November “Raw and Uncut: The Jacksons“
Here is a personal update from us as a family!
Four weeks ago, we went through the whirlwind of moving into a new home. We asked you to pray and God answered! We live in the same neighborhood and have twice as many bedrooms as our previous home. It is a lovely place to plant our roots in and grow. We are still unpacking and trying to meet neighbors
Nobody told us we would be so tired! Our days are full from chasing Rio around the house and continually relying on the Holy Spirit as we care for Rio. But then again, nobody told us of the deep love we would experience for such an amazing child. Rio is a very unique boy—at 17 months old he is bilingual, learning both Spanish (from Tammi) and English in our home, which makes for very funny conversations when people think we are from a Portuguese-speaking African country to find out we are African American. He can’t speak but knows sign language to communicate to us very well!
Our Lessons from the Lord
“My times with the Lord this year have changed since I’ve become a father. I’ve had to learn that the Lord can replenish me just enough for a particular day to keep going when I can’t have extended time in his word and prayer. Nevertheless, I know this is just a season in which I must learn to trust God more, knowing my strength in His abiding presence.” —Jerrah
“This year for me has made me realize how real the grace of God is. I’ve come to many epiphanies this year where I realize I just truly need God. Becoming a mother last year has been the most life changing event—exciting, daunting, challenging and yet God has shown Himself to be so real to meet me. In my eyes it wasn’t a “smooth take off” embarking on the path of parenthood but I’ve learned and seen that the Lord is so near to me and truly has me.”—Tammi
September “Nervous Evangelism”
I sat on the grass at the University of Cape Town chatting with Sarah –a freshmen student involved in our ministry. The Lord brought her into my life to disciple, and every week we meet as I train her to become a student of the Bible. Today, however, was going to be different –we were going to put our faith in action. “So, Sarah,” I asked, “Have you ever shared the Gospel with anyone before?” “Um, no Tammi, I tried with close friends.”
“Okay,” I said. “How about approaching someone you don’t know?” “No, I haven’t done that before.” She replied. “Great, because today that’s exactly what we’re going to do.” I felt her growing nervous as she fidgeted with her hands. Good thing she wasn’t reading my thoughts. Drifting inwardly with my heart racing, I was thinking over how I hadn’t done this in forever!
“But don’t worry,” I said as I came back to reality. “Today you are just watching. You don’t have to say one word. Just observe while I initiate with someone. All I ask is that you pray.” She took a deep sigh of relief and agreed.
Together we walked around campus until we saw a girl sitting by herself sipping coffee. We approached her, sprung up a conversation and found out she was a Muslim. I felt so relieved inside, because I absolutely LOVE sharing Christ with Muslims. They have pure hearts–plus I knew Sarah was praying for me.
When it was over, Sarah and I looked for a place to sit. I glanced at Sarah and she was quiet. I couldn’t read her. “Sarah! We just shared the Gospel!” I said excitedly, trying to make her smile. “Tell me how do you feel?” Hands out at her side, she exclaimed:
“Tammi…that…was…AWESOME! Can we do that again? When can we do that again? Please let’s do that again!”
I ask that you look into these girl’s eyes, take a moment now to pray for them. Since that day, Sarah and other students I disciple have been growing bolder as we share Christ weekly. Thank you for your partnership in our ministry that makes this possible for our students to live out their faith right on campus!
August “Multiplying Disciples”
“Hey man, tell me, how many people have you led to Christ?” As MK sat in my car on our way to a training I invited him to, he posed this question. I hadn’t really thought about that question in a long time and never really kept count.
“I don’t know,” I said wondering where he was going with this question. “It’s been far too many to count. Plus, I’ve been doing this for a long time.” I could feel his bewilderment as I merged onto the highway. I had not seen MK since the beginning of the school year, so over this last week he had resurfaced and became involved in our ministry once again.
“Wow! Really? And you are still excited about what you do?”
“Man, I’ve only seen 2 people repent and I’m so hype!”
