March Update from South Africa
When reading over my previous newsletter I've realised there has been several answers to prayer, so I'd like to start off by saying thank you for the prayers and let you know the updates..
It feels like there has been lots of progress with the wilder teenagers at Hope Town. 4 of the girls have been regularly coming to church with me, which has really helped me to get to know them in an environment outside of Ocean View. In my church we have been sharing testimonies recently and it's been great for the girls to hear real stories of how God has transformed people's lives. After church one day the girls really opened up about the struggles they were facing and what they wanted God to help them with. We also took them to a worship night at All Nations this week for the first time and we were a bit apprehensive as to how they would find this - but they loved the evening, the worship, and ended up praying for each other!
It's not without its challenges -there was a fight on the street during our community night with one of our teenagers and their neighbour - and a bad case of bullying with one of our interns here at Hope Town - but it's encouraging to see signs of progress!
MIDDLE EAST TRIP
I asked for prayer about clarity with potential short term trips to the Middle East. Since the last email I have been given a very specific opportunity to join a short term team in Jordan for the first 2 weeks of May. They are a team from America coming to do an outreach after completing a training based on reaching Muslims. They will work with All Nations in Mafraq to reach out to the Syrian refugees. This seems like a great opportunity as I will be able to slot in with what they are doing, use their translators etc. I am hoping to go on this trip, and also seeing if I can visit All Nation's work in Lebanon at the same time, as it is much cheaper to travel from Jordan to Lebanon than it would be to do 2 trips from South Africa. I would appreciate further prayer for God's guidance for this.
We have continued getting to know the kids, and I've also been spending time visiting their mothers / relatives in their homes. One girl's mother, Liesel, is very open to what we are doing and we have been praying for her too. A lot of the kids think they have to be good and earn God's favour - pray that they learn to understand His grace! It's also been interesting seeing the pictures they draw - Jesus is always drawn elevated in the sky with wings, even when we do stories about him on earth. A few misconceptions to address!
I was sick this last Monday, and when visiting their street on the Tuesday they came running towards me saying 'we prayed for you, we prayed for you!'and they were really excited to see I was better. It was great for them - and me - to see that we are all in need of God's help, it's not just about me teaching them!
I met Sharon whilst buying flipflops in a different area of town. I discovered she lived right behind Hope Town and she stated she had been looking for someone to talk with. We then started to meet. She has been through a lot of trauma in her life, despite being only 22. I have started the process of debriefing her from some of the stuff she has been through with some help from All Nations. She has talked about having a faith in God as a teenager, but then through abuse, attempted murder and deaths in her family, she completely shut down. She is now at a place where she wants to be able to talk to God again and to start dealing with what she's been through. Please pray for her that God heals her and brings her back to Him during this process, and for wisdom for me. If anyone would like to specifically pray for her journey, I can give you a bit more info about her circumstances and what to be praying for.
We have also had rain for a whole day this week, which we are very thankful for! The strict controls are still present but the government have also decided to abandon an imminent 'day zero' - the government / media communication seems a bit confused at the moment, i think mainly because noone is really sure when the water will run out, mainly because rainfall is so unpredictable. But we are thankful at least for more rain at the moment...
In non-ministry related news, I'm enjoying the blessing of the house I am staying in, and you can see a photo of me with the 2 smallest members... we also had a visit from Joe Ewen, who leads a church network in Scotland. He was teaching at All Nation's training, and when we had him over for dinner we had an impromptu ceilidh - even Molly our dog joined in! It was good to hear a Scottish accent - although I don't think any of my flat mates understood him!
I would love to hear your news back home, and of anything I can be praying for you too, and if anyone wants to receive my weekly (sometimes fortnightly...) whatapp prayer points, let me know!