Tag Archives: South Africa

Growing in God through hunger and thirst

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings to you all,
Laurie-Ann Copple

Waystogrowingod.org
Coppleswesterncape.ca

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

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

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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)