Monday, July 4, 2011

Fill Us Up, Send Us Out

We concluded our four days of training yesterday with a study on cross-cultural ministry. Today, we will begin putting into practice all that we have learned this week. We have split the 30+ young people who have been trained this week into three different teams, each sent into a different township. My group is heading to Daveyton, where we will be doing ministry in a squatter camp (an informal settlement). Justin and Wes will also be helping lead teams heading into Tsakane and a more rural settlement called Grootvlei. Please pray for our safety as we travel today, as well as for our ministry to the people in these townships. Pray that we would be an encouragement to the local church and that hearts would be moved toward Christ as the Lord works through our group. Thanks for praying!

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Just a quick update from South Africa. Thank you to those who prayed for Justin. He was able to see a doctor who gave him a shot (you will have to ask him where! :) and also got him started on some antibiotics. He is already feeling much better today. Besides Justin's minor illness, it is a praise and a blessing that our team has been very healthy so far on this trip. Sickness can often be a distraction from the mission on a trip like this, but we have experienced God's hand of protection from sickness as we had long, tiring days of travel, as well as in our adjustment to a new environment and new kinds of food here in SA.

We just finished our first session this morning called "Triple T" (Telling The Truth). We learned that our own personal testimonies can be a powerful tool in sharing the gospel with others, and we were given time to write out our own testimonies and share them with a group. It has been amazing to watch our students really embrace the community here at J-Life, as well as the teaching. I have seen incredible growth in each one of our students in just the first few days here as they are stretched and challenged outside of their comfort zones. And this is just the beginning. Please pray that God would continue to grow our students into maturity as they are stretched each day.

Friday, July 1, 2011

STeM Day 2

Today we woke up at 6:30am for a time of group prayer. It was great to unite our hearts together in prayer with believers from many different cultures and languages. We followed that with a time of personal devotions. We are studying the life and ministry of Christ for the next ten days--really exciting stuff! After devotions, we had a time of worship together as a group and then a group discussion surrounding the Scripture that we read for devotions. (And all of that BEFORE breakfast!). After breakfast, we had our first session of practical training for the short-term mission. We are on a short break now (it is noon here), and then we are heading back for another training session. It's been a very busy morning!

One concern for prayer...Justin has not been feeling well. He often has problems with inflamed tonsils, and he has started feeling an infection coming on. We wanted to take every precaution, so he has gone into town this morning for a doctor's visit and to get some antibiotics. He is really doing fine, but please pray that he stays healthy and strong so that he can continue pouring into our students. Thank you for praying!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Adjusting Well

I'm super impressed with the way our group has adjusted to the new time zone already. We got a great night's sleep (us guys actually slept through our alarms and woke up at 10am!), and after a good shower and breakfast we all felt very refreshed. We went for a nice hike up in the mountains at Camp Eden this afternoon--even in the dry winter it really is beautiful here! As we came back to the campsite, we had the chance to meet several groups of African students who will be joining us for STeM. Our kids seemed to really connect well with the other students. Please pray that we would continue to be unified both as a team and unified with the rest of the students here for STeM. Tonight officially starts STeM training--we are very excited! Stay tuned for more updates, and hopefully I'll be able to put up a picture or two soon. As they say "goodbye" here in South Africa...cheers!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Settling in to South Africa

The last two days of travel went as smooth as could be. We arrived in Johannesburg right on time about 3 hours ago, and we are just now settling in at Camp Eden. There is a 7-hour time difference, so it's currently almost 12:30am in South Africa. It may take our bodies some time to adjust, but we are all hoping for a good night of rest as we are pretty exhausted from two long days of travel. Pray that our adjustment to the new time zone and culture here will be quick--STeM training starts tomorrow afternoon! We are all very excited to be here and excited for what God has in store for us. Thanks to all of you who are keeping us in your prayers! We really appreciate your support!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Preparing Our Hearts

Our trip unofficially began tonight as our complete team met together for the first time in Granger. The focus of the night was to begin building unity as a team and to prepare our hearts for the two weeks of ministry ahead of us. Justin really got us started out on the right foot, as he led us in a time of prayer and confession. We each went off on our own to pray and ask God if there were any barriers or sin issues in our lives that might prohibit His working in and through us on this trip. We then got together with a partner, confessed our sins to one another, and prayed for each other. After confession, then, the natural response was to worship God and thank Him for His forgiveness and the work He did through Christ on the cross. And we did just that, spending an hour or so worshiping God together as a team. What a powerful way to begin this trip. Our hearts are ready, and I'm excited to see what God has in store for this team! Africa, here we come!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Back to South Africa!

It's hard to believe that it's been 18 months since I last stepped foot in South Africa. But, after much preparation and anticipation, I am heading back this week to the country and the continent that has stolen my heart! I'll be leading a team of students and leaders from The Crossing (the school where I taught this year), as well as the youth group from Rona Missionary Church (OH) which I am connected to through my good friend Justin Romine, youth pastor at Rona. We will be partnering in South Africa with J-Life Africa for their annual missions training/practical event called STeM (Short Term equipping Mission). We'll first spend four days at J-Life's training center about an hour outside of Johannesburg, where we will receive training in short-term missions, including the theory behind what we do on short-term missions, as well as practical training in evangelism, sports ministry, etc. We will then be sent out in teams to impoverished townships to partner with the local church there and apply what we have learned in our missions training. After five days of practical ministry, we will travel back to J-Life for one day of debriefing our experience. And, finally, our group will conclude our time in South Africa with a two-day safari in Kruger National Park, where we will have the opportunity to continue reflecting on our trip, all the while enjoying God's beautiful creation!

I couldn't be more excited about this trip, and I can't wait to see how God moves! Please consider partnering in prayer with our group. Here are some ways that you can pray specifically:
  • Pray that God will provide safety in our travels (both as we travel to and from South Africa, as well as during our time there).
  • Pray for team unity.
  • Pray for God to open our hearts to what He has for us on this trip.
  • Pray that we would encounter God in new ways.
  • Pray that God's name be glorified through our service to others around us.
  • Pray that lives would be changed.
  • Pray that people would see Jesus Christ and be drawn to Him through our lives and our ministry on this trip.
Thanks so much for your prayers. I will be keeping this blog updated regularly throughout our trip, so feel free to check back in over the next few weeks to see how we're doing. Thanks!