We are amazed that we have been living here in South Africa for over nine months now. Through the difficulties and joys of this time, it has always been clear that this is where God meant for us to be.
Brian’s ministry as SIM South Africa’s communications and media relations officer has allowed him to meet with so many missionaries: South Africans who have planted viable churches in other countries; a Brazilian couple with a street evangelism ministry to Portuguese-speaking miners from Mozambique; a Zimbabwean man who works in his homeland among people who continue traditional ancestor worship while professing to be Christian; and many more.
God has also been working through us as we befriend people around us. Bertrand, a young man who is a Rwandan refugee, is here in South Africa to seek better job opportunities. We are walking with him as he struggles with life as a migrant worker and as he asks deep questions about God—“If God is good, and God listens to prayers, then why was my dad killed and my mom taken away from me so young?”
With him and other young adults (I seem to be “adopting” many in the 18- to 24-year-old age group lately), we invite them for dinner, share fellowship, build trust and relationship, and talk to them about God. We have been able to connect most of them with Bible studies for their age held by our local church or other pastors here. Maybe God will call us to begin a weekly Bible study as well, but for now, showing God’s love through hospitality and making sure they are connected to good, Bible-preaching churches and Bible studies are very important to us.
Earlier this month, there was a tragedy here that we from rural upstate New York have a hard time grasping. Around Cape Town are a number of informal settlements (what some might call shanty towns); conditions are crowded and difficult, and in one called Imizamo Yethu, more than 33,000 people lived in an area of about 44 acres. On March 11, a fire destroyed thousands of homes, killed several residents, and displaced nearly half the population.
We had an opportunity to be a part of providing help in the relief efforts through collecting, sorting, and distributing donations of clothes and toiletries to these people. I went for seven out of the first eight days; Karen and Billy both helped as well a few times. Karen in particular enjoyed helping pack and move boxes, and especially handing out hats and stuffed animals to the little kids. Brian came along twice to get some pictures for us and SIM, so organizers asked him to take photos of the work; he also took individual portraits of nearly 200 volunteers.
None of this would be possible without our supporters and churches. We are so blessed to have your prayers, encouragement, donations, and love. Thank you very much for all you do.
Portraits of some of the volunteers at Imizamo Yethu relief efforts