Greeting to everyone in the name of our Lord! It’s midwinter now and the rains have soaked Cape Town. We really need it and it is encouraging to see snow on the high peaks of the eastern mountains.
McLAUGHLIN NEW LIFE CENTER
Since the arrival of the last container, it has been a struggle to sort, stack and pallet all the boxes. Not so much for the physical space but because I’ve been hit with a bad dose of bronchitis. Winter is the worst time to contract such an illness and this was no exception. I wanted to bundle up warmly and work anyway but my wife threatened dire consequences!
We did managed to sort nearly half of the boxes, locating the most urgent need — Bibles and New Testaments. Several churches were so pleased to be able to pass them out to their members and the youth in particular, loved the stylishly colored New Testaments. The study Bibles are only given to those who attend the Cape Bible Seminary classes and who’s English is proficient. The Tuesday evening classes for the Congolese had several men who were delighted with their brand new study Bibles! The joy on their faces lit up the whole room!
One of the new contacts was Mike and Aubrey, both from a Christian community organization called One Source Ministry. We’d chatted over the phone several times and when I recovered enough, we met at the New Life Center. They were starting a community library as well as a Prayer Room. They were astounded at the boxes of books in front of them and were like kids in a candy store, unable to decide what to take first. In fact, that afternoon, they came back for another load.
I visited their community center located in one of the poorest suburbs of the city. They had a run down building, which the owner said they could use — they’d painted, repaired the doors and windows, installed a new roof and cleaned up the place. By the time I’d arrived, there were several youth and a few ladies unpacking and logging in the books! Mike is a former chef in the merchant marines and had set aside a small kitchen to train the local youth in food preparation. The equipment is rudimentary but his small group of students are all eager to learn. (There are several wine farms not far away and each one has several restaurants. where some might find employment.)
A week later, I was invited to witness One Source’s food parcel and blanket distribution. Several hundred people were there and the community leaders had a list of families who are in the most need. Of course, with the books on the shelves, word spread like wildfire through the homes. Some folks even brought old clothes to help others. This group is serious about practical Christian ministries and I believe, they will be very effective in spreading the gospel.
Among the crowd, I met a tall man, named Donovan. He is the principal of a school a few miles away and had heard about the books at the New Life Center. Within another day, he and a few fellow teachers were there to load up boxes. Over and over, they expressed their thanks for the blessings from America. Donovan estimated that those boxes of books alone saved the school a few thousand dollars!
CAPE BIBLE SEMINARY
Bro Kiku’s congregation invited me to teach classes during their Tuesday evening worship service. Since many of his members must work on Sundays, Bro Kiku had arranged a midweek service so that they could share together. This month was the first classes and I began with the Harmony of the Gospels.
There are younger children there and I thought they’d be bored but at every class, they eagerly sat and listened. I discovered that most of the kids attend local schools and their English is better than their parents! (Some of the adults ask their kids to tell them the finer points of the classes when they get home.) There are always lively discussions and questions, which make the classes run very late. After passing out a few Halley’s Handbooks (from the container), I was inundated with so many questions that I had to had a separate session with them.
This year is another furlough. We’re praying that it will start from the middle of August and last until November. I hope to see my Mom in Seattle during this time (she is 92 but in good health) and also my sons and grandchildren. The only sticking point are two visas for my wife: she needs a SA marital visa and after that, a US tourist visa. The South African authorities have been “busy” with it since January this year and despite calling, writing and e-mailing every few weeks, nothing seems to be coming out the other side.
I don’t anticipate a problem from the American Consulate (I am an Area Warden for the Northern Suburbs) but several people have told me that they’re becoming very sticky with their approvals. Still, we trust in the Lord and pray that these will be granted.
If you have any queries regarding the schedule for furlough, kindly contact Mark Vernik (567-825-1198) or check out our website.
We are praying for accommodation and a vehicle to drive while we are there. This time, we will concentrate mostly in the Midwest.
I want to thank everyone for their hard work for the container. Mattie McLaughlin, the Snyders, together with the Neuenschwanders, along with the Christians at Northview Christian Church — we thank you for all the blessings that have been passed and are being passed to so many Christians in Africa!
S.A. Christian Mission, Cape Town