“Wait, what?” I looked at him. “When did this happen?” I asked. Apparently after we met a week ago, he was challenged all the more to share the Gospel with others and live out his faith.
“Last week. Dude, I didn’t even plan on it.”
To my surprise, all of this happened without me first training him how to share the Gospel with others. He also told me that he walked across the hall from his room in his residence hall, and shared the Gospel with his neighbor via a booklet our ministry uses called the Four Spiritual Laws. He didn’t need my help, he just took the initiative to follow God.
“I just read that booklet to him that you gave me.” MK said. “I felt like God wanted me to do it.”
MK has seen two of his friends give their hearts to Christ and it was his first time sharing the Gospel—ever. We aim for students like MK who are involved in our ministry and are unashamed to go out and reach others for Christ. Thank you for your partnership in making such a difference by your giving and prayers. There are other students involved in our ministry just like MK and we are thrilled to be a part of their lives as we teach them to lead their friends to Christ and make multiplying disciples.
July “Holiday Club”
It’s an early Monday morning. The sun was barely peeking over the rooftops of the houses and apartments around us as the day got started. It was similar to a cold fall morning where you could see your breath as children flooded into the schools for the beginning of Holiday Club. If you are familiar with Vacation Bible School in the States, you would fit right in with the concept of Holiday Club in South Africa. Our ministry partnered with local churches in this annual adventure to serve the children of their communities by inviting all who could come to engage in games, Bible stories dramatized by volunteers, and scripture memory for one week.
Most of these children didn’t mind waking up so early in the morning to join in on the fun, and it wasn’t only because they were playing games and reading the Bible, but because there were people there who cared enough to spend time with them. Each day, food was handed out to illustrate awareness that physical and spiritual needs ought to be met in some of these communities, especially since the children are there usually from 7:30am to 12pm each day.
At the end of the week, the 3 areas that were hosting the Holiday Club witnessed over 1,000 children hear the Gospel. Our staff member shared that one of the college students volunteering here through a summer mission trip with Cru experienced something wonderful. “Molly saw 12 of her girls accept Christ, which changed her for a lifetime…” We have been so blessed to be a part of seeing the Gospel reach young and old over the last 6 weeks as the Summer Missions team from Cru worked alongside us in the communities as well as the college campuses to reach the lost. Thank you for making a tremendous difference here in South Africa!
June “Music, Purpose, & Google“
The day was new and fresh, and it was time to converse with students as they sat out in the sun waiting for their next class to start. While walking down a hidden street that many students use to get from building to building between classes, one student caught my eye. He had his headphones on nodding his head. I stopped and asked him what he was listening to. I soon learned that he loved music, especially hip hop, and I asked him some questions that soon led into truly deep conversations that lasted for the next 3 months.
He is one of those students I don’t see often, but when I do, it’s always a good conversation that leads him to contemplate the deeper things in life “Man, every time I see you I have something going on in my life that I can’t talk to anyone about.” said Taku, an engineering student at the University of Cape Town. For a long time I didn’t have his number, so when we occasionally saw see each other, it always seemed like God wanted us to meet and discuss purposeful things.
Recently we bumped into each other off campus and he began to explain how his current major wasn’t fulfilling him or bringing him joy. In turn, he was considering changing his major to music, even though he was in his 3rd year of studies. I empathized with him and explained that it could work, but what if he changes to study something new only to find his joy to be short-lived? Will he change again?I knew from previous conversations that he was looking for his purpose in life.
He even told me, “I Googled [my purpose] and everything.” I shared with him that we are all born with a God-shaped hole in our lives and it can’t be filled with anything but Him. Once we find Him, we then find our purpose. He left the conversation with a lot on his mind and heart. I shared the gospel with him before, so I reminded him of the message. Appreciative of the conversation, he left with a handshake and walked off to catch his bus. I’m sure we will see each other again soon.
