking. But God can get through to them.” [Joyce Meyer, “But God: When A Holy God intervenes” article, Christianpost.com, December 8, 2012 https://www.christianpost.com/news/but-god-when-a-holy-god-intervenes.html ] Think of the apostle Paul. He sought to kill and torment Christians. He was on his way to Damascus to find some more to torment. But God suddenly showed up. Paul was knocked off his horse and blinded for days. Jesus encountered him and it changed his life completely. Meyer says that “after this experience, Paul got the truth about Jesus and ended up being mightily used by God to lead many people to Christ.” There are many other ‘But God’ scriptures that we seem to gloss over as we read them. Stop and take note when scripture says “But God.” The ultimate ‘But God’ was when Jesus was laid in the tomb after he was taken down from the cross. In Acts 13:29-30, it notes Jesus’ death and adds “But God raised him from the dead.” The apostle Paul uses But God when he shared in Romans 5. “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Paul also gives God the glory in 1 Corinthians 1:26-27. “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 BUT, GOD chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.”
Every time there is a BUT God, it shows a powerful, loving God who intervenes. It gives him glory. It shows that no one else could have orchestrated this turn-around. Here are some But God stories in the lives of people I know. One of our colleagues, Maggie, is an Iris missionary here with us in Western Cape. She came from a rough background, and having lost her mother, she began to lose her way in life. She became a rebel. But God reached into her life and turned her around. Instead of being a hard-hearted rebel, she is now loving, kind and loves on many seniors, teens and dogs in her area. She’s known for her motherly shot-gun kisses. Then there’s Teresa, who runs a shelter, a church and a ministry called House of Mercy. Twelve years ago she was a cocaine addict who nearly died. Yet in the middle of a crisis, she said to God, “God, I love cocaine, but I love my Daddy more.” Holy Spirit spoke into her heart and asked her why she didn’t love herself. He reached her heart and she turned to Jesus. She came to love her heavenly Father even more than her Daddy. She came to depend on his faithfulness in extreme trust and obedience.
These days Teresa and her husband are in 24-7 ministry with the homeless and those living in her church that’s become a shelter in Baytown, Texas. Many times there are financial emergencies. Surprise gifts come often, for which she is incredibly grateful. However, sometimes the situation becomes desperate. Sometimes there is no money for the electricity bill, or the phone bill. And then God intervenes with a shower of funds at just the right time. Here are two recent examples that happened after Christmas: Teresa says, “December was a ROUGH month for the ministry, but God sure enough did a miracle this morning!!!! We could only make a payment on the light bill for December, because it was so high, yet the finances were so low. We had to pay 300 dollars today, or they would be shut off.
[And then we got a] BUT GOD!!!!!! [My husband] Paul called the light company to check our balance one more time and we only owed UNDER $30!!!!! We are at the library right now using their computers [for internet], because our phones were cut off this morning, but they turned them back on [We got an extension). Our phones will be back in full swing when it is time, but we HAD to give GOD some praise for that light bill miracle HALLELUJAH!!!!!” [Teresa McCartney’s Facebook page. Jan 2, 2020].
This was on January 2nd. On January 3rd, there was another intervention. Someone then paid their phone bill! Teresa had no idea who, but she was thankful and blessed them a thousand-fold. The light bill and the phone bill weren’t the only interventions. Despite lacking finances, the shelter was still running. Teresa shares, “[I] have been wanting to brag on God. It costs between $4,000 – $6,000 a month to run the church and shelter. In December [less than two thousand] came in BUT GOD [still] made the way for the people here to eat, have showers, lights, water and still have a place to live! We were way under budget last month, BUT GOD!! Nobody but God can get the glory for this, because in the natural, it makes absolutely no sense! Thank you God for always making the way, and keeping your house and shelter open!” Teresa also has stories of reformed addicts, and others whose lives were turned around. Even her marriage was on the rocks and was restored so well that she and her husband are very much in love. Teresa demonstrates to me persistence and love similar to Heidi Baker, who also has many BUT GOD interventions in Mozambique. But God is something you have to stop and take notice.
We also have some But God stories. I made it as an Iris missionary despite my bad knees. So we had to work around the problem. We still work with children and teens, despite the mobility issues. And then the cancer came. What would happen to our ministry now? The insurance company insisted that I return to Canada before chemotherapy, despite strong protests from my surgeon and oncologist. The cancer advanced so fast that it’s probable that had I travelled back to Canada without Tony, and went to an Ottawa emergency room, that the doctors there would have re-started the process. I could have moved to stage four cancer very fast, which would have been dangerous. I believe that God’s intervention saved my life. I was shown through several impressions that we could stay another six months, with crowd-funding for medical costs. The chemo treatments and the prayers of many people, including children, caused the tumour to shrink 60 percent. This is a But God. While we were here without insurance, a shower of funding came from friends and Tony’s family. When the friends couldn’t contribute any more, we worked on getting the insurance company to pay at least my pre-chemo costs. Eventually they did. The funds arrived just in time to pay a large credit card bill full of medical costs. The insurance company kept saying no, and through prayer and appeals, there was a BUT God. He intervened and turned their hearts to at least cover what they would have prior to sending me back to Canada. And then when that money ran out, Tony was given a separate honorarium, totally unexpected, which was enough to cover two more chemo treatments.
Each But God is another point on the journey. Here I am now with likely three more treatments, before I am given a PT scan to see what’s happening. I pray that there will be very little left. Here is a disabled missionary, struck down with cancer, in the middle of a glorious season of mission work. And in this season, I’ve blossomed in art and am about to publish a colouring book of prophetic drawings. I’ve taught children, teens and adults how to do prophetic art. And as I’ve been squeezed further, the kids pray for me, and I’m progressively healed enough to go back to Canada safely. Or even more than that. This can only be a BUT God. Also, Tony will be 79 soon, which is unusual for a long-term missionary. But Tony keeps going, with his strong mercy anointing, and his love for the kids we work with. Who would call a senior-citizen missionary? God would. The children and teens are loved on as an uncle, granddad and father. He is a stable influence in their lives, and speaks sometimes the voice of reason and at other times, the merciful heart of God the Father. Seniors are often people that younger generations would forget, BUT GOD has a wonderful gift to give through them.
Begin to train your heart and eyes to look for But God stories. Do you seem to be in an impossible situation? Do you need God’s intervention? You need a But God. But remember, those But God moments aren’t about you. They are about God. Don’t forget them. Don’t just pass them off. They are significant.
These are but a few examples of God’s wonderful intervention. This is only one of the ways he works. Often he works gradually, as he re-moulds us into living representatives of Jesus. He replaces fear and hurt with love and experience. He makes the weak strong in a way the world never could. This requires persistence; this requires that determination to become an overcomer. And then there comes that point where we have done all we can. Ephesians 6 reminds us in spiritual warfare, after you’ve done all that you can, stand. Stand and wait. God has our back. Then it’s God’s turn with a but God. He is faithful.
Will you stand and wait for God today? God is never late. He was just in time for my chemo payments. He was just in time to pay the House of Mercy’s electricity and phone bills. He will also come through with my healing before and as I go back to Canada. I am certain of this, because Holy Spirit promised me twice in a small whisper to my heart. He said that South Africa would be the place of my healing. What is the intervention you’re contending for? Don’t forget his promises to you. It’s a matter of trust. It’s a matter of believing in God’s faithfulness, just as Joseph waited while he was in prison. Don’t give up.
Lord Jesus, thank you that you are faithful. Thank you that you give us many kindnesses, especially the But Gods. We thank you that these point to your glory. Teresa would say that “YOU did this.” And Teresa is right. She can’t run that shelter without you. You are the one who transforms addicts and street people into overcomers that shine for you. Only you can take the prayers of children and bring healing to their visiting auntie with breast cancer. You took the weak to shame the strong. The children are empowered through their prayers for me, and I’m empowered by seeing them grow in you. I am thankful. Please touch the hearts of those who need a But God in their lives, and in the lives of their family members. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you’d like to hear an audio version of this article, please visit the Ways to Grow in God (WTGIG) podcast page on the coppleswesterncape.ca website (under the “Listen” drop-down menu). Click here: (https://www.coppleswesterncape.ca/wtgig-podcasts.html) and scroll down to #68! If you have been blessed by this article, please let us know!
Updates: For those looking for news on my cancer journey, I was declared chemically cancer free as of February 2021, but still in post-cancer treatments (lymphedema massage, physio, medications, scans and bloodwork).
Otherwise, I still owe credit card debt for some of the medical work and we are working towards that with art commissions and donations. God’s peace is something that I’m clinging to as we plan our way back to Canada. At the moment, our passports are still in the hands of Home Affairs, so that we have an extension on our medical visas. We would like to return in September 2021, after preparations to return with the help of a very capable Cape Town travel agent. Gone are the days when we would plan our own travel online (apart from booking self-catering places). Both of us have had our first covid jab, and wait the second one. (Although it is the right thing for us to have the jab, we don’t impose that on those who refuse it out of conscience).
After our quarantine, we plan to stay with and care for my frail 92 year old dad. Part of us longs for Canada, but we still greatly love South Africa. We are glad that Jesus is carrying us, since we are frail. Both of us have continuing health issues, including prostate cancer, eye issues (following Tony’s retina re-attachment surgery). We are seeing if these can in fact wait until our return to Canada, or if Tony’s eye surgery will have to be done in Cape Town. It would be R90,000 (or $8,000) done in Cape Town. We aren’t sure if how much it would cost in Canada (if done there).
Thanks for coming alongside us on our journey. Being an overcomer is truly a process. We still need help. Tony has significant medical bills as well for TB, eye surgery, the urologist (who is monitoring the prostate cancer), and I have debt as well. Please click here for the medical campaign page to get more info: https://www.coppleswesterncape.ca/medical-campaign.html. We are still crowdfunding to cover the post cancer treatments and Tony’s eye operations. He also was in the hospital this month due to struggles with TB. The hospital bill alone was $1200, not including the surgeon’s fees and other costs.
If you feel led to contribute, please do so via our PayPal: https://www.paypal.me/WaystogrowinGod If you do, please introduce yourself and say that you read “Ways to Grow in God.” It would really bless us! If you’re led to pray instead, we welcome your prayers and please do contact us.
L-A’s colouring books: If you are in South Africa, and would like to purchase one of L-A’s colouring books, they are available at OliveTree Bookshop in Mountain Mill Shopping Centre (near Pick n Pay), Worcester, Western Cape. You can also buy them at LeRoux and Fourie Wineshop on R60 beside Cape Lime (between Nuy and Robertson). Or you can order one (or more) printed for you through Takealot.com through this link:
The Colouring with Jesus 2 has been printed! When the link is available, we will post it for you. The books will be available online, through us personally (for a short time), and through the above shops. They will also be available through Legacy Relay run by Louis and Carica Fourie. After we return to Canada, we plan to republish the devotional colouring books into English-French. Bless you and thank you for your support!