Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Our first outreach was in the afternoon attended by many children and mothers. After the dancing and praise, Bill spoke a testimony calling the people to come to know Jesus. Many came forward and gave their lives to God and the church probably tripled in number just from that one service. One woman showed up to give a testimony with her baby. Last time the Wheresoever team was here, they prayed for this baby who had been diagnosed HIV+. The mother came and testified that the baby is now testing negative for HIV! God is indeed good!
We slept well, having found a guesthouse with air conditioning. We hadn’t had any A/C available in any of the cars or any of the accommodations, but we enjoyed the comfort and luxury of a good night’s sleep. The white noise of the A/C also had the added benefit of covering the noisy highway sounds through the night.
We spent Tuesday morning getting supplies in downtown Tete. After picking up a soldering iron and a thermos, we joined the rest of the team on the road to Mamese village #2. We stopped briefly to pick up our luggage and began the 2 hour journey towards Mamese village. We had to stop for fuel on the way, so we took advantage of a local gas “station.” Unfortunately, there were no clean restrooms nor cold drinks available.
We got to Mamese village but didn’t find the other part of our team there. After checking throughout the village, we determined that due to the risk of the car failing on the way back to the base at Vila Ulongue, we would head on and leave the team to do the outreach Wheresoever they might be!
The drive back was through beautiful African savannah. We were blessed by a beautiful sunset over the mountains. The setting sun seemed to be our closing sign that we have come to the end of our Mozambiquan adventure. We have had obstacles and setbacks, but we realize that God is moving in Mozambique and His enemy doesn’t like it. But no matter what the devil has to say about it, Jesus is Lord over Mozambique!
Monday, October 4, 2010
We had just finished 3 days of pastoral training and seminars. Several churches in the border area of Saqama and Zobue had invited Wheresoever to come in and put on these seminars, since few of the pastors have theological or other spiritual training. As part of our mission, Bill spoke about faith, Steve K. spoke about the spirit of anger, Steve E. on business, and Charles on resisting fear as well as the essentials of the Christian faith. Kenneth and Enesia Lewisi - a husband and wife team that helps lead Wheresoever in Africa - had added their topics as well on the power of prayer, and the Holy Spirit.
Though the seminar went very well, not all our ministry was so successful. We had planned 3 outreach crusades in the area, but were beset by strange hindrances. We had arranged an outreach on Friday by the mountain church but that was on school property and the authorities denied us permission to setup there until after dark – too late for us as we had an evening crusade planned elsewhere.
Sunday morning, all of us split up and brought messages and greetings to various churches nearby. We found most of them to be quite small and with little but 4 walls and roof to show that there was a church meeting there. One church that Bill Moore spoke to had almost 20 people, but only 1 Bible – and that belonged to the Pastor. There is so much work to do here, and so few resources or people to help. God, send out harvesters!
Sunday afternoon, we hit the road to Tete City, the capital of the Tete province. Since the team is so large (18 of us total) we have to use 2 vehicles to transport the equipment as well as the people. About ½ way to our destination, the smaller vehicle containing 8 of us overheated and steam began rising from the engine. A water-coolant line had busted and we could not drive it again without finding parts and repairing it. It was arranged that the larger vehicle would tow the small one, but that left 8 of us wondering how we’d get to the city.
Along came the local transportation – a mini-bus meant to hold about 15 people. There were plenty of seats for us, so we piled in and began our journey. Even Danny & Lindy had not taken cross-country local transport before this, so it was a new experience. As we drove into the lower plains, the heat began to be noticeably more humid and hotter. We’d stop every few miles and pick up more passengers. By the time we were close to our destination, 28 men, women, and children were packed into the 15 passenger vehicle!
We are thankful that we made it safely. Once again, however, due to the late hour of our arrival and the separation of the team, no outreach could be carried out – 4 significant outreaches cancelled in just 3 days! We prayed together as a team and plan on forging ahead without allowing a victory for God’s enemy!
