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Today, American celebrate the holiday

“Rejoice in the Lord always;  again I will say rejoice!” Phil 4:4 (NIV)

It seems that the only place that I see or hear of rejoicing is within a church context. During a worship service, prayer or testimony, there will be expressions of joy and rejoicing. But outside in the world, this appears to be a much rarer phenomenon, usually reserved for airports, bus or train stations.

Paul commands Christian to rejoice! And in the following verses, he advises us how to do this:  in everything, by prayer and thanksgiving… this is how we can always rejoice in Christ. No matter what happens — good, bad or ugly;  no matter how badly we’ve mess up; and no matter how the world treats us, we can be thankful that our Father is always willing to forgive and that we can rely on His wisdom to create good out of bad.

Today, American celebrate the holiday known as Thanksgiving. It is a time for families to gather around their tables. All over this country, people will make every effort to be in their homes for this holiday. It is a time to give thanks to God, our Father.

And therefore, because of our grateful hearts, thanking our Father for all His blessings, we can rejoice!

Again. And again. And again!

Steve

It was just over a week ago that we returned from South Africa

To our family and friends of Africa,

It was just over a week ago that we returned from South Africa.  Recovering from some illness and going through the loss of one of our family members since returning, we now wanted to share with you a little of our trip.  We took our daughter Wendy, (from Lenoir, NC) our granddaughter Becky returned this time with her husband, Jared, (from Charlotte, NC) and our grandson Albert and his wife Katie (from Alexandria, VA).

PRIMROSE
It was good to be with Primrose and Victor again.  Primrose seems to have taken on a real sense of “peace” and an aura of a contented wife since her marriage to Victor.  This is good and it seems the two of them remain focused on the hearts of the children in the community.  Victor is doing well from a suspected stroke he suffered when we were there in June, but aside from a bit of numbness in the leg and hand, he is doing remarkably well.  Because of such a busy schedule, we didn’t really get to spend quality quiet time with them…..maybe in heaven.  Even with all that is going on there, she remains steady at the helm of the good ship Bavumeleni.

MARTY
The whole community from Anathoth to Bavumeleni are so grateful God sent Marty, this from the lips of Primrose, Pat Stephenson, Reinaldo, Euphonia, Robbie and Godfrey.  Marty has been a true servant of God doing all and more that has been asked of him including so much even while his own health suffered as was evident serving the Riverside group in June.  Marty has been house-sitting for Steve Zimmerman while Steve has been here in America.  Thank God for Marty’s medical skills, he has had to nurse one of Steve’s dogs back to health….the other seven have remained in good health.  Marty has taken upon himself to help the kids learn to read and write English.  We put all our troops to work with a little one-one-one several times and confess they are doing well, thank you, Marty.  These kids love to be around Marty, a solid male figure that loves on them.  Continue to thank God for Marty and pray for his work, his transportation (maybe praying for an ’88 Opal is not Biblical), his health, a recurring shoulder pain and his mental ablility to take time for himself.

GODFREY AND EUPHONIA
What a beautiful bride Euphonia was, Barb had no trouble getting a good set of pictures of the wedding with these two and their wedding party; Katie worked to help her set up these picture shots. Barb will have them edited and into a CD for them soon.  Our Becky served as the Matron of Honor and what an honor it was for her to have served in this capacity for Euphonia whom she got to know on the ’06 trip.  Wendy sang and played beatifully. She sang a song from one of her CD’s by Euphonia’s request.  Reinaldo, who also had her CD, said that it was better there at the wedding than on the CD.  It was truly an honor for Wayne to get to officiate for “our kid’s” wedding.  Albert and Jared were recognized for being servants in helping with the refreshments and clean up.

ANATHOTH AND THE BAPTISM
For the two of us, this was the highlight of the whole trip.  In June, God layed it on Wayne’s heart to see about a baptism service for our kids who had given their hearts to Jesus.  He asked Godfrey, Primrose and Marty to talk to, instruct and seek out those who would like to follow Jesus in baptism for November.   It seems Godfrey took the lead here and had classes for them.  On a Thursday afternoon at the pool at Anathoth, 11 young adults aged 14 to 17 went under in public recognition, giving testimony of their love for Jesus.  Here is what excited us…..Tsotang, Bongi, Kemiso and Samkelo along with Fenner all were baptized!!  These first four boys were young, faithful leaders as far back as 2001, left the ministry several years ago and now rededicated their lives to Christ.  WOW!!  A few months ago, a young girl of 17, Sylvia, and her 5 year old niece from Mozambique had someone destroy their shack, so they came to Bavumeleni for shelter.  Primrose welcomed them in, preached Christ and Sylvia gave her life to Christ and wanted to be baptized, how neat is that!!  Then a 14 year old whom Wayne met in June, Nicolette, came into the water (very cold water) with a glow of the spirit on her face.  She explained why she wished to be baptized, she went under and came straight up shouting “Praise the Lord”!! Then also came Syntyche, Sonya, Joan and another new girl.  We thank God for getting to be present at this service.  Wayne’s lower half recovered from its numbness, due to the cold water, in less than 24 hours.

