God Loves South Africa

I love South Africa – the people, the topography, the various cultures, the animals and yes, even the odors.  I love it all! It greets me like a faithful friend as soon as I step off the plane, and welcomes me like a local.  As a local, I like nothing more than to have my American family, friends and colleagues visit and catch the same love for South Africa as I have.  This is the first year in the past 15 years that I have not stepped foot in South Africa.   I miss it.  I ache for it, and I believe it misses me.  However, this year has been a rebuilding and transition year for both the ministry and me.  Adapting to a new way of doing things is never easy for anyone involved, but what has eased the ache of transition, are the missionaries who have come to support the work.

First, our longtime friend and ministry partner, Michelle Smith returned to South Africa in January for six months to minister in various local and continental churches and work with our students.  Michelle is like a local herself and is always welcomed with open arms by the people.  She and Michael navigated the students in the first few months of the year. Together, they settled them into school, lead weekly home cell meetings, and ensured that the program moved forward seamlessly.

Next, Marshall Grant, whose entire family moved to South Africa, arrived to scout out the land, begin leadership training sessions for local pastors, and supported Michael in continuing the program and working with the students to further ensure their success.  I believe that Marshall’s transition to South Africa was complete when his family arrived in June.  As a team, they are able to serve the people of South Africa both by helping us and developing programs and initiatives of their own.

In September, we were blessed to have a mother of our church, Mother Claire Carter fulfill a longtime dream by coming to work and serve in South Africa.  She was welcomed into the community with all of the respect and honor due to her as a mother in the faith.  While in South Africa, she served the women in the township, preached at the local church, taught our students, and did a daily prayer walk through the town!  South Africa captured her heart as much as it captured mine, and she is determined to return to once again serve and pray for the people.

Finally, we were blessed to have my pastors and godparents, Bishop Garland and Eileen Hunt, come to South Africa!  Although only there for a short time, they ministered at four churches, came to our ministry in South Africa and travelled throughout the Western and Eastern Cape evangelizing and ministering to people who were hungry for a Word from the Lord.

So, although I was gone for the entire year, the work and ministry to the people of South Africa continued and flourished.  God sent others to hold up the people, to minister to those in need, and to represent His vast care for them.  I may have been missed, but the Lord made sure that there was never any lack felt amongst them.  Although our ministry is still in the midst of transition, the Lord continues to show Himself faithful and to retain all the glory which is due His greatness!  Amen!

New Year, Continuing Vision

Children Fun

The new year typically brings a feeling of anticipation and renewal to the hearts and minds of most people. The team at Goshen International is no different. 2015 marks the beginning of the 15th year of our service in and love for South Africa. In that time, we have watched the Lord move in the lives of many people and establish us as a place of refuge for those we reach.

15 years ago, I was sitting in a church conference when my dad stopped in the middle of his message to say these words: “I’m sending my daughter to South Africa.” Those who know me well know that those words did not settle easily on my heart. However, after yielding to the voice of the Lord speaking through him, I planned my trip and charted my course, and a few months later I landed in Cape Town, South Africa. After some awesome moments in ministry while traveling with Sigi and David Oblander, my heart settled in a little village near Plettenberg Bay.

I was invited by a local woman to come help her for a year to feed and minister to abandoned children in Kurland Village. While doing that, I did what I always do—I looked for needs to be filled. After my now infamous conversation with the youth who were insecure about their futures, I decided to start the Kurland Learning Center. That decision not only altered the course of my life, but also the lives of the many children we have reached through the years.

From that faithful step so many years ago, we have taught and mentored a number of students through the Learning Center. In that time, more than 400 students have been a part of the academic program. More than half of those qualified to attend the college preparatory high school where we send students to build a foundation for university. Essentially all of the students successfully graduated from high school, and about 30% of those have gone on to a university, college, or skill school. The remainder went straight into the work force. We have worked with each student from the time they started with us in elementary school throughout their educational career, whether that ended at the secondary or tertiary level.

We have also been blessed to reach hundreds of other children through teen churches and home cells, after-school programs, and other community enrichment activities. We have built, supported, and influenced people while training community members, teaching abstinence and Christ-like character, and affecting the overall quality of education in the area.

We are humbled by the success we have seen, and as we start the new year we look to the Lord for new ways to provide more and better opportunities for these children. We are hoping to remodel the Learning Center as many things have become worn or dated after 15 years. We want to recruit new staff members and volunteers to further the mission. We are increasing our efforts to raise awareness and funding for our own permanent school, Goshen Preparatory Academy, to greater serve the students of South Africa. In all of these endeavors, we need the prayers and support of our partners.

As always, we thank you for walking with us and supporting us through this journey.  We love you and hope that we can walk together for yet another 15 years.