November/December 2012 “A Worthy Task”
Have you ever asked yourself, “Was it worth it?” after you completed something that seemed significant to you and others? Two years ago we asked ourselves this same question after seeing over 3,000 college students exposed to the gospel and over 500 of them deciding to follow Christ while in South Africa. Now, the school year in South Africa is coming to a close once again, and our team serving there has been brought face to face with the worthy task of passing on the baton before they return home to the States. The results have proven to be amazing!
One team member stated:
“We have excited spirit-filled students in place to lead on all three of the campuses we’ve been working on. Praise God!”
Also, in this one year alone, the team has been able to share the gospel 900 times and see 85 students accept Christ into their lives!
A South African team member speaks about the task as being, “The hardest part of our ministry.” He continues on in saying that “building into the lives of these students and letting them go and trust that they will keep growing in their faith” is a true test of faith, since most of the team is American and are leaving to return back home.
One question remains. Who will go and take their place to continue to help nourish those infant spiritual movements? Until then, we trust God’s will to see us fully funded and ready for the task.
We hope and pray that you enjoy this holiday season with friends and loved ones. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
October 2012 “Longing to Return“
“When are you coming back?” I remember being asked this question multiple times while in South Africa. Even now, after being back in the US for almost 2 years, the question still comes up during conversations with the students we ministered to while in Cape Town. It seems as though when people are impacted by the love of Christ, through an individual, there becomes this longing to see that individual again. More importantly, there becomes an even greater longing for Jesus. But how can they grow in understanding, without someone to guide them?
Our longing to return was ignited even more after a recent phone conversation with our team leader, who is currently living in South Africa. The following insert is from his most recent update and explains a snippet of what he told us about how God is moving in South Africa- after ministering in a nearby town outside of Cape Town:
“I will remember many special moments: individuals after each sermon saying yes to the gospel, hearing Nicholas (teammate) preach his first message in church… An unforgettable moment occurred at the conclusion of the revival. A middle aged woman wept. Through her tears, she expressed frustration about the difficulties she was having with her teenage daughter. Rev. Elias translated her plea, ‘When will more men like these come back to minister to the young people.’ Her cry is [our] challenge.”
Tammi and I are taking on this challenge. Sharing the love of Christ and his call for people to follow him is something that will be our focus when we return to the various college campuses in Cape Town, but it cannot and will not end there. Their campuses, communities, and this world will be affected as a result of their decisions to follow Christ. The needs of the people are great, but the call of Jesus on our lives to make disciples (followers) far exceeds them all. Our first stop will be South Africa. We long to return as soon as possible– as we always say, “Your partnership makes a huge difference in how fast we get there and how lives are touched for Christ after we arrive.”
September 2012 “A Sneak Peek into Your Missionary’s Life“
Personally, I believe we have the best jobs in the world. Besides living in Africa in the near future, we now have a lifestyle of being on the road here in the Midwest. Our job requires many hours on the road, and boy we do just that– travel! This week we returned back home from 17 days of travel and accumulated more than 1,400 miles on our cars this month alone!
Have you ever asked yourself, “What are Tammi and Jerrah doing right this moment?” Well, here is an inside peek of the day-to-day life of your missionaries.
The photo above shows all of our things piled in our car. Luggage, backpacks, large calendar, pillows, and even a sleepy missionary in the passenger’s seat. In between you hearing from us through our monthly newsletters, we practically live in our car traveling city to city.
Who are we meeting with? We are meeting Pastors of various cities; presenting at churches and bible studies; and meeting with many of your family/friends over coffee at Starbucks. Either we set an appointment with them or we are invited by individuals to come to their city. Usually people are excited to hear about the work that we do and want to meet sometime during the week. After a day, place to meet, and time is confirmed– off we go! This usually happens for weeks at a time!
So, over Starbuck’s coffee and one church presentation at a time, we get to stand and watch Jesus raise up our support. We praise God, because one year ago we were at less than 6% of our goal. However, this month, we saw God bring us to 38% of our goal– how faithful He is! We are reminded that “God is able to make all grace abound to you so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in a good work. ~2 Corinthians 9:8.
