November “a Misconception”
“Ok, so if I accept Christ, do I have to become Mr. Serious?”
This question floated around in Yamkela’s head as he contemplated the choice he was about to make. He thought a Christian was a guy who wore suits all the time- but he wasn’t that kind of person. When he called his aunt, who was a Christian, he asked her what it meant to follow Christ.
“You don’t have to change you outside appearance,” she said. “What’s important is that you have to accept Christ into your heart and then He controls your life.” What wise insight! Jesus doesn’t want a person to change before they follow Him. He changes them as a result of being in a relationship with Him. Yamkela took this truth to heart and made that decision. Today, Yamkela has been one of our most faithfully involved students. He loves leading and has a special influence on those around him.
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, we are reminded of God’s faithful provision in our lives as we live and minister in Cape Town, South Africa. We think of you often and pray for you that God would bless you and remind you daily of his presence with you. We cannot do what we do without you. Thank you for being a part of seeing lives changed as we continue to be used as instruments by God to reach the world through South African college students!
October “Training in Action“
As I looked out the window from a classroom that would soon be filled by a handful of men desiring to gather and grow in their relationship with God, I saw in the distance one particular guy who was taking his sweet time making his way towards the building to join us. We only had a small window of time to gather, so in my mind I was thinking, “Hurry up, Dale!” I soon noticed that he was having a really serious conversation with his friend.
By the motioning of his hands, he seemed to be giving deep explanation of something. They came to a stop right in front of the building. “What are they talking about?” I wondered. They sat down and Dale casually reached into his backpack and pulled out the Four Spiritual Laws booklet and began to explain the Gospel to him. I was elated to observe him using his evangelism training to show someone how to follow Christ. A few weeks later I invited him to join me in sharing our faith. This time, instead of watching me do it as he’s done in the past, I invited him to do the sharing while I observed.
We found a student, who surprisingly was wearing a Lakers fitted cap with a Lakers jersey, and we sparked up a conversation with him. Eventually, Dale was able to share the Gospel with him using the same booklet he had used before. He gave the guy an opportunity to decide to follow Jesus. He kindly declined and explained to us that he was Muslim, and that he just wanted to hear what we had to say. We thanked him for his time and walked away glad he at least had a opportunity to hear. Dale was equally glad he got a chance to share his faith while I was with him.
We often term this type of training as “Discipleship.” It’s following Jesus’ command to train and teach others, so that they can go and do the same. Dale is an example of what is happening here on one of the University campuses as we see lives changed through a personal encounter with Christ. Thank you for your partnership in seeing future leaders trained in sharing their faith.
September “Preparing for Hard Soil”
Walking up the side of a mountain every day isn’t for the faint-hearted nor the unfit, but many of the students at the University of Cape Town (UCT) are well accustomed to this type of lifestyle. With UCT being South Africa’s oldest university and one of Africa’s leading institutions in teaching and research, there’s no mistaking why this campus of over 25,500 students hosts people from more than 100 different countries around the world.
The spiritual diversity of the campus is just as variegated as it’s multi-cultural representation. While visiting I decided to interview a few students:
“Nature has its own law. I can’t find any proof that there is a God. God is ourselves. We have the right to control our lives,” stated a Chinese professor, who is here teaching Mandarin.
One student from New York stated that truth is relative and that the source of spiritual truth comes from hard evidence, but in the end, “It’s hard to know it.”
When asked about who Jesus was, a student replied, “I’m agnostic. I think he was just a normal guy.”
“What do you believe?” A student asked me inquisitively. I was surprised! It reminded me that as a believer, one should properly be able to explain the hope that he has in Christ. That question is also meant for you.
This university has continually been labeled “hard soil” by various ministries. My heart for this campus is to see transformational community created amongst the Christian students and cultivated through successful witnessing and missional living. Successful witnessing is taking the initiative in the power of the Holy Spirit to share Christ and leaving the results to God, and that is what we plan to do beginning January 2015. You can also do this in your sphere of influence that God has placed you! Praise God for the opportunity to partner with Him in His mission!
August 2014 “An Uncommon Reason”
While on our way to a building on campus labeled “A-Block,” I looked at my watch. It was almost 2:00 PM and my meeting with a student was soon to begin. His desire was to do missionary work in South America or East Asia for a year after he graduates and he was eager to learn basic truths of his Christian faith. I was surprised to see he had a friend sitting next to him as I walked through the door and shortly found out his friend had a common name for an uncommon reason.
