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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Raised to Walk in the Newness of Life

I remember the day that Malachi (our eldest) was born and I got to hold him in my arms for the first time. The moment was so magnificent and overwhelming that for several days I felt like I hovered above the ground as I went from place to place.  Surely no moment in the future would ever come close to what I felt right then. I was wrong. I experienced this same emotion when Matthew was born two years later, and again three years after that when my baby girl came into the world. I was sure those moments were so remarkable that nothing would ever compare to them again.

So far 2017 has been a great year at the Bible College, and we have seen God do some amazing things in the lives of these students. Many of the first-year students have never experienced water baptism. As strange as this may sound, this is not uncommon, as many Africans’ have an immense fear of water (when it comes to baths, pools, dams, lakes, etc.). This fear of water is partly because the majority of black southern Africans do not know how to swim and partly because of cultural beliefs about water spirits and other dark spiritual powers believed to be present in larger bodies of water. Our three children joined the chapel service a couple of weeks back in which we discussed the subject of water baptism, and to our delight, they too made the decision to be baptized. Yay God!

Remember that feeling that I thought I would never experience again; I was wrong. Having the privilege to baptize my three children may be the greatest moment of my life. Malachi, Matthew, and Kyla each decided this was the time and place to make this public declaration. Kyla had a tough time the night before the baptisms. She’s not overly fond of being in front of people or being the center of a lot of attention, so this was a big deal for her. We placed no pressure on her whatsoever, and we were so proud to see her make a decision to obey Christ because we knew how difficult this was for her in front of all the people. She was standing up for Jesus even when it was tough to do… it was so great to see.

As Rebecca stood on the pool’s edge with my family present and Face-timing the event with her mom in U.S., the feeling overwhelmed her at how ‘right’ the moment felt. Watching me baptize our kids in our swimming pool where we have baptized countless people over the years, and surrounded by these wonderful young African men and women we have the privilege to know and love, could not have made for a more perfect day.

Derek

Friday, March 10, 2017

Angelica

On March 5th our local church revealed the new church baptismal pool. Previously baptisms have always been done in a volunteered swimming pool, sometimes the one in our own backyard. Derek and I love baptisms. We love hearing the testimonies of those who have made this important decision and watching them experience this precious moment to follow in Christ's footsteps. 

We had 3 extra children with us that Sunday and I was excited for all of them to witness the baptisms and join in the celebration of the day. The first young woman to speak shared her testimony as I have known it from a meeting she and I had together one morning last year. Several years ago she was involved in a car accident that broke nearly every bone in her body. Its hard for me to imagine the physical pain she has gone through to recover. But by the time we had our one-on-one, she was aware of her brokenness in a whole new light. We spoke for quite a while that morning about where that brokenness can lead us; how it can turn us into the arms of the only One capable of truly putting us back together. It was a good meeting. We both cried and we prayed and after that she and her mom started attending church regularly, but we never met for another one-on-one. 

When I saw her step up onto the stage for baptisms, my heart was delighted for her and the declaration she was making. She talked about her childhood, her car accident, and having grown up believing herself to be 'good' and to be a Christian. About half way through her testimony she looked across the room at me and shared that it was in my office that morning last year that she received Christ as her Saviour. My row of 6 kids all turned their heads at me at once. Derek picked up my hand and kissed it. These are moments we long for, moments when we know God used us and that our presence made a difference. 

Seeds, seeds, seeds....we often have no idea how deeply we are planting. Christ had been planting seeds in Angelica for quite a while. I had no idea a harvest had taken place that morning in the office. I knew the moment was precious, but little did I know what was actually taking place in this woman's soul. God knew I needed a reminder that morning of the seeds we plant, the seeds we water, and the life that blooms through salvation. Lord God, please grant us more and more of all these moments. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hello 2017

I don't think I have ever greeted a new year with quite this much enthusiasm. 2016 was rough! Financial challenges, unexpected losses, and ministry changes were just a few of the hurdles we faced. God was faithful as always and I think we are stronger for having experienced the season, but I have to confess my heart is still a bit tender. But a new year is here!! YAY! I'm expectant this year like in a way I have not known before. God has everything in His hands and this year will be about listening to Him, abiding in His will, and trusting His plan. The ministry changes are filled with so much uncertainty, especially for our orphan care projects, but no one loves these children like God does. Be sure to check this blog for updates on what's happening at Martha and Agnes' Houses! 