April “The Hair Story”
There was a knock on our front door in the middle of the day. It was a pretty 19 year old girl named Caren from our neighborhood and she was curious if I could braid her hair. I smiled and told her to come back the upcoming Tuesday since my day was pretty full. She agreed and after I closed the door I regretfully thought to myself, “Oh my gosh. The word is spreading! I only told one woman I can braid hair and now the whole neighborhood wants me to do their hair.” Then again, I wanted to reach our neighbors for Christ, so I wondered if this was one way it was going to happen.
When Tuesday came, she returned and brought along her friend Sheree. My heart was to share the Gospel with them, therefore I was prepared. I invited over another teammate, Andrea, to join us. Through our conversation with them we began to share with them why we were in South Africa and what we do. “Have you ever come to a point where you decide to follow God for yourself?” Andrea said as she began to share her story of coming to know God personally. “I remember going to church because my parents made me go, but it wasn’t a choice for myself. Can you relate?”
Since they felt that way right that moment, they definitely felt like they could relate. Andrea went on to explain the Gospel to them and how it must be a personal decision to follow Christ. They connected with the message and decided that they both wanted to make that decision. It’s exciting to be able to plant seeds to impact those around us in such a way. More women have requested that I braid their hair or their children’s hair- and I have! God is using those opportunities and others to help not only meet the material needs but also meet the spiritual needs of our community. Pray for me as our home becomes a gateway for our neighbors to hear about Jesus.
With both hands gripping the steering wheel of the rental car our team purchased for the day, I found myself traveling an hour and 45 minutes away from home to visit a college campus we knew very little about and had never even been to before. It was the first day of Catalytic Week – a radical initiative by our team to set foot on 40 new college campus before the week was over, in order to gain insight on where else God was working and if he wants our ministry presence there. We parked and stepped out the car in a town called Vredenberg onto a college campus named West Coast College.
We walked through the gate and we instantly caught the gaze of what seemed like every student there. It was like Leon, my teammate, and I had “We aren’t from here” stickers on our foreheads. It was awkward, but we were prayerful that God was going to do something at this campus. As soon as we walked inside the building, a student walked up to Leon and said with a bit of confusion in the tone of his voice, “Hey, I know you!” Leon replied similarly, “I know you too.” It turned out that they had randomly met each a year ago while at the mall. His name was Earnest. He had a desire to reach his campus for Jesus as he shared that “there are no movements here.”
God has impeccable timing! Moreover, we knew of a pastor, whose name was Eric, in the area who had recently received training from some of our staff. So, we met with him while on the campus. He had an equal desire to reach this campus and his community, and to our surprise, he and Earnest knew each other! What an amazing opportunity God has set before us to partner with these individuals who wish to see the Great Commission fulfilled! More stories similar to this have unfolded as a result of Catalytic Week. Our aim is to launch our ministry on 10-12 of these new colleges in the near future. New doors are opening!
February “From Fear to Faith“
Everyone fears something or someone. Whether its spiders, or public speaking, they all fall in the same category. For Bonny, a student leader involved in our ministry, resisted sharing her faith with others because of fear. “I always feared that rejection,” she would say. She was the person who would come with us as we shared our faith with students, but wouldn’t say anything. Even after a time of encouragement from us she would wonder, “What if I asked someone and they don’t receive what I have to say?” Well, all that changed one day while she was waiting to meet with a friend outside the library.
While waiting, she sees an old classmate from her chemistry class last year and started up a conversation. They eventually decided to sit down in the grass across from the library and continue the conversation. Bonny began to ask her questions about her relationship with God. Questions that she had observed us ask people when we shared our faith.
“I didn’t plan on asking her to give her heart to the Lord!”
But in that moment she would describe it as “the Holy Spirit just told me what to say,” and to her amazement, she was able to see her old classmate rededicate her life to Christ.
Bonny is one of our student leaders who we have trained, along with Dale, over the course of 2014, to lead the ministry at their campus in order to see it reached for Christ. The task seems daunting in their eyes, but they have shown to have genuine faith in God that He can work through them. Moving from fear to faith requires total dependence on God and not ourselves. In light of that, we are in high anticipation of what the Lord is going to do this year at their campus and beyond as we seek to build spiritual movements everywhere so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus.