Thursday, January 31, 2013

Possible Ministry Opportunities in South Africa

In January, the mission was able to go and visit two different churches in villages not far from Polokwane.  On January 24th, Mark and I were able to travel with William, Member, Darren, Brad and Jill to Indermark to visit with Pastor Klaas and a few of his church members. 
Here is an update from Darren Early, one of our staff, from the trip to Indermark this past week ...

This past Thursday we were invited to Indermark, South Africa (an hour and half drive to the Northwest of Polokwane), to visit the Baptist church there, meet their leadership team along with a few members and to discuss some of their spiritual needs.

The facilities were built by the mission 10 years ago and the church has been faithful in taking great care of it. It really is beautiful in comparison to other village church buildings.

This church is in a very large village with great opportunity to impact the kingdom of God, having multiple schools within a short distance. There is also a mountain range nearby with inhabitants who have not been reached with the Gospel, and the church has a desire to take the Good News to those people as well.

We spent time encouraging them and we too, were encouraged by their faithfulness and desire for spiritual growth. They detailed their need for youth and children's teaching material, along with other spiritual needs. This is an active congregation, with some kind of ministry occurring everyday of the week. We, as a mission, will meet and discuss how we can come alongside of this wonderful church and minister to them in a way that would strengthen them in the faith of our Lord Jesus and that would help train up teachers from within, that the church might continue on for years to come in worshiping and glorifying God.

Pray for us as we seek the Lord’s guidance in ministering to this and other rural churches that are starved for discipleship.

Pastor Klaas and his wife Poulinah


Church garden


On January 29th, William, Gordon, Member, Darren, Brad and Jill traveled to Lebowakgoma to visit with Pastor Nelson. 

Here is an update from William, our Mission Pastor ...

Yesterday we visited with Pastors Nelson Chuene and Matapo at the new church site in a new developing area outside Lebowakgomo. The site is ideally situated and is the only church so far in this new area. The property is fenced off and they have built a small corrugated structure and even built toilet facilities that have flushing toilets and running water. The stand is a good size for a big church building to built later on. Pastor Nelson finished with seminary last year and will be pasturing this new church and he lives very close to the church site, which is ideal. It was great to hear their desire to reach out to the people in this area with the Gospel and have asked us to assist them in helping to develop this church in their various ministries. We have promised to give them our old tent that needs some serious repairs to put up until they are able to put up a church structure.

There are also a number of church buildings that Samaria Mission has built in the Lebowakgomo area where there are virtually no people going to these churches because of no church leadership being there anymore that they want to revive as well. It was encouraging to see Pastor Matapo who is 80 years old still coming alongside of this new church plant and wanting to see the revival of the other churches. We had a wonderful time of fellowship at Pastor Chuene’s house together with his wife. They plan to bring all those who have already joined at the new church plant to visit us at one of our church services here at Christ Baptist Church so that they can learn something from us in how we conduct our services.

Pray that we will be meaningfully involved in helping this church to grow and develop into a church that glorifies God in all they do.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Prayer Request

Last week we shared about the recent flooding in the area around Kruger National Park, Mozambique, Botswana and Zimbabwe.  It has taken several days to get a hold of people to find out how bad the area in Mozambique where we do ministry had been affected.  Our Mission Pastor, William Vaughan, just sent this update out... 

Mozambique update  30 January 2013:

Our first leadership teaching in Mozambique for the year is to take place next week but we have had unusual high rainfalls which has caused the Limpopo River to flood.  We soon heard of all the areas in Kruger Park that were flooded and many of the roads that have been closed, camps that have been flooded and even some of the bridges in the Park that have been washed away.  The Pafuri Border Post was even reported as being closed and no access to it.  Many places and roads have been affected along the Limpopo even in South Africa.  The most northern tarred road that accesses Kruger through Pafuri gate has even been washed away in sections.  A crocodile breeder along the river reported around 15 000 crocs that got away (who knows we may see more crocs in Mozambique now).  The hardest hit seems to be Chokwe in Mozambique which is further down along the Limpopo River.  Already over 40 people have been reported to have died in these floods.  It was reported that around 150 000 people were evacuated from the Chokwe area.  The only bridge over the Limpopo in Mozambique closest to where we work is at Chokwe, almost 300km down river from Pafuri.  This bridge is inaccessible because of the depth of the water before going across the bridge and the road other side the bridge has been washed away.  As you know most of the villages we work in are along the Limpopo River so we have been concerned about these people that we have come to know and love while ministering the Gospel to them and alongside of them over the years.  

We were able to speak to one of the church leaders in Mozambique, Masango, whose village, Mabuzane, is between the Limpopo and Nuanetsi Rivers.  He told us of the heavy rainfall, that some homes were damaged or totally destroyed and some like his leaked lots of water.  The fields were washed away or under water but he said everybody is fine.  No one was able to even cross the rivers with their boats.  We spoke to another two church leaders yesterday, Albert and Ernest from Xicumbane, who told us that lots of livestock were taken by the floods and their fields are also damaged by the flood waters.  Another problem is that there are no trains coming up from Maputo because of the railroad flooding and damage at Chokwe and therefore even the food that comes by rail to the bigger towns like Mapai and Chicualacuala has left those shops empty.

Having only general information and bits and pieces we needed to find out specifics of other possible travel routes to get to our area of ministry.  We tried to phone the Border Post whose numbers we have, but the lines are dead.  We then tried to get hold of one of the Kruger Park officials we know.  We were given the contact info of the Pafuri Game Ranger who then came back to us telling us that the Pafuri Border Post was flooded just as bad as it was in the 2000 floods and there is major damage to all infrastructure on SA side, no power, no fresh water, no phone lines, roads washed away and the buildings themselves and all in it damaged.  We were told that work has already been started to clear the road to Pafuri and will take at least 2 weeks.  This will then mean, we were told, that only 4x4 vehicles will then be allowed through to Pafuri.  Even though Giriyondo Border Post has been opened we will still not be able to access our area of ministry because of the extensive damage where the roads have been washed away (and these are mostly the dirt roads) and the depth of the water in certain areas.

This means the people in the villages we work in are pretty much cut-off from any relief that could come to them and will take at least 2 weeks before we could even get there to ascertain what is actually needed.  The one Park official has said he will let us know as soon as we can get to Pafuri.
Pray that we will know how to respond to this and that the Lord will provide for whatever is needed that we can help and show the love of Christ through deeds of kindness.  Many people in Mozambique will need to rebuild their lives and we want to respond in a way that they will see and come to know Jesus Christ through this tragedy and that God will be glorified in and through us.  It is quite possible that we will be doing relief work before we may be able to continue with our teaching.  We will daily keep checking on the latest developments so that we can plan accordingly.  We will also keep you informed on latest developments so that you will know how to pray and this may also be an opportunity for you to show Christ to these people in a tangible way in supporting us in these relief efforts.

This video is talking about Chokwe, Mozambique almost 300km down river from Pafuri. This will give you an idea of what it is like right now. Thank you for praying for people affected by the floods.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sunday Lunch with Friends

Phil and Trish were some of the many people that welcomed us to Polokwane when we moved here in 2009.  Trish came to have tea just a few days after we arrived.  When we came back from one of our first outreaches, we had no running water at the house and they had us stay with them and even helped get our laundry done.  Phil called one Saturday night in August 2009 and said they would like to come over and bring lunch (I just needed to make the veggies) and then they wanted to help us get started remodeling our bathroom (pictures are at the bottom of this post from 2009).   He also came over to break up our stage that used to be in the living room.  (more pictures here).  We also enjoy buying blueberries from their farm every year. 
This past Sunday we spent the afternoon with them at their farm just outside of Haenertsburg (about 45 minutes from our house). It has been a long time since we have been able to spend time with them.  We had a wonderful afternoon eating, visiting and walking around their property.  Absolutely beautiful!  It has been raining for a week now and they have received over 540mm (21 inches) of rain in 6 days and it was still raining when we were there.  That didn't stop us from enjoying an afternoon walk.
After lunch, we put on gumboots, which we had to translate for Julia ... rain boots :)  (it was translated for us when we moved here too!), and we put on our ponchos and headed out for a tour of the farm.  On our walk, we ended up over at Trish's parents house for tea and coffee.  It was great to meet them and also visit with her sister, Debra and her two kids Sebina and Hayden (who we also know from CBC).
As we were driving there we were talking about how dangerous it is driving on this road up the mountain in the rain.  As we were coming to a curve we watched this white bakkie (truck) who was in front of us try to pass the vehicle in front of them.  As he started to pass we could see another vehicle coming towards him.  The driver decided not to pass and put his brakes on.  When he did that he lost control and we watched him go off the road into a tree.  Of course, after watching that happen, Mark pulled over and we told the kids and Julia to stay in the car and we hurried over to see if the people were ok.  The driver got out and said they were fine.  Praise the Lord!  It could have been really bad.  

 I went back to our bakkie and got an umbrella and stayed with the girl, whose name is Maggie.  She was fine just shook up.  She pointed to the ditch 10 yards away and said, "look what we could have gone in to!"  It would have caused them to flip for sure.  She told me she was a born again believer and she praised the Lord for keeping them safe.  

While waiting for their friend to come help them, Mark started talking to the man and found out that he apart of the ZCC  (Zion Christian Church).  Mark began to talk to him about Jesus and asked him if he understood salvation.  The guy really wasn't sure how to answer any of it.  Maggie started to answer for him.   Mark was about to share more with him but then a guy from the road construction showed up as well as two police officers, all of whom just happened to drive by.  They asked Mark if he had tried to tow him out and Mark told them no because it was too dangerous without stopping traffic.  They decided to stop traffic and Mark tried to pull his vehicle out but it was too deep in the mud.  Once his friend showed up we were back in the car and on the way to lunch again. 

view from their front porch

Phil showing us the fish in the tanks

Phil showed us how he likes to fish ... 3 fish in less than 2 minutes!


Brit with Katherine and Sabina

Luke LOVED all the water - he would have walked all day if he could

We enjoyed our time there with Phil, Trish and their kids especially enjoying God's creation! 

Rain, Rain and Flooding

Shingwedzi Camp in Kruger National Park
 It started raining here last Monday, January 14th and rained most of the time for 7 days. On Sunday night I was searching the weather websites to see how much rain we had here in Polokwane.  On one site I scrolled down and this is what I saw ...

Sky: Mostly cloudy
Rain: Tons of rain
Precipitation: 100%

Moving here from West Texas and STILL trying to get used to a "rainy season", finding that on the weather made me laugh. 

Some areas have had over 500mm of rain (over 20 inches). Today is the first day of sunshine with bright blue sky in several days although more rain is expected this weekend.  We have enjoyed the rain here in Polokwane but there are areas that are experiencing too much and rivers are flooding. 

William spoke to Masango, who is in Mabuzane, and he said that both the Limpopo and the Muanetsi Rivers (one by Mabuzane) are full and no one can even cross with boats.  Masango said some homes were damaged in the storm and their house started to leak but everyone is fine. 

I talked to Derrick this morning and he said they all survived the flooding in Malamulele and his family as well as the families in their church are doing fine. 

This link will show you pictures of the Shingwedzi Camp in Kruger National Park.  When a team leaves Mozambique and heads to Mopani Camp they usually stop at the Shingwedzi for the toilet and an ice cream.  Many of you that have joined us on outreach over the years have been to this area.

I looked at the Kruger National Park website and they said that the Punda Maria and Pafuri Gates are closed as well as the Pafuri Entry Port (border post).

Please pray for the people in Mozambique as well as the areas around South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe that have been affected by the rain and flooding. 

Here are more links to check out the flooding that has been caused by the recent rains in the area.

January 13th at CBC (Missions Month)

January 13th was the start of the missions month at CBC.  During the morning service Mark and Doug both gave a testimony and William preached from Jonah.  

Doug and Debbie Crawford's Testimony 

Our journey in missions really started when my wife Deb who had been on previous missions trips and such began to pray that God would stir in my heart a desire for missionary work. But this prayer wouldn’t be answered until the fall of 2006. We had just started attending 2nd Baptist Church in West Frankfort, IL my home town. We were asked by our Pastor Brett Beasley if we would be interested in going to Mozambique with the church on a short-term mission trip. We both said “yes” not knowing how God would use this trip to change our lives. 2007 was our first trip to Xicumbane, Mozambique with Samaria Mission. God touched both of us through this trip. We felt God was calling us to work here with Samaria Mission that first year. We wanted to make sure we were not being led by an emotional experience of our first mission trip. We began to pray about our desire to come and minister to the people of Mozambiqe. We continued to pray and came on outreaches again in 2008 and 2009. It was during the last day of our 2009 trip that Bro. Joe Zibenden also from 2nd Baptist shared Matt. 9:37, 38 in our morning devotion: Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” He shared that we shouldn’t be surprised if when we are praying for workers God wants to use us as His workers. When we returned to Polokwane we spoke with Pastor Johann about the possibility of coming to be a part of the mission. He encouraged us and after seeking counsel with our pastor in 2009 we took the step of faith and said “Yes, we will go” and asked our church family to join us in prayer. We worked on paying off our debt and put our house up for sale. We continued to pray and began reading books on missions. God in different ways made Psalm 96:2, 3 very real to us: Sing to the Lord, bless his name. Proclaim good tidings of his salvation from day to day. Tell of his glory among the nations, his wonderful deeds among all the peoples. This became our missions verse. We began to realize that what we knew in our hearts was truly from God. We did not come in 2010 because of our house being up for sale. God sold our little 1100 sq. feet home in a matter of three months in a very down market. He also sold our van in a way He could only put together two weeks before we were to leave but that story is for another time. So in June of 2011 we came with our church team, 4 suitcases and 6 action packers filled with what was left of our belongings to begin our new life in service to the Lord. While I will still be a part of leader training, I am going to start spending more time with Sean and learning more about well-drilling. Upon Gabriel leaving, Deb and I have started overseeing the orphan ministry. Deb teaches the women leaders each month in Xicumbane and takes care of the clothing room ministry. We give God all the glory for us being able to be here. We are thankful also for you all as a church family that have welcomed us and allowed us to not just be a part of the body but to be able to be a part of the ministries here within the church also.

