South Africa - 9 (Journal Day 4)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Today we had a very early start because we had a lot of ground to cover on our ministry schedule. Not only was breakfast early, it was unusual. Since I am more of a "nightowl," I am not a real breakfast eater unless I am on vacation and can eat around 10:00 in the morning! Just give me coffee and lots of cream, and I’m good to go! After I’m awake a bit, I’ll eat some fruit and yogurt – that’s how I roll at home. So when I walked into the breakfast area today and saw all that meat and smelled that fish, I just got really queasy. There was ham and bacon, sausages and some fish. I knew I needed to just get some coffee and excuse myself, so I walked around a bit and enjoyed the sounds of the morning...namely this HUGE bird cage above filled with parakeets!  They sounded so delightful!

After a little while, Pastor David from the Boikhutsu Shanty Town was coming to pick us up. We were scheduled to visit an aids hospice and a public health clinic.  As I reflect back now over my day, deep down I wonder if I was just a little anxious about visiting the clinic and the hospice, and my queasy stomach was not the strange breakfast after all…


On our way back to the shanty village, Pastor David (he is originally from Botswana and spoke “Swana”) told us we would need to wait in the car until he got permission for us to visit the people at the clinic. We waited for about 30 minutes and he came back and told us we could not sing, but we could share. My husband Gary gave a gloriously simple presentation of the Good News of Jesus Christ! Gary would say a sentence or two, then Pastor David would interpret – and back and forth they would go.  I.loved.it. After Gary finished he turned to me and asked me to share. I could hardly wait, I was not nervous at all.  Since my husband had shared with the people that the most important decision they would ever make is to accept Christ’s death on the cross as payment for their sins, I just picked right up there and told them, “I made that decision! I decided to follow Jesus!”  I told them they were beautiful, and they smiled and clapped! I told them I loved them, and they smiled and clapped! Then I told them Jesus loved them so much He gave His very life, and they were so excited. I told them about my sister Jean that died in a car accident when she was only 25 years old. I told them that I still miss her very much all these years later. Then I asked them, “But do you know what? I WILL see her again one day because she made that DECISION too!” They really seemed to understand – I pray with all my heart they did. It was simple and real and personal – and that’s what I wanted to be to them – simple, real, and personal. I loved having the interpreter translate my English into their native language.
After we left the public health clinic, we drove about one-half mile down the road to an aids hospice. We walked into an old cinder block building surrounded by razor barbed wire. We entered right into a little makeshift kitchen with a little wooden table in the center. Two young African women were working at a sink cutting up spinach, potatoes, and cabbage to cook. They never said a word to us, they just kept preparing those vegetables. There were seven patients sitting around the table, some in wheelchairs, and some just sitting in old chairs. Pastor David asked me to sing a song. I sang three verses of Amazing Grace a cappella. Pastor David interpreted for our friend, John Kubia - who shared from John 14. After Mr. Kubia finished, he asked if anyone wanted to go to that place that Jesus had prepared for them, and three feeble hands were raised. I was so overcome I could hardly stand up. On my way out, I looked up in time to see a young girl lying in a bed that was in a room right off that little kitchen. She must have been too sick to get up, but she had been listening from her bed. Our eyes met and I looked at her and smiled and waved. She gave a weak smile and then turned her head back to the wall. I went outside and bawled like a baby.

As we were leaving the clinic, two African men approached. They wanted to know what we were doing, so we told them. They laughed, but something did not seem right about them. It was hollow laughter. They were wearing badges on their shirts that were purple with big stars and the letters ZCC on them. I asked the local pastor what the badges meant. He explained that it is a cult called the Zion Christian Church, a mixture of ancestral tribal worship, cultic practices, and a wee bit of “truth.” He said it came out of the lack of discipleship after the early missionaries would come through and evangelize the Africans. The evangelism was great, but then they would leave and no biblical training would occur, so the people would revert back to what they knew and mix it up with some of what they had learned. He said the ZCC had a church in the Shanty Town too – and they were growing rapidly.  The battle is ever constant...

We left the clinic and went back to our room to rest and get ready to attend the services at the Lichtenburg Dutch Reform Church tonight. After our very early start this morning, it felt good to rest a while. We have adjusted well to the six-hour time difference!

This picture below is of two pews in the very back of the church with little signs that translate to "Mothers with Children."  This is where the mothers and small children had to sit! This was the precursor to our present-day nursery. Mothers and children sat in the back and close to the door for quick exits in case they disturbed the congregation or preaching! What a thought...

The Dutch Reform Church was different. This one in Lichtenburg  was a beautiful old building from 1885, and still even had a belfry. The banner over the pulpit area "God is Teenwoordig" means "God is Present" in the Afrikaans language.

I enjoyed walking around and looking at everything while Gary was talking to the pastor and sound man. During the worship time the congregation sang in the Afrikaans language, and if we recognized the melody of the song, we sang in English. That was so neat to me. I thought of the reference in scripture to every tribe and tongue! During the actual service, Gary and I both sang. The people were receptive, but I’m not quite sure they knew what to make of us! These crazy Americans... It was almost like we were too loud or something, or that our joy in worship was something they were not familiar with. Dr. Harold Peasley of Multi Ministries preached an awesome message on the Second Coming of Christ and then gave a gospel invitation – something they do NOT have in their church. He did a wonderful job explaining the importance of a public profession, and three adult men came forward – nothing short of a miracle of God!  When we left it was so very cold outside, but my spirit was so refreshed to see these men appear to hear and grasp the Gospel of Christ for the very first time!

I can’t wait until tomorrow because we are going to have some free time and will be going to the animal reserve in Pileansburg Park. I am praying that God will not disappoint and that I will see lots of African animals!

It was a very emotional day...seeing the aids hospice and people dying from disease, then to go to the church and see grown adults being saved from another sickness..."sin sickness!"  Amen? Amen!

Love to all,
Jan





4 Responses:

Leah said...

What a treasure your Africa journal is!! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I was so touched by your description of the aids hospice. I love doing hospice work here in the states. It is incredibly rewarding to me as a pharmacist and as a Christian. I know you blessed that young girl so much by your smile and wave. Only eternity will show the impact your team had on those people.

Can't wait to hear about seeing the African animals!! If you didn't get to see them there, just trot right up here to North GA and into my basement and I'll introduce you to a few of my husbands African animal friends. I call 'em my 'deadheads'!!

Leah

twinkle said...

Rich, Jan. Just rich. Your Joy in the LORD is contagious! Praying that those people will always associate Jesus with your JOY and want what you have. I know you were touched by them. But I also know that they were touched by you. May God multiply your offering abundantly.

katiegfromtennessee said...

Wow Georgia Jan,

I enjoyed reading about your day in Africa ministering. That is a busy day...but a blessed one:) Thanks for your comment on my blog:) It brightened my day even more:)

katiegfromtennessee

Lora said...

I loved how you shared your story Jan - simple, real and personal - and how they would smile and clap - what a tender blessing.

The bird cage is bigger than any I have ever seen. And, I'm so glad you opted for the walk on this morning because this picture really blessed me Jan. And I'm so glad you are feeling OK too. Lately the LORD has been giving me the word picture of a caged bird being freed. In my mind, the cage I've been thinking of was small, like one hanging from a vintage stand. It wasn't till I saw this picture, that I now know, this HUGE cage is what He meant.

You bless me. You encourage me. With love and thanksgiving to the LORD for you,
Lora

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