Tag Archives: Iris Western Cape

Growing in God through finding family

“Jesus in our School” by Laurie-Ann Zachar Copple, 2019.

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 my last article, we journeyed through forgiveness.  We learned through the story of Joseph that forgiveness is a process; and it is a choice.  Sometimes we need to forgive those who hurt us more than once.  It’s important to keep our hearts soft, and not full of bitterness.  When we give God the person who has hurt us, we give him the right to deal out justice.  Sometimes his justice turns to mercy, as it did when Stephen the martyr forgave those who stoned him. This includes Saul of Tarsus, who looked after the persecutors’ cloaks.  Joseph showed discretion in dealing with his brothers’ sin against him.  Since he did not openly share the transgression, it showed that he deeply forgave. This discretion allowed the family pain to be dealt with without his Egyptian colleagues getting involved. It saved face.   We also learned through Corrie ten Boom’s story, that when you forgive your enemies, it brings special grace from the Lord, indeed.  It took a miracle of grace inside her heart to forgive a concentration camp guard who was cruel to her family.  But she trusted the Lord. He brought healing to her heart, and likely to that of her former enemy.  God has a wonderful way of turning former enemies into family in Christ.  He did this with Corrie ten Boom.  He did this with Nate Saint’s family, after missionaries Nate Saint and Jim Eliott were killed by South American Aucas.  Later on, the killers came to faith in Jesus Christ.  One of the redeemed killers even baptized Nate’s son.  That’s forgiveness.  That’s a sign of real Christian family.    We’re going to explore how we can grow in family.

A healthy family is a real blessing.  Many families are very dysfunctional.  Some are controlling, and others enmeshed.  My own family lacked boundaries in some areas of their lives, and there was much confusion.  Many families lack a real sense of having fathers, since they would be absent in some way.  Some dads would be working and be always away from the family.  Others may be addicted and demanding, or expecting their children to perform well at all they do, and yet others not caring at all.  They may be there in person, but they aren’t there in their hearts.  Their children can tell.  I went through a lot of inner healing when it came to my father.  He teased me all the time, as did bullies at school.  There didn’t seem to be a safe place for me. So I collected big brothers who would protect me.  Sometimes if you don’t seem to have a good sense of safety in a family, you try to find one elsewhere.  Some kids find this in gangs, where they feel they belong. They feel safe, even if they aren’t safe.   Now I actually had a loving father, who cared and cares very deeply for me and my sister.  He was just insecure.  He needed love and safety just as much as I did.  And when I came to faith in Jesus Christ, I had spiritual dads who flowed from the heart of God the Father to me.  This filled the deficit that I had – since my own dad could never have loved me as deeply as that.  He still doesn’t know Jesus yet.

There are many kids who are fatherless.  I’ve seen this in Ottawa, especially among the single-parent households in the poorer areas of town.  Yet it’s even more evident in South Africa.  Teen pregnancies are common in the Western Cape townships, and likely in other areas of the Rainbow Nation.  Where are the fathers?  Some are in jail.  We’ve ministered to some of those in both Ottawa and Worcester.  Others have taken off and fathered other families.  We saw this in Mozambique.  Others have died, since they have led hard lives as labourers, or were killed off in violence.  So boys and girls grow up with their moms, who are struggling to make ends meet.  While the mom may have help from her own mother or sisters, she is continually stressed. Sometimes in desperation she spends the baby bonus on cheap wine. The kids go hungry.   Some of these kids have managed, but many of them have a sense of orphan spirit, where you can feel a sense of desperation and detachment.  They feel abandoned.  In some cases they are, but in others, their moms are trying to survive by working. 

Before covid-19 hit, we would see farm kids in one of our after school kids clubs.  Their parents work as farm labourers, and are in the fields for hours.  They don’t see their parents much, so they’ve been left to raise themselves.  We’ve found them to be some of the brashest, toughest kids we’ve ever known. They tested us at every turn, screamed, shouted and want to destroy things. Some have fetal alcohol syndrome. Yet, some will respond to steady love and discipline.  Tony and I tried to love them this way. However, since our Afrikaans isn’t strong, they needed that added commonality of a shared love language. In came their Afrikaaner leaders, Flip and Inge-Lize, who love with discipline in their language.  They were acting as parents, as family, even closer to them than Uncle Tony and Tannie Laurie-Ann.  We loved them, but they needed surrogate parents. Family draws you IN, and helps you belong.  Family usually speaks the same language.

We are created to grow in relationship.  I remember learning this deeply when I was studying counselling in Tyndale Seminary.  I remember writing about integrating different kinds of psychology and theology into counselling strategies.  When I prayed about combining different counselling methods, what came to me was a Holy Spirit insight.  Our faith isn’t just theology. It is something that is often thought through and lived out of.  It’s a foundation.  Everything needs to be based on that.  If counselling methods are to work, it needs to be thoroughly drenched in our Christian world-view – not as a fake-imposed religion, but out of genuine compassion.  God is our source of healing.  He heals the counsellee, and he heals us.    Since God is a God of relationship, as Father, so he also puts the lonely into families for healing. Psalm 68:5-6 says “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows – this is God, whose dwelling is holy.  God places the lonely in families. He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.”   

Many of us have been hurt in dysfunctional or abusive relationships.  One of our natural responses is to run away. Others fight or freeze. I was the one who froze, or at least hid as much as I could.  But the pain would always follow.  I realized while I worked on this essay that a deep key of healing is actually received through godly relationships.  God uses them to minister to others, especially if they can see Jesus in you.  They respond to the compassion and light.   I shared this insight with two leaders who had a healing ministry in the church I then attended.  They looked at me with joy and told me I was ready to read Tom Marshall. Marshall wrote that relationships bring healing. To receive this healing, we need to connect with each other. This means your real face, rather than a mask; not a projection that is not yourself.  Real family is a safe place where you can be yourself.

To add to the confusion of the fatherless generation, there are more and more blended families.  Some of the teen girls we love and disciple are in blended families.  They don’t know their fathers, but they know their mother’s boyfriends. The relationships aren’t stable.  Other kids are jammed in with them in tiny houses.  Some kids have different fathers, with confusing family dynamics.  One pair of boys that we taught in school looked like brothers, yet the younger one was the uncle of the older boy.  The kids we taught last year were so hungry for love.  They loved the hugs and kisses I gave them, as well as the hugs and discipline Tony shared. They were unruly and had been given conflicting messages from their parents.  One of the boys said in class that he wished that he’d never been born.  Tony was shocked by this and asked him why.  The boy replied, “It’s because I’m so boring.”  This boy is anything BUT boring.  He’s a caring gentleman, loves music and is quite endearing. Does this sound like an exasperated relative told him to shut up, and that he’s boring?  Perhaps, but that sounds like a curse.  And then there is the “S” word that is banded about – “stupid.”  A bit later, the learners taunted each other with that word until I put a stop to it.  I told them not to be silly – and that NONE of them is stupid. They ALL got high marks in my art class.    This group is a dysfunctional family but we’re worked hard on fixing this by being consistent with them.  Sometimes you spend more time with classmates than you do with family members, so they are family too. Unfortunately, school can also be a place of much pain, as it was for me.  Childhood bullies are still a common problem, both in person or online. But we didn’t allow it in our school.    While Tony and I were on furlough, our school was left in the care of Helena. She is very loving South African;  both wise and strict. She doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to discipline. And while I once heard one of the boys complain to me about her, I found that some of them have grown more confident in their personalities due to her influence: especially the youngest child, Delivenance. 

