by Laurie-Ann Copple
July and August were creative months for us – especially for me. Near the end of July, there was a special worship night focused on healing. I received a prophetic word (shown in the Words Blog section) about a coming creativity awakening in Worcester. This wasn’t just any creativity – but creativity that points to God. There is a coming arts festival that is part of this, as is my art, and the arts of many Christian creatives in this area.
I was invited to apply for an art stall at the Doxa Christian Arts Festival (that will be held at Worcester Christian Church on October 13th). I emailed a jpg of two worship drawings – one that I drew in Ottawa, and the other in Worcester. I still needed one more to make the limit of three. Since these are small pieces (only 9 x 12 inch image size), my space would not have to be large like most artists.
So I went about the process of being inspired for the third drawing, and while working on the third drawing, was inspired for another. I spent time in soaking prayer, and asked Holy Spirit what topic or image I should pursue for the next drawing. I was given an impression of me as a little girl, romping in a spring meadow with Namaqua daisies. These look like daisies but instead of being white petals with a yellow centre, they are orange petals with a black centre.
When I went through images I had on file, I had one of an early drawing of Jesus, who was lovingly touching the face of a little girl. And I was also inspired by a photograph by landscape photographer Kyle Groetsch of Cape Town. He travelled to Namibia and photographed a scene of the red, white and yellow desert dunes with sparse black trees. I had my art students at Master Peace Academy draw this scene, and I also included it in the background. So Jesus in the context of my drawing, was bringing new life to the desert by transforming it into a hill with spring flowers – including Namaqua daisies. He was also transforming the life and heart of this little girl.
As I got to the point of finishing the black and white lines of the drawing, I had Tony scan it, so it would join the images of my upcoming prophetic colouring book. When I returned to the drawing to begin the colouring process, I was nudged instead to start another drawing. This one wouldn’t be for the Doxa Festival – but it would still be highly effective and relatable. For the second drawing, I had a Google image of a person on a tree stump with four kids. I drew that scene, and the adult became Jesus. Instead of drawing the children who were in the picture, I went through photos we have of some of our kids club children – in Avian Park and Vinkrivier. I ended up drawing six ‘coloured’ children – Francesca from Avian Park, and Desnae, Keenan, David, Minmarie and Lydia from Vinkrivier. I felt like I was on to something like I was on the cutting edge. I finished that black and white drawing and once it was scanned, I shared it with the kids of these two clubs – later to be coloured in by many of them.
There were different reactions from the kids I chose for the drawings. Francesca and Lydia were embarrassed and covered their faces. They weren’t used to being noticed like this. They didn’t know what to say. Keenan was surprised but was okay with it.
Desnae is only four, so she didn’t mind at all. And Minmarie, had the reaction that I had hoped for. She was surprised but not embarrassed. I told her that as I was drawing, I sensed that she was on Jesus’ heart at that time. Right now he has something special for her and it’s her time to receive. But she was to know that God always notices her. She is not hidden. God sees her and so does Laurie-Ann. That was a special moment. I wish I had a picture of that time, but it's stamped on my heart forever. Tony did however capture that day when we drew and shared in the Vinkrivier kids club, along with dear family friends of our leader Kaysha.
I then shared these drawings with my art students at Master Peace Academy, and they loved them. I was given the idea of having them model with me (with Tony modelling as Jesus). They were excited and agreed. So in their case, they were willing participants in a coming drawing. Yet, I sense that there is more to come.
The people with Jesus don’t have to be children, but they must become LIKE children. We need to humble ourselves and just come to him. I used to think that this was all about gaining childlike wonder – but being with the farm and township kids, I can see that some of these have lost their sense of wonder. They are desensitized by internet, Facebook, and other social media. They want personal interaction and touch rather than amazing visual and auditory effects. Their wonder has to be instilled in them as they receive and absorb more and more love. We are glad to be in a position to love these kids, and show them hope. Whether it is our school kids or our kids club kids, we are like family to them now. This means extra struggles with boundaries but it is worth it.
If you are a praying person, please pray for us and the children. We need keys to each child’s heart, so they can receive love from us and from God. They also need to learn important life lessons that they aren’t necessarily getting from home. And we of course are on quite the learning curve ourselves. We also are humbling ourselves, learning to play (so to speak), and growing in our interaction with them. Recently, the Avian Park children even prayed for my healing, which was a very special time! We trust that prayer is being answered. Here's a glimpse of the Avian Park kids in My Father's House Worcester club.
Remember me mentioning the three drawings that I entered into the Doxa Festival? They were all accepted! We even made a few reproductions of “Jesus makes all things New.” The original will be for sale, as well as the other two drawings.
If you have questions about our ministry, our email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can also send us a note on our contact page. Perhaps you’d like to be in a drawing with Jesus too? Here are the drawings that will be in Doxa. They are framed with a white wood frame, white mat and coloured liner mat. Each original drawing is priced at R3,400 due to the commission involved to the festival.
Here is the link to the Doxa Festival:
by Laurie-Ann Copple
Tony and I have had stretching times with Avian Park children and teens during the past month or two – especially when we’re the only adults. During August, we had YWAM short-termer Daniel Mendes come help from YWAM Worcester. While he didn’t know Afrikaans and he’s still learning English, he reached out and connected with kids’ hearts – through singing, playing the violin and just being there. We also had one week with the Iris Harvest School 28 outreach team, who were with us for the Holy Spirit ministry day. We do have the teen helpers, but they don’t help with content, they help with crowd control and serving sandwiches and drinks. Even individual boys like to help, including setting up chairs and other infrastructure.
Recently, Tony has started to give these kids the Alpha talks personally, although without visual aids. Prior to this, we were using the Youth Alpha videos, which are good for teens, but these kids preferred personal interaction with Tony, as they also love it when I touch them. We’re learning their love language, even if they are still loud and easily distracted. So while Tony isn’t using visual aids (which I believe we need, he instead uses questions, and keeps the talks short. Last week, he presented How does God guide us very simply, and the kids seemed to catch on in questions. That day, when we sang, I was nudged to look into the children’s faces when we were singing. Often they watch us very closely but I usually look at Tony’s music, or close my eyes. Now I look at the children and smile. I work at connecting, physically touching them and encouraging them in shaking the shakers or drumming with me in good rhythm. The older kids also help me in moving things around, including my chair or drum bag. They naturally want to help.
I have begun touching these kids with a hug, kiss on the cheek, high five, or gently tucking in stray t-shirt tags. I do the same with the teens, but appropriately with hugs, kisses on the cheek and shared work in preparing food for the leadership training on Saturdays. The younger girls have now begun playing with my hair – which I don’t mind, unless it’s freshly washed (hey, don’t mess with my curls!). This week, one of my shakers was damaged - the apple shaker, which is very popular with all the kids clubs, as well as our prison inmates. However, four of the kids heard my pleas for help and they discovered that there was a missing stopper in the bottom of the apple shaker! One of the kids had pulled it out in a struggle with a second child. The stopper was found, as were little bits that were in the apple. Now all is good percussion-wise, although I’ve asked Tony to look into some more shakers at the local music store.
Meanwhile earlier during the day the shaker was damaged, I still wasn’t feeling that well but knew I had to come to kid’s club. I couldn't leave Tony on his own. I mentioned that perhaps the children could pray for me, since Holy Spirit can really work through children. It’s an Iris thing to get children involved in prayers for healing and other things. Their faith is much simpler and they have less doubts. So Tony decided to teach on healing, and use me as a prayer object.
Yesterday, I received a very special word of knowledge from another church member at Worcester Christian Church. The man who blessed me is named Johan. He ministers deeply from the Father Heart of God, and he always greets the non-Afrikaans speaking people on "translation row" with a smile, hug and encouragement. So later Johan approached me and told me something special right from the heart of the Father. He told me that God has heard my quiet, private cries to him in the night. These were prayers that not even Tony knew about. I was begging God for a change, for healing, for energy and even more inspiration. I told God that I just couldn’t continue on this way, endlessly working, and getting sick very often. This wasn’t just about my weight issues, my knees, or about an immunity issue I have with colds and flu. It was about all of it.