With that, we know that you are praying for us. We are so thankful to know that all our efforts to do His work are being lifted up in prayer by caring supporters like yourself.
Until we are fully funded to do his work,
August 2012 “Running After God“
“I’m trying to catch up with God!” These words resonate now more than ever as we follow God’s calling to raise support in order to place our feet on South African soil soon. There’s nothing better than feeling that God is moving more and faster than we are! Usually, in raising support, we work hard so that God will show up and bless our efforts, but we are finding out that its kind of the other way around! God does most of the work and we, more or less, show up and reap the benefits of having Him on our team.
We really feel that every city we travel to and every person we meet right now, God wants us to be there and meet those people! More than in the last month we feel led by Him in our support raising and it makes sense! Why else would he prepare people to meet with us before we ever speak to them?
“I had a dream last night that I was speaking with you,” said a friend, who hadn’t seen Jerrah for years, after bumping into him at another ministry partner’s job.
“You can just present to my bible study…you said Jesus, that’s good enough,” said another guy over the phone, who’d never met us prior to the phone conversation nor knew exactly what we’d be sharing.
Prayer has played a massive role in creating opportunities for people to hear about our wiliness to move to South Africa for a couple years to see lost students turned into laborers for Christ. As a friend was praying for us, she was lead to say, “Gods going to bring people your way who will bless you besides contributing financially…” That was encouraging to hear in the moment but was even more encouraging and exciting when we started seeing it happen before our eyes- and we are still seeing it. God has been easily setting us in front of people of influence in our church and established divine appointments. For example one individual, who’s a professional blogger, has made a huge impact on us and how we relate and connect with people like you who read this each month.
We are, in fact, running after God as he leads us to whom He has waiting for us to meet and become our partners. One question remains. What will He do next? We hear him saying, “Far above and beyond what you could ever think or imagine.”
July 2012 “On the Road Again”
“Thank God for GPS.” These words crossed our minds nearly every day this month as we traveled up and down the highway meeting with potential ministry partners. Cultivating old relationships while establishing new ones. We knew from the beginning that this would take a lot of effort on our part and a great deal of trust in God, so that He would fulfill His part.
Nothing was held back as we started off the first two weeks of the month in Chicago. God allowed us to sit down with 12 different people, both friends and family. Some were from Illinois, others from Indiana, and even one was from South Korea who was involved with Cru when he was young! Despite the difficult time of raising financial support, the most encouraging thing about our time spent in Chicago was the fact that two people committed to supporting us while also making it an obligation to host a small dinner at their houses, in order to introduce us to more of their friends, with the hope that they would join our team of financial ministry partners.
We returned back to Indianapolis full of new lessons and new people to call. After a day of rest we were back at it and soon found ourselves in an apartment with a man who had more in common with us than we thought he did! He had done work in South Africa before and knows a South African family here in the city. He agreed to partner with us tremendously and to host two small dinners for us, with one potentially being at the South African family’s home. What an amazing and unexpected opportunity!
Now we are preparing for another journey to Champaign, IL. This will be our final road trip for the month of July and it is also filled with unexpected opportunities. This time around, we really want to pay even more attention to the G.P.S. that is within us. God’s Personal Spirit is a much better compass than our own intuitions.
June 2012 “A Long Time Coming”
“And so it begins.” It’s a new season. Just to think about where we were and what we were doing a year ago is amazing. We had just got married and was on our way to Colorado to be trained on the basics of being missionaries, from theological persuasions, to support raising, and everything else in between. We would soon come to realize that our first priority would not be raising funds to get back to South Africa, but applying for jobs just to put food on the table. We did, however, set out to raise support while we worked – boy was that challenging! We longed for the day when we would not have to do both at the same time.
Well, the long awaited time has come for us to begin our efforts of raising support full-time. What we mean by “full-time” is, essentially, we now have an obligation to work on raising financial support for 40 hours per week. Just to give an idea of what an adjustment that is for us; we went from working 8 hours per week on support raising to 8 hours per day!