We have a big change for the kids and I this year: HOMESCHOOLING! I never thought I would homeschool my three kiddos but circumstances have driven the decision and the amount of peace we all feel is a kindness from God. On our first official school day, we decided to skip class and head to Sun City for one last hurray in the water and eat the best American hamburgers we can find! It was spontaneous and so much fun! The kids tackled the rest of the school week like champs and I'm loving every second of it. I don't know how long this season of homeschooling will last, but I'm grabbing the opportunity and making the very most if it that I can. One feeling that has settled over me so clearly is that this is a season of preparation. I'm fairly certain its a preparation for all of us, for the near and far future of family and ministry. Exciting times! Love to you all!
 

Monday, December 5, 2016

From a beautiful heart

For the last 5 years, Matt's kindergarten teacher has organised willing teachers from Lebone, our children's school, to prepare Santa Shoebox gifts for our precious children at Martha's House. But these are no average shoeboxes! These gifts come in storage tubs, backpacks, and purses and are filled with the most thoughtful gifts imaginably. Truly, watching these gifts opened year after year has brought me more joy than I can possibly explain. Right now they are locked up tight, for our party is still several weeks away, but every time I look at this picture I feel like a child on Christmas Eve. I pray our party will be filled with the joy of Christ' birth and that these gifts will be used of God to speak very personally and powerfully to every child! Brigitte you are a star!! 

Break-ins

Living in South Africa with all the various security measures was an adjustment for me. I got so used to the bars and alarms and locking every door possible that once while on furlough, I locked the garage door of our host family in Texas. Thankfully, it was noticed the next morning otherwise I would have inadvertently locked the entire family out of the house. Mr. Inman had grace for me and laughed it off.  In Texas I feel utterly exposed without all our extra security. In South Africa, I struggle to sleep without checking every window and every lock. At the same time I hate the look of the homes with all our bars and wire. Our neighbours have small pieces of glass atop of their walls and at times I shudder to think of the measures we all go to in order to protect our property. 

Over the years we have had a few break-ins to our outdoor storage area and a few things have gone missing from the garden, but things are different now. In the last 7 weeks we have had 5 break-ins. Last night a huge section of our palisade fencing was cut down. The expense to replace items and add security is taking its toll. But the worst of it is the feeling of attack, oppression, and harassment. I find I am far more fearful at the moment. I'm sad. I'm angry. I'm struggling. Today someone will come to weld the bars back into place. Tomorrow he will add razor wire to the bars. Thursday we have laser beams being installed to alarm us if someone is near our bedroom windows or around our vehicles while we sleep. Our current home security system will be upgraded to allow for the new laser beams. And my heart is breaking. This is my home. This is the place God has given me to raise my children. This is the place of our greatest ministry, where we extend our hospitality and pray God will be glorified in all we do and say; that when guest arrive they feel at home and long to sit and stay a while. That miracles happen in our living room. That the peace of God reigns. 

I am beyond grateful for God's hand of protection. I love you Lord and know YOU ARE MY FORTRESS. YOU ARE MY SHIELD. YOU ARE MY EVER PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE. Thank you for the many prayers uttered on our behalf for our family and our safety. Please continue to lift us up. Please pray against fear. Pray we cry out for rescue always trusting in God despite our efforts to guard ourselves. Pray this home will be a beacon of love, comfort, and security for all who enter. Pray we are merciful. Pray we are generous. Your prayers add strength to my weary heart. Thank you! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wednesday morning Bible Study



I absolutely love the heart of this group! No one here would claim perfection and my hope is that any mask of 'having it all together' gets crushed at the door on the way. The ladies are open, funny, loving, devoted, seeking, and so very kind!! This morning we were laughing so loudly that we couldn't hear as women came to the knock on the gate outside. And after study, which was a serious discussion on sin from Psalm 19 the laughter and hope in the group was music to my ears. In this group, like any other, there are broken hearts, wrestling souls, God-given dreams unfolding, and lives being shaped by the King of glory. Such an awesome privilege to be part of this! 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Confession and Worship

We had another great night of fellowship in God’s word at our women's ministry night!! On Oct 31st the ladies gathered together for another meal and this time we managed to fit in two lessons instead of one form our current teaching series. I taught from the book Celebrations of Discipline on the subject of confession and my friend Manda led the session on worship! We had an awesome night from start to finish. Even ending in a power outage that had all the ladies packing up their belongings, clearing food tables and stacking dishes with only the flashlights on our cellphones to guide us. This is Africa! 


I love my time with these ladies. On November 28th we have our annual Christmas party and our expectation is that it will be another event of love and laughter.