Our time on Monday has been spent looking for car parts and another amplifier. Our plans are to do 2 outreaches today and one tomorrow afternoon. Following Tuesday’s outreach, we’ll drive back the few hours to Vila Ulongue, the base for Wheresoever in Mozambique.
We hope to finish strong, so pray for us as we impact this area for Jesus, bringing hope and healing for the lost. The needs are evident around us, but the equipment is hard-pressed and it wears out quickly in this harsh climate. We are still praying for another vehicle that will be reliable and we are confident that God has a plan. Thank you all for your prayers – they are VITAL to this work.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
We had just ministered to several orphans at a local church off the highway. We were so blessed to be able to deliver new t-shirts, soap, and notebooks to the children. They all live with a foster-family, but they are often overlooked when provisions are made within the families. The children listened closely when they heard the story about Cain and Abel and how God can give us strength to resist temptation to do wrong things. Danny and Lindy Bravo elicited roars of laughter when describing how the Azungu (white folks) had such a hard time flying all the way from America to see them in the little thatched-roof brick church. Several bright faces responded to the invitation to follow Jesus with their lives and hearts.
Now we were crowded with 17 of us in the rusty and dilapidated Land Cruiser, carefully trying to find a way up to the village high up in the hills. We had learned that the “traditional animal dancers” – those who worshipped animal spirits and strived to emulate animals themselves - were due to hold a ritual dance that night – in the same spot we had chosen to preach and teach! We prayed fervently that God would give us favor and that those who would be normally worshipping created beings would instead hear about the one true God who loved them more than any animal.
We set up the spot under two large trees. Unloading and starting the generator, we soon powered up a small soundboard, speakers, a keyboard, bright lights and microphones. Night had fallen and music and invitations over the loudspeakers drew locals out from the bush from the dark of the evening. Many had never been to church and didn’t know the traditional responses to shouts of Alleluia and praises to God that came from the local team as they began singing and dancing in worship to Jesus.
After much joyful worship and dancing, Charles shared a story of God’s love proven through creation and the sending of His own son to die for the lost and His resurrection to eternal life for all. Steve Konzman shared from his own testimony about how he found God in the midst of trouble. A drama emphasized the hold that sin has over us until we turn our lives over to Jesus. Finally, the invitation was given to those who would receive and many hands were raised as they prayed to ask Jesus to save them.
God is at work in these people – they are seeking and searching for deliverance from their spiritual bondage. Wheresoever Ministries is hard at work, bringing the Good News to those who have never heard. They are in need another vehicle, as our trip here has amply demonstrated.
Monday, September 27, 2010
We were then whisked away to the home of nearby friends that host missionaries in Malawi. We found immediate trouble in logistics as the main vehicle we were to use had to have the manual gear housing replaced. Easy enough, except that finding a replacement part proved to be difficult and, as of this writing, unaccomplished. Remembering our lessons in flexibility, on Saturday morning we switched to a different vehicle, piling on the supplies and piling in the missionaries.
After a good night’s sleep, we woke to roosters crowing, dogs barking, and children laughing outside the windows. We headed off to the church service, where several of the local Foursquare Churches had gathered for a bi-monthly fellowship. We had a wonderful time entering into worship with our brothers and sisters, dancing and singing into the morning. Charles and Bill gave a greeting to the congregation. Afterwards, the local leaders brought a short message and we entered into a time of prayer for healing and deliverance, in which each of the team was directly involved.
After a very late lunch, we walked over to the local prison – a squalid and unadorned cement block building with about 100 men crowded into a place designed for 40. We worshipped together with the men and then Steve Estes and Steve Konzman brought a message of hope for the men inside. Several declared their desire to follow Christ as they felt the tug of the Holy Spirit leading them.