for more pictures of Doug and Debbie's journey to South Africa click here

Our Testimony  

Good morning: I am Mark and this is Alicia. I was asked to give my testimony this morning, so I would like to start by saying it all began in 1969… It was a day of torment as much as it is a day of torment for you to have to listen to this sob story. Okay William told me not to go that far back for my testimony so I would like to begin 10 years ago. I have been in law enforcement since I was 21. Alicia had studied to be a teacher, but took a position as the preschool coordinator at our church. In 2003, Sean Mullin came to our church to present Samaria Mission to the congregation. Afterwards, our pastoral staff decided to organize a trip to join Samaria Mission. For many years, I have had a deep inner feeling to go to Africa but had never pursued it. This opportunity presented itself and I put my name on the list. Alicia decided to attend the first meeting with me and the others wanting to go on the trip. Before we left the meeting, Alicia had put her name on the list as well. So we made our vacation dates with our employers and proceeded to raise funds. This is when our real journey begins… In October 2003, we went on our first outreach trip to Matsilele, Mozambique, and both the Mullin’s and the Vaughan’s lead this team. The Lord began to open our eyes to missions and the importance of taking the Gospel to the unreached. October 8th is our anniversary, and on that evening, we sat underneath a full moon in Mozambique reading the Bible. Alicia and I questioned each other as we both knew God was calling us to be involved in missions. Upon returning home, we were very careful not to make any decisions on a "mountain top" experience. Several church members would randomly approach us about when we were going to be involved in missions full-time. God opened our eyes to the work He was inviting us to join Him with. The following year (2004), I had an opportunity to go to Guatemala and work with Pat and Charlie Reynolds, who at the time were involved with taking the gospel to the local law enforcement. I spent 2 weeks there and had a great time and enjoyed the work we were able to do. The Lord used this trip to continue to grow a love for missions in our heart, especially for Mozambique. In 2005, we once again joined Samaria Mission on an outreach. The desire to move to Africa became stronger and we began to talk to people about serving full time in missions. In 2006, we went back on outreach to Mozambique and took our 2 children with us (age 6 and 11 at the time). We felt like the Lord was continuing to open a door for us to move and join Samaria Mission and we wanted Brit and Luke to experience it. We were able to come on outreach again in 2007 and began to talk to the mission staff about the possibilities of joining them full time. They invited us to stay for one extra week after the outreach in 2008 so that we could meet and interview with the staff and elders of Christ Baptist Church. After returning in 2008, the Lord continued to work in us and was moving us to join Samaria Mission but we just were not sure of the timing. We prayed and sought wisdom from the Lord on what to do. This was not a move we could do on our own but one that had to be guided by Him. Together we studied Experiencing God, by Henry Blackaby. Chapter 18 is titled, "Joining God Requires Obedience." It is a great chapter and in it Henry Blackaby says that obedience is costly to you and those around you but disobedience is far more costly. God was opening a door for us to serve as full time missions and we knew we had to obey him. We have to trust that His plans are perfect for our family. We began to make steps toward the move, with LOTS of prayer, trusting the Lord to open or closed doors as we walked. As 2008 ended and 2009 begin, we started raising full time support, resigned from our jobs, sold our house and vehicles, and moved in June of 2009. We arrived at our new home on June 24th. We are so grateful for Samaria Mission and CBC, who together, made us feel at home in South Africa. It has been and continues to be a journey, one that is sometimes difficult but most of all we praise the Lord for allowing us to serve Him here. We love working with the mission and being able to build relationships with the people of Mozambique and South Africa and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. I think about the twelve apostles, particularly Matthew. Matthew was not the best qualified to be a priest, but he was a tax collector and publican, he was despised by the Jews for the position he held. Yet, God called him to be a follower, an Apostle. We may not have been the best qualified or educated to be involved in God’s calling on our lives, but God’s calling on our lives qualifies us to join Him at His work.

for more pictures of our journey to South Africa click here
Sunday morning William preached from Jonah about "Having God's heart to love God's ways".
God not only has compassion for "us" but also for "them."  Jonah was all consumed with himself.  He was happy about his own comfort and NOT in the fact that God wanted to save Ninevah.  
We were challenged to show compassion, as God has, to a world that He made and loves.  We can't be who we need to be unless we have the heart of God!  The questions asked ... 
What about my own heart?  
What is my heart like before God today? 
Is it a heart of compassion to tell the world the Good News of Jesus Christ?  
Am I busy collecting things in life that make ME happy or am I busy sharing Christ ...  investing?  
Sunday evening, William, Sean and Gordon shared with Christ Baptist Church about the Past, Present and Future of Samaria Mission. It was a great time to inform the our local church about what the Lord is doing in and through Samaria Mission.


Missions Month at CBC - set up

January 13th was the start of Missions Month at Christ Baptist Church here in Polokwane.  Not only are we highlighting Samaria Mission and other organizations we are also focusing on missions in general. (more to come on that ...)

January 8th - 12th we were busy getting things ready for the month.  Since Julia is here to help Luke with school, I was able to spend most of the week in the office with Sharyn.  Most of my job was sorting through LOTS of photos! 

Alicia and Debbie

we updated our missions board with current newsletters

Sharyn busy working on the posters

Debbie hanging the info on the Mozambique Pastor's & Church Leaders
Gena and Jill cutting the posters to fit the boards
Brad, Member and Mark hanging out
William moving desks into the Worship Center
Mark and William putting the boards together
Sharyn and Alicia working on the outside board to highlight other organizations.
Jill and Gena hanging the new 10/40 Window sign
Gordon is involved with the Gideon's ministry
David and Tessa Frew (members at CBC) work with Frontline Fellowship
Highlighting Samaria Mission
Other Organizations