I have continued to learn about family through the Iris movement.  Small groups and Bible studies had their place in my personal healing, but what I heard and my heart drank in through Iris, was transformational.  I always had a longing to belong.  I needed to know my ‘tribe.’  In Ottawa, I was part of three churches – one liturgical, one new Pentecostal, and one in the Catch the Fire stream. One fed me in communion and symbol, another in great teaching, and the third in deep worship, including prophetic drawing.  I was allowed to thrive in that gifting. I worked hard for all of the churches at different times as I was needed. Each has been supportive in their own way.  In 2014, I discovered Iris in Virginia, led by a dear Iris mentor, Brian Britton.  He offered a taste of healthy, very connected family.  Most members were loosely based, and were mostly sent out on the mission fields of South America, the US, Africa, Asia and Australia.  But this was a supportive network that encouraged you in your own destiny calling.  They believe that no one has a cookie-cutter ministry.  We are all unique. In an earlier Ways to Grow article, I have spoken of how we grow in the communion of saints. This is a deep sense of church community.  I’ve also shared about deep friendships, mentors and networking.     But this was something greater than these relationships.  This was Holy Spirit drenched connections, like deeply nourishing family.  I met people there that I call forever friends, people like Brenda and her husband Danny, who nurture deep faith and wisdom.  Then there’s Dennis and Cindy, who minister to the hidden poor in Williamsburg. And people in Richmond who are equally authentic in their faith, who treat the broken like long-lost cousins.   I know what that’s like, since I met two first cousins-once removed through Ancestry.ca recently.  One of them, Cousin Bonnie, is becoming a forever friend.

Heidi Baker always tells us that “love looks like something.”  How does that look in the West?  It looks like family with the same core values and community days, meeting together. It looks like being intentional.  You WANT to connect as family.  You love being together.  My mentor Brian says that “family is the new wineskin.  Iris is also like a family.  The church is supposed to be like that.  We need fathers and mothers – but often we quit on people.  Family does NOT and should not do that. True family sticks together. We really need consistent fathers and mothers.  We need to BE WITH people and not treat them as a project.”  We need to love unconditionally, with humility.  [Brian Britton, backporch talk on Iris in the west, June 15, 2016, Harvest School 24]    This is the environment that I was attracted towards. I found this to some extent at Harvest School, but personally, that school was a pressure cooker for me.  Where I really learned and absorbed family identity, was at the base where we are now connected.  We were being prepared as spiritual parents by seeing it modelled by Johan and Marie Fourie.

We spent 22 days at Iris Western Cape base after two months in Mozambique.  We came ‘home’ to be poured into, to rest, and to receive love.  This was incredibly freeing.  My art was unleashed as I was inspired.  Johan and Marie encouraged me to draw the beautiful landscape of the Langeberg range, foothills and bushveld.  I even drew their beloved field of flags by their winery business.  The Fouries poured into our whole team in a deeply loving, yet in a laid-back way.  I will always remember Johan telling us that “it’s all about family.” Heidi Baker had the revelation of making love practical, and being hungry for God; but the Fouries brought me deep relationship of another kind to the table.  Johan was and is a papa.

Each Iris base is different. We have experienced three bases: in Mozambique and South Africa.  We also know two affiliates: one in Virginia, and the other in East London, Eastern Cape.  The bases had a sense of family, which seemed strongest at Footprints near Jo’burg, and here at Western Cape.  Since our base is not the traditional compound base with a children’s centre, a different strategy is needed. Johan’s dream is to put missionary couples and families in a ring of towns around the base and farm.  We are to all link with other ministries and churches.  These ministries aren’t Iris, but they are still family.  And that is exactly what we’ve done.  We’re further apart geographically from the other Iriser’s than we’d like, but since we link arms with other ministries, we flourish in our own callings.  Some of us are with children, others with seniors.  It hasn’t been easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.  We are intentionally sowing into our Iris family, as well as the family clusters we’ve joined. 

Tony and I joined with several YWAM ministries, and they’ve become family.  The teen girls who we share Saturdays and Mondays with, have become family.  Our cellgroup at church is a very tight-knit family; we’re always in touch on a Whatsapp group. We can share the need for prayer at any time.  This is the ex-pat group in our church, and is perfect for being ourselves. We don’t need to always be in ministry-mode, unless the Holy Spirit prompts us. We’ve found this group is very real; if you need them, they will come help you.  We’re so thankful for this kind of family. I had a similar experience of family when I was let go from my job in British Columbia.  I became very close to some church leaders, the women’s group, and my connect group.  They became my life-line.  It’s been the same of certain female friends – they are like sisters to me. Even my relationship with own sister has become stronger in the past few years. 

Families are actually the building block of a sturdy civilization.  Families are being attacked all the time by the enemy of our souls.  Marriages are as well. And so, this brings us to one of the core reasons why Tony and I were called to South Africa.  We are called to be mom and dad, tannie and oom to the abandoned latch-key kids of the townships.  We are like second parents, loving them, teaching them, and discipling them in the faith.  We allow them freedom to love and make mistakes; to learn and grow. Yet we have healthy boundaries and are teaching them about honour.  One of the girls, Jamelia, told me that we are her second parents. She tells me that she is very thankful for us.  Another girl, Chantelle, calls me Mommy, although she still calls Tony “Uncle” Tony.  We love them all.  As we spend time with them, they grow.  They really just need our intentional time and love.  This takes commitment, especially during covid times.  The girls had been in turn, loving younger township kids through small Bible studies.  They got to be big sisters.  That’s family.  This is how family should be.  We’re not perfect, and neither are they.  But when there’s grace and unconditional love through the Holy Spirit, we can bless each other. We can grow like plants in good soil.  I pray that this may be this way in your own lives too. 

Are you part of family like this?  If you’re not, would you like to be?  Seek God – he can draw you to the right place.  It won’t be in a gang that seeks to harm and destroy.  It will be in within family that loves you to life.

Let us pray together. Lord, thank you that you set the lonely into families. May you pick us up and out of destructive relationships and bring healing.  For the broken, I ask that you father us in a way that only you can.  Minister deeply to hearts, restore a sense of their identity in you, as your child. We ask for more spiritual moms and dads.  There are so many needed, not just the Copples and the Fouries. Not just Brian Britton and Rolland Baker.  Fill our arms with the broken prodigals and those who need family.  Prepare our hearts.  We thank you that you create the best family. May you bring your deep healing and love. And may we continue to grow in you.  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 #59!  If you have been blessed by this article, please let us know!

Updates:  For those looking for news on my cancer journey, I am almost finished the expensive Herceptin injections, with just one to go!  I do not need tamoxifen, although will need to have my chemotherapy port flushed.  I have decided to keep the port for now. I am continuing MLD therapy, lymphedema treatments and physiotherapy to get me stronger for our eventual return to Canada.  We are applying for medical visas, which would allow us to stay six months longer in South Africa.  The medical treatment here is excellent, although expensive, despite the rand-Canadian dollar exchange has helped keep costs almost 20 percent lower.  We have incurred significant medical debt, although kind people in Canada and around the world have helped us so far.  God bless each and every one of them.  But we still need help. 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 cancer treatments (and Tony’s TB treatments). If you feel led to contribute, please do so via our PayPal:  https://www.paypal.me/WaystogrowinGod

L-A’s colouring book:  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:  https://www.takealot.com/colouring-with-jesus/PLID68586424

Bless you and thank you for your support!

Laurie-Ann

Growing in God: Learning how to hear God’s voice part 2

 

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.