Our time is now spent in the Cru Great Lakes Regional Office here in Indianapolis where we work for hours on phone calls, emails, and other administrative things, even a little Facebook! Our goal is to sit down with as many people as possible by any means possible, so that they can hear the great news about what God is doing in South Africa and how we want to invite them to be a part of it. There’s no time to waste as we seek to walk with God on this journey with our hearts and minds focused and confident in God and his Word:
“My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.”
We are encouraged by your prayers and support as we set out on this journey of unexpected possibilities. We would not be where we are without your willingness and sacrifice.
Points of Prayer and Praise
- Praise God that we have a place to work outside our home that has all the supplies we need!
- We were having trouble with Tammi’s car working properly, but we have since got it fixed and its in great condition now.
- Pray we can meet our goal of having at least 10 appointments each week.
- We are currently at 26%. Pray we can reach 50% by the month of September.
May 2012 “Peace that Works!”
“Can I talk with you Mrs. Jackson?” a stirred up fourth grader asked me within minutes of arriving to school. I walked with her to another room in the school and we both had a seat in the empty classroom. Looking up at me with watery red eyes, I could tell she spent the entire bus ride to school in tears. I braced myself to hear what happened to her that morning. She began to open up to me and share with me the struggles going on in her home life. My heart broke as she shared the things she hears and endures.
I work in small classroom of 7 students ranging from grades 3-6. It’s a Intensive Intervention classroom for students with extreme emotional disorders and behaviors. The aim of the class is not to succeed academically– but in behavior. It’s a very raw place of brokenness where hurting children explode in anger, and react verbally and physically. It is because of this that they need an adult supervising them from the moment they arrive in the morning until the bell rings for them to go home. My position allows me to have pretty close relationships with my students. This school year, I can’t think of one day where I have not asked God why He wants me here. The days are full of challenges, but I’m finding that if I look beyond my questions to God I get to see unmistakable windows of God working!
Just weeks before, God helped me realize He wanted me to have a spiritual conversation with her. God gave us a window of almost 3 weeks of quality time during recess to talk about Bible stories, how to pray, and sharing moments of God answering my prayers when I was her age. She was so candid! She really tickled me in her responses learning about God! One day I asked her, “Have you ever heard of Jesus Christ?” “No, who is that?” she asked. “Well Jesus is the son of God. Jesus is God” “God has a son?” she replied. “Yea, God sent His son Jesus to die for us so that we can know Jesus and go to heaven.” She interrupted, “Well my mom hates God.” I asked, “Well that’s your mom, but what do you believe?” “Well I believe in God!” she exclaimed throwing her hands into the air staring at and wiggling her limbs. “Well how else did I get here? Someone had to make me!”
Well one day my fourth grade friend came to school in tears saying she didn’t feel safe at home. “Can I pray for you?” I asked extending my hand. “What does that mean?” she asked. “This is when we talk to God and we are going to ask Him for His help and peace.” “Do you think God will solve my problem?” “God doesn’t promise to solve all our problems, but He does promise to give us peace. So lets ask right now.” In that moment God literally cleared out the cafeteria just for us to pray. The next morning she found me and ran up to me smiling. “Mrs. Jackson yesterday was a good day. This morning was good too. I guess that peace thing really worked!”
“Tammi, what church do you go to?” a co-worker seemingly asked me out of no where while I was preparing to eat my lunch in the break room. I managed to stammer a few words out, but I was so thrown off by the question that she just asked. You see, this past fall I transferred to an elementary school in our district where I work full time as a Instructional Assistant with a fourth grader who has special needs. I did not know a soul at this new school and I was experiencing a difficult time transitioning to my new work environment. Then, one day I was approached by this friendly woman in the teachers’ break room.
Little did I know that this question would begin a wonderful friendship with this teacher. I soon found that she was also a Christian and our friendship almost instantly took off from there. To this day, God has given us a special relationship where we pray together in her class during our lunch break nearly everyday. Its been remarkable to see God change our hearts through prayer in the middle of our day as we pray for our students, staff, and one another. I am so thankful because I see God providing me an oasis to meet with Him right in the middle my work day. Even in our roughest of days as teachers, we both see God answering our prayers before our very eyes!
