“The Bridegroom Awaits” by Laurie-Ann Zachar Copple, March 2020.
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 journeyed through finding family. Many of us come from broken families: with absent fathers, frazzled mothers and confusing boundaries. Many parents are just trying to survive, whether they’re in South Africa or in Canada. If people can’t find a sense of family and safety, they will try to find it elsewhere. This can be through like-minded people, gangs and people who aren’t safe at all. But God sets the lonely in families. It’s a promise in Psalm 68.
These families are set in place by God to bring healing to the fatherless, confused and broken people. We are healed through godly relationships, and need the love, support and guidance that a community group can bring. These can be through small church groups, and mentors that are brought into our lives. Some of them become even closer than mentors. They in a sense become second parents. Real family is a safe place where you can be yourself. True family sticks together. You grow within a family that loves you to life.
Legacy is something that family at its best leaves as a blessing for later generations. Some of this is financial. Tony’s learned much from a South African organization called Generational Inheritance Group. They operate from a biblical principle learned in Proverbs 3:22, that encourages planning family finances in a three-generation model. Instead of just providing for themselves, and sometimes their children, it’s about building something that lasts for generations. The whole family needs to be involved, and after a while, the extended family. These principles can even be taught to struggling township folk and working poor to get beyond living paycheque to paycheque, or worse, handout to handout, for a lifetime. You can read more in Jasper Cloete’s book “Legacy,” which we serialize from time to time on CWCP Worcester Reports.
Legacy is also something that Tony and I have in mind for leaving something behind in Worcester that will last long after we leave South Africa. We are only two people, with limited Afrikaans. We teach, we love children and are involved in different after school kids’ clubs, as well as a morning Legacy Relay ministry. We tried to minister to as many Avian Park children as we could on Monday afternoons. Yet more and more children came – some came to learn about Jesus, some to sing, but others for the food. There were too many to manage. They were way too loud for our borrowed library space, so we were eventually asked to leave. We didn’t know what to do, but asked God for help. Jan Buchanan, leader of My Father’s House ministry, had used The Mailbox Club materials in the past, so we contacted them and were delighted when they offered to give an introductory training in our home to explain their curriculum and the way they minister to kids. We were advised that we should split the children into small groups of no more than ten. We needed to train up teens who would lead small Bible studies with the younger children. Six girls initially volunteered to be trained, and since then we added two more.
What we’ve found is that we’ve invested time, love, training and discipleship with these teen girls. In some ways we are like their second parents. Legacy involves family and children. Yet these girls are growing up. They are taking a hand in ministering to children and are gaining confidence that they also can make a difference. While each girl is uniquely themselves, they represent Jesus AND us. They are part of our legacy – in reaching one or more Worcester township children, ten kids at a time. Not too long ago I had wondered if we were doing the right thing with these girls. Some days are hard – after all, they are teens. They push boundaries, test our limits, but know ultimately that we love them. They grow. We grow. One of our Canadian intercessors is named Peter. He is very prophetic and speaks into our lives at just the right time. He had told us before we arrived in Worcester that there would be times when we felt that what we would be doing, is tiny. This would be despite having a full schedule. Yet, we were to concentrate on these girls, as well as depositing in a few others. God would use these specific girls to make a difference in their own communities. Peter reminded us later that while the teens are one of the hardest ministries, it’s the one with the most eternal significance. We would minister into the girls, but also inherit the fruit of the children they would love. It’s like a stone thrown into water. We create the ripples, but with the enthusiasm they are gaining the girls, will continue on after we’ve left South Africa, spawning new clubs as they develop new leaders from their clubs.
Legacy is also something that is fostered within the Iris movement. Mentors are called Mama and Papa – for example, Mama Heidi and Papa Rolland Baker. Mama Pamela and Papa Tony Maxwell are in charge of the Harvest Mission Schools that used to be in Pemba, Mozambique, and now travel to several locations. These schools specialize in training missionaries where a high percent of alumni become long-term within that movement. Mentorship and legacy go hand in hand. When Heidi and Rolland speak in the first world at different conferences, they don’t bring up the topic of money – unless there is a specific emergency relief need. Their focus is on connecting people to their destiny calling. Many of these callings are to be missionaries – if not forever, than at least for a time. This too, is about legacy.