“Hi, I’m Jerrah,” I said.
“Sisulu,” He replied.
As the conversation continued, I learned that Sisulu’s father was a political prisoner on Robben Island during the same time as Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, who was a close friend of Mandela during their struggle for freedom in South Africa during the Apartheid era. He shared that Walter Sisulu mentored his father, who was a young prisoner, and as a result his father named him Sisulu out of gratitude. From one world changer to another, the responsibility has been passed onto him to impact society. Sisulu has the opportunity to have a lasting effect on the world around him. How will this happen?
“I feel God is calling me to be a missionary to Germany,” Sisulu shared.
With great wonder I replied, “Germany!? Why Germany?” To be honest, it was very odd and uncommon to hear, but he explained that for some reason it was on his heart and that God had given him the ability to learn the language easily. So much so, he is in his third year of learning German and is at the top of his class! His wish was to learn from me ho to be involved in missionary work.
“I need this.” he told me one day. Now we are meeting weekly for training. He is faithful, available, and teachable, which we see are the basic characteristics of a future leader. God has called those who follow Christ to be carriers of His good news wherever we go, so that everyone might know someone who truly follows Jesus.
Please pray for Sisulu and myself as we continue to meet together weekly for our times of discipleship. Thank you for your prayers and partnership, because you are a part of reaching students like this in this city that will soon be sent to the nations for Christ!
July 2014 “Trained to Reach“
As I packed my things to leave for the first day back to work on the University of Western Cape (UWC) I was filled with uncertainty of what would happen there and at home while I was gone. It was a new beginning not only for me, but also for Tammi as she stayed home to take care of Rio. I was amazed at what happened in just one week of ministry on campus.
Before the week started we held an evangelism training for a group of U.S. students sent through Cru to help be a catalyst in starting a ministry on UWC. We taught them the basics of how to share their faith in an effective way. After just one week of ministry, 21 students had indicated a decision to receive Christ! The testimonies kept coming day after day of how hungry the students were for the gospel. Isn’t it amazing to be a part of God’s work of changing lives? We look forward to being a part of seeing these students and others grow in their walks with the Lord.
June 2014 “Hello, My Name is Rio“
“I am here! Thank you for praying for me. Mommy and I had a beautiful natural birth and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa at 3:40pm on June 10 and am a tiny gem of 5.1 oz. Thank you for praying” -Love Rio whom is ‘God’s River of Strength’
Hi Friends, its official I am forever changed and my heart has been stolen yet again.
I had an incredible birth, more than I could have asked the Lord for. He has heard my prayers for a birth free of an epidural, medicine, intervention, or tearing of any kind.
There was worship music played where Rio was birthed and a Christian midwife where we birthed at her home. Natasha Stadler held my hand and was like a mother to me in a country where my family cannot be present.
I bawled and worshiped Christ when our son was placed on my stomach, it was the purest form of experiencing the Lord. Your prayers carried me and I sincerely say thanks to all of you! To see more pictures, click the Baby Spotlight tab.
Our son’s full name is Rio Milani Jackson. After much prayer, we wanted to give our son a name that has spiritual significance as when names were given in the Bible. Rio is Spanish for “God’s River of Strength.” Milani is South African from the IsiXhosa people which means “Rooted in Christ.” When Jerrah and I reflect over our lives when I was pregnant with Rio, we recall staying rooted in Christ when the Lord uprooted us from the USA to plant our roots in South Africa for ministry. Despite the journey and challenges we remained rooted in Christ and our hope is that our son will be rooted in Him as well.
May God bless you, and thank you again for your well wishes and prayers.
May 2014 “In Community“
“Are you here on holiday?” This is the most common question we are asked while out interacting with the locals here, and our answer is probably the least common they hear. “We live here.” It is this reality that has set in deeper than ever now that we have been here in Cape Town for more than 2 months. In addition, we have just recently moved into a house of our own.
It is this, among multiple other factors, that helps to authenticate our ministry here, and stands out as an important value to us. The last month has been spent becoming “more South African,” learning cultural norms and language, which has helped in preparing for ministry on the local campuses and communities. Living in community through our local church and with the always available assistance of our teammates has allowed us to slowly transition into life as we know it currently.
What’s next for us? Well, our son will be born any day now and we are therefore in great anticipation of his arrival. Tammi has the nursery set up and we are very excited. We are grateful to God for this 9 month journey and now a new one will begin as a new member of the family joins the adventurous life of the Jacksons. We are also thankful for you and the difference you make in seeing us well taken care of and covered in prayer as we prepare to reach the world here in Cape Town.
April 2014 “Settling In“
Driving on the left side of the road? No lions and other wild animals roaming around? Big shopping malls? Yes, this is Cape Town, South Africa, our new home, and it feels good to be back in this wonderful country.
We arrived in country and experienced a great reception from our teammates, and friends. We have been witnessing God’s great provision for us as days turned into weeks. Since arriving in Cape Town on April 2nd we’ve enjoyed some much needed rest and relaxation compared to the non-stop schedule of preparation we had several months prior to our departure.
Currently we live in an area of Cape Town called Northpine. We live with a family from our church home that has taken us in and shown us amazing love and care. Through them we have been able to learn and speak Afrikaans and immerse ourselves in the South African culture – which includes great food! They are our family here. We go to church with them, share in family gatherings, and they have been with us every step during this period of settling in. Among many things we are also re-learning to drive a manual car on the opposite side of the road!
In the midst of preparing to begin ministry next month, our minds are also set on the birth of our son. Tammi has 6 weeks to go, and yes, we are having a boy! It feels great knowing that he will be born around Fathers Day.
We are so thankful for your support and it is so good to be back in this city, knowing we will be serving soon. Our South African teammates have even expressed, “It’s so good to have you back.” As we settle in, our hearts are filled with such anticipation of being a part of the harvest that will take place, and our eyes are focused on the many great things ahead.
View Settling In video Here
March 2014 “On the Plane”
Standing in the international terminal of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport with 11 suitcases, all we could hear was multiple languages being spoken and none of them were English. As we board the plane, anticipation is high, and we look forward to the new journey God has in front of us. One thing is for sure, we are ready! Cape Town here we come! We’ll arrive early Wednesday morning.
View London to Cape Town flight video Here
February 2014 “Reaching the World”
When someone wants to get to know you, they often ask the classic question, “What do you do?” A message recently received from a former South African student impacted by our ministry a few years ago gives clarity for our response:
“I do not know if you still remember me. We met in UWC (University of Western Cape) about three years ago, and I just wanted to say that I love the work that you guys do. I am a missionary here in South Korea and I have been here for two years. I am going back home to South Africa soon and I want to continue [missionary work]. Is there any way I can join you?”
We find ourselves telling people that we are “Reaching the World Through South African College Students” because of the above story. Hearing stories like this truly encapsulates our strategy and our motivation for why we do what we do. Needless to say, we love our jobs! How wonderful it is to have people like you a part of future stories like this as we prepare to leave!
January 2014 “Departing in March“
Have you ever been so surprised by the Lord that He left you speechless? Everything changed for us over a few short days. Our lives in an instant switched from seemingly moving in slow motion to being caught in a whirlwind of blessings and outstanding provision from God.
This month we calculated the Special Gifts that came in over the holidays. We realized that you, our ministry partners, in just 2 weeks were so generous, that our goal of $17,000 to cover our flights, baby delivery, car, and initial move-in costs for South Africa had been completed! Additionally, through the care and love from our home church joining our support team, the Lord completed nearly all of our remaining monthly needs as well. Thank you so much for your generosity! We have purchased our plane tickets and will depart March 31st.
So what does that mean for us? Its crunch time! We have 8 weeks remaining to sell/give away all our belongings, change bank accounts, obtain our visas, plan 2 baby showers, say goodbye officially to family and friends in 3 different cities, pack our lives into a dozen suitcases, raise a small amount of monthly support, and keep our sanity!
In the midst of this, we are rejoicing in the Lord. Departing in March brings such joy to our hearts as we approach the conclusion of our 2 1/2-year journey of raising support. We invite you to rejoice with us for God’s faithful provision! We also thank God for people like you. Your continual prayers and partnership are making such a difference as we prepare to go reach the world through South African college students.
Look out for a postcard from us telling you of our official farewell party happening in Indianapolis, Chicago, and Fort Wayne in February and March. Bring your family and we would love to show our deep appreciation for you and see your smiling faces there.