The end of the evening was a time of relaxing and enjoying dinner with the local African team with whom we will be spending our days. We’ll drive out Monday to meet the orphans that Wheresoever has been providing for and afterwards to an evening crusade. This will be Tuesday's plan as well.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
We visited a few other carepoints as well, heading up into the mountains with Dennis to look at a brand-new carepoint – Ngungwane – which had just been built about 2 months ago. The view from the top of the mountains was beautiful, though the drive on the rocky dirt paths led to a few exciting moments wondering whether we should have rented a 4-wheel drive instead of a sedan.
We ended the day with a visit to Mpholi, where Pastor Bill had made a sweet friend last January. The good news is it seems there is a newly built kitchen ready for use there as well! If His people will listen, God will get the job done of taking care of these little ones – we must only be faithful to His command to do our part.
Tomorrow, we’ll be heading back to Nsoko one last time and encouraging the missionaries there, as well as playing with the children. Swaziland is a hard country, but God is at work here. We want to bring hope to those who have none - our partnership with Adventures in Missions and Children’s HopeChest will enable those who have no bread to eat and be satisfied while they also hear about He who is the Bread of Life.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Our first full day in Swaziland. This photo is Dennis & Zwakele Brock, AIM missionaries. Dennis is from NY state and has been in Swaziland for 4 years. He met Zwakele in a local church and they married a couple of years ago. They are expecting their first child in late March. Hope Chapel is hoping to support them and their work here in Swaziland on an ongoing basis, if possible.
After 24 hours of travel, we finally arrived and spent Sunday night in the Tum’s George Hotel in Manzini, Swaziland. After breakfast, I, Ron, thought I had lost my wallet, but discovered it well-hidden in my room, much to the relief of the team – and an answer to prayer. Dennis and his wife gathered us together and on we went to Nsoko Swaziland, about an hour from where we are staying in Manzini. We stopped for lunch at a Game Preserve and met up with Jumbo, AIM’s director for Swaziland. We then went on to Nsoko and the anchor center for the carepoints in that region. We met the Peterson family who had just arrived for a 3-month stint working with the orphans at the Nsoko carepoints. Their story is inspirational – ask me about it sometime.
Finally it was time for my visit with the 4 boys Ann Marie and I sponsor. The boys live on the homestead of an elderly Gogo (grandmother). In this photo is the Gogo, and from the left, Mandla (11), Sibusiso (9), Cel-musa (5), Sanelo (10). This was my third visit to see the boys at their home and they were very excited to receive some t-shirts and a football. We spent a good time throwing the ball around and playing. After much too short a time, we left to go and look around a potential carepoint – Mbuthu. It is a bare-bones area, lacking in all basic necessities, but being a place of feeding for about 30 children.
We headed back to Manzini, ready to continue tomorrow with what God is bringing us. Tuesday we will be visiting an established carepoint – Tambini – where we hope to get a full picture of what our carepoint could be. Next we go Mpaka, which is unique in that it is a completed and built-out carepoint, but no children have been sponsored as of yet. Before the end of the day, we’ll head over to Mpholi to visit the children there – along with Pastor Bill’s sponsored child, Simongele.
Please keep us in your prayers as we finalize the carepoint selection. We have seen God at work already, and are confident that He is leading us as we go.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
We started our trip to Africa leaving RDU at a reasonable hour, everything packed, no problems with checked luggage. We arrived at Dulles and had a nice lunch waiting until our check-in time. Well, we arrived at our gate with a few hours to spare and discovered that, not only was our flight not on time, it had been cancelled until the next morning. That put our schedule behind by a day! If we hadn't been flexible, we would have lost it big-time.
The airline put us up at a hotel and we invited a few other stranded travellers to join us for dinner. Well, we ate with a couple of muslims from another African country and a young South African teenager returning home after working a summer camp. We had a wonderful time getting to know our new friends and a few questions were asked and answered. At the end of it all, we were invited to continue our discussions as we could. Could this have been a God moment, even before we left the USA?
My thoughts are this: Why do we believe that we must leave our own shores to be a witness to the world? The world comes to the USA everyday! International students, foreign tourists, legal and even illegal immigrants - they come to the USA and we are already here. Think about it.
Finally, we arrived a day late to Swaziland and we'll be heading out tomorrow to look over the Carepoints where we hope to begin sponsoring children. Keep us in prayer and let us give thanks for God's plans - even when we don't fully get them.
God is indeed good....all the time.
Your Hope Chapel Missions Team
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Swaziland - Nation in Need - From Lonely Planet: "Currently, Swaziland’s greatest challenge comes from the HIV/AIDS pandemic; the country has the world’s highest HIV infection rate (almost 39% for adults between 15 and 49 years of age), and life expectancy has fallen as a result from 58 to 33 years. It’s estimated that there are currently more than 70,000 AIDS orphans in the country, and by 2010 [that is NOW] one out of six people will be a child under 15 who has lost both parents."
Steve Estes, Ron Elmore and Charles are heading to Swaziland Africa on Saturday, September 17th. We go to secure a place - a Carepoint - for Hope Chapel to begin sponsorship of a small fraction of these 70,000 AIDS orphans. Please pray for us that God will give us favor and that the details of our commitment to the Carepoint will be worked out clearly.
Psalm 82:3-4 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Friday, August 20, 2010
But as those who are called to take the Good News all over, sometimes we need to remember to be thankful for where God has put us. We also need to think about how we use our own resources - is it mostly for our own comfort? Do we give to help other in a way that is meaningful...or is it just our leftovers? While I'm not bashing the lifestyle of most of us, I'm asking that we think - and pray - about how we can share what we have somehow.
We are blessed to be a blessing!
Monday, March 15, 2010
One of the things that stuck with me the most from the trip was our outreach in the girls’ prison on Thursday. That was a rough day for me. The girls are split into two groups—the girls who are waiting to hear their sentences and live upstairs in the prison, and the girls who are serving their sentences and live downstairs. It was a blessing to sing with the girls upstairs as they unashamedly praised the Lord! When asked if any of them wanted to rededicate their lives to Christ, almost all of the girls came up and prayed with us. How awesome to see those girls desire Christ-filled lives! (Note: We were not allowed to take pictures in the prison. The photo above is from the park outreach day.)
The girls downstairs, however, were tough. They live in a world that is cruel and unfair and their hearts are hardened as a result. I admitted later that I didn’t want to look in their eyes because what I saw there scared me. Just one glance will tell you everything you need to know about their lives—they are young but the world has been mean to them and they are determined to make it on their own. They have no need for this Jesus we spoke of.
To see such disregard for the Word of God first startled me, then frightened me and eventually even angered me. Couldn’t these girls see we were trying to provide them with hope and a way to eternal life? How could they simply turn and walk away from it? As usual, the Lord turned my eyes back on myself and I realized that I have often done the same thing. He reminded me that He still loves them even if they show no interest in Him, and that my job is not to be angry with them but to pray for them.
The Lord is moving in that place. The Lord is moving all over El Salvador and the work He is doing is nothing short of incredible! Please continue to pray for the county of El Salvador, Lorraine and the work she is doing there, and the people we met this past week. Seeds were planted and His name was glorified—we can ask for nothing more.
Thank you again for all your prayers! There may have only been five of us who went to El Salvador but it was your prayers that got us there, kept us safe, and made a way for the Lord to work through us! Only when we arrive in Heaven will you know the full impact of your prayers!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
After a couple of hours, it was time for the children to eat lunch. We helped the workers feed them. Some had bottles of pureed food, some ate whole foods, and some ate soupy foods. It was messy! We were able to use extra shirts as bibs today, so the children stayed pretty clean and dry throughout the process.
After our quick lunch, we were able to go play with the babies. This is my absolute favorite part! We were able to carry them around, change their diapers, change their clothes, sing little songs to them, and play Patty-Cake with them. Wish you could have seen the babies faces light up. The one or two workers that take care of them don’t have time to feed them by holding them and rocking them; we did. What a blessing! Nothing compares with cuddling a little tiny baby and rocking them.
This evening, after eating a pork roast dinner prepared by Chef Greg, we will be working on the drama that Laura Kuhns and Megan Creed put together and practicing songs in Spanish for tomorrow’s undertaking. Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to do all this for Your Glory.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
Today (monday) was the most difficult day for me so far. We got an early start and went over to a state orphanage that houses babies, children with special needs, and young pregnant girls who have all been raped by family members. We split ourselves into two small groups: one group with the babies and the other group with the children who had special needs; we switched stations after lunch.
It was difficult to see the conditions of these children. Most of the babies had rashes and their skin was dry and cracked from the heat. The saddest thing, however, was that their eyes just seemed so lifeless. The woman who works in the baby room truly does love the children, but the fact of the matter is she is one woman who sometimes has over a dozen babies to take care of. She told us that sometimes all she can do is start at the first crib and go down the line changing all the diapers, then start over going down the line giving each child a bath, then start over again with a bottle for each child. She has no time to give special attention to each child, nor hold and play with each one. We prayed over the babies and told each one that God made them and loves them more than they can imagine. It is my prayer that those words will follow those children for their whole lives, and that they will come to know just how much they are worth in God's eyes.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Lorraine McNeill, ministering in El Salvador with Hannanh's Hands International, had a need for additional people to fill out her March missions team!
Megan Creed and Laura Kuhn, students at Appalachian State University, graciously welcomed three of us from the January 2010 Hope Chapel team to join them for this March trip!
Allow me to introduce the March 2010 Hannah's Hands team! In this picture, left to right, are Laura, Megan, Sheila Smith, Greg Lewis, and Curtis Smith.
We arrived in San Salvador around noon on Saturday, and traveled to the Mission House to drop off our bags and Lorraine, and then take a quick tour of the area. Our driver gave us a tour of the countryside few people have the opportunity to see! We definitely took the "road less traveled"! Within minutes of leaving the city of two and one-half million people, our van was driving along a trail bordered by beautiful trees and plenteous vegetation. Breath-taking vistas and humble dwellings were interspersed along the way. Vehicular traffic was unusual here as attested by the local people's inquisitive reactions to our passing by. The few people we saw were walking several kilometers from the last bus stop back up the mountain to their humble homes. Cows laid claim to the right-of-way, and we were happy to yield, as their horns were much bigger than ours, and turning around on this rocky, narrow trail was not an option. We could not have planned a more effective team-building adventure!
Saturday, February 6, 2010
and yet at each location we visited, we were greeted by excited children with ready smiles, ready and willing to be hugged, held and played with. Other faces held the heaviness of their lives. Sometimes we physically hurt to leave a care point after only a couple of hours of time spent with children who have no less need of a mom and dad than our children back home. Our hearts and minds were opened wide as we visited many care points.
We selected two of the “greatest need” care points for you “heart gifts” (sweater, jackets, crocs and plastic ware) to be distributed. Dennis, our American guide for the week, will send us pictures when they are given to the children.
as well as a number of Swazi pastors, Adventures in Missions (AIM) missionaries, Tom Davis from Children’s Hope Chest and many other Swazi believers who have amazing hearts to do what they can. We left Swaziland with hearts overflowing with excitement and passion to return to Hope Chapel to tell our stories and build a God inspired vision as to how our Hope Chapel family will rise up to be impactful in the lives of Swazi orphans, and do the good work of the Kingdom to the end that God will be glorified by our collective efforts. Let us pray together as we seek God’s will as to how we will put arms and legs to the vision we are developing even as we speak. Stay tuned to hear of ways you can take one of these children by the hand and be an instrument of change that will change the destiny of a child and maybe …a nation