One afternoon she shared with me a situation that really discouraged her. We both took our time to pray and ask for God’s help, intervention, and peace. Once we were done praying she looked up at me and said, “Tammi, I just felt something literally lift off of me as we were praying.” She told me she felt peace and decided to leave this situation in God’s hands. This reminds me of the power of prayer and how God promises to hear us when we pray: “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24.
We feel like this season of being off the missions field has taught us a whirlwind of things. Currently we are continuing to raise support in Indianapolis, Chicago, and Fort Wayne. We are thankful that God has allowed us to reach 27% of our goal. We are looking forward to returning back to South Africa and meanwhile God is still showing us how to love and reach out to people right in front of us in an everyday setting. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Outside the Box
“I don’t have a category for this in my head!” Earlier this month I was able to read through some of the updates from the current missions team living in Cape Town and I came across a wonderful story of reaching out to communities surrounding Cape Town. Although we focus on ministering to college students, we are not limited by it, but rather use it as a means to spread the message of Christ to any and all who will listen -including going to the neighborhoods surrounding the colleges where we work. This story spoke of a suburb of Cape Town called “Bo Kaap,” which is known to be a predominately Muslim area.
It all started off with prayer followed by the team being briefed on what to do if someone would confront them, yell at them, or destroy the materials they were handing out. This outreach was outside of the box for some of the people participating in the group. They were set to distribute to each house in the neighborhood a DVD called “Magdalena.” This depicts the story of Mary Magdalene from the Bible, her encounter with Jesus, and subsequently how He released her from shame. Things started out well as they walked from door to door through the area handing out the DVD’s. They starting up a few conversations with people, but then they got a little turned around and ended up in a squatter’s camp, meaning a ramshackle camp of homeless people living in shelters made from whatever material they could find. They began sharing the gospel with people who went from rowdy to somber, as they were told, “You can know this Jesus too, and he loves you!” A woman who accepted Christ during that time was so encouraged that she immediately said that her friend needed to hear this as well. So she brought her friend who ended up hearing the gospel message too! Altogether 14 people accepted Christ that day from that entire outreach, which goes to show that God works in mysterious ways – especially when you carry out something for Him that you initially didn’t set out to do.
Sometimes as I read these stories I get taken back to our time we spent there. I then have to remember that where we are right now is where God wants us to be. More than ever, Tammi and I want to get back as soon as possible, but the task at hand is greater than anything else. It calls for us to enjoy God in a totally different way, a way that is training us to do far greater things than we’ve ever done before. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Going All In
There’s nothing more exciting than seeing over 1,200 students showing up in one place to do one thing. To see God work in their lives and learn how they can go ALL IN for Him this year. Tammi and I were privileged with the opportunity to go to Denver for a week during New Years for a Christmas conference called “DCC,” which is short for Denver Christmas Conference. These types of conferences are held nation wide in various cities a couple days after Christmas.
Students were exposed to great speakers, seminars, and faith building experiences at DCC. Many of the students went “all in” with their finances by giving over $10,000 to help fund the 100,000 meals that they packed by hand at the conference. The meals will be sent to Haiti to help relieve some of the suffering there and show Christ’s love in a tangible way to people who desperately need it.
Afterwards, all conference attendees hit the city streets to share the Good News with as many people as possible along eight blocks of the 16th St. Mall. It was kicked off with a “flash mob” by over 1,200 students stopping to “Tebow” (a praying pose made famous by quarterback Tim Tebow). After three minutes of posing, hundreds of curious spectators gathered to watch. This resulted to hundreds of spiritual conversations initiated by these students leading many to share the Gospel for the first time. Tammi and I even got involved in this outreach and had a great time sharing with people, including three guys from Africa. God gave us the opportunity to speak at the conference by sharing our experience as missionaries from South Africa. We were able to lead an informative luncheon for graduating students interested in serving in South Africa for 1-2 years. We shared testimonies of big God moments in the ministry and encouraged them to come and serve with us when we return. In the picture to the left are two recently graduated students heading to South Africa for a one-year short-term mission trip! We can’t wait to get back, but the reality is still clear for us that we will get there when God says so. Until then, we will continue to press forward in meeting with as many people as we can to share about God’s work in South Africa. We appreciate your partnership and prayers.