So Johan said that God was so concerned about my prayers that he was saying “shhh” to everyone in heaven so he could hear my quiet cries. I matter that much to him. The worship was temporarily put on hold. Then Johan said that there is about to be a very big change in my life and that God has not forgotten me. I’ve been promised healing before – and I know that it will happen here in South Africa. I just didn’t know the timing. Anyway, after Tony shared about healing and that God answers many children’s prayers, he had me share Johan’s word of knowledge with the children. I told them that just like Johan told me that God said “shhh” in heaven, so that he could hear me, he would do the same for their own deep heartfelt prayers to God.
I told them that I knew that God would hear their prayers. I did not share of another time when children prayed for me, which was back in 1991, in a Vineyard Family Camp. I still remember seeing in the Spirit when a girl named September Proctor had prayed over my thyroid and it was like she was saying in her prayers, “Don’t be dead, come back to life, right now, in Jesus.” Since we had 77 kids today, Tony decided that we wouldn’t have them all come up and lay hands on me, but instead he would. He would lead prayer and they would pray and stretch out their hands in prayer towards me. I’m not sure how many of these kids understood, but we both made it very clear that God can work through children just as well as he does through grown-ups (often even better). So they prayed. I continue to contend for the healing, although I do feel stronger. May this continue in Jesus’ name. Then I will give all the kids a high-five and a hug, like I did with the kids who helped me fix my apple shaker. We’re thankful that through the ups and downs with this particular club, we are deepening our relationship with these kids. We are thankful. We are finding that as we reach out and touch them, and are real, they reach back and respond.
by Tony Copple
Regular readers may have already figured this out, but for new or casual readers it is probably appropriate to explain the division of labour between the team of us two fairly new long-term missionaries.
Just about everything on our website has been designed, written and coded by Laurie-Ann using Weebly. Exceptions to that are my African daily journal and devotions, and our Twitter. Both of us post to the Facebooks: Copples in Western Cape, and Copples Western Cape Radio (as well as our personal Facebooks). Laurie-Ann has also done most of the work on reports to Iris Ministries Canada, emails to anyone who has put themselves on our list for regular updates, and emails to out prayer supporters – most important. She is the one who receives most of the words of knowledge and posts them under the “Coppleblog” or “Words”. We share the production of The Worcester Reports on CWCP every Thursday – I do the fun part of interviewing and editing. She writes, records and produces the Ways to Grow in God segments, and prepares most of the music selections. I do all the preparation and production of our Wednesday programs – the Good News in the Morning archive. I do the uploading of the pre-produced programs to hyperspace. When I feel like it and have a few hours when I will be at home, I broadcast music by Christian artists and teachings on CWCP Radio. If you happen to visit the Galcom XStreamer and see that CWCP is broadcasting at that time, check it out, in addition to our scheduled programs on Wednesday and Thursdays. CWCP radio started broadcasting 22 February 2018, so we just passed our 6-month mark. We take it very seriously as a ministry although we don’t how many are listening. We certainly plan to continue for the duration of our stay here, and maybe beyond.
We share the ministry to children in the three kids’ clubs. We share the preparation of our monthly soaking prayer night at church though I am the nominal leader. Laurie-Ann keeps tabs on social media communication via Facebook and Instagram. I don’t spend as much time as I would like reading posts from friends, but I post regularly on my personal Facebook, Twitter and CopplesWesternCape Twitter. I do the shopping, housekeeping and gardening. She tells me what food to buy. We share the cooking. I do the driving. She plans every aspect of our occasional holidays and she organized the travel arrangements to get here last November.
As any of you who follow us on social media will know, Laurie-Ann’s passion for visual arts and her Christian teaching blog Ways to Grow in God have blossomed. These are ministries that are not constrained by her physical disabilities. She is continually receiving inspiration for new subjects for (prophetic) art. The most recent drawings are scanned in a black and white line version for a future “colouring book,” and Laurie-Ann feels that she’s on the edge of something special in children’s ministry. Ways to Grow in God has existed for years as a blog, but for CWCP Radio she has revised and recorded many editions (28 so far) that form the backbone of our Thursday programs, The Worcester Reports. You can also hear some of her podcasts separately on the WTGIG podcast page (under "Listen" on our website).
When we were in Iris Harvest Missions school two years ago in Mozambique we learned that missionary work will soon dwindle away unless the missionary is receiving joy from it. This has indeed been our experience so far. Each week between us we are involved in about ten distinct activities all resulting in making God more real, known and loved. They are: teaching children in a Christian school where bringing God into the story at every opportunity is part of the vision, children’s ministry in Avian Park township, in Riverview Township, and in a farming community near Robertson. We are in Brandvlei Correctional Services every Saturday morning since 7 July, and on Saturday afternoons, I bring a group of teenagers from Avian Park township home, and with help from our Afrikaans-speaking YWAM friend Soraya lead them through a Mailbox Club course, after which they will lead Mailbox Clubs in Avian Park for children . I visit patients in a hospice. Both of us do bookkeeping for different charities. I have several encounters weekly with people I meet on the street who I will pray for, prompted by the Holy Spirit. Then there is leading the ‘Soaking prayer in action’ monthly group which we lead. In several of these, my ability to play guitar and sing is very helpful and I thank God for this capability. Maybe I should add the weekly 5:45 am men’s prayer group on Fridays, with others from Worcester Christian Church. So these activities are great source of joy in my heart. Always after prison ministry I have experienced great joy from the sessions, and here it is even more so because the prison staff all seem to be Christian and are very supportive. The smiles on the faces of the inmates while we are there would be enough joy for us, even if we weren’t involved in any of the other activities. And I should add to this another source of joy – doing most of these things in partnership with Laurie-Ann.
Australian missionary Jan Buchanan started My Father’s House ministry about 10 years ago. When we met her through a recommendation from YWAM, one of the parts of the ministry needed more helpers, and we have been involved ever since on Monday afternoons in the library in Avian Park. When we started, there were more teenagers than pre-teens. Soraya Volkwyn was giving teachings in Afrikaans to 30 + kids, and much of her time was taken up with persuading them to quieten down so she could be heard. Over the months, the average age has fallen, and Soraya has been otherwise engaged, leaving the ministry to us. Two weeks ago we had 80 children turn up, many attracted by the sandwich and fruit we give out at the end of the session. At least 40 of these children were under 8, with little understanding of English. Jan explained the following week that we would need to exclude all children under 8, and we would only accept up to 40 children. We are using the Youth Alpha course, but our plan is to move the Mailbox Club courses, which cater for younger children than Alpha does. For the last three months on Saturday afternoons in our home, we have been training six teenagers to run Mailbox clubs with up to ten children. We are seeking venues in Avian Park where these clubs could operate. If it all works out we will be able to vacate the library (they don’t like us much because of the noise levels). If the Mailbox clubs follow the patterns of other Mailbox Clubs worldwide, they should become self-replicating as new clubs are set up by participants. Our role will be mentoring the club leaders.
Last term, we had two learners (read ‘students’ for non-South Africans) in MasterPeace Academy. This term we have six! Our science, music and art lessons are received well. When we were introduced last November to the school principal, Dr. Mella Davis, I felt good about getting involved in this because education is the hope of the future for the poor in the townships. There is no other route out of poverty and dependence. Our children are bright and energetic. They are learning stuff that they wouldn’t get to until several grades later in the state school system, and they would be in classes of 30 – 45. Since we are working in several different ministries, we have got to know quite a large circle of people, and through these contacts we have been able to benefit the school. We were involved in bringing in one of the learners, and the teacher’s assistant, Amber, who at 19 is exceptional in the job.
I have joined a GIG Club. The Generational Inheritance Group was founded by Jasper Cloete in 2008 to provide financial literacy. Among its several missions (for it is a Christian organization) I see it as a vehicle to help the very poor, again through education, and free memberships are available for financial literacy material on line. Of course, if you are very poor your only potential access is with a smartphone and free wifi. So I have teaching materials downloaded. This week I will be giving two talks, one to the ChangeMakers. This is a group of ex-gangsters and addicts who want to change their lives. Laurie-Ann does their books. Excel skills are at a premium. Someone keeping track of finances for an organization allows the members to be out changing lives, and such people are in demand.
Our home is a refuge and sanctuary. It is a small house in a gated community for 55+ residents, so security issues are less acute than for our friends who live in Worcester homes with significant security systems, and guard dogs. Unlike typical hotels and guest houses, restaurants, etc, we have installed fast unlimited wifi that allows for our internet broadcasting, and the many other on-line activities that we engage in, mostly ministry-related.