Pat Stephenson was as accomodating as ever for us.  We thank her for the use of the pool which is dedicated for only such purposes.  Our rooms were very accomodating and restful……except for Mishka the German Shepard (Alsation) who liked to bark at the stud horse at all hours of the night………and for the hawdidaw birds who like to get up early enough to wake up the roosters.  We regret that what we thought would be a leisurely trip was as full packed as ever and we did not get much down time with Pat either, but she made sure we got some of the good Hanapoot grape juice and filled in much of our grocery cupboard.  Thank you Pat.  Katrina is helping out in the office now and Robbie has a good church going.  Robbie is a testimony to God’s Grace.  Robbie, we love you.  Barb took many pictures of their church members and will have them ready soon as well.

BAVUMELENI
It was good to be back with the kids.  This is where Becky took the lead and the rest were only a step behind in playing with and loving on these kids.  The grandsons took charge of the rough games and bought and put up a basketball hoop.  This was more fun, for the girls as well as the boys, rain or shine.  That will be a center of activity for some time to come.  Katie adopted Happy, our Downs Syndrome boy and gave him a good dose of hugs.
Godfrey will be joining us full time come the first of the year, he makes the difference in the lives of these older boys and we are so grateful to have him there to compliment our staff.

Bavumeleni is morphing into something bigger and greater.  There are 5 new feeding stations in the community now. None of them are interested in the spirit, only the body, so we continue to feed both.  Our numbers are down but the quality of kids is on the upswing.  We must now concentrate on a building which will allow us to be what we think God wants us to be, a feeding centre, a children’s church and Bible centre, a child care centre, a safehouse, an after school learning center for assisance in reading, writing and computer skills.  Our African board is actively working on plans for a new building to be put on the properties where the two brick settlement homes are now.  Reinaldo is still working actively as our Board Chairman.  We missed seeing Steve Zimmerman as he was here in the states and will be for several more weeks.  While here he had all our local funds transferred to South Africa as the Rand/Dollar hit a new high and we wanted to take advantage of this.

Wayne and Barb Ferguson       (\__/)
970-330-3857                       (=’.’=)
barbandwayne2@msn.com       (“)_(“)

The Legend of the Autumn Leaves by Karl Walters

A long time before God spoke to His Son, Jesus, and said, “Let us make man in our image.”  God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit were planning how to make man.  Then on the fourth or fifth day an angel, Lucifer, asked, “What if man sins?”  A hush fell over all creation.  Till this timeless moment in eternity, nothing had sinned.  No one, or no thing, had even thought about sin.  So, God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit agreed on a plan.  The plan we now know as the plan of salvation.  Then they went on with the work of creation.

Jesus agreed willingly to die, to pay for all sins.  All that remained was to decide how.

Stoning was first suggested.  “Please, do not let one of us be used to take the life of Your Son,” the stones pleaded with one chorus like voice.  (Stones once had the most beautiful voices in all of God’s creation.)  Together, they promised to remain silent, if, while Jesus was alive on earth man would shout, “Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!” Since that happened on the Sunday before they crucified Jesus, the day we call Palm Sunday, the stones have always been silent.

It was then suggested, since Jesus’ disciples would be called “fishers of men,” that perhaps He might be washed overboard during a bad storm on the Sea of Galilee and be swallowed by a giant fish.  The fish all protested, “Please do not let one of us be used to take the life of Your Son.”  Instead, they wanted to warn man, even before Jesus was born.  Maybe one of them could carry a prophet of God in its stomach to a sinful country, so the people would come to repentance.  Perhaps that way Jesus would not have to die.

It continued.  One by one everything in God’s creation asked not to be used to take the life of the Son of God, till only the trees remained. Then something strange happened.

The trees could not agree.  Since God enjoys harmony, He divided the trees in two groups.  Trees with thin leaves, called needles, and the rest of the trees were each given their choice.  The trees with needles repeated the words, “Please do not let one of us be used to take the life of Your Son.”  The rest of the trees knew if nothing volunteered to be the instrument of Jesus’ death, all of mankind would die.  So, in obedience and love, with branches bowed low, they sadly said, “Let one of us be used to take the life of Your Son.”

Now the trees did not know how God would judge their deeds.  To the trees with needles God decreed, “You shall remain as you are, evergreen.”

To the trees with leaves He decreed, “You shall every year, without exception, brightly and boldly proclaim to all mankind, that My only Son, Jesus, died on one of your kind, so that man may have eternal life.”  “Once each year your leaves will tell the story.”  “When man sees the golden brown leaves, he will see Jesus’ sun baked body.” “Some of your leaves will turn bright red, to remind man, that Jesus shed His blood on a wooden cross on Calvary for their sins.”

So today, at Christmas, the evergreen, tells about the birth of Jesus, if man adorns it.  However, each year, God, himself, adorns the leafy trees for being a willing and humble servant.

(c)  Copyright 1995, Walter C. Mielke,   I Cor. 13:11,12

Used by permission by the author. Thank you, Walter!

Steve