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!