So much has happened since we last wrote here! In mid-January we received two new team members from the States, who are to be with us until early May. Our days have been quite full! After a short introduction and adjustment, the four of us began organizing an AWANA conference for nearby villages that was to commence in late January.
Heather had had the opportunity some time ago to dialogue with the regional director of AWANA for sub-Saharan Africa. During their interaction, it was clear to both that the AWANA program (which is currently in 103 countries worldwide) needed to be introduced into the more rural regions of South Africa where Heather has been serving.
What began as conversational vision-casting has quickly come to pass, is rapidly taking shape and now growing roots. In late January, our small team hosted and accommodated roughly 125 individuals from 38 churches in four days.
I don’t think any of us had ever previously run a conference, so there was a bit of fumbling in the process as we blundered along! Though we faltered and feared some throughout, all praise must go to God as He so beautifully answered every.single.prayer we prayed — as well as filling in many details we’d overlooked!
A church in the States covered the majority of the costs for the conference, which allowed the village leaders to attend this conference with their only cost being that of their transport to and from the event. We had a couple from our local church here provide all of the accommodation at an incredibly reduced rate, a sizable portion of the cost for food was covered by a local business, the venue was provided at no cost, our cars were quickly repaired every time they broke down (five times during the week), attempted burglaries were thwarted, and souls seemed to be ministered to and delighted through the teaching and worship of the weekend.
The fruits of the program have already been visible to us. There are currently four “gap-year” students living with us who are daily traveling to a specific village to coach the churches there in the implementation of this new program. Though each day presents the team with speed bumps and seeming road blocks, their efforts are being encouraged daily by the responses from both the children and church leaders where they are attending.
It is our hope that this program, which has been implemented in a very relevant and African manner, will take root and flourish here when we all depart. Please pray for Jabulani, Ben, Melusi, Peaceful, Johan and Danielle as they represent and implement AWANA to the villages nearby. Please pray that the program would be established in such a way that each church would be equipped and able to replicate and teach others what has been imparted to them. We wish to institute this program in a self-sustaining manner that empowers the Africans to possess and adopt this program completely as if all their own.
Beyond the outward success we all wish to assess, it is our truest desire that each church leader would first love the God of Scripture and obey His word, and thereby that each child and family interacting with the program would learn to do the same. We believe the Word of God is not bound and that the Holy Spirit is able and desirous to spread like fire in these troubled and seemingly barren lands. We wish not to build but on the eternal foundation of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 3:12) that will stand the test of time and fire. Will you pray with us to this end?