Health issues are of concern to us. I thought I was the healthy one, but lately I was been diagnosed by MRI scan with a lower back disk issue. I will be seeing a spine specialist on 13 September. Should he recommend surgery, it is possible our travel insurance company will demand that it be done in Canada. This is not because of the quality of surgery (South Africa has excellent private health facilities), but that if there were complications they want to lessen their risks. The situation is fascinating because I am actually managing on fewer anti-inflamatories and painkillers as the weeks pass, and it feels to me as if I am being healed divinely. Laurie-Ann is on the strongest such medicines for her knees and has recently been suffering from nausea from the meds. But neither of us is lying around worrying about these things, which is good. They aren’t impacting our effectiveness in the field. We just move a little slower and have to sit down a lot. Laurie-Ann even brought her Picnic Time chair from Canada just for that purpose. The smallest kids love trying to sit on its attached table.
One aspect of my life is that I have to be a pretty good roadie. Several times each week we transport musical instruments and audio equipment, for guitar and music amplification and presentations. I now have detailed lists of every item, every cable, every power plug, because I have been known to forget things necessary to enable ministry to take place. I also drive our township children to ministries. 10 days ago I had eight in the car! We think back to the time when the opportunity to buy our 2004 Mercedes E270 (automatic, rare in South Africa) from our first guest house hosts and we see now that God had it all planned, The car is perfect for our needs. Some people we work with have no cars and we are able to help them out with lifts, and happy to do so.
In summary, I can say that things are going better than I ever dreamed they would. Every day we learn more and put it into practice. The Lord has been faithfully watching over us – admittedly delegating the work to some of his angels, and that’s fine. We have many friends who are quality people. No-one here questions the reason we would want to be doing this. Our relationship with our IRIS leaders Johan and Marie Fourie is excellent and they give us the freedom to serve wherever we feel there is a need in line with our mission. Embarking on this my fourth career may have seemed strange to my relatives and friends who don’t know the Lord, but we feel supremely grateful that we do know Him, and that it is He, the creator, who loves and inspires us. I can’t imagine, and don’t want, a life without Him at the centre.
by Tony Copple
Many people think that as they get older, that things will just happen naturally. Maybe you’ll go to school, or maybe you’ll do something else other than college. Or maybe you’ll go out and work in a shop or whatever. But I want to tell you today is that your life can be what you want it to be as long as you plan it. As long as you say “what I would like to do is this, or that.” I know that some of you have plans for your lives, I know that some of you would like to be a lot of different things. (A girl shares she wants to be a teacher). That is wonderful that you want to be a teacher. We need teachers. As you get older, your mind is getting ready to be a teacher.
Now you can change from the inside out. That means it’s not something where the outside world changes. We have to plan something now. There are people in prisons today. They didn’t plan to be in prisons. They did something and then they were taken off to prison. But if they had done some better planning, then they wouldn’t be in the prison in the first place. So it’s you, in your heart that allows you to decide what’s going to happen in your life. And really, it can work out very well. It doesn’t work out for everybody; sometimes you get ill or sick. That’s not your fault. You can’t help that. But you can still plan for what you’re going to do after you get better, after you have been ill.
You know about St. Paul, you’ve heard about him. Before he was St. Paul, he was Saul. He was not a Christian. He was a Jew; he was a very good Jew. He understood everything about the Jewish faith. He could even teach the Jewish faith; and he didn’t like Christians. And St Paul persecuted the Christians, he made it very difficult for them. In fact, some Christians got killed because of St Paul. These are people who were put in jail for loving the Lord Jesus. Saul took them and put them in jail. He went on a trip, and was on course to go and find more Christians so that he could put them in jail too. Something very, very special happened on the way that changed him and changed the world. Do you know what it was, when St Paul was on his horse and he was going somewhere.
Suddenly, there was a very bright light and he saw Jesus standing right there in front of him. The light was so strong, it knocked him off his horse. Of course, he had no idea what this was, but he knew that was Jesus. When he got off the ground, he was blind. He couldn’t see anything. But he had servants to help. And he went on to the town of Damascus. He found a place where he could lie down in Damascus. He couldn’t see and had never been blind before. And then another man came and knocked on his door, and this man had heard the voice of God, telling him that he had to go and see Paul. Now everybody knew that Paul was really, really bad, and they were afraid because he was bad. So this person, his name is Ananias. He was very worried about going to see Paul. But God said, Go and see him, and you will be able to bring his sight back. And you will tell Paul that from now on, he is going to follow Jesus. And that’s what happened. Ananias went to see him, and Paul knew that Jesus was alive, even though Jesus had died. So this was a special vision that Paul had of Jesus. For that moment on, Paul was completely different. He didn’t have any experience as a Christian, but he decided that he would study. So he studied all the people who knew Jesus, when Jesus was first alive. He learned from them, people like Peter and the other apostles. And then he spent the rest of his life telling people about Jesus, and that Jesus died for us, so that our sins could be forgiven. He spent the rest of his life doing that. None of us would be talking about Jesus today if that happened to Paul. So that’s a situation that where God got involved in Paul’s life.
Then Paul decided to plan everything out, and he went on three journeys all around the Mediterranean, telling people about Jesus. He planned it, and had a lot of problems on the way. But with all the problems, God helped him overcome. He was shipwrecked, he was whipped, he was stoned, he was put into jail. Once when he was put into jail, they were singing praise songs. Songs just like we were singing outside; not those exact same songs, but other songs just like that. Then there was an earthquake that came when they were singing; and unlocked all the doors – so he could have walked out of the prison. He didn’t walk out of the prison, because he knew that the jailer would probably kill himself if he (and the other prisoners) escaped. So he said to the jailer, “no, don’t kill yourself. We haven’t left, you will not lose us. You don’t have to lose your life because of us.” And the jailer followed Jesus at that time – him and his family.
Now if we go back a long time, thousands of years, we’ll look at the children of Israel, who used to be slaves in Egypt. They lived life as slaves. They didn’t earn any money, and yet had to work, work, work, work. And Moses led them away from Egypt to a place called the Promised Land. It was a place of promise. This meant that they could have their own land, their own homes, and they wouldn’t be slaves any longer. Now God gave them a lot of miracles in order to get there. At one point they had to cross the river Jordan, it was a big river. This also happened earlier at the Red Sea. When they were at the Red Sea, the Egyptian armies wanted to stop them leaving. They just kept on coming. And God opened the waters in the sea, so they could go right through the sea on dry land. And then once they were through, he let the waters come back again. So, the Egyptian armies couldn’t catch them. That’s one of the miracles that God did to help the children of Israel. But do you know? Some of those children of Israel, even when they saw how they were being helped by God, into a better life, even when they saw that; some of them wanted to go back to Egypt! This was because they were hungry and they thought their old life was better. They didn’t have a plan for their life. They didn’t have a plan for going forward. And do you know what God did? He made a miracle that bread would grow on trees (or fall from a cloud), so that they could eat and not be hungry. They called it manna, so they were able to stay alive, because of another miracle.
Why I’m telling you this, is for, is that all these people who wanted to get to the promised land, they had to follow a plan. They had to be determined. They needed to not give up. And that’s the message I wanted to give to all of you, for all of your lives. If you want to be a teacher, never give up. Go and study. You have to study a lot to be a teacher, but it’s a wonderful life because you will be able to teach LOTS of people! You can tell them about Jesus, among other things. What would you like to teach? Anything particular? How about science? Science is a good topic.
So we need to change our thinking, if we are going to change our life. If we’re going to be able to make ourselves a better life, then it starts here, in our brain, in our head. And we plan it, and we are determined to get there. And if any of you was determined enough, and you wanted to be and astronaut, you could probably be an astronaut. It’s determination that makes the difference. So I’m hoping that all of you will have that strength, and that courage in your hearts that will be able to achieve whatever you want to achieve in life. The first thing to do, is to decide what that’s going to be. I’m so proud of you because you said you want to be a teacher. Everybody here should decide what they want to be when they’ve grown up. Would any others of you like to share what you’d like to be? An artist? Anybody like to be a film star? Yes? A doctor! Wonderful! I’ll tell you something. Some of the best doctors in the world are in South Africa. They have the best doctor training in the world; so that’s a good thing. A firefighter! Right now, you’re needed! You’re needed in California. Right now they are having terrible fires there. So if you were a fire fighter, they might send you to California to help there. That’s a very good thing to do.
