Saturday, September 4, 2010

RANDOM SHOTS -- SEED OF HOPE






Here are some random shots around Seed of Hope -- can't believe we are heading back on Monday already --

Friday, September 3, 2010

OASIS CHURCH




I had a chance to preach at Oasis Church on Sunday -- I spoke on Luke 24 -- The Road To Emmaus -- we ended with a time of Communion. It was good being back with them --Oasis is home to many of the staff of Seed of Hope and Pastor Gareth serves on the Board as well. There is a great connection between these two ministries and this church is doing an incredible work in so many areas. Emma Camp oversees the HIV ministry at the church and also oversees the Seed of Hope Support Group as well. They are currently meeting at a High School but are in the process of building their own building just on the edge of Bhekulwandle. This church is really shaping the community.

TELLING YOUR STORY





Telling Your Story is the 2nd in a trilogy of programs that were created to help those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. 1) Diagnosis to Discipleship, 2) Telling Your Story, 3) Returning to Life. These all came out of the phases that I have walked through as someone living with AIDS and also were developed in part with my colleagues Andi & Sheeba Eicher of Jeevan Sahara Kendra in India.

Telling Your Story was specifically designed to address the issues surrounding Stigma in peoples lives and in the lives of their communities. To help get people in touch with their own personal stories and also to be able to express God's story in their lives. Revelation 12:11 states, "They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony." This lets me know that there is power in the story of Jesus' work in our lives and when we tell it we are strengthened and others can be touched and drawn to Him as well. We use creativity and art to help draw out peoples personal expression and journey and also there is quite a bit of time to share their story - first with the four people in their group spontaneously, then after charting out a timeline using Art to express and then writing out their story and sharing more detail and finally standing in front of everyone and delivering in front of a microphone. Most people are very scared about talking in front of others -- but I share some of the tools that have helped me both when I was in the Theatre and also as a speaker myself. It was and is thrilling to see these individuals step up in front of the group and get past their fears and speak with honesty and boldness and sometimes through tears and then to be applauded by their peers.

This year almost every person made it to the front and spoke their story.

There is a section in the program called "His healing & Your Story" it is a time set aside for ministry -- where we allow the Holy Spirit to come and touch people in their places of hurt or regret or even a time to confess their sins and ask the Lord to bring cleansing in their hearts and lives. It is a powerful time where many individuals experienced a real liberty as the counselors helped walk them through these delicate places.

Pastor Praise Nkosi came from Johannesburg to translate for me and we worked in Conjunction with Oasis Church, where Emma who leads up their support group and oversees the Seed of Hope as well. Along with Zama who facilitates the Seed of Hope Support group. We finished the night off with a sit down meal for them, which was beautifully decorated by Karen and then they were each given a gift of a "God-Tag" which is a scripture on metal on a chain and a nice leather journal and a pen so that they could continue to record their story.

It is such an honor to walk with those who are taking this very brave journey in this country -- and to be able to see the Lord show up in such personal and powerful ways.

I feel like this trip has been worth every ounce of struggle I might have gone through in the last year -- just to see these individuals walking in a new way -- priceless!

TELLING YOUR STORY - FEEDBACK

Here are some of the comments from the participants in the Telling Your Story Conference about how attending affected them -- listed anonymously:

TELLING YOUR STORY PARTICIPANT COMMENTS

"I feel free-er when I move around Bhekuwandle" -- A Young Man

" I was struggling with depression. My husband had died and my baby has a disability. I was considering going to the railway station and committing suicide at the end of last week. After the Telling Your Story Conference -- I actually told my neighbors that my baby has HIV and that I am positive as well. I have a new boldness." A Young Woman

"I was able to go to church for the first time -- I was not afraid. When I see John -- how healthy he looks -- it makes me feel like I am not alone or even sick -- I just feel hope." A Woman

"When we did the Stand & Deliver program -- I felt courage -- I feel stronger." A Woman

"Telling Your Story has given me hope. His Healing & Your Story section was powerful - -God met me in the prayer time. I felt my spirit released." A Woman

"I have struggled with my sister harassing me and making my life very hard because she is fearful and hard on me for my status. During His Healing & Your Story I prayed that God would do something for her and help her change. When I came back from the conference -- she was totally different -- she has stopped attacking me -- God has done a miracle." A woman

"Chart It Out . . was impactful for me -- I was remembering how I had terrible pain when I was sick and how God has healed my body. It made me grateful." A woman

"I felt safe and lots of love with everyone -- we are all positive and there was lots of love in the room -- It made me strong." A Woman

"Hearing other stories helped me -- many people struggle -- it made me feel not alone." A Woman

"I lost my mom over 20 years ago -- I am still grieving -- His Healing & Your Story was powerful -- Paul prayed for me and I felt better." A Young Man

"Charting It Out -- was painful -- it reminded me by listing it that my sister and mom were gone -- it made me sad but also helped to talk about it." A Young Man

"His Healing & Your Story -- the prayer really helped me." A Young Woman

"I did not want to leave when it was over." A Young Woman

TYS PICS





TYS PICS





TYS PICS




Wednesday, September 1, 2010

SIMUNYE TIME - CONT'D





Here are some more shots from Simunye Time -- story below:

SIMUNYE CONT'D





More shots of Simunye Time -- story below....

SIMUNYE TIME






Simunye means - we are one -- and that is what happens every day with sometimes nearly 200 kids -- they play all together. Isaiah has been hanging out with the kids in the afternoon -- playing on the playground with them and then sitting in on their programs. They have a Bible Study Day, An English Lesson Day, An Arts Class Day, A Health Day and a Play Day. Each day ends with a hot meal in the cafeteria -- for some of these kids that will be their only meal of the day.

It is a joy to be around these kids -- many of them are very sick -- but they have such beautiful spirits and are very loving.

The very first day of ministry of Seed of Hope when Derek & Heather first started -- we were in that very room with 25 kids -- never knowing all that would come afterwards!

God is faithful and loves these little children.....

SPECIAL DELIVERY





My friend Alissa Claary & my nephew and niece Sean & Cally Betts gathered up some clothes -- actually between them two very large suitcases from their own and other friends houses and sent them with Isaiah and I. We presented them to Gloria who runs the Social Services Ministry at Seed of Hope. The clothes will be given out to needy families that are connected with the Center. Seed of Hope has realized that the most effective ministry happens in relationship. So when some of the children or the parents or the children in our programs has a need of either food or clothing -- they can access resources through the Social Services Center.

There are other churches in the area that also help with donations along with individuals. The need in the area is great so thanks to Alissa and her friends and Sean & Cally -- a few more people in Bhekulwandle will be dressed a little warmer!