We discovered that when we seek God in the secret place, we do this from a place of intimacy.  The secret place, or our prayer closet, is known as our special place we go and pray.  Your prayer closet can be an actual small place like a cabin in the woods or in the desert.  It can be in a quiet room in your home.  It can even be as simple as showing others that you’re having God time, so not to disturb you.  Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley, did this by lifting her kitchen apron over her face, so that her 10 children would be quiet for a while.   It is in intimacy that we hear God’s voice.   Often, the Holy Spirit whispers to our heart. The closer you get to him, the softer his voice appears to be. This is normal, so don’t think that you have missed it.  God just wants you to draw your ear even closer to him.    In John 3:10, Jesus says that his sheep hear his voice.  We are his sheep. We need to stop and listen. When you do, you’ll be surprised by his answer.  He loves to speak to us.

Matteus van der Steen shared that when you are in outreach to the poor, you also hear the voice of God clearly. This may be because his heart is with the poor and downtrodden.  When we are close to God’s heart, we share his intimacy in a much deeper way, than when we speak to him in our own comfort.  Jesus became one of us, and left heaven to rescue us. He ultimately stepped out towards us.  When we do likewise, we are identifying with Jesus in yet another way.  God has a heart for the broken.

Mark Virkler also shares about the importance of learning to tune into the spontaneous thought flow that comes from the Holy Spirit. After you quiet yourself down, you tune in, and focus entirely on Jesus. What comes next is a two-way conversation. But it’s important to set aside the desires in your heart that threaten to consume you.  If you don’t do this, you won’t hear God clearly. You’ll get a distorted word that is a mix of your desire, and what you think is God.  You need to set aside these things and allow God to whisper to your heart about who he really is.  And so, it’s about a personal encounter with him that continues as you press in for more.

I’ve spoken many times about hearing God’s voice with our inner ears and seeing his impressions and pictures with our inner eyes.  It’s much like the process of being inspired to write a beautiful poem, or an artist’s creative idea.  Many creatives get their ideas from God, because their spiritual antenna is tuned that way.

Havillah Cunnington at Bethel Church teaches that there are four different prophetic personalities.  These are “hearers,” “seers,”  “knowers” and “feelers.”  If you look at the different Old Testament prophets and New Testament prophetic people, they all have different ways of hearing God.  Of course they do – they all think and feel differently!  While each have small differences, these four are the strongest, most common “types” of prophetic people. Cunnington led a class on the four prophetic personalities, and had four leaders in those styles share with the audience.

Lauren shared that she dominantly “hears” Holy Spirit’s voice.  She hears through words, although these words are not outwardly audible. She shared that she also does a lot of journaling.  She likes to have conversations with God through her journal, by writing out questions. She in return, receives spontaneous words in her thoughts.  I do something similar in my journal, where I italicize the words that I hear from the Holy Spirit.  Lauren shared that it took two years to get into the rhythm of hearing God in that way. Yet through perseverance, and a focus on her relationship with God, she has been given some of the most profound words she’s ever received.  She shared of one such example when she journaled and asked God if he had a heads up – about anything she should prepare for.  She and her husband had lived in their little house for over a year as newlyweds. She received a word very quickly that she was “not going to be living there for very much longer.”  This was despite the couple re-signing another year’s lease on the house.  However, the owner approached them a few weeks later and said that he would like to sell the home.   So she went back to her journal, and there was her recollection of the “heads up” from God.   I received a similar heads up when I was about to be let go from my radio job in British Columbia.  I didn’t heed those words, but I did hear them, not once, but TWICE.

Sometimes if you have this gift, it can be difficult when you don’t hear God in that way.  This happened with me, during when I went through my first desert experience in seminary.  God was attuning me to hear in other ways, and I felt like I had been abandoned.  I didn’t get words as much, and didn’t get pictures either.  But God was still there, accessible by prayer, scripture and worship.  He still spoke through other Christians, common sense and other ways.  It’s important to be open to the many ways God speaks to us.  It really is a trust issue that often involves WAITING.

The next leader who shared was Jared Neusch. He senses Holy Spirit speaking by inner knowing.  He shared that although he heard from God, it wasn’t by hearing words, seeing pictures, or by feeling. He just knows, or as he says, “you know in your knower.”  This is a deeply internal intuition of being led by God.  He says it’s a trust thing.  He would share with his wife about a leading, and say, “I think we’re just supposed to do this.”  His wife hears words and sees pictures, so they encourage each other in how God is leading them as a couple.  God actually confirms what he says through community, for safety.  He uses this gift to hear the voice of God when he is interacting with ministry students.  He would have an idea come into his head that he is supposed to ask a specific question.  This is something that comes into his mind for the first time. It’s not something that he’s decided to implement beforehand, even though Holy Spirit does use our developed human abilities. A knower gets mini impressions, and then is led to trust and follow.

Then Ben shared, as the seer, the person seeing pictures and impressions.  He would joke that he and his wife would pack up and go somewhere because he SAW where they were going. In his case, he left Australia to come to Northern California to minister at Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry.  It took a few years for his wife to catch up to him casting a vision for years ahead.  This also sounds like when Tony caught up with me in going to Harvest School and becoming Iris missionaries.  I cast the vision, and had to wait until the right time.  Ben’s wife is a knower, so once she “knew” where they were to go, she caught up to Ben’s vision and bigger picture of the future.

Ben shared that the “best way to describe how God speaks to [him], is like he puts a pair of glasses on.  This is now like the lens in which everything else in life is seen through this perception.  This includes words, information, scripture, interactions with people, and life.   People would give ordinary advice, and he’d say, “that’s great, but I’m seeing through these lenses, I know exactly where I’m going, and I’m not changing direction.”  “When God shows [Ben] something and he gets a prophetic word from someone emailed to [him], those black and white words in the email become a 3-D picture.” He also shared that when Holy Spirit gives him a simple picture, and he shares and pursues it, he’s given more pictures or a movie that follows.  Seers are also given insight. I often rely on this in teaching young children.    While it’s exciting to get these glimpses of what’s ahead, you also have to do life with people and everyday ministry in the present.  If you are a seer, it’s important to have mentors covering you as you are preparing for what’s in the future.  He says you need to be released to dream, but to dream in ‘your season and your time.’  When you submit your dreams to leadership, and are given loving guidance, this also grows trust and stability deeper in you.  While we are talking about different ways of hearing God’s voice, the core of the message is that God is growing identity in you.  He is growing you deeper, and this is done in relationship with him and with others.  Mentors help keep you “on track” and grounded.   Faith can be a component in following the dreams, visions and impressions that are given to a seer.  When you receive the pictures, it seems like this is a “now” thing, while often the unfolding of what’s to come happens in process.   Timing is a big issue.

I’ve received two words that were combinations of pictures and words recently. These were concerning my coming healing.  Both were received in South Africa, although I’ve received words before this time as well.  Every once and a while I get discouraged when this hasn’t yet happened.  I’ve been given daily strength to persevere, until this time comes.  Just recently, our Afrikaans pastor asked people to come to the altar who had unfulfilled dreams. He said that God’s timing will come to us as a surprise, and in that moment, we would receive.  When he said that, it touched my heart.  I decided to return to my seat, since I could only stand so long. As I was on my way there, I was stopped by Penelope, a lady on the ministry team.  She asked me if I had prayer yet, and I said no, although my husband had prayed for me.  She encouraged me and told me that she sensed that my surprise was to come, but that God was sure to bring it.  He wanted to say to me, through her, that he would complete what he started in me.  He would be faithful.  In the meantime, I am invited to lean on God for daily strength. Like Habbakuk 3:19, God would give me strength to endure, like hinds’ legs are strengthened to walk on a mountain.

