Monday, August 23, 2010

AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM




Musa runs the after school program at Seed of Hope and has done a wonderful job with these kids. It is very rare to find Zulu men really taking initiative in leadership in the community and on top of that to be a Christian -- so his contribution is wonderful.

(I will be uploading a pic of Musa soon)

Each day from 3:00 - 4:00 about 25-35 kids meet with him and he goes over various topics during the week. Some addressing homework issues from school -- sometimes it is issues of health or life skills -- all great input for these kids. This is a place where they can be real and discuss whatever.

I had the opportunity to spend an hour with them and share some of my testimony with them but focused primarily on the issue of HIV/AIDS. I wanted to find out what they knew and to also have a time of questions and answers with them. Be careful when you step into a classroom for 11-16 year olds as the questions are usually pretty honest and raw and a few of them caught me off guard. But I came to minister to them and to be a "real" voice -- so here it came!

And the end of the session I believe we had a great time and I hope they went away with a greater understanding about HIV/AIDS, what is happening specifically in their community -- how to live in such a way that is going to ensure long life and to let them know that Life ultimately is made up of choices.

A TRIP TO CALVARY






I had the pleasure of preaching at Calvary Church, where Heather Liebenberg is the pastor. It is a Nazarene Church that is near Westville, near Durban. I was very happy for the opportunity to be back at Calvary as I had spoken there in the past when Derek was alive and visited a few times. I have many friends there and it was good to be back to say hello. I preached from Luke on the story of the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. We ended with a time of communion together and I closed with singing the song Healing Rain.

It is always a blessing to bring a message because while you are challenging others you are challenged yourself. I really like this story in Luke because it actually has so many nuggets in it for our growth and understanding. It ends with the power of communion an the transformation that takes place for the disciples when Jesus broke bread with them after he had risen from the dead. The full power of the gospel was manifested in the remembrance -- and each time we come to the table, in his name, we have access to the same power -- if we are willing to examine ourselves and let the Holy Spirit search out our hearts and be willing to repent -- all of Heaven it seems comes to our defense. "When he broke bread with them . . . .their eyes were opened."

We had the opportunity to go for a meal afterwards with Heather and a young woman name Gina and her little daughter -- caleb calls the girl "baby" and loved being photographed with her.

WOMENS CONFERENCE




Heather Liebenberg invited me to speak at one of the sessions for the Womens' Conference for the Kwa Zulu Natal Nazarene Denomination. I spoke during the Health section and addressed the issue of HIV/AIDS. I had a very lively translator named Catherine who was even more animated that I am! How fun to see my words translated into Zulu with such zeal!

Isaiah came along and did a good job at capturing some photos and for helping me set up some of the sound system.

I tried to be encouraging with the ladies and at the same time gave them a strong mandate to move into this ministry as so many are still dying unnecessarily in this country which holds the highest statistics in the world. After nearly 9 years of ministry in this area -- there is still way more the church can do -- the Stigma in the community is beyond belief -- that to this day it still holds people captive.

Praying that God would set people free -- and that perhaps a world-changer was in the room yesterday.

I am so grateful to have a platform and to be a voice -- God is gracious to us all.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

MY HOME IS NOT MY HOME

Back in Amanzimtoti and at Seed of Hope in Bhekulwandle. www.theseedofhope.org. It feels so good to be back and to see how far the Center has come. There is a settling and maturity to this work that was launched almost 8 years ago and it has weathered many storms. I am so grateful for all the efforts from everyone who have made decisions for the greater good that has kept this place going. It has come at a price for sure -- there has been quite a bit of challenge and opposition to those in leadership -- God has protected ultimately -- but the enemy sure loves to throw spears at those who are willing to stand in the face of darkness and see the Light of Gods' love break through!

This coming week Isaiah will be working with Simunya Time, the Childrens' program which meets everyday from 2:30-4:30. I know he is going to have fun with those kids -- they are such a blast and filled with energy!

Isaiah had a chance to tour through the township of Bhekulwandle and his eyes were really opened to the reality of how some people live here. He will be writing and post pics on his blog: wwwisaiahforbes.blogspot.com.

I will be preparing for the Telling Your Story Conference on Friday/Saturday and also working with Karen and a young Zulu woman named Zinchle who will be coming to the USA to share about the ministry. I will be coaching them on public speaking and also working with Carl (CEO) on the media presentation from Seed of Hope.

I love Africa -- I love the way life unfolds here -- it is complicated, unfair, beautiful, heart-wrenching, hilarious, peaceful and I sense God everywhere. I feel so grateful that I have the opportunity to be back here and to experience fellowship with people that I so admire who have given their lives to take care of the poor and underprivileged and those living with HIV/AIDS. It is a reminder to the highest calling that each of us has as Christians to feed, visit, care and quench the thirst of those in Jesus name.

Having moved to Post Falls, Idaho and purchased a house and set up a home base in the USA has been a blessing but also a real challenge. It is so easy to get caught up i the materialism that is in the United States -- for years I felt I kept it at bay and focused on the calling in front of me -- I feel like i have lost some ground - but I am grateful that a gentle reminder and a loving rebuke from the Lord about what is truly important has given me a renewed sense of purpose for when I return back to the states. My Home is Not My Home. It is a temporary dwelling place that gives rest to my physical body and allows me to have protection from the elements and to facilitate the relationships that are in my life and to hopefully serve others. My real home is in heaven -- and I need to know that the things that are material are temporal.

Where my treasure is, there will my heart be also, Jesus says -- Oh for a heart that would sell all just to have the kingdom treasure!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

SOWETO HIGHLIGHTS






I have to say that a total highlight to my time in Soweto was a visit past the new Soccer Stadium which looks incredible in person - -it is huge! Also a trip to Wandi's in Soweto -- one of the most delicious buffets of Soul Food you have EVER EATEN. Absolutely must not be missed. There are countless business cards and also different currencies that line the walls of this landmark restaurant -- having been frequented by World Leaders and Celebreties to those who have an appetite for some of the best food in the world.

Isaiah had a really good time especially when it came time to sign a dollar bill and find a place on the wall where he and I would be memorialized -- I will let him share that story with you!

SOWETO TOUR






After Church, Pastor Praise Nkosi, Pastor James Nbyala, Isaiah and myself went for a tour in Soweto. Praise took us through some of the significant locations where part of the uprising that took place in 1976 actually happened. Some of which started at Morris Issaacson High School where young people refused to learn the Afrikaanse language and the oppression that was coming down through Apartheid -- there is a statue that represents the stand. Also there was the Regina Mundi Catholic Church which became the safe haven for those who were fleeing the riots. There were stained glass windows that memorialize the events along with leaving an altar that has broken edges where the butts of rifles where used to attack people -- and there are holes still in the roof where bullets were fired. There was also a memorial to Hector Pieterson a young black boy who was the first to be killed in this terrible time.

LIVING HOPE TABERNACLE - SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA





I had the privilege of preaching on Sunday at Living Hope Tabernacle, which is Pastor Praise Nkosi's home church. It was really encouraging for me to see how much the church has grown in the last couple years since I was here and to see what a great job that Praise and everyone at the church was doing. Each of the young people and all of the other elders and Pastors have such a sense of ownership of what God is doing -- it is cool to see. There are so many young kids -- such a sign of life!

I preached on Luke's account of the Road to Emmaus and we had communion together. There were two young people who made first time decisions to follow Jesus and what a privilege to take part in their decision.

The worship was wonderful and Isaiah got a kick out of the fact that at one point -- many of the women broke out into dance in the service!

We need to help raise some money for a keyboard for their worship team! Anyone interested -- let me know!

Diagnosis To Discipleship - Soweto, South Africa






On Saturday August 14th we conducted a "Diagnosis to Discipleship" Conference at Living Hope Tabernacle Church in Soweto, South Africa with my friend Pastor Praise Nkosi. Isaiah really helped out with setting up the projector and also with working through some of the kinks with the computer. He is my new technical guru! We had some really good question/answer sessions with the group and also were able to address some core issues for people infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. It was such a blessing for me to be able to share this material as God seems to bless me as I share it with others!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK






It was a trip to Kruger for the day. We drove by car into one of the numerous "Gates" which allows you access to this 65,000 acre Game Reserve. You are supposed to see the "Big 5" which includes the Lion, the Rhino, The Buffalo, Elephant and Leopard. Well we got two out of three this time and saw a Leopard and plenty of elephants. Along with Nyala, Antelope, Giraffe, verver monkeys and some amazing birds. At one point in time this elephant was about 4 feet from the door of our car -- the exchange between Isaiah and myself and the animals made for some hilarious laughter!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Looking For Animals Looking For Us . . . ?


Hopefully this won't be our experience today as we head into Kruger National Park for the day to try and see some of the Animals. This is winter time here and still quite cool for this region - the park is like 65,000 acres -- you could be here for a week - -we have a day but I really wanted my nephew Isaiah to experience the animals in their natural environment . . . real pics to come....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

AIRPORTS




So -- lots of waiting in the airports -- finally took off from San Francisco Airport -- Isaiah was excited and so was I -- after a 6 hour overnight flight from San Francisco to New York -- then a few hours on the ground in New York and then taking off again to Johaanesburg -- we finally arrived in Jo'berg this morning -- 17 hours on top of the New York portion -- glad to be here. Crisp, Clear & Cool is the weather -- staying near the hotel to rest tonight and will leave tomorrow by Car for a 4 1/2 hour drive up to Kruegar National Park -- where Isaiah will have a chance to see some of the country side and the animals in the park before we head back on Friday to meet with Pastor Praise Nkosi and prepare for the Diagnosis to Discipleship Conference on Saturday........feels good to be back -- and Isaiah is adapting well to the travel and time zones -- we are going to crash now it is 8:15pm Tuesday Night.......

UP AND AWAY




We had a chance to get together at a hotel near San Francsico Airport where Isaiah, His Dad and Mom and his sisters Sarah & Makayla and I got to hang out for a few hours before we left for the airport. Gina made sure Isaiah wasn't forgetting anything in his suitcase and also included home-made cookies for the journey! We had a good time of prayer with each other in the hotel and then left for the shuttle that would take us to the airport.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

SOUTH AFRICA HERE WE COME



I will be leaving on Saturday August 7th to San Francisco where I will pick up my nephew Isaiah and on the 8th we will leave for New York and then Johannesburg, South Africa. It will be 6 1/2 hours to New York and then another 17hours to Jo'berg. I will be conducting an HIV/AIDS Seminar in Soweto at a pastor friends church called Living Tabernacle. The conference is called from Diagnosis to Discipleship -- all day on Saturday August 14th -- then I will be speaking at Living Tabernacle on the 15th. We will fly to Durban on the 16th where we will be for 3 weeks doing various things -- working with kids at Seed of Hope ministries, conducting another conference called "Telling Your Story" -- visiting people in Bhekulwandle -- speaking at some other churches and helping a team from Seed of Hope get ready to tour the United States -- coaching on speaking and presentation.

We will get a couple days at Kruegar National Park and many wonderful things to share for sure -- please follow along so you can take the trip with us and keep us in your prayers.

peace
John