Does anybody here want to end up in jail? I hope not. It’s very important that you keep clear of people who might go to jail. You might have friends that are doing bad things, keep away from them, they are not your friends. If there are people who are trying to get you to take drugs, don’t go anywhere near them. Never say, “Oh, I’ll just take a little, and it won’t matter.” If you take a little, you will certainly end up taking a lot. This is strength of character. Every one of you can make a big difference in the world, if you have that strength of character. The BEST place to get your strength of character from God, from Jesus. Keep him in your heart. Keep the Holy Spirit in your heart. And if you’re ever tempted to do something that you know is wrong, say “No, I’m NOT going to do that.” And there’s one other thing you can do, is to love your parents. Or if you only have one parent, then love them. Because they love you, just as God loves you (and we do too).
by Tony Copple (with bits from L-A, Kaysha and Daniel)
Pictured above, is L-A, and to the right is Tony sharing. These pictures were taken by one of our leaders, Chantal on L-A's phone. She usually takes selfies, but blessed us with these as well. L-A captured Tony and Daniel practicing up for the music. L-A is otherwise singing and playing bodhran, and some of the children shakers.
This sharing was mostly by Tony, but he invited L-A and our friends Kaysha and Daniel to share as well. This is how it unfolded:
Tony: God is like one man with three jobs – God the Father is the creator. He made us. Jesus is like the designer. A designer helps people to make something, that’s Jesus. And the third one has the job of being the comforter. But he’s one person. One person. We’re going to think and learn about the Holy Spirit today.
Daniel: Hello guys, I remember you from last week. You know that God is a person, right? He is in heaven, but can be in your heart too. He can be in heaven, but we can be all the time with God, because the Holy Spirit stays right with us. And he’s always speaking to us.
Tony: Daniel is from Brazil. Who knows where Brazil is? It’s in South America. But we have someone who is from North America. This is Kaysha. She’ll tell you about the Holy Spirit in her life.
Kaysha: I’m Kaysha, I’m from America, and right now I’m living in Robertson. That’s not very far from you. I want to tell you about the Holy Spirit. He’s personal for me and he’s personal for you. He loves all of us the same, but he loves each one of you, individually and uniquely as you are. So for me, he loves me and he’s like a best friend to me and to you. Do you know that about God? (yes)
L-A: You all know who I am, Tante Laurie-Ann. I also come from North America, but in Canada. And for me, Holy Spirit is a friend. Even when I didn’t know God, I knew about God. I was actually into evil spirits and not the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit starting speaking to me about finding God. I remember sitting at my friend’s kitchen table, and my life wasn’t going very well. So I said to myself, “Well, next year is going to be the year when my life is going to change.” And do you know what? The Holy Spirit came to me and touched me. He felt like a waterfall of joy and love over me. Do you know what he said to me? He said, “Good, now is the time to find God” – and I knew he meant Jesus, because the Holy Spirit always points to Jesus and always points to the Father. So I began to search for Jesus, and I began to read the Bible. I then went to a conference, where a man told me that you could only love Holy Spirit and not evil spirits. Jesus became my friend that night and Holy Spirit washed over me again. So Holy Spirit since then has always been with me. He’s the one who gives me strength, he’s the one who gives me smiles, he’s the one who gives me joy. And if you’ve ever noticed, the Holy Spirit comes to you through my smile.
Tony: It’s my turn to share about the Holy Spirit. I have Holy Spirit on my phone (and my heart). I’m going to tell you some things about him. I heard this teaching this week from a wise man who knows Jesus very well. Here are some things that he said about the Holy Spirit. First of all, the Holy Spirit makes us STRONG. He makes us strong. Another word for strong is that he makes us mighty. He makes us mighty. And he makes us able to do things. In the Bible, they say ‘mighty’ a lot. They say God is mighty. God almighty – and that’s because of the Holy Spirit. He’s the one that gives us strength – and even Jesus needed the strength of the Holy Spirit, when he was on earth two thousand years ago. He had to have the Holy Spirit in his heart, so he would know what to do. In those days, not too many people had the Holy Spirit in their heart, just a few people. So if Jesus needed the Holy Spirit, you can see that WE need him even more. We need him a lot more than that.
The Holy Spirit may be part of ministry. I’d like to say that the Holy Spirit is here, and he is laying hands on this group of people (Tony touches some of the kids). His holy hands are touching everybody here, so we have the Holy Spirit watching over us. But he is also IN people. He is here in ministry. I know for a fact that he is inside Laurie-Ann’s heart. And he’s inside Daniel’s heart and Kaysha’s heart. Am I right? Actually, he’s in all your hearts. He’s inside talking to you, but you have to learn how to listen to him. He’s the one who will guide you.
We will see a movie about this a little while later. The Holy Spirit is a leader. He leads us on paths that we have to go on. He may say to somebody, “You need to go to Africa – there are children who want to know about me.” And there are other children, in China, in Africa, in all these places. The Holy Spirit gives them that feeling that they just want to come.
And the Holy Spirit empowers people. That means he gives them power. So you may think you’re a little bit weak and you’re not very good at something. But when you’re doing something for God, then he will give you the power that you need. He will give you the strength and the knowledge. I love feeling the power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I feel him a little bit, sometimes I feel him a lot. So he anoints us. Anointing is like he touches this hand, and says, I’m not you, but you will have special capabilities from me. You can read about that in the Bible. I’d like to think that he wants to anoint all of us for something special. I am weak. But if I have the Holy Spirit, then I can be strong. I don’t mean physically strong, I don’t mean that I can come and lift a car up. But I mean that he gives me strength, like right now, to talk to you about him. That’s coming from him, and not coming from me.
He is our stand by. Sometimes we call him our stand-in. Sometimes we fall by the wayside. We are not doing what we should do. We drop out a little bit. The Holy Spirit can take over a little bit. He can stand in for us. You know, whatever strength you think we have, it is TINY compared to the Holy Spirit’s strength. The Holy Spirit’s strength is huge and our strength is tiny, so we need his strength in our lives. Now Jesus, before he died, he said to his apostles, “When I go away” )he meant when I die) “then the Holy Spirit will come.” The Holy Spirit will come. He won’t come unless I die. So people were a little confused, they didn’t know what he was talking about. But what he meant was that when he went back to heaven, to be with the Father; then the Holy Spirit would come and be available for everybody. This meant more than just for a few people, like it had been at that time. So Jesus said, “When I go away, I will send the Holy Spirit to be a comforter. He will be a comforter. He will also be an advocate. Now advocate is another name for a lawyer. It means that if you end up in a court of law, you have a lawyer who puts your case before the judge. The Holy Spirit will take our case. He will say, ‘Yes, I know he’s done some bad things in his life, but he’s also done some good things.” That’s the kind of help he can give.
And he will be a counsellor. A counsellor is someone who can give you wisdom, or advice. Most of us don’t know much about anything. So if we need help, we can go and ask someone who can help us. That’s what a counsellor does. He’s a helper. He’s an intercessor. That means he helps us pray, and is passing our prayers onto God the Father. So when you pray, don’t ever think your prayer is wasted, because the Holy Spirit is carrying your prayer to God the Father. Alright, so that’s a few things about the Holy Spirit, and now we’re going to have an Alpha video about “Who is the Holy Spirit.”
The following week, we invited the Iris Harvest School extended outreach from the Robertson area base to come minister with us. It was the Holy Spirit day "How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?" Not only did they join us, as well as our friend Daniel, but MFHW founder Jan Buchanan was there as well! What a blessing! Here are montages of that day:
by Tony Copple
Our new helper Daniel Mendes from Brazil shares a greeting, and Tony held a quiz with the kids - the prizes were homemade bed socks knit by Jan Buchanan's mother. Since there aren't furnaces in South African homes, what a lovely way to keep your feet warm at night. Later we mention rainbows. Worcester has a lot of them when it rains, and we were able to catch this one in central Worcester.
We have been singing songs, we’ve been singing songs to Jesus. Why do we do that? That’s what I want to talk about today. If you went to church yesterday, Sunday; I think they probably they had singing. Did they have any singing in your church? In churches, they always sing songs. And why do we do it, that’s the question for today. The Bible is where we go to answer questions. The Bible says that in heaven, there is continual singing of praises to God. So all day long, they are singing in praise to our God. Why would they do that? Many great poets and musicians, composters and painters… they have written music for God, and painted for God. Tony asks L-A, “have you ever painted a painting for God?” L-A answers, “yes, many times.” She’s going to be a famous artist one day, for God!
People write great poems for God, and it’s the same thing – they want to say to God, thank you. When we understand what God did to create the world and then to sing a song to Jesus here, because Jesus came to earth and then was killed, so that our sins can be forgiven. And so we are really, really grateful to God and Jesus. We thank Holy Spirit too. And that’s why we sing songs to him. We sing, thank you God, thank you Jesus, you created the world, you created me, and then you died for me, so that I can live forever in heaven. And one day I will see him in heaven. So of course, we’re going to sing songs to him in praise and gratefulness. It’s very, very important, and it’s very natural. In fact, the Bible says that if people didn’t sing praises, then the stones and the earth would start singing. They know they were created by God.
You could say thank you to God in a prayer. You could say, dear Lord Jesus, thank you for making me. Of you may want to write a poem that says, (Tony sings) Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for creating me. And some may sing the song with you, or you may have a whole orchestra. Here’s the incredible thing – we want to sing thank you to God and Jesus, but he also wants to tell us that he loves us. He cares about us, even more than we can possibly care about him. So it’s a two way thing. We are thanking him, and he is thanking us for loving him. It’s all to do with love. We love the Lord God, we love Jesus, and he loves us in turn (although He loved us FIRST). If something happened to one of you, if something bad happened, maybe if you fall over and hit your head, Jesus cares about that. And if you ever cry any tears, Jesus feels compassion for you. So he’s that kind of a God, that he cares about each one of us. And even if we are someone who doesn’t believe in God, he still cares about us. There are people who don’t believe that God exists, but he still loves them. Some people think that songs are the most important part of a church service. Where Laurie-Ann and I go to church, Worcester Christian Church, we spend about half of the service singing praise songs, and then half with teaching. Now something interesting yesterday in church: Laurie-Ann had a vision. A vision is when you think you see something, but it’s not there in front of you. God’s Spirit instead puts the picture in your heart and mind. I’m going to tell you a little bit about Laurie-Ann’s vision. It’s to do with the same thing that we are talking about.
The vision was to do with a man who is a worship leader in our church. She told him that she saw him and the worship team in the Spirit. She saw him in the throne room with God, and the light was blue all around them. Father of Lights was shining into them with love and power. Holy Spirit was flooding into him like a waterfall that would not stop. The light streamed out of him in all kinds of colours, bringing rainbows into the church, like he was the prism. The light was also living water. It was an amazing combination of light and water. Power and nourishment bringing life from the Lord. She saw the colours fill the room, birthing prophetic creativity into the church. It was to touch not only our church, but all of Worcester. Yet it was just beginning to be birthed here. She asked Holy Spirit, what was the blue light, and it was the prophetic, coming from the throne of God, from the heart of the Father. The colours are prophetic creativity. That fits, since she says she's been seeing and drawing rainbows for over a year now.
So that’s how God feels about us singing to him. He loves it. And when you’re singing a song like “I have Decided to Follow Jesus,” you’re making him very, very happy. He loves it when we sing to him. That’s why we sing songs of praise in church and also here in this club with you.
Laurie-Ann then shared what the vision was like and about the rainbows. She asked if they liked the rainbows they see in Avian Park when it is raining and sunny at the same time. They nodded that they did. So L-A described heaven and the throne room as being a place full of colours and wonder. And that God wants to bring that colour and creativity to them too very soon!
by Laurie-Ann Copple
We’ve found that God has been so faithful during our time in South Africa. In fact, it didn’t just start here. Yet, since we are Iris Ministries Canada long term and full-time missionaries working for God, we are carried in so many ways in our work and even our play. Before I share about our ‘playtime,’ I should share about our work with Iris in the Western Cape.
Our work involves so many other ministries as well as our own. We partner and work with My Father’s House Worcester on Mondays, for their Monday afternoon Kid’s Club alongside YWAMer Soraya Volkwyn. This club is located in central Avian Park at the library, since MFHW doesn’t have a building yet, other than a ‘wendy house.’ We are part-time teachers at MasterPeace Academy, run by principal Dr. Mella Davis. Tony teaches science in the mornings, and music on Wednesdays after lunch. I teach art on Tuesdays, as well as bring family lunch of sandwiches and juice.
We are part of two of kids clubs on Wednesdays (and we hope one of these will be moved to another day). One is in Riverview township, which has been held outdoors. It’s led by Mella Davis. We share worship music, teaching, learning the recorder and food. The second is an Iris Western Cape kids club for the children of farm workers, not far from the Rooiberg winery off Route 60, outside of Robertson. They meet in a small farm library where we sing, dance, draw pictures, and play games. And when they will listen, we share Bible stories and more.
We also train some Avian Park teens to become children’s Bible study leaders for the Mailbox Club in our home on Saturday afternoons. Saturday morning we are in Brandvlei prison holding Prison Alpha, which is something we have waited for, but it’s well worth the wait. We also lead a soaking prayer and evangelism group called “Soaking Prayer in Action” in and for Worcester Christian Church once a month. These are some of the ministries that ministries that we work with on a regular basis (not counting Folla’s child ministry in Avian Park, or the Boland hospice).
I also help ChangeMaker’s Worcester with their accounting (books), which is something new, since I’ve not done this sort of thing for a number of years. However, I have confidence that in time we will have a system in place.
Our own ministry includes our internet radio station, Copples Western Cape Radio (CWCP). We broadcast through Galcom International in Canada, but stream from Worcester, Western Cape. We re-broadcast a CFRA show called “Good News in the Morning” (with permission from CFRA) on Wednesday nights. Our own show “The Worcester Reports” is aired Thursdays at 8 pm SAST (2 pm EDT/1 pm EST). Tony interviews interesting local people from different ministries, and we have music and news, and sometimes sound clips from the kids we work with. We also feature devotional teachings that I record called “Ways to Grow in God.” I’ve been working on “Ways” for my waystogrowingod.org devotional site since March 2013, but adding audio podcasts has significantly accelerated how often I write and produce teachings. Some topics are re-written from earlier articles. Others are brand new from the mission field, from our lives, from scripture and from different books that I’m reading.
So that is our working world, which is pretty full. Then you add Afrikaans lessons, and just plain life (like shopping). We also worship at Worcester Christian Church, are involved in a connect (cell) group, Soaking Prayer in Action group, men’s prayer group and we like to visit Hillsong in Somerset West about once a month. When we can, we also ‘do family’ with our Iris Western Cape mama, papa and colleagues. We’re spread out between two towns and a farm, so it’s a challenge.
Now on to our late June-early July ‘winter’ holiday! Here come the blessings and God moments. We were concerned about our garage door that we could not open properly for months. Finally, just two days before we were to leave, the repairman strolls in on a Saturday afternoon. It’s now fixed.
After we loaded up our car, we prayed that we would have many God moments in the midst of our holiday – whether we were at work (still doing our online work for our websites, as well as writing), or play. Love looks like something no matter where you are. Tony began this by stopping for a lady on Route 60, just outside of Ashton. Her name was Margaret, it was her birthday, and she needed a ride. We dropped her off in Swellendam, where we tried to look for the spot where we had a picnic and latte two years ago with our Western Cape outreach team.
Then we found the spot, on the N2, past Swellendam. I shared with Tony that this was the very spot that I shared our prophetic dreams about South Africa with Johan and Marie Fourie, our base leaders. They were able to confirm our calling here. So this spot was special to us. This time, we brought our home sandwiches and cake and ate them with latte bought from the café onsite.
While Tony was off buying some water, I was approached by a worried looking Xhosa man from East London. His name was Earnest, and he was driving from East London to Cape Town. He had run out of gas, and out of money, so he could not buy any more. He had managed to push his car just outside of the BP station that was beside our coffee shop. Since I only had about R40 on me, I knew that wouldn’t get him very far, so I suggested he wait for Tony to rejoin me. I introduced Tony to him and shared his story. Tony was concerned on whether he was telling the truth, although I believed him. He just looked too worried to be lying. Besides, I knew we were to give him something. So Tony went to get change, and gave him R100 to get him further down the road. We prayed over him, and he then was able to get help and a push from six men to get him over to the gas pump. He wasn’t lying at all. Later I remembered that I had a banana and an apple in our lunch bag. Earnest was probably hungry, but I honestly didn’t think about offering him the food, so I began to feel guilty. However, I later discovered that it was okay because I would need the banana!
Later that day we arrived to a lovely and funky suite hotel in the Point Village area of Mossel Bay, right by the Indian Ocean. I love ocean waves and the smell of sea air, so this was a needed respite. They had an elevator and secure indoor parking, so we didn’t need to cart luggage up the stairs. We also found friendly staff, who recommended the Kingfisher seafood restaurant that was steps from the hotel.
When we arrived at the Kingfisher restaurant, which we had no reservations for, they were going to put us upstairs by the sushi buffet. Then the owner sees my walking stick and talks the employees into giving us a much better spot (that is, if we weren’t going upstairs for sushi). This table gave us a near front row seat to the ocean, and we were able to enjoy rosé wine from Franschoek, and a wonderful angelfish dinner. Before our fish arrived, up comes Lize-Mari Bester, who we met and bonded with during our time at Pomegranite (Western Cape outreach 24) two years ago! She moved from Nelspruit to Mossel Bay and was having dinner with her mother at the same restaurant! That was an amazing and wonderful God moment. She still has Nelspruit as her address on Facebook, so we had no idea she was in the Western Cape, let alone the very town we were visiting.
The next morning when we found out that breakfast is quite a walk away in a restaurant, where we have been given breakfast vouchers. Remember the banana that I could have given Earnest? This is what I needed. The banana was a life-saver, since I can’t walk without my strong arthritis meds, and they cannot be taken on an empty stomach. I really did feel badly that I didn’t offer the fruit to Earnest the day before. We helped him with gas, but he was probably hungry too! However, the presence of the fruit the next morning, was just what we both needed to take meds before the breakfast walk.
Another surprise was in Tony finding a bottle of Amaretto DiSaronno in a large liquor store in Mossel Bay. We couldn’t find any in Worcester at Christmas (it’s a Christmas taste for us). This is not something that we would drink regularly. We also found DiSaranno later in a Jeffrey’s Bay café when we were having our last taste of the Indian Ocean seashore. So Tony had carrot cake and I had a thimble of Amaretto for dessert. We’re such foodies for certain tastes. I’m so glad this was part of our holiday. Even though that liqueur is from Italy, it felt like a taste of home.
Then we drove through a beautiful part of South Africa – the Garden Route along the Indian Ocean. Unfortunately I didn’t get photos, since we were travelling along the N2 and could not stop. But it was very green, with lakes on one side of the highway, and ocean vistas on the other. We did stop in Knysna for lunch and got to drive around their lagoon. But since we still had a long drive to Port Elizabeth, we couldn’t stay that long. Finally we got to the border of the Eastern Cape – which was high up in the Tsitskamma mountain range. We crossed the famous Bloukrans bridge at the border and Tony decided to go see where the bungee jumpers jump from, as well as take a photo of the bridge. There were no jumpers to watch at that time, so we just enjoyed the view and the driving break.
Our guest house hostess called us several times from Port Elizabeth, first in Knysna, then at the bridge. Since we were arriving ‘late,’ she gave us her mobile number to call so we could be let in the security gate. We didn’t get to have supper, but since we had such a good lunch, we were fine with tea and fruitcake that we brought with us. We were able to enjoy a nice long table and electrical outlets without requiring the long extension cables we used in Mossel Bay (they didn’t have a desk there, so we improvised using two bedside tables and Tony’s lap). Now we could compute (and I could post my then-most recent blog post on child hunger). We also got to watch English Christian TV, which isn’t available on our ‘free’ Open view channels that we have in Worcester (with the exception of the Brian HoustonTV show on Sunday mornings). Even the heater worked, and they had real milk beside the kettle!
We also had a lovely surprise when we visited Port Elizabeth’s Walmer Park Mall the following morning. While I still can’t find an English-Afrikaans Bible (other than the Gideons-published New Testament and Psalms that you can find in hotels), we did find the latest Willie en die Wenspan CD! We find Willie’s music perfect to learn and sing with the children we love on. We also hoped to find a copy of “I can only Imagine,” since it’s on iTunes, but we can’t access my account since we still don’t have the replacement of my Visa card that expired three months ago.
At the same time, we had a confirmation from an Iris affiliate that I really wanted to visit in East London. They are Josh and Rachael Minter, who run Global Mercy Missions, in a former garden refuse dump. They have a really exiting ministry. They offered us a bed for our visit, which we actually don’t need, since our B+B was not refundable. I was hoping we can return in December and spend more time with them, but Rachael might be in the US with family. However, our time with them a day later was incredibly special. We connected with them quickly and I was feeding the Xhosa residents bread to go with their stew. Later, Tony got to interview the Minters for an upcoming Worcester Reports radio show.
We also found out just how artsy our next guest house location was. I wanted to go to Grahamstown for its history. Officially, Grahamstown has been renamed Makhanda, but most references are still to Grahamstown. I read about the 1820s settlers from England and wanted to see this “frontier country.” However, it’s a university town, and also home to many artists. They had just started their arts festival and we caught the opening night of a visual art show while we had a lovely dinner of artichoke and pea pasta in Haricots restaurant. I was especially impressed by the artist Nicola Byers, who painted several exquisite portraits on the walls. My favourite is here. This girl reminds me of several that we work with, and she’s holding proteas, one of my now favourite flowers (South Africa’s national flower).
We also made a new friend at our Grahamstown guesthouse named George. He was very helpful, as was Celeste, who also worked there. When Celeste saw my walking stick, she looked up at the room (above the garage) that we were to stay in. It had a long set of outdoor stairs. While I could manage the stairs (there was a railing), they decided to move us to an indoor room that was near the breakfast room. We were quite happy there, apart from the lack of lighting, but this was a very old house, with unique qualities. I was thankful and these were pretty surroundings.
I also had shared with George about what we would do in East London. He was so interested that he began to tear up. I think he had expected us to take part in the art festival activities (which would have been good had we the time), but then he heard that we are missionaries. After we returned from East London, and a Nando’s chicken dinner in King Williamstown, we found George sitting by the very old wood stove. He lit us a lovely fire, and gave us a glass of rosé wine. We prayed with him (he knelt before us) and shared ginger marzipan cookies. When we left the following morning, we got to hug George when we said our goodbyes. He said it was a blessing to meet us, since he could see that we are real Christians – and the love that is in our hearts shows widely for all to see. Aww, George, that is beautiful. We love you too!
It was also in Grahamstown that I found a different kind of South African protea flower. These were white! I saw them in the HomeGrounds coffee shop that we really liked. I went and took a photo of them – and they seemed to be real, not dried, like the pink, orange and yellow ones that we later bought in a Montagu shop. The pink and orange proteas below are fresh, but the dried ones are quite similar. Perhaps I'll see a King Protea closer to my birthday.
We had a lovely drive to Jeffrey’s Bay, which is west of Port Elizabeth. I suggested that we stop there for lunch and our last view of the Indian Ocean. I knew that our GPS would be taking us inland earlier than expected to get to our next guesthouse near Oudtshoorn, South Africa’s ostrich capital. We enjoyed fish, lovely coffee, ocean waves, and while Tony had carrot cake, I had a thimble of the almond taste of Amaretto.
Then we headed back to the road, and soon took the start of Route 62 (a road that meanders through the Langskloof Valley and the Little Karoo. It ends in Ashton, near Robertson). We were to drive that entire road. This is a two lane road with no shoulder, but it’s generally quiet. Storm clouds began to form over the valley and it rained. The rain was badly needed, although it made it more difficult to drive – especially when it got dark. Our battery began acting strangely and our GPS kept shutting off. It was off when Tony made a wrong turn, instead of staying on Route 62, he turned the wrong way. Since I have a good sense of direction and had studied the maps, I asked Tony to return to the right road, which he did. I prayed him through the rest of the drive to Oudtshoorn, on a dark, rainy, windy road, where we couldn’t see that well. I just had a look at the road we would have travelled through if I didn’t ask Tony to turn around – it was the Outeniqua pass leading to George! I hear that’s a beautiful pass – but I don’t like driving passes at night unless I have a choice. And in the rain! I kept praying throughout the entire journey, and every once and a while, Tony got off the road, so that vehicles could pass and we would follow their red lights instead. I’ve never liked being the first car on a dark mountain road.
When we safely got to Oudtshoorn, it was just 9 more kilometres to our farm guesthouse – although there was a minivan behind us with bright lights, so it disoriented me. We stopped to regain our bearings, when the driver of the minivan tapped on our window. He greeted us, welcomed us from Worcester (our car plates say CW, the code for Worcester and Touws River), and offered to drive in front of us to our guesthouse). The man was a blessing, since it was hard to see in the dark. We arrived safely, and after settling in, Tony talked me into having dinner at the guesthouse restaurant – which was even better than Worcester’s best restaurant, Fowlers Grill, where we had celebrated our anniversary less than a month ago. Tony ordered Karoo lamb and had tap water, which they added fruit to flavour our beverage. I ordered excellent sweet potato soup, and braai’ed ostrich with vegetables. Oh, my goodness, was this meal excellent, and the meat tender. This was a one-off, since these meals were the equivalent of $40 Canadian, but it was oh, so good with a glass of velvety Cabernet Savignon.
The next morning, Tony was still concerned about the car – in addition to the battery problem of the GPS shutting down, the temperature of the oil gauge went very low. You would think it would be high on such a long drive from Jeffrey’s Bay, let alone from Grahamstown. Tony found the closest Mercedes mechanic was in George – so he used my iPad to Skype call his garage. There was no answer. We decided that we would still brave the drive over the famous Swartsberg Pass – and trust this was just a minor mechanical fault. We filled up with diesel in Oudtshoorn where the attendant volunteered that the low oil temperature may well just have been due to the low temperature the night before.
We had a lovely coffee and scone at a children’s animal farm where they have camel rides and zip lines, and then we drove the Pass. The climb was gentle on the south side, so we got to the top fairly quickly. The other side was another story. We passed by the signpost to the road for Die Hel (Gamaskloof), a remote place that requires a 4x4 vehicle. The pass we were on was challenging enough. Tony did an amazing job in navigating all the hairpin turns and surprisingly, I did NOT get the vertigo that I had on either the DuToitskloof or Bains Kloof passes. This was far higher – but the rocks were stunning in the same weird and wacky colours as the Cogman’s Kloof pass between Ashton and Montagu. After we navigated the pass, we drove along a highway at the edge of the Great Karoo to the next road that navigated the mountains – the much easier Meiringspoort (along a river). There was even a waterfall, that had a waterflow due to the heavy rain the night before. Later, we discovered that the pass may not have been open the day before, and it was to rain the day we left, so we had perfect timing. And the car? The temperature gauge was normal!
We also discovered that we received the rest of the insurance funds from my operation in March! Every bit helps. Now we wait for reimbursement for Tony’s stitch up (from his fall in April) and his back issues in June, which he hasn’t yet claimed since the treatment is ongoing. We also found that Tony’s UK pension has not come in since December, but he thinks that they probably thought he was not still alive (they send our emails periodically to make sure the recipient is still this side of the turf. He thinks it’s an easy fix, and we can catch up. That just makes me marvel all the more, that we’ve been able to manage financially for six months without that pension! We live simply, so that helps, but we haven’t been starving ourselves either. God must have been stretching our funds to supply what we need. Perhaps we can use that pension catchup to further whack down any debt we have (like the mandatory window replacement that’s coming in our Ottawa condo)! We also FINALLY received my Visa credit card from Canada - after five tries. Most of the cards ended up in an Ottawa area branch that we have no connection to - but this time, it came by courier just today!
After we had a lovely breakfast in our guesthouse, we found a surprise gift for our friend Andre. It was something that he’s really wanted, that we only heard about shortly before our journey east. He wanted ostrich biltong, and sure enough it was in the gift shop at our guesthouse. I also picked up a toy ostrich for my niece, which I will take in my suitcase to her next year (on our home visit to Canada). It doesn’t make sense to send it in the mail; it can wait.
We continued on in our journey to our next stop – the port capital of South Africa – Klein Karoo’s Calitzdorp. We had a very high wind and also didn’t have a complete GPS coordinate for De Krans, the port winery bistro we had chosen for our morning coffee. Somehow we skirted the town and headed the wrong way. When we began our return, we were “attacked” by a giant tumbleweed that seemed to pounce on our car, rather than blow away from it, like all other tumbleweeds we’ve encountered. The car is okay! When we got to De Krans, we pulled the thorns that the tumbleweed had left around our car hood. At least it wasn’t a tree or an animal!
Our journey continued through to Ladismith, where we stopped for a Karoo buffet lunch that was heavy on meat and potatoes. There was still sun, but we had long, strange clouds that filled the sky. They pointed west exactly where we were going. By the time we reached Barrydale, it was raining very heavily and there were no coffee shops open. We continued on into Montagu in bad weather. We had to wait for the reception to open for us – we were the only guests, and the whole town had shut down. It was only 4 pm. While we could have forfeited the night and continued home, it was better to stay. They did not have our specially booked ground floor room for me, despite confirmation that I would remain on the ground floor. The receptionist made up the room for us, and gave us extra tea and cookies. It was a good thing, since there were no restaurants open (other than the expensive Avalon hotel, which we were recommended to try). We had tea, cookies, and crisps from the local grocery store. It was fine. It was warm, we had the World Cup on DSTV (something we don’t have at home), and the bed was very comfortable. We had a good, comfortable rest.
The next morning, we headed to the Montagu dried fruit factory store (where we bought dried fruit and nuts for baking, as well as dried proteas for me). I knew this store would be closed had we visited the day before, so this was one of the reasons why I decided to stay the extra night in Montagu. That and the weather was awful. It was raining in Montagu but snowing in Worcester and even Cape Town! Once we drove through the Kogman Kloof pass, we saw snow on the Langerug mountains in Ashton, Robertson and beyond. Our own Brandwachts and other mountains around Worcester were snow covered as well. My friend Janey was excited, since she’d never seen so much snow on the mountains. I think I was spoiled by the snow in the Kootenays – having lived in a mountain resort, where they ski often. Still, it was beautiful.
While we were still in Montagu, we tried connecting with our Harvest School friend Matthys. He had contacted me on Instagram (we don’t use it much!) between Oudtshoorn and Montagu. He was staying in Montagu. It could have been a God connection, but he didn’t check his phone to see our phone calls and messages. So close, since we were in the same town at the same time at least.
Once we drove through Robertson, Tony stopped for a lady who was waiting for a ride. There’s a certain spot that hitchhikers stand as Voortrekker Road becomes R-60 again. This lady was on her way to Bellville in Cape Town, although she initially told us she was going to Worcester. We dropped her off at a spot on the N1 in Worcester so she could get another ride. She offered us money, but we told her, no, keep it, the ride is a gift. She was amazed, and we blessed her further by praying she get a good and safe ride home.
We came back to sunshine in Worcester, and felt joy in seeing the snow on our mountains. Tony had told our friend Janey that we would bring the sunshine back to Worcester – after being cold and rainy for a few days. The rivers are still running, but it is nice to have sunshine between the rains. After all, flooding can be an issue too in the catch up of filling all the reservoirs.
The next day, Tony had the car looked at. The Mercedes repair man suggested that we go to Battery World. It may be a simple fix after all. They found a connector on the battery was loose and fixed it properly. There was no charge to fix it!
Tony then got to pray for a lady in the Worcester ‘Chinese-run’ shop. He stopped to buy me a vase for my proteas (just R18). There was a lady named Portia, who was holding her head in pain. Tony was able to reach out and pray with her. It made a special end to the holiday as we began to settle back into ministry life here in Worcester. The thing about being a missionary is that it’s not something you take a break from. Love looks like something – everywhere. Not just in the town or base where you work.
God was also faithful in continuing to heal Tony for his driving and hiking through the Swartberg Pass. Just two weeks before, he could barely get in and out of bed without my help. Tony even wheeled suitcases around and managed to lift suitcases. He was nudged to discover ways to do life without hurting his back. This includes simple tasks of getting in and out of bed, lifting suitcases, etc. He has a follow-up appointment soon. We did manage kids club with the farm kids (the most challenging group), by Tony leading worship while sitting down and having no heavy lifting. Sometimes you just have to be wise when you’re 77. God will continue in being faithful – we just wanted to share just how much he carried us on our journey. He always finishes what he promises. Thank you Lord, for all your care for us in so many ways.
I am very sure you have wonderful God moments yourselves. I would love to hear your stories. I may write on Ways to Grow in God via God Moments. Usually they are small things, but sometimes they are quite big and major answers to prayer. May our eyes be opened to God working in our lives every day!