When you get pictures like this, it feels risky to share them. This is why seers often are so relieved when the people they are speaking into, respond in a positive way.  In my case, Penelope’s words confirmed to me what I already knew deep in my heart.  They were a lovely reminder that I knew was true. As for risk; just look at how Shawn Bolz ministers.  He sees names, phone numbers, and all kinds of details, and after he connects with that person, he speaks life into their situations.  His words are like a knock to the door of their hearts. When they open the door, then Jesus can minister life, hope and blessing through Shawn to them.

Often seers can get impressions that they see right over what is physically happening around them.  My former employer, prophet Darren Canning, gets this all the time. He would see something intriguing, and get an imprint over it, like an extra dimension.  Earlier, I shared that Ben gets this as he’s given a pair of glasses to see in a new way.  I’ve had this too.  It’s like something drops over my eyes and everything around me is put in slow motion.  I perceive something, or I’m given an insight, and I share.  I’ve also seen images superimposed over people. Often it’s the face of Jesus.  This makes sense, since Jesus shared in Matthew 25 that when we serve the least of these, we serve him.  It also makes sense when we see Jesus in other Christians – by perceiving and hearing.  It’s a beautiful experience when it happens.

Abi is a feeler.  She shared of times when she would feel other people’s pain and difficulties as if they were her own. She said that it’s important to learn about who you are, and who you are not.  Often when she would feel what’s going on in the atmosphere, she would know that was because God has put her in the position to bring the opposite. So if she felt hopelessness that wasn’t hers, she would bring hope. Abi shared that many times, her feeler was actually like Jared’s knower.  She also says it’s important to know who she is, since she picks up other people’s feelings.  Since she knows how she thinks and feels, she can discern when she is overwhelmed by completely different feelings.   Abi shares that your heart and mind are meant to be a team, or “buddies.”  We hear God intellectually, and through hearing. We need both systems to be working, in order to be healthy and balanced.  It’s important to have people around you who really know you and love you.  You can be honest with them. It’s important to have this safety net.

So in each of these predominant ways of experiencing God: through hearing, knowing, seeing and feeling; we encounter him.  You may be more of one personality than another, or perhaps you’re a mix of more than one.  I’m not sure I could handle the feeling thing, but I’ve had that on occasion.  I’m much more of a seer, but I’m balanced by words and knowing.  Is one better than another?  No, by no means.  They are all good – they are just different ways of expressing God’s message.  All are meant to point to him.

Have you experienced any of these ways of hearing God’s voice? If you haven’t yet, don’t fear.  Holy Spirit still speaks through scripture, other ways of encounter, soft whispers to your heart, common sense, Christian community and more. Seek him.  Ask him to open your eyes and ears, to hear him.  Sometimes your personality is more suited to some ways, rather than others.  Since I’m an artist, I see pictures.  Tony is a thinker, and he gets spontaneous thoughts and knowing.  Our friend Tanya is a feeler and a knower, and these people are excellent prayer warriors.   But again, hearing God’s voice comes with spending time in relationship with him.  So book yourself some quiet time as a date with God.  He won’t disappoint you.  Even if you’re in the silence waiting for him, he speaks volumes through the silence, not to your head, but to your heart.  The key is patience and persistence. And remember, God wants you to find him.

I’d like to pray with you for just a moment. Lord, I ask you to help us learn the sound of your voice – however you want to speak.  Open our eyes and ears to see you.  Help us to recognize your thumbprint over nature, situations and especially scripture.  Give us dreams and visions, words, pictures and more.  We sit before you like young Samuel, when he said, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”  Thank you that you draw us into relationship, and you father us in a deep, loving way. Touch the hearts of all who are reading and joining in as you draw them to you.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I’m also continuing to have follow-up cancer treatments here in South Africa.  We tried to return to Canada to resume treatment, but two sets of flights were cancelled, and we were forced into what was then stage 5 lockdown (it is now at level 4, and we cannot fly out until it is at level 1). We couldn’t even move from our home as expected, but we are safe.  I had to receive life-saving cancer surgery in Worcester and am still raising funds for aftercare. At the moment, I’m still very sore from surgery removing my left breast and nearly all the anxilliary lymph nodes. But I am ALIVE, and grateful for God’s help and those who have stepped up to pray for me and to contribute towards the medical costs.  We may need radiation treatments in South Africa as well, if this lockdown continues on too much longer.  L-A’s treatment continues with expensive injections and consult fees every three weeks, as well as recovery from the radical mastectomy.

If you feel led to learn about my medical story and would like to pitch in, you can visit our medical campaign page.  You can also send whatever amount you’d like to sow into our Paypal accounthttps://www.paypal.me/waystogrowinGod

If you’d like to hear this article in audio format, read by Laurie-Ann, visit our podcast page (https://www.coppleswesterncape.ca/wtgig-podcasts.html)  and scroll down to #54.  Enjoy!  Please let us know if this blessed you!

Blessings, Laurie-Ann

 

 

Growing in God: Growing in love and living water

Naro Moro waterfalls by Laurie-Ann Zachar Copple

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 and Botswana. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During our last four articles, we learned of many of the ways God guides us – through commanding scripture, compelling spirit, dreams, visions, angels, common sense, godly counsel and circumstantial signs.  I had so many stories to share; both ours and those of others.  I am sure that you have a few stories to share of your own.  I’d love to hear them via the comment box on our website, Http://www.coppleswestern cape.ca.

I was going to venture further into how to hear the voice of God, but I was interrupted by a prompting from Holy Spirit.  It’s good to listen to what he wants to say – since it’s timely in a NOW sort of way.  I am to share about growing in love.

Our Iris mama Heidi Baker is an apostle of love.  Her husband Rolland is an apostle of joy.  They often say “Love LOOKS like something.”  That love includes noticing people and stopping to listen to them.  It includes ministering to them with the love that the Holy Spirit fills you with for these moments. These moments are divine appointments, where God puts a person for Heidi, or us to bless; one by one.  Heidi gives advice on how to start ministry in the Compelling Love movie, by sharing, “It’s not complicated, just stop for the one.”    That love shared has a different flavour and package in each place, and each culture.  Love is powerful and shows through your whole being – but love in action is very specific.

Love in the Worcester township of Avian Park looks different than it does in Camp’s Bay near Cape Town.  Love in a First nations reserve in northern Ontario looks different than it would in downtown Toronto, or in Jo’burg.  Love looks different with Robertson farm kids than with seniors from Hermanus.  What are the needs around you?  Do you feel compelled towards acts of service?  That’s one love language that we’ll share about later.

Sometimes love looks like a hug and a listening ear – so the person no longer feels invisible, but rather valued, heard and seen.  Sometimes love means a sandwich, fruit and juice to a hungry South African child.  Do you notice that these ways of showing love are ACTIVE?  They require action – which means to love is not to just sit there and feel sorry for people.  That’s pity, not love.

As humans, we communicate by language – not just English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu and more.  Our words are only part of the story.  Most communication happens non-verbally – and love is expressed here very strongly.  We also speak in other ways than words and cues.  These would be called orientations, or would be best known as “love languages.”  These are personal ways that we best receive and give love.  Everyone has at least one love language, and it is easy to love others within your own way of sharing.

Some people receive more in certain areas than others.  If you’re married, find out your spouse’s love language.  It may be different than yours.  It’s definitely easier to love in your own language, but your spouse won’t really receive that love deeply.  They won’t FEEL loved. If you really want your significant other to receive your love, love them the way they can receive it.  Learn their love language.  Gary Chapman wrote an excellent book on love languages that you can read, called “The Five Love Languages.”

Here are the five love languages:  Number 1 is Words of Affirmation, which includes encouragement and the words “I love you.” Basically this is verbal encouragement. Number 2 is Acts of Service, which can include serving tea with a biscuit, fixing broken things, and so much more. Number 3 is Receiving Gifts. These could be chocolates, flowers, mementoes, box of tea or anything meaningful. It doesn’t have to be a big gift.  Homemade love notes could be part of this gift.  Number 4 is Quality Time spent together. This is an important way to receive love when you spend a lot of time ministering or serving others.  You need time with each other.  We especially need our quality time with God. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s one of Jesus’ love languages.  He needed his time with the Father, and we also need time with him, even if we don’t realize it.  When you create a space for quality time, you are creating a container that can be filled with all kinds of love.  And the 5th love language is Physical Touch.  This includes holding hands, hugs, kisses, and even just a touch on the shoulder. This form of love makes you feel grounded, IF you are not claustrophobically clingy.  I find that the children we teach in MasterPeace Academy receive love by hugs and kisses on the cheek, as well as verbal encouragement.  Unfortunately in Canadian schools, this is frowned upon, since some teachers in the past have abused their authority. How unfortunate for those who have been abused and those who desperately need a kind, loving, appropriate touch.

We shared about love languages with our My Father’s House teens, and surprisingly most of them said that one of their two love languages was quality time, although acts of service was also high on the list.

While these ways of sharing love are a blessing to both give and receive, each of us has two primary ways where we really receive and feel loved.  Mine happens to be Acts of Service, where Tony might help me proofread a devotional, give input on ministry, or bring me a cup of tea).  I also receive words of affirmation – being encouraged, as well as told that I am loved and appreciated.  Tony’s major love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch.  We hold hands all the time, and when we sit together, he has his hand on my arm, shoulder or back.  I know that while he appreciates quality time, acts of service and some gifts, he really feels satisfied when I encourage him and give him the touch he so needs.

I found a meme on Facebook that illustrated the five love languages in the form of Mexican burritos.  This is a delicious food make of meat, vegetables, cheese and spice, wrapped in a soft corn tortilla.

Words of affirmation is shared as “This is a good burrito.”  Acts of Service came across as “I made you a burrito.”  Receiving Gifts is  “Here’s a burrito.”  Quality time was shown as “Let’s go out for burritos together.” And Physical touch was sweet on hugs, when it shared, “Let me hold you and wrap my arms around you like a burrito.”  Can you imagine these languages acted out with your friends and family?  Can you bless your spouse this way?

There are also different kinds of love, since there are different relationships.  Most are shown in the Bible, such as the friendship between Jonathan and David, the loyalty between Ruth and Naomi, and especially the love of Jesus for all he encountered.  Eros is romantic love, which was named after the Greek god of love and sexual desire. Eros is also called “Cupid,” a figure often shown on Valentine’s Day cards. Phileo is brotherly love, or friendship.  The American city of Philadelphia was named as the city of brotherly love.  Storge is family love, particularly the love a parent or guardian feels for their children.  This is what Tony and I naturally feel for the children and teens that we work with. However, our love in action is steeped in far more than natural affection.  Then there are less known loves such as ludus, or playful love; pragma or long-standing love, and philautia, love of self.

The deepest love is agape, the love of God.  This is the only kind of love that is perfect.  When God pours out his love, it transforms us.  Listen to Romans 5:5 NIV: “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  His love empowers all the other loves we may feel and express. The agape love of God is active and can’t help but change our hearts for the better. He transforms us.

Since we are studying love, the best place to see it in action is in the famous ‘love chapter’:  1 Corinthians 13.  This chapter is in between the stern warnings, pleadings and teachings of discipline in the midst of using spiritual gifts – in a loving, and unselfish way.  Spiritual gifts are actually not for the benefit of ourselves, but of others both in the church and outside of it.  Everything in our lives needs to be done in the CONTEXT of love.   Love is personal, and it is relational.  Most aspects of our lives are relational, whether in a work and business environment, family, friends, church, ministry and people we meet who have similar interests.

Close your eyes if it is safe to do so, as you listen to my voice.     Then imagine yourself by substituting your name in the place of where Paul says love.  You’ll see what I mean shortly.

Here’s 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.  This sets up the stage for the chapter. “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.  If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”

This shows love as the motivating force behind all we do.  If perfect love is our motive, we do not fail.   The next verses are where you personalize the scripture.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.”  Laurie-Ann is patient and kind.  Laurie-Ann is not jealous, boastful, proud or rude.

“Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and love keeps no record of being wronged.” Laurie-Ann does not demand her own way.  Laurie-Ann is not irritable, and she keeps no record of being wronged.

“Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.”  Laurie-Ann does not rejoice about injustice but she rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”  Laurie-Ann never gives up, never loses faith, she is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Wow.  I feel convicted.  Can you do this?  Can I do this?  NO, not even close.  We can only express love that way when God’s love fills us completely.  This is not just a once and a while filling of love.  We need this love all the time, like living water flowing out of us.  This means we need continually to drink of it and be in God’s presence as much as we can.

Here’s the rest of the chapter, which puts love as the foundation for everything in our lives:  Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!  But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.  Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.  Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

I’m so thankful that the apostle Paul wrote these words of wisdom.  We can’t survive without love, and we were meant to live in love.  Please take these words to heart and think about how you receive love best in your love language.  Also learn the way that those around you best receive love.

But first, go receive the love of God for yourself.  He loves you so.  We are dry, thirsty vessels without the living water of love within us.  That living water is the Holy Spirit.  That is the same love that the Apostle Paul says is poured out in our hearts.  In John 7:38, Jesus himself shouted to the crowds during a Jewish festival. He said, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.”   Jesus gives us this invitation too.

Lord, thank you for your invitation to receive living water from you.  I say “Yes, please fill me.  We are so thirsty, Lord.”  I ask that you will soak the hearts of those listening, so that they receive your love – as much as they think they can receive, and yet more.  Show us your love in the ways we need it most.  Your love goes beyond the five love languages, but you also express yourself in those ways through your people.  Help us to express your love to those around us.  We can only do this with your love, Lord.  Thank you for your love for us, the love that goes on and on. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

If you enjoyed this message, and would like to hear an audio version, visit the Ways to Grow in God podcast page at coppleswesterncape.ca (WTIGIG podcast page)   then scroll down to #48. May this bless you.

If you are able and willing, and would like to contribute to L-A’s life-saving chemotherapy treatments (that she is receiving in Cape Town, South Africa), please visit the medical campaign page, on how you can give by Paypal or other methods.  Thank you and may God deeply bless you.

Laurie-Ann Copple

Growing in God: How give and receive honour (Honour pt 2)

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 and Botswana. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During our last article, we learned it’s important to develop a culture of honour.  This means intentionally choosing to honour God, leaders, widows, the vulnerable and everyone we meet.  In earlier teachings we learned about encouragement and blessing. Honour is a BIG part of that.  Honour is choosing to see the potential, the intrinsic value or the hidden gold inside a person. You draw it out of them.  Relationships grow stronger and full of healing when honour is involved.  When we honour and listen to people, it grows your relationship. When we do this with God, it’s very special.   Imagine what would happen if we honour and really listen to our spouse!  No more nagging.  No more need to shut out nagging with half-closed ears. Honour validates.  Dishonour… well, it basically feels like a curse.  That is especially the case with the commandment of honouring your parents.  If you don’t, your life won’t be blessed, or even long-lived.

Tony and I work with children and teens in the townships, as well as some farm children in an area between Worcester and Robertson. Many of these kids don’t understand about honour, and authority.  Some of their parents do, since we’ve often been addressed as tannie and oom.  Our team has been loving on these kids for a year now.  It’s a slow process, since we only see them once a week.  Respect is important and we are earning their respect with being constant.

Yet we also battle a different culture.  How does the Cape Coloured community express honour?  Or the Xhosa?  Or even the Afrikaaners?  We are learning.  Sometimes we have to set aside our Canadian and British sense of honour.  Thankfully there are commonalities.     The language of divine honour is still to hold great value in the people you are with.  Honour actually sustains the human spirit.

We have young teen girls who we have been training to lead Bible studies in Avian Park private homes.  These girls need to honour their hosts, since these venues are opened up for their ministry.  The girls also need to honour the children who are with them.  They would be like big sisters to the children who come to hear stories that will impact their lives.   They need to be consistent in loving them and being there for the younger children.

Years ago, I remember an American prophet who ministered in a Toronto church where I was a parishioner.  His name was Marc Dupont.  He said that just as the medium is the message (a phrase championed by Canadian Marshall McLuhan), so the prophet is the prophecy.  What Marc meant was that whatever you are proclaiming must be shown in your own life.  If you are passionate about spreading the Father God heart of love, then that love must show in your life to others.  If you are to speak about honour, you must model and show honour in your own life. So these girls must show the love of God as big sisters to these kids.  They must also honour the hosts of the house venues where they are ministering.  This is a learning process, and we find that discipling these girls a joy in many ways, yet they need to learn how to honour us as well.    It may take time.  So, we know about establishing a culture of honour. When we honour, it blesses those we honour, but it also blesses us!  This is especially the case of honouring parents, but it also works in honouring everyone.

On the world political scene, the deliberate use of lies and ‘fake news’ to gain political advantage is the very opposite of honouring those who may be standing in the way of a particular objective.  It breaks the rules of classic diplomacy, and it will always in the end worsen the situation.  The attitudes of some leaders have been influenced by the tactics of  thousands of social media users and people attempting to hoodwink as many as possible with urban legends and conspiracy theories.  The whole concept of honour and the value of truth are unknown by such people.

How do we honour?  We start with God.  So how do we honour God?   We honour God with our sincere worship. John records the angels singing in Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power.  For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.”   We want to worship God in more ways than songs.   It needs to be a lifestyle where we put him first, and honour him above everything else.  We need to pour out what we do every day to God.  I do that in my art, writing and working with children.  I’m still learning to do that in other ways.  God is interested in all we do – not just the things we do in public.  He’s worth it because he is worthy.

We honour God with our tithes and offerings. Proverbs 3:9 asks us to “Honour the Lordwith your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.”  In the law it was about giving him a tenth, and God would multiply the remaining nine tenths. A tithe is a tenth, and the offerings may be above that, for different reasons.  But whether it’s the first ten percent or an offering, it should be the best we have, not what we’re trying to get rid of.  Why give him garbage when he gave us his best?  The prophet Malachi catches some of this dialogue in Malachi 1: 6-8.  Listen to it in the Message version:

“Isn’t it true that a son honors his father and a worker his master? So if I’m your Father, where’s the honor? If I’m your Master, where’s the respect?” God-of-the-Angel-Armies is calling you on the carpet: “You priests despise me!  “You say, ‘Not so! How do we despise you?’  “By your shoddy, sloppy, defiling worship.  “You ask, ‘What do you mean, “defiling”? What’s defiling about it?’  7-8 “When you say, ‘The altar of God is not important anymore; worship of God is no longer a priority,’ that’s defiling. And when you offer worthless animals for sacrifices in worship, animals that you’re trying to get rid of—blind and sick and crippled animals—isn’t that defiling? Try a trick like that with your banker or your senator—how far do you think it will get you?” God-of-the-Angel-Armies asks you.

Sometimes we defile others when we give hand-me-downs that aren’t in good condition.  Many people in Canada give their garbage clothes away when they are rags.  There’s a reason why certain charities ask for gently used items.  I remember when I came to Kenya for the first time.  I noticed a stall of used clothes in Nairobi and I was interested.  My co-worker Jeff told me, “those clothes came from North America.”  It’s true – so many of our cast-off items do end up in Africa.  Think of how much longer these clothes would last if they were in better condition.  Some are polluted offerings.  And think, how many times we just give our leftover change to God? It’s not like He’s a parking attendant on the street.

We honour God by keeping the truth and speaking it in love. The enemy has always attacked truth, but now, it is more obvious. Currently, truth is twisted about sexual orientation with much confusion over gender identity.  That’s only one area that’s being re-written in many cultures.  There’s also the fight to proclaim life on both ends of the spectrum: conception and natural death.  We have abortion on demand as if it’s birth control.  We have euthanasia for the expendable of any age.  What happened to loving LIFE?  Instead we have a culture of death.  This is a deception to keep us from the word of God.  It’s not honouring.

The Prophet Isaiah warned us in Isaiah 5:20: “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil; that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.”  Talk about confusing!   Malachi 2: 1-8 also talks about God’s priests teaching lies to seekers, and the dishonour that comes when that happens.  Patricia King says that when you step into honour, you step into blessing. When you step into dishonour, you step into a curse.  These scriptures are a call for the priesthood to speak righteousness that will align people with blessings and honour.  We need to keep God’s word as part of honouring him, especially in a way that reflects God’s heart.

We honour God through obedience. This is obedience to God, but it can also affect how we honour our leaders. The writer of the book of Hebrews advises in Hebrews 13:17 to “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”  Say you’re in a church and the pastor goes into things that are definitely off.  Patricia King has advice on how to handle that.  She says, “If you leave a church due to not feeling comfortable with your decisions, just leave.  Don’t make a fuss. That’s not disobedience. Not making a fuss is actually honouring them. If you do make a fuss, you are cursing your life. It  brings contention, strife and division to that church.

Let’s say that you are in a church and the pastor starts preaching that leaving newborn babies in garbage dumps is fine.  And you’re sitting there, thinking, ‘oh my gosh, that is so not fine.”  In fact, the early church rescued unwanted babies all the time in a stand for life.  So you go and talk with the pastor with respect. You say “pastor, the word says this…  Can you explain to me where you’re getting this from?”  He explains, and you say, “I am so sorry, I love you. But I cannot agree with that. I am not in agreement with it and I cannot support it.  I’m going to be leaving this church. I’m going to be praying for you. I’m not going to be speaking evil against you, but I need to speak the truth in love.”  So you leave, but you do it in honour, not dishonour. God’s going to look after that.  We need to honour God’s truth but in a way that isn’t dishonouring either.

Here’s another example. Say your employer wants you to do something that’s wrong. Nicky Gumbel tells a story on Alpha about Gimbo, a man who refused to lie on the phone for his employer, Harrods. He was asked to tell the caller that his boss was out and Gimbo refused.  When the boss got off the phone, he was angry; but Gimbo replied, “If I can lie for you, I can lie TO you.  And I won’t ever do that.”  From then on, Gimbo became the most trusted employee in that company.  Gimbo honoured his boss.