We met many wonderful teachers during our Harvest School in 2016. We had teachers from all over the globe – Canadians like Stacey Campbell, Americans like my Iris papa Brian Britton, Matt Sorger, Jason Lee Jones and other Irisers like Will Hart. There were also Europeans like Matteus Van der Steen and Georgian Banov, and as well as Africans like Surpresa Sithole and regional Mozambican leaders. Different schools had other distinctive leaders, but all were special with a different mix of cultures, experiences and deep teaching. One couple that blessed me was Jim and Pat Banks. Both have a legacy of training people to become spiritual parents, as well as acting like wise, loving mentors to the young. Both were heavily booked up for in-depth counselling sessions from things that would arise during intense learning, spiritual warfare and living in close quarters with other young people. Jim taught an afternoon session, that both Tony and I attended, on making the last part of your life count. He spoke a lot on legacy, mentorship and letting the next generations stand on our shoulders. This contradicts the wrong thinking that the sons and daughters of successful men and women often express. They proudly declare that they don’t want to be seen as carrying on excellence developed by their parents, but want to do something that they create independently. This destroys legacy, and is actually self-aggrandisement.
I had a chance to read one of Jim’s books in Kindle format. This is the easiest format for me since it doesn’t require me to fill up a bookshelf that I may have to take back with me to Canada. The name of Jim’s book is One Calling, One Ministry: A Couples Guide for Finding Your Calling. This title grabbed at me, since Tony and I may have had the shared ministries of the Alpha Course, prison ministry and radio since the early days of our marriage, but this was not a full calling together. While we aren’t joined at the hip in everything, we are now far more in step with each other in South Africa than we ever were. We share being spiritual parents to township teens. We share loving on township kids, even if we use our different skills. We share our internet radio ministry. We support each other in the divergent ministries, such as finance, bookkeeping, art, and teaching different topics. And Tony is amazing at pastoral care. Where is the legacy in this? Our legacy is in God using what we have in our hands to bless others. We share reproducible skills. I’ll go back to that concept a bit later.
Jim Banks shares that legacy is an ultimate ministry objective. He says, “when you think about it for a moment, legacy had to be the bottom line for Adam and Eve. God had the same goal for them on earth as their personal assignment; to reproduce after their own kind. They were perfectly equipped to do that both physically and spiritually. The Garden of Eden was certainly large enough to require more than one care taker. Having no other help, they were going to have to raise their own, a tradition that every rural farming family has carried on faithfully. “
The Lord caused the yet-to-be-named Elijah-Elisha principle of mentor multiplication to be in effect as a natural foundational element of society even before anyone thought about naming it. What did they need to learn? What did they need to pass on? This was not only true from the work of their hands, but with their relationship with God.”
There is a natural way in the parent-child relationship that should be the natural order of all relationships. Parents don’t want their children to suffer the consequences of the same mistakes they made. We want them to have a better life than we did. We want them to be wiser, better educated and able to make better decisions than we did. “They only way to make that happen is to teach them, train them and give them the benefit of our acquired knowledge. That’s what family members do for one another. That’s what supervisors should be doing for the employees under them. In religious terms, we call that discipleship.”
In the west, there is a tugging away from learning from earlier generations. Post-modern society is more independent and extremely mobile. Jim notes that “very few people live in the same area as their parents or grandparents. Consequently, grandchildren are seldom raised around their grandparents, which robs them of another source of connection, emotional support and earned wisdom.“
Unfortunately, this narcissistic society has made it all about “us” and short term returns on investment. Jim says that “legacy is only something we think about in terms of inheritances and plastics recycling. As we consider our lives and our personal ministry, one of its components has to be legacy; what kind of mark will it leave on the lives of those we encounter? Think about that for a moment. What would happen if there were ten unbroken generations of Elijah-Elisha level mentoring accomplished in a single family? With the anointing doubling through each of ten generations, a man or woman would be walking in 512 times whatever level the first generation walked in. Now you know why the enemy is after every parental relationship to try and destroy it.”
When trust in parents and authority erodes, these parents can lose the platform of mentoring and discipling their own kids. I was very fortunate to have parents who taught me some skills. I remember my dad teaching me how to tie my shoes, and to tell time, and there were many other things. He also is good at drawing and I learned some of that from him. My mom taught me some cooking skills, that I decided to surpass, simply because I wanted to do so. Tony learned reading, writing, arithmetic, and about engineering, classical art and music history from his Father. This is about culture and practical things. I also taught my sister about art when she was little, and found she has quite an eye for colour and composition.
Since we were already primed to pass on our skills, as well as our faith to Worcester’s children, we were recently approached by our pharmacist Carica and her husband Louis Le Grange. They had an inspiration for some of the residents of our retirement village to teach skills to the children in one of the local primary schools. Some other residents took up the challenge and brought their stories, knitting, crocheting and other crafts to the learners. Tony and I were among the first of the group. We went in as if we were starting a kids’ club and shared children’s songs about Jesus, a little science, and some art. They got to colour some of my colouring sheets, and recently began to draw their own inspired work while listening to soft worship music. This is the same type of music that we play before and after our CWCP Worcester Reports broadcasts.
Louis and Carica’s dream was for the children to not miss out on skills and topics that aren’t taught in schools anymore. Art and music are often topics that are cut out of curricula due to costs of materials and time. Crafts and stories are other things that are missing from teacher’s plans. These happen to be skills that many of the Afrikaaner seniors have. This is a win-win situation, where the seniors are feeling useful and worthy – they have so much to give. And the children are hungry for love, for touch and to learn. We are thankful for the two teachers we’ve encountered. They are willing to work with us, as we give them a heads up on what we feel inspired to share, and they let us know what they feel the kids need. They are learning with us, as their academic knowledge is being blended into something beautiful in this pilot project. We trust that some of these kids are receiving something special in learning that we can all learn from each other. And so, this too is legacy. In legacy, nothing is wasted, and the kids grow from experience, rather than re-inventing themselves. These kids can learn and know who they are! They can learn their identity in Jesus! They can learn and grow as being part of the Rainbow Nation together. Part of South Africa’s legacy is a heritage of different cultures. This proudly includes many African tribes, as well as the English and Afrikaaner heritage. It also includes those of Cape Malay-Khok-koi heritage. Legacy includes history. Legacy includes mentoring, legacy includes family. What mark would you like to leave on posterity? Rather than try to leave a monument that may crumble into dust, leave a mark of love on those you encounter. Make them stronger people. This is exactly what South Africa needs. It’s what every country needs. Making a difference also gives us deep satisfaction as we fulfill destiny callings to be mamas and papas.
There is one more legacy gift that Tony and I have left to many – and that’s these Worcester Reports programmes. We podcast these shows, as well as my Ways to Grow in God devotionals. While we had weekly broadcasts, I also post a written version of the devotionals here on my devotional website, waystogrowinGod.org. We’ve always done this without asking for funds. We trust God for those. There are people all over the world who have either come to faith in Jesus Christ or grown in the faith they have. For this, we are thankful. This is an intentional legacy that we pass on to you.
Lord, thank you that we can leave a lasting legacy in you. You are the same God – of yesterday, today and forever. You know the people who have lived before us – help us to learn from their victories and their mistakes. Help us to learn from each other, and gain strength. But even more important, help us to learn more from you about sharing what we have in our hands. If our hands seem empty, they really are NOT. You filled our hearts with love and our minds with wisdom. Help us to pass this on and mentor others. Thank you for your wisdom that calls at the gates, and that ultimately, Jesus, you are that wisdom. 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 #60! If you have been blessed by this article, please let us know!
Updates: For those looking for news on my cancer journey, I am finished the expensive Herceptin injections! I only need to have my chemotherapy port flushed once every three months. I have decided to keep the chemo port for now. I continue MLD therapy, lymphedema treatments and physiotherapy to get me stronger for our eventual return to Canada. We are seeking quotes on a small surgery to L-A’s mastectomy scar, whether it’s done by a plastic surgeon or her regular surgeon. This is to ease care of L-A’s mastectomy scars. If it is done by a plastic surgeon, we may lessen the lymphedema swelling in the surgical area.
Meanwhile, we are waiting on our medical visas, which would allow us to stay six months longer in South Africa. According to Home Affairs, the wait can be up to 60 business days. That’s a long time without our passports, but we need to be patient and trust God and our lawyer during the process. We believe that the medical treatment here is excellent, although expensive, despite the rand-Canadian dollar exchange has helped keep costs almost 15 – 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 (as well as 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!