Category Archives: Ways to Grow articles

Growing in God through letting go of self-sufficiency

 

 

 

 

Happy Easter!  He is risen. He is risen indeed. We are Easter people in a Good Friday world, as Desmond Tutu says.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what invites the presence of God in our daily lives.  This isn’t just about daily devotions, as essential as they are.  It’s about the more.  Do you want more?  I certainly do.  Heidi Baker often cries out “More!” in her pre-talk prayers, that we are invited to join in. She doesn’t do anything without God’s presence.  Without it, your cup is empty and you have little to give that will last or impact lives.

I’ve been reading up on Andrew Murray Jr, who was a beloved 19th century South African pastor. He was mediator, missionary, speaker, writer, and he bordered on the edge of apostolic.  He was a strong figure, with a vibrant personality – full of many strengths.  His roots were Scottish from his father, Andrew Murray Senior, the pastor of the Graaf-Reinet congregation. His mom was a devout lady from Cape Town, who had sixteen children.  He and his older brother John travelled to Scotland and the Netherlands for their university and seminary education. They were both highly influential, as was a third brother, William, who later trained for ministry as well.  Andrew was part of several revivals, including one that impacted both Murray brothers when they were in the very liberal Utrecht seminary.  The revival that Andrew was most known for was the Cape Awakening in 1860 – 1862, which began first in Montagu, and then spread to Worcester, where he was the new pastor at the time.  Other Christian leaders also were able to encourage this move of the Holy Spirit; that happened mostly in the Cape colony.

Andrew learned to not stifle the manifestations of crying out in intercession, and of also crying out in remorse for sins, although he at first did not understand it.  Who can completely understand God?   That’s beyond us… but pity the person that stands in his way.  So that’s about God’s power.   Earlier I mentioned about many of Andrew Murray’s gifts and strengths.  I have found  that he would have set those aside and consider them little.  Even the Apostle Paul said of his own accomplishments without Jesus as being ‘garbage’ or ‘rubbish.’

Here’s what Paul said about his strong Jewish schooling and heritage in Philippians 3:  I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.[c] For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!”

Paul realized that pride and self-sufficiency become stumbling blocks to growing in faith.  In his case, he even had a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble.  Some have speculated that this was a health problem. If it was, I’m not surprised, for I have one of my own, as had Andrew Murray.  He could not sit down very long to write, due to injuries and illnesses he went through in his exhaustive early ministry.  I have noticed again and again that God does not always use people in perfect health to accomplish great things.

So Andrew Murray learned early that pride and self-sufficiency are stumbling blocks to faith.  He learned that lesson more than a few times, which is the case of a strong personality. Yet Jesus says in John 15: 1-8:  “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothingAnyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

Do you notice the verse where non-abiding branches are to be burned?  This reminds me of the scenario of being allowed to burn out, even if it has happened within trying to do Christian things.   This also includes the scenario of just leaning on your own strengths, even if they are absolutely amazing gifts.  The lasting fruit comes from remaining in the vine. This process is called abiding in God’s presence.  It’s similar to the soaking prayer I’ve shared about previously.

If you have a strong personality with many great abilities, these are good things.  However, you may want more than good things.  If you are involved in any kind of ministry, it is important to give these to God daily.  Spend deep time with him.  Without him, these strengths can become weaknesses in which we burn out trying to accomplish good things.   For those who already have weaknesses, then you need to know your limitations and give those to God.  Weaknesses can include illness, disability, circumstances and challenges of a different sort. These that can make one feel inadequate.   One of my favourite inner healing teachers was Leanne Payne, who wrote a book called The Healing Presence.  In it, she says that we need to learn our sense of inadequacy, so that we have to depend on God.  If you are weak, you already know this, but you need to know who to turn towards. Turn to Jesus!  When we give God transcends those weaknesses to show strength, so these people can accomplish incredible things for God, in many fields – not just in the church.

Strong personalities also have to turn to God, to in a sense, save themselves from their self-effort. It’s almost like the sinner’s prayer when we come to faith.  Our faith comes alive by grace, when we accept his love and lean on God.  This is the same.  I also had an encounter, where I took a course on overcoming self and prayed a ‘selfers prayer.’  Part of this is described in chapter six of Charles Solomon’s book Handbook to Happiness.  Before one learns to live by the Holy Spirit, they feel like they are in the wilderness of self-effort.  They are living to die.  When they come to a time where they become centred in Jesus Christ, and abiding in him, they are now dying to live.  The prayer was as follows:

Father, I admit that I’m a selfer, and have been struggling in my own resources to live the Christian life.
I confess that my life is a failure and a mess.
I now give up my life and affirm with You my death with Christ. I also affirm that I have risen with Christ and am seated in Him in the heavenly places.
I give you complete control of myself and everything I’m hanging onto to meet my needs.
Do with me whatever you choose.
I now thank you that Christ is my life.

When I prayed this prayer, it was a form of surrender of my self-suffiency. This is still a process, but I am thankful for the ministry of the man who shared this book and course.

Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China around the same time period that Andrew Murray was active in South Africa. He also learned this lesson and burned out in his ministry.  He had a wonderful gift of identifying with the Chinese and becoming like them as much as he could. However, the need overwhelmed him and he became ill. During a recovery, he learned the importance of abiding in Jesus. He called it his spiritual secret and quoted John 15 as his life scripture.  Abiding became how he could do anything.  What does “to abide” mean?

Modern English gives different versions of abide, which makes light of the word; like the merely tolerate or obey.  But an older version of the word means to remain, continue, stay, persist; and even to live or dwell.  It is the word dwell or live that is closest to the biblical view of abide.  In Hebrew the word is ‘yashabh.’  This is an incredible closeness that invites us to live in the very centre of God’s heart.  He wants us to stay there.  He wants to love on us before we run off to play and work.

Abiding applies to deep daily surrender.  It’s not just a once and a while thing. God helps us to do this.  Andrew Murray wrote a book called Absolute Surrender.  In it, he encourages us that it is not impossible to give everything to God. How is this so?  It is because it is God himself who helps us.  It was the Holy Spirit who helped me to pray that selfer’s prayer, and it was God that continued my ongoing surrender, so that I could live more and more in peace and not in strife.

Andrew wrote: “God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you.”  He also quotes Philippians 2 verse 13:   For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Jesus also lived his life dependent on the Father (as well as the Holy Spirit). Jesus  said in John 5 verse 19, that he only did what he saw the Father doing.  He didn’t get burned out, he relied on the Holy Spirit and spent times alone in prayer with the Father. While he could have done miracles because of his own divinity, he chose to put this aside until after his resurrection and ascension to heaven.  Philippians 2: 5 – 11 shares this attitude:

Though he was God,[ahe did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[b];
he took the humble position of a slave[c]
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,[d]
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus gave the ultimate absolute surrender.  Andrew Murray said that the life of absolute surrender has two sides:  on one side, to work what God wants you to do, [and] on the other side, to let God work what HE wants to do.”   This is a process, but God helps you on the journey.  Then the blessings flow out onto you, because now your cup is empty and waiting – to be filled with and by Holy Spirit!

The whole idea of being filled with God’s peace, love and purpose is to allow the blessings.  The blessings are one part of experiencing God’s love.   Earlier (in other posts) I talked about allowing grace to overcome obstacles.  Those obstacles were like speedbumps. This journey is the same process, but from a deeper perspective.  This is a continuation from receiving Holy Spirit for our own lives to receiving Holy Spirit continually to reach out to other people.

Those other people may include your friends, family and your sphere of influence.  In our case, our current sphere isn’t just in Canada, but is also in our new community of Worcester, South Africa.  We could easily burnout if we rely on our own strength.  I can tell you, there are some days it can be difficult – especially with our crowded schedules.  We can continually practice the presence of God (which is something I will share about another time). However, we need to have adequate time for God.  Give him your schedule.  Make a space for him. We need to take a specific time and set it in your calendar – think of it as a date with God.  And in your daily life, allow his interruptions – they usually involve unexpected blessings that you can’t ignore.  These flow from your time with God.

One of our Afrikaans pastors, Pieter-Louis and his wife Sume, make a date with God every evening after nine.  This is a great sacrifice of time – but since they do this, I can say that this dear couple are so full of the love of God that they are wonderful to be around. Their ministry is a genuine one.  Their sufficiency is not in themselves, and they are growing in God as a result.  The fruit of the Spirit is easy to see in their lives.

My last example is that of our Iris ministry founder, Heidi Baker.  While her schedule is even more intense than ours, she and her husband Rolland spend hours with God.  They have no sufficiency in themselves, even with doctoral degrees.  Their lives in Pemba, Mozambique have crazy interruptions, intense difficulties, spiritual warfare, and the many challenges that can arise in African countries.  They rely on God for finances to feed, clothes, educate and minister to thousands in Pemba alone.  That doesn’t include the mercy and relief ministries they do throughout the world. Throughout the difficulties, they are in prayer and worship. They know they face impossible tasks.  Each time,  they put their lives and ministry COMPLETELY in God’s hands.

Heidi often shares of the time where she was so burned out that she no longer wanted to be a missionary.  She instead wanted to go work in K-Mart (a American budget department store, similar to PEP in South Africa).   So, she surrendered it all again to God.  It didn’t take long for God to restore her, although the next season of her life was intense and difficult.  But now the Holy Spirit could strengthen her in perseverance.

It’s at times like this that we realize it is impossible to continue your ministry, or any long-term task that matters with God.  Then we can relax and depend on God’s faithfulness.  He doesn’t let us down. So remember, surrender that self-sufficiency.  Learn from the examples of Jesus, the apostle Paul, Andrew Murray, Hudson Taylor, Leanne Payne, Heidi Baker and others I’ve mentioned.  I will share more on this soon. Allow God to help you as he did them.  You won’t regret it.

Blessings to you all,

Laurie-Ann Copple
Waystogrowingod.org
Coppleswesterncape.ca

You can hear Laurie-Ann share Ways to Grow in God on CWCP – Copples Western Cape Radio on Thursdays, 8 pm South African Standard Time.

You can also listen via the podcasts of the Worcester Reports  and Ways to Grow in God

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Growing in God through hunger and thirst

 

 

 

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about what draws the presence of God in a tangible way. It’s to hunger and thirst for him.  Psalm 42:2 says, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?”  We are urged by James that if we draw near to God, he will draw near to us (James 4:8). This principle is true, even during desert experiences, and hard times.

Right now Tony and I are living in South Africa, at a time of serious drought.  Many have been praying for rain, and we will gather with Angus Buchan for a massive corporate gathering to pray for rain and spiritual rain of awareness of God, turning away from our sin and cravings for evil, and being deeply satisfied in him within our beings.  The reservoirs in the region are very low, and while the city and environs of Cape Town are by the south Atlantic Ocean, there is virtually no desalinisation, although two short term plants are under construction.  Residents of the region are urged to use no more than 50 litres of water per person per day.  Think of how little that is, including showers, cooking, washing clothes, flushing toilets, and hydrating during a very hot summer. Then there’s agricultural and industrial use.  Water is something we absolutely need for everyday life.   This draught not only affects South Africa, but other southern Africa countries as well.  I was also in northern Kenya during a drought, and they were afraid for their cattle.

Hunger is similar – we need food as well – spiritual and physical.  Tony and I were in Mozambique for the Iris Global Harvest School from June – August 2016.  We saw the hungry people with our own eyes. Since they were that hungry, they would eat large amounts of scrawny chicken, beans, rice, bony fish if it was available to them simply to feel full again.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to be that far in deficit for food and water, but they were.

We learned from the Mozambicans on Monday mornings for our cross-cultural class.  We sat on the floor with the mamas and connected with the Makua pastors.  On our last Monday, Heidi Baker had some of the pastors share what the extreme hunger did to their families.  Pastor Pedro shared that some of his family members died of hunger and extreme want (during the colonial period of persecution before 1976).  Pedro became very hungry for justice on the earth, and through his prayers, God has raised five people from the dead (as of July 2016).  Hunger caused him to break through so many difficulties – spiritual and otherwise.  Tragedy made him not bitter, but better.  It made him hungry for justice – God’s justice; God’s righteousness.  The beatitudes scripture about righteousness surely applies to such a man:  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6 NIV).”

Pedro and these other Mozambican pastors may be physically hungry now, but their spiritual hunger has been so intense that this has brought them so many answers to prayer from God.

Fasting from food was of use in this context.  It can make you hungry for righteousness and justice in ministry and needs.  Pedro fasted for six days, with prayer for someone who just died, and that person came back to life. Then Pedro became even more hungry.   Every week he fasts for two days.  He was healed of the painful family memories and turned their hunger into his own supernatural hunger.  He no longer feels the pain from the past, but has extreme trust in God for the future.  This invites us to trust and believe to press in for more hunger for God.

Hunger is a gift. While I have often thought I was hungry for God, it hasn’t been as deep as these Mozambican pastors. Their hunger and gratitude are a shining example for us to follow.  I want some of that.

Heidi then asked for the Mozambican pastors to pray over all the international Harvest School students, Tony and myself included. TWO pastors laid hands on me and did not stop for some time.  I felt like huge electric shocks ran down my body, and in my mind’s eye, I could see a picture of myself.  I was not the plus-sized lady that I see when I look in the mirror.  I was like one of the latch-key children in Africa.  I was standing beside an empty well, with no water and no food.  I was pitifully thin and no longer felt hungry, since I had learned to “just get by” with my own resources.  Even though I love the Lord, I am still learning complete dependence on him.  It’s a life-long process.  When I saw the empty cistern and the thin child, I was reminded of Jeremiah 2:13: “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me – the fountain of living water.  And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all.”

While I’m not saying that drought is necessarily caused by sin, there is an element of leaning on God, and being responsible for what he gives. So that day, I was filled upon filled with a new level of electricity… which needs to be refilled daily, of course.  I sense that’s only the start of a journey learning about hunger and thirst for God.  Jesus’ own 40 day fast in the desert is also telling.  When he is tempted by the bread, he rebukes Satan by telling him, “But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”   Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 8:3.

“He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.

The Israelites’ time in the desert was a time of utter dependence.  Not all of them learned that lesson, so some died in the wastelands, and the next generation was finally able to cross the Jordan river.

They did not act on their spiritual hunger and seek God, but instead had an attitude of complaint and entitlement.  They did not use their time of want into an intentional fast as a sacrifice to the Lord. Their time was wasted.

I remember going on a Power Weight Loss seminar with Patricia King.  She encouraged a lot of common sense, temperance and once a week fasting (sometimes more).  The fasts weren’t necessarily fore-going specific foods, but rather eating specific soup that would target cleansing of the lymphatic system and other areas of the body, along with additional time of prayer. She said that when we fast, we flip the basic needs pyramid (Mazlo’s hierarchy of needs) so that the spiritual needs are the most important, and food slides to the lesser need. For some reason, this activates something in us in our prayer life.  Normally when one goes without food, the metabolism decides to hibernate. This is certainly the case with my very slow thyroid. It makes fasting a challenge.  However, if this is done properly, it can kick-start a breakthrough of a journey.  Yet it’s a daily and weekly discipline, as is our daily hunger for God.

I found a devotional blog by Francine Winslow that shares about the magnet of spiritual hunger for God’s presence. Spiritual hunger is a gift, that God then honours and fans into flame. God is looking for hearts that are open to him, in order to stir up a hunger that leads to a deep romance of the soul. The Holy Spirit draws us. (Luke 24:32)  We need to follow that burning sensation in our hearts – to read the Bible, ask questions, be with other Christians who are loving God, and spend time with him in worship and prayer.  It’s simple and yet hard.  We need time with him.

Act on that hunger, or it will fade. That hunger is an invitation to God’s banqueting table (Song of Songs 2:4) and to what will satisfy your heart (Isaiah 55:2).  If you feed that hunger, it will grow.  If you ignore it, it will fade and you’ll be left with eating crumbs, when you could have had the richest of foods. Francine urges us that we must RSVP to that invitation.

Hunger increases more hunger.  This is just like the example of Pastor Pedro. As he fasted, he became more hungry for justice and righteousness.  He became more hungry for God. Just like our physical appetites for certain foods can easily become larger as we develop, so it is the same with spiritual appetites.  Don’t settle for crumbs, when you can have so much more! Francine says, “the more you get, the more you will continue to have.  The more you taste, the more you want.  It’s a cycle of spiritual life and growth!”  If we decline our spiritual hunger, we can dangerously fall into apathy and lose our joy.  That’s not the way to go. Instead, turn to God daily, and ask for more hunger.  Be thankful always in the process and he will bless you even more for what you really need. I’m not talking about riches, I’m talking about joy, refreshment, and deep satisfaction that comes from eating and drinking what the Lord gives us daily.

In John 4, Jesus invited the woman at the well to taste the living water.  When his disciples offered him food, he told his disciples that he had eaten a different kind of food and he was satisfied. Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work  (John 4:34).  Again, this is spiritual food.

So I invite you to join me at the banqueting table, where the banner over us is love.  May we come to the living river, where those who have no money can still buy what we need (Isaiah 55). Listen to the words of Revelation 22:17.  It’s an invitation to you and to me.

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”  Let the one who hears, say “Come.”  And let the one who wishes to take the water of life without cost.”

Even so, come Lord Jesus.  Bring us your rain in Cape Town.  Bring us your spiritual rain, and fill our hunger for you.  Amen.

Blessings to you all,
Laurie-Ann Copple

Waystogrowingod.org
Coppleswesterncape.ca

To listen to Ways to Grow in God podcasts (from CWCP-Copples Western Cape Radio) – click here  

If you are led to donate to Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple’s ministry work in South Africa, you can donate via Canada Helps Iris Ministries Canada portal – click the link and scroll down to South Africa-Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple on the fund drop down box.  Thank you and bless you!

Growing in God through Networking

 

 

 

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the people that God places in our lives.  Back in March 2013, I wrote about growing through godly friendships and about mentoring.  I still believe what I wrote and the experiences I shared. Let’s take that further into networking.

Here’s the link to the earlier article on friendships:  Growing in God through spiritual friends and mentors

I was professionally in commercial radio and as a volunteer in community radio for a number of years. Radio is an industry where you advance through hard work, talent and networking.  Although it’s known as a cut-throat industry (since its profit margin is not very big), it’s important to keep connections and to help each other out. You never know who will be your next employer, or what a connection may lead towards.  This is the same in many businesses, and in a gentler way, it also is a component in the missionary world.

Tony and I are now in Worcester, South Africa as Iris Ministries Canada missionaries – and among lots of ministry opportunities, one of the things we are planning for is internet radio.  We will be airing some of the teachings from this site, including this one, as you can tell!

But how do radio people get established?  And how do missionaries get established?   Is it just the people we meet through friends and friends of friends?  I believe the answer is yes and no. Some of you are saying, “Just ask God.”  Yes, people of faith, this is a question we do need to ask.  While we plan our steps, God redirects us the way we really need to go. Listen to Proverbs 16:9,  “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

God often brings people into our lives so that we sharpen each other in faith  (Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another).  We grow through relationship if we allow others to love, encourage, and at times correct us.  Yet in order for that to happen, you have to be connected with them and not alone.  We are part of nets (networking) and also man the nets (networking of a different sort). Let’s walk along further with this analogy.

In July 2016, I heard Heidi Baker share many stories in the Iris Global Harvest School (in Pemba, Mozambique).  One of them was a dream or an impression that she was given.  As a missionary, she often sees the hidden people that ordinary people may overlook. She’s been given the eyes and heart to see them. And nets are a symbol of catching these people’s hearts, like fish in the seas.   Too many either fall through the cracks in daily society, or are overlooked – whether they be latch-key kids (one of the demographics on our hearts), widows, orphans, street people, disabled, and so many more.  We need nets to catch them and to be in relationship with them.

Heidi saw a net in the coming harvest (revival) and when she shared, she got really excited, because there were many, many fish.  She originally assumed this net was of Iris’ impact in the present and future harvest of people.

Then the scene in her dream widened and showed that the Iris net wasn’t that big – it was actually small (despite all the work that Iris is doing).  There were many, many nets – these were thrown out by churches, ministries and individuals and these were small nets and they needed more of them.  When I was hearing this, I got an impression that there were lots of empty spaces not covered by nets (yet).

I personally believe that not only do we need more nets, but those nets needed to be connected.  I’ve had an intermittent pastoral care sense since the 1990s where I notice people who are about to fall through the cracks.  I’ve seen this in nearly every place I’ve been.  It’s like people have to be intentional that they don’t fall through the nets – which happens when they get isolated from others.

I’ve seen this phenomenon in many places in the world. I’ve even fallen through the safety nets myself – not in terms of my personal faith, but in terms of pastoral care and support.  But that’s where Jesus comes in to catch US when we fall through the net.

Jesus is the ultimate networker. We too are called to connect nets and work together in unity.  We may have different emphases in our faith, but that doesn’t matter!  What matters is our love for Jesus, and his love extended through us to love on the people.  The fields are ready and waiting for us.  But we must mobilize together.

John 4: 35-36 (NLT)  You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe[a] for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!

But we need more sowers and harvesters!  We need more people working the nets!

Luke 10:2 (NIV) He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

So yes, this teaching is about missions, but it’s so much more.  The networking principle works in every aspect of life: work (especially in radio broadcasting), missions, ministry, sales and basically everything that involves people.

Networking involves connections and relationships that have existed in the past, as well as new ones.  These people may not initially know each other, but when a networker person comes along to connect these two people, good things can happen!  My husband Tony recently shared with a ministry friend about a similar organization in the same Worcester township.  While these groups were aware of each other, what was new was the timing that the second organization was open to just the right kind of help.  Tony’s natural sharing helped to bring about a connection that our friend had been praying about for years! This was natural networking, but with a supernatural connection.

Tony has also helped connect others to get jobs at just the right time.  Just think, how many of you dear people been directed to get a job through a friend of a friend?  My job in the financial sector (Canadian Bankers Association in their publications and magazine), came to me through friends who were looking for a good admin temp.  My last paying job was as admin and social media coordinator for Darren Canning, a Canadian prophet, author and writer.  This came about through connections, and Facebook.  Before that job, I was could not get a paying job for three years!

Don’t look down on the connections you have.  People are like gold and precious jewels – no matter where they are in the world. This means both the people holding the nets and those who are in the nets for a time. These jewels are grafted in the Body of Christ and after being healed up and discipled, they can man nets as well (in some cases, even take up nets right away)!

Consider the circle of influence you have.  It may be at your school, work, friendships and family.  It may be a book club, or those you meet in business.  Ask God for ways to reach them that aren’t “religious.”  Networking and love are all about relationship.  Our God is a relational God and wants relationship with you, and with these people.   Just think, you may be the one to connect people to each other, just like Tony does.  Or you may be one that connects your friend to Jesus.  Trust him, and he will show you how.

But if you go out beyond your circle of friends, make sure you do not go out alone. Go with a like-minded person who also has a heart for people. Together, ask God to connect the dots, and connect the nets.  This isn’t about you.  It’s about working together. So we Copples feel that one of our main tasks in Worcester is to TIE THE NETS (ministries and individuals) TOGETHER.  I discovered recently that a YWAM worker friend has the same heart as me – she gives her time and considerable talent to three ministries that we are also involved in, some connected with YWAM, others independent.  I felt like she was a real sister, since we have the same heart that reaches out.

We don’t mind where the nets are coming from, what denomination or background.  We are working to repair breaches, and sewing the nets together to reach Worcester together.  We aren’t copying what each other is doing – we are learning from them, as we eventually find our ministry in the unreached areas between the nets.

Recently, I went to bed thinking about Heidi’s dream of the nets. I thought about John 21: 1-10, where Jesus directed the disciples to cast their nets on the other side of the boat – AFTER a fruitless overnight fishing session.  It’s likely that they had an overlooked spot that was hidden in plain sight – just like many of the township or street people are.

I woke up with an impression that I could almost draw.  As we cast the nets in the forgotten spots that Jesus shows us – we reel in hearts.  We notice them. We validate them and Jesus loves on them directly and through our own hands and hearts. Our hands and hearts are part of the nets.

 

Jesus and the Nets  John 21: 1-10

 

 

 

 

 

“Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee.[a] This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin),[b] Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.

Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows,[c] have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.  Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards[d] from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.”

Isn’t it amazing that the nets didn’t tear?  I love that this is a supernatural God-thing.

So as you think of this teaching, prayerfully consider that God may put you in just the right place and time to network.  We call those divine appointments or stopping for the one.  This isn’t just about evangelism, although that is a component.  It’s about relationship and connecting hearts – people to people, and people to the Father.  May we always remember that we don’t grow in isolation, we grow and are validated in community.  We grow in interdependence, not independence.

Bless you as you grow in Jesus
Laurie-Ann

We’re bringing the heart of Ottawa to the heart of the Western Cape!

 

 

 

 

 

Preparation can be messy: Keep positive

 

 

 

 

 

(My desk with multi-tasking on laptop with second screen and iPad. This view shows that the studio-library-office is in transition with boxes.  Since then, there’s less boxes beside the computer – with a few layers of individual photo boxes. Still, the process is a cluttered one while I continue to de-clutter)

POST: Have you ever tried to fix something and found it just kept getting worse? Or even work at a major downsize and find you have a lot more work to do than you thought?  That’s the season for us right now.  But all of life is a learning process.

I’ve usually been the type who does well with people, but not computers.  However, I became a social media coordinator to a travelling prophetic storyteller back in September 2016.  I’ve learned about Weebly websites, Mailchimp bulk email programs, scheduling Facebook ministry page posts, and the like.  Coordinating social media is a fairly new field, and I’m glad I’ve been able to learn it and bless Darren Canning as I do it.  It’s preparation for when Tony and I are on the mission field full time ourselves.

This is the same for trying to condense the belongings of a 980 square foot apartment condo into a closet, four suitcases, an ipad (for books), hard drives for digitized music (reel to reels, cassettes, LPs and cds) and digitized videos (dvds and VHS tapes). And then there’s the clothes (and my art).  I’ve been working on digitizing photos and have gone through over four huge paper ream boxes, with more to go.  The books are the hardest thing to work with- many of the books that I want to keep are not available to re-buy on Kindle, Kobo or iBooks.  So instead, these printed gems will be packed away in a few boxes in the care of someone who can also read them in my absence.  Heritage crystal goes in the care of another friend – as long as it’s properly packed in bubble wrap and plastic storage containers.

Our apartment is to be rented to a long term renter fully furnished – so for a responsible person or couple who doesn’t have dishes, linens, pots, pans, stereo, tv and furniture (but only their clothes, computer etc).  This is an adventure, as we learn just what it is that we need to do our future volunteer work and live in another community.  We have to have faith it will work out in the end.

This is where positivity comes in.  I’ve written an earlier post on having a negativity fast.  What I’m speaking about goes beyond this.  We need to actively remember that although we have responsibility over our own choices and actions, that we’re not in the control.  We aren’t God.  I’m not even going to attempt to go there – I have, and burn out was the result.  (I haven’t even mentioned visa preparations!)

So stop!
Take a deep breath. Be still and know that he is God (Psalm 42).

Remember that God is God and you are not. Psalm 16:8 (NIV) reminds me (us) to “keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”  Psalm 55:22 continues on this theme:  “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”  My boss Darren often says, “Don’t worry, God has this” – despite going through difficulties. But he does have this. Imagine how it is for the persecuted church in Islamic countries – or the communist countries.  That’s difficulty.  But God also has them. Our struggle ultimately isn’t with people, to-do lists and software, as challenging as these can be.  There is a spiritual component – especially if what you’re doing is for the purpose of pushing forward the kingdom of God.  Ephesians 6:12 (KJV) tells us that  “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

So, press on, persevere, keep praying and keeping our eyes on Jesus:  for inspiration, energy, direction and insight.  He is our all in all.

Every once and a while I go back to what gives me joy – drawing.  It’s a great way to re-orient you.  I’ve been working on art in the context of worship.  I wish you blessings and creativity. Remember, keep positive!

Blessings, Laurie-Ann

Worshipping Angels
(February-March 2017)
This drawing is available for purchase
Percussion on fire (in worship)
(February – May 2017)

Stopping for the one at Christmas time

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I shared a talk at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Kanata on October 16th, which ended up as part of a very special missions Sunday.  Not only did I preach via the lectionary (flavoured with African lessons and experiences), but various members of St Paul’s SchoolBOX outreach shared as well. Both of our teams are full of ordinary Christians, from St Paul’s , learning to do extraordinary things for God.  That talk is available on this site – just click on October 2016 on the sidebar.  The SchoolBOX clan are looking forward to returning to Nicaragua and build a school in Fr. Rick Marples’ name.  My husband Tony and I also are planning to be long-term missionaries in South Africa hopefully by the summer.  But you don’t have to go to Africa or Central America to reach out – although if you do go, it forces you to rely on God so you can minister to others more effectively. You trust God, since you are out of your comfort zone.  However, if you reach out to others where you are, you are needed just as much. It’s just that you have to intentionally step out of your comfort zone and trust God. Many of you prayed for and supported Tony and I in Africa, and the team in Nicaragua.  Some of you even had stirrings in your heart that you would like to do some sort of outreach, whether wherever you live or much further afield. But where does one start?

Not all of us feel called to volunteer with the homeless, although this is a great ministry for those who do.  Others go into the prison to lead an Alpha course, or hold one in a seniors centre. We hope to have one in our condo apartment this January. One way that all of us can reach out is to stop for the divine appointments that God brings our way.  This little door of heaven can open up right in the middle of an ordinary day, and in your own neighbourhood. The world is in fact a 360 degree mission field. I will never forget my seminary missions professor telling me that. You don’t have to be a professional full time missionary to love your neighbour.  You can also look for opportunities to love within the church walls. Do you know your pew neighbours? Do you see someone you don’t know?  You never know how kind words and a touch may impact a life.

Heidi Baker (who co-founded Iris, the mission organisation I joined as a Harvest School alumna) often says that we need to stop for the one.  This is her way to describe a divine appointment. This is to STOP for the one that God brings you. This person could be anyone. The key I’ve discovered is that you sense a nudge inside you, and your fears fills with compassion towards that person. You just know that you know this is the person you are to talk to.  This is the right one.

Yet, you don’t always have to wait for this nudge.  There are many obvious opportunities. You may see someone struggling with their grocery bags. You may see someone in obvious physical pain.  They need practical help and prayer! People rarely say no, and you’ll bring a touch of hope into their lives. You may even be asked why you’re filled with love and joy, or they may remark about the peace that surrounds you. It’s Jesus!

Many of the encounters Tony and I have had in South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana were appointments set up divinely- especially in Botswana, since that whole trip was an unexpected surprise on our part.  Had we stayed longer at the time, these encounters could have led to deeper relationships. Here in Canada, we can be blessed by knowing these people better, because we live right here. Tony is continuing what we learned at the Iris mission school in his outreach here in Ottawa.  Shortly before we went to Africa, we downsized into an apartment condo in the Britannia neighbourhood. That opened up a whole new community to us, including the nearby Ritchie Street. We figure that it’s an Ottawa equivalent to a South African township.  We would like to visit people there.  I’m also part of an outreach to help struggling families at Christmas. It’s called Holiday Dream. Through this, I hope to do some home visits with those I sense a strong pull towards. Who knows where God could take this?

The key components are to allow God to love others through you, and to trust him to guide you. You don’t need fancy words or a formula. Be you, and be willing to be humble. Don’t rush. Heidi always says to “go low and slow.”  This means to be humble and take your time. The person before you is precious, as are you.  The journey is a wonderful one, especially at Christmas.  People are always more open than you think.

Pray about the opportunities as God opens doors for you. You don’t have to go to Bible school or missions school to be active in your Christian faith.  I pray you may experience this unique joy this season.  I’d love to hear your stories as you step out.  Have a blessed Advent and Christmas!

Love, Laurie-Ann

christmas_giving

Unpacking our journey in the Rainbow Nation

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Hi! Tony and I continue to unpack from our adventures in Africa.  I shared in September about our Harvest Mission school in Pemba, Mozambique, as well as about building a house for a widow and her five children in that same town.  The house building is happening!  Next week, the Iris Mercy department is adding a roof to her new home.  The rainy season in Mozambique is from mid-late November until early March, so we are just in time to keep their heads dry.

I can’t deny that Mozambique was a challenge (although Tony thrived). We looked forward to South Africa – but only partly for the amenities offered (in a country with first world amenities and third world opportunities).   We found a varied nation that won our heart even deeper than Mozambique.  This is a divided land – which still bears the scars from the apartheid and colonial years.  We were in the Johannesburg area at an Iris base for three nights, due to a change in our flight out of Mozambique.  LAM (Mozambique’s airline) decided it would be more cost effective to move all Wednesday flights to Mondays, so this meant we had to end our Iris School a few days earlier. Rather than a one night stopover with our Western Cape team in a Jo’burg hotel, we now had three nights in limbo between the mission school and our outreach.  So the Iris base “Footprints” took us in as well as five other outreach teams.

We found Footprints was a wonderful base with a family of 32 sweet children, loving long term missionaries, and American visitors who were on their own mission trip.  We are incredibly thankful for their hospitality and the sparkle brought to us by bright and fun-loving children. Fierce love showered us by “Mama” Yolanda (the base leader), Natasha, her husband Mark, and others that showed deep kindness.  They took pity on my disability and that Tony had packed all our belongings together in three suitcases, rather than separately. Originally we were going to be housed with other guests in dorm according to our gender.  Thankfully, a long term missionary couple loaned us their cabin, so we were able to rest and get ready for our Western Cape outreach.  I brought maple syrup candies and Canadian souvenirs with me to share with the South African children in Robertson.  But we didn’t have to wait to share, since we had more than enough between the two bases.  So we gave away our goodies, via the leaders, so it was done in proper fashion, with each child receiving something.  The base leader spontaneously gave Tony an opportunity to teach the children about Canada (since their class was learning about other countries).  So as they learned about Canada’s flag and the maple leaf, while they enjoyed the taste of maple syrup candy.  These kids were very receptive, and it was wonderful that they could respond in English (a luxury we didn’t always have in Pemba, Mozambique).

We were really excited by the journey into Robertson, as two of the long-term missionaries, Kathryn and Barbara, drove us from the Cape Town airport.  Robertson is two hours east of Cape Town through mountains, and valleys where many wineries are located.  We were given plenty of opportunities to rest, relax, journal and pray.  The area is farming country, and farmers are, well, quite easy-going!  We were housed in a mountain homestead that had no cellphone signal, no wifi and the electrical power was generated by solar panels on the roof. Our homestead was located in a beautiful mountain valley, where my drawing inspiration exploded.  I had already drawn two drawings in Mozambique.  I drew at least five more in this place! Part of my practical ministry was to draw for base leaders Johan and Marie Fourie. They kept a drawing that was commissioned of national flags in a field (Flag World, shown above) and another that I gifted them of the house that we stayed in (Pomegranate Homestead shown below).  Because we were a couple, we are again blessed with our own room (with a toilet and shower!).  Our team of ten all shared cooking duties and spent a lot of sharing and prayer together.  We were from Australia, England, Germany, Ukraine, South Africa and Canada.

pomegranite-homestead-drawing

We visited nearby “townships” – neighbourhoods of either the local Xhosa tribe, or “coloured” community.  We fell in love with all of the people, but found the most receptive ones were the “coloured” people. These are a mixed-race people that seem to be forgotten in South Africa.  I had not known about this demographic group, despite their presence in a documentary I watched this spring about a ministry who works in some Cape Town townships. Many of these people (but not all) are in the service industry, and they are very hard workers. Many of the farm workers in the wine growing region are from this people group. We listened to, prayed for and loved on quite a few of these people as we walked through one of their townships.  We also worked with coloured children in an orphanage and others in the local hospital.  I found in particular a tender compassion as I was with them, and a sense that I was “at home.”  The local Xhosa (black African tribe) were also quite welcoming, although their township, Nkqubela, had an entirely different feel to it.  They felt more ‘typically African’ and we connected with them as well. (We also were in community with some local Afrikaans people).

We also worked with the local farm worker’s children through a nursery “crèche” and a weekly kids’ club. We found these youth quite rambunctious. I think they wore Tony out through their games of soccer, baseball and catch.  I helped in the art room, by helping children draw, as well as praying for them, loving them and speaking into their lives.  During the second week, we staged a play based on the Good Samaritan parable. Our South African team member played Jesus, and read scripture in Afrikaans. It was well received, as were our Canada flags, pencils, stickers and maple candy.  One of my most treasured moments was of one of the girls asking me about Canada. When I showed her a picture of northern lights I had on my phone, she wanted to see more. She’s now a fan of Canada and would love to visit us here in Canada. Also from this girl, I learned proper pronunciation of the Western Cape place names around us.

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We also had a retreat in Whitsand, on the Indian ocean coast.  It was during that time that I was able to share with the Fouries about a series of dreams that Tony and I had while in Africa.  ALL of them pointed towards ministry in South Africa – especially the dream where Tony dreamed that I had a baby.  When he told me the dream, I knew that babies often symbolize something new or the birth of a new ministry.  But we were in Africa, so I asked Tony what colour the baby was.  He couldn’t remember – he didn’t think he even saw it.  Later during that day, I was given the same dream, and I asked in prayer if I could see the baby.  It was one of those dream-visions that you were wide awake so you could stop and pray. My prayer was answered, and I was shown the baby – which kept changing colour!  The baby was white, then turned black, then mulatto, then red, then yellow, and so on!  I wasn’t sure what that meant, at the time.  When I shared with Yohan and Marie, Yohan cried out in laughter, “it’s Rainbow Nation!”  When I heard that, it made perfect sense. Rainbow Nation is the nickname that Nelson Mandela had for South Africa.  And, that was only one dream. There were many more, as well as a deepening love for all the people there.  We felt we were more and more in tune with how that Iris base operates.  They see everything in terms of building family – which is exactly what a fractured society and people need, no matter the group or colour to which they belong.  It is Jesus who brings us into family, as is promised in Psalm 68: 5-6.  To me, these verses speak to South African townships:  Father to the fatherless, defender of widows – this is God, whose dwelling is holy.  God places the lonely in families; he sets prisoners free and gives them joy.”

Our hope is to be a spiritual mom and dad to a township in the Western Cape, while we also help with various ministries at the base.  I will definitely be drawing, and there is even a community radio station we could join, unless we are called to start another one. There is so much room for different ministries at this base – with different couples and families ministering in the area, as well as the long-termers right on the base/farm with the Fouries.  Meanwhile we have a lot of preparation work to do here in Canada, including a lot of downsizing, and finding people to take our place in ministries we do in Ottawa.  Please keep us in prayer for the process, since this isn’t official yet.  When it is, you can celebrate with us!

If you’d like to know more, message me.  To learn about the Iris Western Cape base, visit  https://www.irisglobal.org/robertson/home

Love, Laurie-Ann

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tony-at-pomegranite

Sharing to St Paul’s and beyond

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L-A with Mama Maria. Tony said when this was taken, “Two mamas”

This article is a longer version of a talk I gave at St Paul’s Kanata Anglican Church, October 16, 2016.  We had a ‘Mission Sunday’ that included me giving the sermon, and three friends sharing on their own SchoolBOX outreach in Nicuragua. It was a jam-packed day, which also included a baptism/dedication, and more.

The scriptures for the day were: Jeremiah 31: 27-34, Psalm 119-97-104, 2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:5 and Luke 18: 1-8

Thank you to all who prayed for us for our Africa mission. It was intense, and we grew a lot. We worked through a crazy schedule and cultural differences. We adapted, were blessed, and met people who need hope.  The exiled Jews also needed hope when Jeremiah prophesied to them. They overcame the sins that brought them into exile by returning to the Lord.  They also had culture shock. Babylon was so different from Jerusalem.

The Mozambicans we met are overcoming poverty and civil wars. The Iris base in Pemba is helping bring prosperity through more schools, proper homes, farms, jobs, outreach and entrepreneurship. Churches are exploding! Eleven years ago, the Makua tribe had no Christians.  Now, there are over 16 percent and growing.

We fell in love with South Africa, but the nation is deeply divided.  Poverty and wealth are side by side depending on the neighbourhood or township you visit. Many are scarred by the apartheid years.  Many struggle with fear and isolation, anger and hopelessness. All need to understand the promise that the Lord will be their God, and they shall be his people.  No one in South Africa or Canada should be invisible.

Many people did know Jesus, but we were to deepen that faith by “stopping for the one.” This is to be available to those you meet by a divine appointment, set up by God. This is more than being in the right place at the right time.  It’s when you meet someone and ONLY YOU can minister to them. Not only are you the right one, but you’re filled with overflowing love for that person. Tender compassion filled us when we were in the townships, and people responded. They thanked us for coming, caring, and remembering their needs. This happened so many times in the kid’s club, hospital ministry, and the townships. They were hungry for love.

God created us to love him, and to receive his love. When you know Jesus, he writes his direction on your heart, and he takes away our sinful ways. Healing happens through relationship. The healing and restoration of a whole people and land only happens in relationship with God.   Today’s Psalm says the Lord’s commands give wisdom, understanding and direction. Daily scripture reading keeps you living well. When you know the Bible, scriptures will come to mind as you pray, and encourage others. Scripture is an important way that God guides us, yet God’s more than a cosmic GPS –it’s about relationship. If God is our friend, his words become as sweet as honey.  You no longer read the Bible out of duty.  You want God to guide you through life’s surprises. I had a lot of those in Africa. Here’s one. We left South Africa early to get a new visitor stamp. Otherwise we risked being banned from South Africa for 5 years!  We should have been given a second stamp for our second South African visit after Mozambique, but for some reason, we did not receive one.  So we flew to Botswana, where we ministered to two men. Although we originally went to help the visiting situation, I believe the extra Botswana visit wasn’t an accident.

The Apostle Paul mentored his spiritual son Timothy. Timothy gained wisdom from the scriptures throughout his life. He received direction through knowing scripture and Jesus.  He must be prepared to minister and preach, whether the time was favourable or not.  He was to patiently correct, and encourage his people with good teaching.  Paul reminded him that all scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.  Scripture gives important guidance. Timothy must be prepared whether the time is favourable or not.  When I was in Pakistan, they decided to schedule a talk on my day off. They forgot to tell me. When we arrived, I was not prepared! Sometimes divine opportunities aren’t convenient.   Tony received an opportunity to teach Johannesburg orphans, when he least expected it – but he rose to the challenge.

How could sharing look in your own life?  Everyone has a story about their own faith, and life.  I shared my own faith story in the Mozambican bush (a rural village). It seemed like it was tailor made for this village.  Before we went to the bush, we watched a movie called “Holy Ghost Reborn.” Every Sunday night we watched missionary movies in the Harvest School village.  This was a fun time to inspire us for outreach.  During this movie, I felt a strong nudge in my heart that I needed to share about how I came to faith when we were to go on the Bush Outreach.  When I was spiritually nudged, we were watching a story of a Mozambican pastor who prayed for a South African witchdoctor.  Witchdoctors are very common in Africa, and many do not realize that this is spiritually dangerous. Others do, but they don’t care what source their help comes from – God or the devil. This lady sure realized the difference between the evil spirits and the Holy Spirit.  But she had to be shown the difference.

So I addressed this difference through my own story – because before I came to faith in Jesus Christ, I was a fortune teller.  I did not know the Bible, so I didn’t know that fortune telling is something that Christians don’t do.  Why seek out spirits to tell you your future, when you have God to direct you?  It’s spiritual adultery.  But I was a seeker and I didn’t yet know the love of God fully.  A conference speaker said to me that you couldn’t be a Christian and a New Ager too.  This caught my attention.  I had to make a deliberate choice, so I did.  This was just what I needed. I came to faith and gave up my occult practices.  I shared my story in Linde, Mozambique, where only a few weeks prior, the village witch doctor came to faith. He abandoned his practices and donated land for their first church. What a surprise to find out that the Makua words for witchdoctor and fortune teller are the same word!

I gave the people of Linde the same challenge that I faced back in April 1988.  I told them that they could not be a witchdoctor and a Christian too – and even not to go to them!  I gave them the choice. The Iris pastoral supervisor preached from my testimony and many more people came to faith that night.  There were miracles in that village during our visit. But to me, these precious people knowing Jesus was a bigger gift.  I was so glad that I was prepared, and that God would use even that dark time in my life to bring people to faith and full of his love.

Our Gospel story is about more than a persistent widow in survival mode.  We met women like this in Mozambique, like Maria.  Her story encourages us to persevere and do not quit trusting God in tough times.  It seems easier in African societies that are slower paced.  But in Canada, many of us scream at the microwave to hurry up.  We get antsy in traffic at red lights and slow drivers. Persistence involves waiting.  Persistence is a faith key we learned about in mission school.  Too many missionaries trained in traditional approaches, quit on the field, even after years in training.  They just can’t handle the stress and cultural difficulties.  They forget why they are there in the heat of disappointments, so they quit.  Iris uses a different approach, including cross-cultural communications that go beyond words. They also learn on the job as we did.  Heidi Baker told us:  Do not quit.  Those who do not quit WIN.  How do we keep going – when we are challenged?  Look at Jesus.  Let him fill you with his love and help you persevere. You can’t do this in your own strength.

We also learned that “Waiting is worship.”  This sounds strange if you don’t know how to wait, or become still in your heart towards God. How can waiting become worship? Anything becomes worship when you focus on God.  He fills you with joy, despite circumstances. Your heart softens, you’re more grateful, and you become closer to God. We also heard that persistent prayer builds your character and intimacy with God.  You become God’s friend, and friendship with God is even deeper than obeying him. Friends give their lives for each other. Bereavement and loss are weathered because you are not alone.  And so during that time, you’re transformed. You’re ready for the answer to prayer on the other side of the challenge.  Do not quit. Remember God carries you. I couldn’t do the mission school or South Africa alone.  There were times I found it difficult – with physically trudging up and down a steep hill in Pemba.  Our South African base was in the mountains, and one of the townships was also on a steep hill.  But we persevered. We were rewarded with amazing experiences, and a love for South Africa so deep that, God willing, we’re returning within a year.

I mentioned Maria, our adopted Mozambican widow.  She made lunch for us in her two room shack. It’s at the bottom of a hill, beside the village latrine.  The walls aren’t sturdy enough to keep out rain, wind or thieves. There were holes in the walls and roof.  When the rains come, the house floods. They cannot sleep lying down. We wanted to help with short term repairs and had her house assessed.  They said the house was so bad, it would be better to start over.  So we’re building her a new house!  It costs thirty two hundred US dollars to build her a proper block house.  We started a fund in Pemba and connected with Iris Ministries Canada to continue the fund.  We thought if we were careful, we might get her a house in a year.  But God turned up the schedule.  Tony met with two friends who wanted personal prayer.  During the visits, he shared about Maria. Both these people took out their chequebooks and suddenly, we had almost enough to build Maria’s new house! God engineered this legacy far more than we did.  Now a whole family can be safely housed during the coming rainy season, and actually sleep lying down. God was faithful – Maria received something she didn’t know was possible. She did not give up her trust in God.  We loved friending people like Maria. Tony and I hope to be spiritual parents in a township, as well as do prison, hospital and radio ministry. We plan to teach and support the Robertson base leaders. Even now, we’re going through a journey of downsizing again.

So to summarize, remember that you are a people with hope.  You have been called to know God, and be his people, as he is our God.  Spend time with him in relationship, and he will write his love and direction in your hearts. He heals us as a family and in our hearts. He is our guide and our friend. Read the Bible daily.  There are so many passages in there that will nourish your soul like honey. Too many of us spiritually starve, even when our bellies are full.  When you know your Bible and your own faith story, it also becomes easier to share your faith when you are asked. That is not just for missionaries, but for all Christians. After all, it says right in our baptism liturgy, “Will you proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ?” and will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself?”  This means we can all be missionaries in some way (even Morgan Christina who has been baptized today)!  So learn to be prepared as we have promised.

Don’t quit.  Waiting is worship. Be persistent like the widow, like Maria.  Believe God’s promises to you, even like Jeremiah promised to the Israelites in exile.  We are God’s people, and He is our God.    (Amen)

Note:  I hope you, dear reader have been blessed by this talk.  A lot of people at St Paul’s said they were impacted by this sharing.  I hope you have been too.

Love, Laurie-Ann

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L-A helping with the kid’s club at the art table