And now to honour others.  How do we honour them?  Here’s some things that will help you.  Look for the good in each other.  Celebrate each other.  I remember helping people in a divorce recovery workshop back in the 90’s.  Holy Spirit impressed on my heart that these hurting people needed not only to forgive, but they needed to honour their former spouses.  As well as any potential new spouses!  When Tony and I married, we included mutual encouragement in our vows.  We could have included honour as well.  But the core is to look for the good in each other and celebrate that.  Don’t speak bad about them to other people, although sometimes you may have to acknowledge issues to work through in private.

And then there are the people that seem to rub you the wrong way.  It may just be a cultural difference or a personality quirk.  So don’t look at that one thing that drives you crazy.  Look for things that you can honour.  Look for things you can celebrate. You can always find SOMETHING to celebrate in that person.  Look at their intrinsic value – what they have inside.

One way to honour is to celebrate birthdays.  In our Worcester church, they post the names of all the people who have a birthday that week. A leader then shares a word of encouragement to the birthday people.  I celebrated a birthday during Harvest School in northern Mozambique, and I was showered all day with love, songs, cake and more. I think it was my favourite birthday.   Those were acts of honour.  Then there’s mother’s day and father’s day. You come to church and they honour parents on their day.  I’ve received flowers and chocolate and Tony’s received fishing birdies, chocolate and biltong. Those days are an opportunity to honour each other.  It’s one thing I like about Facebook – it reminds you of your friend’s birthdays!  It’s easy to honour on a birthday. Could we choose to honour on the other days of the year?

Last week we talked about honouring our parents. You can also honour your children. If you are a parent, aunt, uncle or children’s worker, you can speak life into these kids. Recognize the unique way that God has created them to be. Allow them to be who they are.  Don’t compare them with their siblings.  Listen to their ideas and tell them that you’re proud of them. Tony and I honour our girls by encouraging them to say what they love about each other.  This is becoming a regular exercise.  They are beginning to respond, and last week, Bella decided that she would say what she loved about us.  The previous week, the girls told me that they loved the way I loved them.  Bella told me that the first time I welcomed her to our home, she felt loved and all warm inside.  She’s come to think of me as a second mother and she told me she loved me.  Then she turned to Tony. She told him that she loved him also, and said that he was kind, full of respect for people and that he is there for them.   Wow, we really felt honoured by Bella, who has such a gift of encouragement and teaching.

We can honour each other by preferring them over ourselves.  One way to do this is to be generous.  There are so many ways to do that.  Sometimes gifts are helpful, other moments need acts of service.

We can honour each other by speaking well of them in public as well as private.  This includes when the person is not even there – it’s not done for effect to impress that person.  But even then, some people can honour publicly but dishonour them in private. Patricia King says that “sometimes we’ll say something nice about a person because it’s right to do. But then we’ll go talk to someone else in negativity about them, and that’s dishonouring.  That cancels out your honour. You want to have honour on every side.”

We can honour someone by giving them a special personal gift, like the Queen of Sheba did to Solomon. Don’t you feel honoured when someone gives you a gift? It’s like wow, they were thinking of me!   This is what I tried to do when I drew some of our kids club children in a drawing with Jesus.  One of the girls was amazed and said with wonder, “Wow, you thought of me??  Jesus was also thinking of me?”  That reaction made it all worthwhile.  She received the love and felt honoured.

We can honour by caring for others – especially widows and the vulnerable.  Sometimes they need a little offering to them to give them hope and a sense of value.  It’s beautiful.

Honour is also something that can be culturally sensitive.  It requires awareness and a gentleness to go carefully when you approach someone.  Honour is something that is easier if we deal with the junk in our hearts.  The junk includes unforgiveness, pride and conflict.  If these things are not dealt with in our lives, they can lead to the very opposite of honour.  They will further fragment broken relationships, cause wounded hearts, inequality, pain and fear.

Forgiveness is something that arose again and again in Rob Packer’s book The Life-Giving Power of Honour, as well as Danny Silk’s book Developing a Culture of Honour.  Forgiveness is powerful. I’ve watched healing happen through the lives of those forgiving and the forgiven.   Anglican pastor Dale Lang publicly forgave the school shooter who killed his son back in 1999.  Dale ministers to other families who have endured similar suffering and he brings forgiveness and love into the equation.  He’s able to honour them, since he knows the pain, and he also knows that bitterness and unforgiveness is a trap.

It’s too easy to not forgive if you feel you have been dishonoured.  This can happen with friends and family who may have become too familiar with you. They may not even recognize they are dishonouring you. Proverbs 18:19 says that “it is harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city.”  I know this truth personally.

Years back, I made a cultural error with a female Japanese pastor I was friends with at the time. When you are in a Japanese home, you must take your shoes off as a sign of respect and honour.  I always did this, except for one time, where I just wasn’t thinking.  I brought over another friend to introduce to this lady, and I was focused on my other friend, rather than my hostess.  I forgot to take off my shoes.  She became extremely upset with me, shooed me out, and never spoke to me again.  While I apologized deeply and sincerely for my momentary lapse, this was not enough.  I grieved the loss of the friendship, and I never forgot this lesson on honour.  When Tony and I took a tour of our South African rental home, the then-current tenants were from South Korea.  They also showed honour by taking off their shoes, but they offered honour to us by offering little sockettes to cover our feet.  So we complied and smiled at them.

So when you honour, remember that honour grows nobility in people.   Honour is humility in action. It’s the very opposite of pride that isolates you into a prison of self.  Kris Valloton says that “for a Christian, honour is a condition of the heart, not just the product of a good environment.”

Today we’ve journeyed on how to honour others.  There’s so much to learn, but along the path, I’ve hinted at times on how we receive honour.  Since honour is relational, it usually is returned back.  On our next broadcast we’ll discover more about how to receive or obtain honour.   Because we are God’s creations, we have special value inside. And when we come to faith, we have Christ in us, the hope of glory.  Look for the gold in each other and choose to honour.

Lord, I ask you to help us learn to honour others.  Help us to honour you and to learn the importance of honour. Open our eyes to see the beauty in others, whether they are family, friends, or complete strangers.  May we be instruments in healing where dishonour has wounded souls, as you are healing us.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

If you would like to hear an audio version of this article, please follow this link to CopplesWesternCape.ca and scroll down to #37

Blessings and love, Laurie-Ann

PS for any of you who pray – I was diagnosed with stage 3B inflammatory breast cancer here in South Africa.  We will need to go back to Canada after the chemotherapy treatments are done, to continue treatment in Ottawa.  Please keep us in prayer for healing and finances.  We are crowdfunding, since insurance won’t cover this, and we are already missionaries living by faith.

Our medical campaign page is here for financial contribution info, medical story info and prayer points: Copple Medical page.

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year from the City on a Hill (Hooggelegen Village, Worcester, RSA)

 

Hi! Happy New Year to you, dear reader.

Tony and I have now been in South Africa for two months. While it’s been very cold in Canada, it’s been hot and dry in the Western Cape – with severe water restrictions in Cape Town. Fortunately, Worcester’s water comes from a reservoir in a higher rainfall area, but the lack of rain is a huge concern to all the local farmers – our own Johan and Marie Fourie  (of Iris Western Cape base) included.  Please keep them in your prayers.

Tony and I have been settling into our new home in Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa. Many New Year’s Days symbolize new beginnings – in our case, that was our moving day into a new neighbourhood of Hooggelegen retirement village in the Langerug neighbourhood of Worcester.  It is a community on a hill – so I nickname it the “City on a Hill” – that Jesus mentions in Matthew 4:14: “You are the salt of the earth.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”   I was led to book both of our guesthouses in Worcester, as well as our new 2 bedroom home, which we rent for approx. $800 Cdn a month.  We can do a lot of ministry and meetings in this home (we pre-pay electricity as needed and needed to furnish the home simply, including a fridge and second-hand furniture).

Our first guesthouse was up in the foothills north of the town, and we gained valuable knowledge from the hosts Ruan and Angelique, as well as buying our car (a 14 year old Mercedes) from Angelique’s aunt.  Cars last a long time here in South Africa, so old cars aren’t ‘rust buckets’.  All cars are very expensive here, but are also an absolute necessity.  Tony is still working through the ownership details with the traffic department – kind of like the local ministry of transportation/police. We are at the roadworthy test stage – which is something the new owner does, rather than the seller, with a private purchase.

Here is a drawing that I did of that unusual thatched-roof guesthouse:

 

Our second guesthouse (which included a kitchenette) was our base of operations over the Christmas season.  We met our hosts well before we moved in.  We have connected with a local church that we like (one that is missions focused, and they have simultaneous translation from Afrikaans into English). We met a lot of outreach people where we sit in “translation row,” and were invited to a home group – led by the hosts that would welcome us in central Worcester. This was one of the many confirmations about this local church.  Nik and Gisela have become friends and encouragers into our lives, and both are very knowledgeable about South African living, including history and government.

I found our rental home online, while we stayed at the first guesthouse.  I tried in vain to find a storefront place where we could both minister and live in.  One of the other Iris Western Cape couples lives and ministers in a store front with an apartment – they run a bakery and drop in centre, while they and their children live in the back – but this works for Robertson, not for larger Worcester.  I was strongly led towards this little home in a gated retirement village, and thought, this is perfect for us, but how does it work with a ministry to children?  We’re still working that out.  Meanwhile, we have connected to quite a few ministries that work in several townships, as well as the local Boland hospice, where we go in weekly.

Tony goes into Avian Park on Friday nights with a Nigerian missionary who works with the local children three nights a week – see http://bit.ly/2lZThXW.  I am to join him in time.  We are also involved with another Avian Park ministry called My Father’s House Worcester, which is connected with the local YWAM and headed up by our friend Jan Buchanan.  I am to help them establish a web-presence as soon as we get reliable internet (we are currently using a mobile hotspot with our cellphones and mobile data).  They also have an amazing couple called Marco and Rens – Marco used to be a gangster and now reaches out to the local gang JCYs, cares for teens and loves on the neighbourhood through street evangelism ‘Disciple the Streets’ and pastoral care.  We are fond of this couple and intend to nurture them as leaders.

We are also waiting on becoming prison volunteers in a large prison outside of town, and have been in contact with the chaplain.  Our new church also does prison ministry there, so we may connect with what they have as well – particularly since we are learning Afrikaans and may need additional support due to language issues.

Another ministry we’re connecting to is MasterPeace Academy, led by an American missionary Mella Davis.  This is a private school for gifted township children (by scholarship basis).  Tony will teach science daily (with a curriculum) and music once a week.  I am interested in social studies/geography, but have been advised by my Iris leaders that that’s not a good fit for me at the moment, but that I should stick with art.  This school uses a curriculum called “Meet the Masters,” which is completely different from how I was taught art.  Please keep us in prayer as we journey through this new venture.

Mella also runs a drop-in the Chip Ross Centre for children/teens, in another neighbourhood called Riverview.  This runs on Wednesdays and we may be involved.

The ministry that I feel the strongest pull towards (other than to help our Iris Western Cape family with children, admin and website work), is called Kibbutz El-Shammah.  It is like an oasis in the Roodewal township.  It was founded in 1993, but has roots that began in the 1980s with local Christian social worker Erena Van De Venter.  Erena is like a South African Jackie Pullinger, working with gang members, rehabilitating drug addicts and micro-enterprise in the township.  We visited the crèche, environmental programme, sewing centre and the screen printing shop, Boa Boa.  I am considering helping with the screen printing shop with spreadsheets, and possibly more.  They also run a programme for the young men called Change Makers. Tony and I met them as they were deepening their faith and learning how to be strong, compassionate men of integrity.  Here is a picture of us with the current Change Makers group:

 

The second time we were in the Kibbutz, I was inspired by the place and had a prophetic art impression of the ministry as an oasis in the desert (the region is semi-desert and we are in drought).  The Father was impacting the oasis with his deep love, and streams of living water were flowing out of the oasis into the surrounding township.  Children were playing in the water and being revived. So I drew what I saw and gave the drawing to Erena. She was greatly encouraged, and showed me the logo of the ministry – it had a very similar theme!  I had no idea!  I include the drawing, so you can see it for yourself.  I plan to do similar drawings with the other ministries as God leads.  Here is the drawing that I did for them:

 

There are more ministries we are learning about – there are three others that we’re finding in our little retirement community – one couple we have met, the others we are still to meet.  We feel like we are connecting all the nets of the town together to catch those who would normally fall through the nets.  Tony has set up a web page which lists ministries as we encounter them – see http://bit.ly/2lf2Wug. We are finding our own expectations are different from what is unfolding – part of this is sometimes what God brings you to is different from what you imagine. The other part is that we need to be careful to be pulled this way and that by current needs only.  We need to do what God has sent us to do.  Please keep us in prayer that we will always stay on the right path.

So what we’ve been learning is humility, teachability, being open to constant surprises from God, and to keep our hearts full of love.  We can only do that by spending lots of time with Him – for He gives us the compassion, direction, and endless grace that we’ve been experiencing.  We’ve also been learning Afrikaans from an amazing disabled couple – Andre is blind (from birth) and deaf (since      age 16). He has intricate hearing equipment, so he can hear us.  His wife Janey is a trained teacher, and she is deaf without her hearing aids.  Together, they help us navigate Afrikaans vocabulary that we need, and we are beginning to learn sentences (prayer help, please!).  Prepositions are a challenge to remember and sentence structure is definitely not like English, or even French.  But we will learn. They have become very dear friends.

Of note is how we spent Christmas.  It was very different having Christmas in the summer, with it’s low key “festive” emphasis. Instead of turkey, mashed potatoes, and all the trimmings, we had delicious home-made cold meats of tongue, corned beef and ham, salads, and trifle.  South Africans often spend Christmas season on the beach and at the braai (barbeque).  We travelled to Cape Town for Hillsong South Africa’s Christmas “Spectacular” – a wonderful Christmas theatre presentation. Christmas eve brought us low-key acoustic Christmas carols and a guest preacher in our regular church.

For the evening, we travelled to Robertson (not far from the Iris base) to worship in a train, called The Gospel Express.  The church’s priest is Lionel, an 87-year old Anglican, who is an amazing story-teller and gives the gospel in every message.  To my surprise and delight, the liturgy was so similar to our own, that sometimes I strayed from the book.  When I did, I was caught by a slightly different response – but it was okay.  We had missed liturgy and the eucharist, so this was a wonderful treat for us.  We plan to visit again as we can.

You are welcome to drop me an email at kootenaysprayer@gmail.com or our ministry email laurie-ann@coppleswesterncape.ca. Our website is Coppleswesterncape.ca and we are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Isaiah 43:19 “Look, I am about to do something new, even now it is coming, do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”

If you feel called to partner with us in our work, either financially or prayer-wise, please send us an email and we’ll tell you how you can do that.  You can even receive our prayer email updates.

May you also be blessed in 2018 – this year of breakthrough…

Blessings to you all,  Laurie-Ann Copple
Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa

(WaystoGrowinGod.org and CopplesWesternCape.ca)