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT)
by Laurie-Ann Copple
I’ve been praying for keys to reach the township and farm kids. In some ways, it’s been hit or miss, and a definite growing experience. We often have special bonding times with individual children, right from the very start.
When we first ministered with the Vinkrivier farm kids near Robertson, it was August 2016, near the end of the South African winter. Tony played sports with the kids, and I was assigned to do art with some of them. There are some keen artists in this bunch, and I connected with an older girl named Carmen. She was interested in Canada. Others were interested in the Canadian pencils I brought as a gift, as well as Canadian flags and maple candy. I even decided on using my own name in South Africa, rather than a nickname, when one of the farm girls told me that she really liked my name. Double names are common among the coloured Cape community. Since this demographic is our main mission field, this was a perfect fit. I don’t mind being called Mama Lala (in Mozambique), Ann (in Kenya, Sierra Leone and Pakistan), and Rabia (to the Somali refugees). However, there is something special about using your own name!
So we returned to this area on our long-term mission, and began to work with different kids groups. Tony fitted in well with Nigerian YWAM missionary Folla, who runs a kids club three nights a week bordering on the informal (shack) part of Avian Park. Tony began his children’s ministry here, once a week usually on Fridays. I joined him in January in two kids clubs (My Father’s House in Avian Park, and Riverview kids club in Riverview), and we became teachers at MasterPeace Academy. Tony teaches science daily, and music weekly. I became the weekly art teacher. This was a stretch for both of us, but with encouragement from Principal Dr. Mella Davis, we grew in our fields. We especially poured love, encouragement and teaching into Khanyo and Mpho, who live in Zweletemba township. They are Xhosa and are gentle, fun-loving boys. Khanyo is gifted in art, and Mpho may be ADHD, but under that disability, he’s smart, and very spiritually sensitive. He’s also funny. We have come to love them, and we trust we will love the two new boys who will join us near the end of July for the winter term.
In February 2018, we also re-joined the Iris Vinkrivier Farm kids club, which is located near the Rooiberg winery off R60. This group continues to be a handful, but we found inroads to many of them – for example I am known as the pencil sharpening lady, and the artist auntie. They loved my prophetic drawings that we scanned in black line form. They were able to colour in my drawings in unique ways that totally absorbed all of them. Normally this club is loud and rowdy. The day we brought out my drawings, they were quiet for more than 45 minutes!
The other clubs have benefited from my other side – as teacher and musician. Mella Davis asked me three times to lead a teaching time with the Riverview kids, and these went well, so I did the same with the Avian Park kids. It has been these two kids clubs where I had some intense God moments where I was filled with searing compassion for a specific child. In the case of Riverview, I brought a teaching (Gospel in Colours), as well as jam sandwiches and naartjies (satsumas). All went well, and I had a few extra satsumas left over. While five of the older kids were in music class with Tony, one of the littlest kids came up to me and we bonded. I asked him if he’d like a naartjie, and then asked for a hug. He didn’t know much English, but he gave me the sweetest long hug. It was during that moment that my heart was deeply filled with compassion and joy. I’ve hugged kids and been hugged before, but this was different. It was like we were family.
The next time was in Avian Park with 60 kids. We didn’t have our translator and our teen helpers were not as helpful as we needed. However, God broke through in a connection with two of the children. These encounters were in the midst of the other children becoming louder and getting annoyed at the teen leaders. I was working at the juice station, which requires concentration. Even with being careful with the cups, I always manage to spill juice on the table.
Since the teens were busy with the sandwiches, I personally handed out juice cups, from my table station. There was one little girl I had not seen before, so I greeted her personally. I didn’t know her name, so I said, “I’ve not seen you here before, sweetie. Welcome, you are so welcome here!” I gave her a great big grin. It was like the Holy Spirit filled me so completely with searing joy and compassion that this spilled onto her. She lit up and gave me a huge smile in return. Normally these Cape coloured township kids don’t smile that much. But she did. The next encounter was shortly after. The kids began returning their juice cups. One little boy saw that I was doing this on my own, and he wanted to help. So I let him pile different cups together and we packed them so it would fit in the big juice pail. We had this silent understanding that we were family and it was a joy to work together. When we were done, I gave him a grin, which was returned. I offered him my right palm for a ‘high five,’ which was returned with enthusiasm. The surge I felt with him was different; it was more like a sense of belonging for both of us – but like the moment with the little girl, it was intense and memorable.
Other times I’ve been hugged, thanked, called ‘Tunnie’ and had great connections during leading worship. Some of the girls absolutely love playing my apple and egg shakers. Some are interested in my Irish bodhran that we brought from Canada. But nearly always there is a connection with these little ones.
And then came the teen girls. When we started with this club in January 2018, there were teen boys, who later became unruly. They didn’t seem to like Soraya’s discipline, and after the first few weeks, they didn’t really connect with us Copples either. Later on, we began searching for teens to become leaders of future Mailbox Clubs. Eventually we would have eight such girls. Training will take three months, and since the Avian Park library is not available on Saturdays, we have the training in our home. Tony picks them up at the library and brings them to our home in two trips, and also picks up Soraya, who is leading their training in Afrikaans (Tony does the English portion).
I fell into the role of making sandwiches, as well as serving cookies and juice. They are always hungry, and often asking for more. They giggle, go into the bathroom together, and are always asking me questions. One picks up my dinner bell and rings it, so I tell her that I ring it to let Tony know that supper is ready. Another notices the fridge magnets, and that one is of me with my mother in New York City. They were fascinated. Then they wanted to see Facebook pictures of my niece and step-granddaughter. Still another girl loves to play with my hair – especially in playing with the ringlets. These are real curls, different than the fake hair extensions that she is probably used to seeing. This girl loves to lightly punch my arm to say hello.
Meanwhile, not all the girls wanted to stay indoors – they wanted to explore the streets of the retirement village, which I hoped wouldn’t alarm the neighbours. Thankfully it didn’t. Others still just wanted our Wi-Fi code. But what was wonderful, is that at one of the girls asked Tony if she could go home in the second batch the following week. She thought I was cool and she wants to spend time with me! I’m not naturally attracted to teens, despite a word of knowledge that I had been given that I would be a loving support to some broken teenage girls. You just never know. While they were asking me questions, it was like I was in unknown territory and just relying on the Holy Spirit to keep us connected. He did not disappoint. I could be myself with them – and if I was not, they would see right through that. Then the girls began calling me my Grandma name that's actually reserved for little Sagan Copple. I'm Grandman LaLa. These girls didn't know that and began calling me LaLa on their own. I didn't mind, I answered to it.
Each time I meet with the kids or teens, I am stretched and stretched. But this is good, since it keeps me leaning on God for the ever ‘more.’ Jesus is using my skills and talents in various areas, and creating something new. This newness shows up in prophetic colouring books, different talks, singing and percussion; teaching art formally in school and loving on the kids as tante (aunt) and ouma (grandma). There is more in store … and it’s good that I like cooking, because that’s of use too. Nothing is wasted in the kingdom. It’s all in preparation for those God moments. May we have many more of them.
The latest stretching was the discovery that some had sipped away on Tony’s bottle of Cool-mint Listerine in our bathroom. It does contain alcohol, so after the initial surprise, we need view this in the context of alcoholism in the coloured townships, and that teens usually ‘push the envelope’ in trying things out. We’re thinking of an amusing response to this discovery. We can still remember what it was like to be a teen!
by Laurie-Ann Copple
I’ve been praying for keys to reach the township and farm kids. In some ways, it’s been hit or miss, and a definite growing experience. We often have special bonding times with individual children, right from the very start. We are still learning and making some mistakes as we grow, but not ones that are major.
We first had our eyes opened to starving children when we were at Iris Global Harvest School, in Pemba, Mozambique (June and July 2016). During the very popular Children’s Day holiday on July 1st, the Pemba base hosts up to 5,000 children for a day of songs, games, candy and a chicken meal with rice, cabbage, Frozy (soda) and cake. The youngest children get to go with their mothers. We were a part of helping children get into groups and get into the games. When the children finally got to the canteen, their thumbs were inked so they would not be able to return and eat a second meal. They were that hungry that they could easily eat far more food at a sitting than we would eat. We were to see this again in South Africa. Yet what surprised me was what happened with a widow’s children when we were hosted by “our” widow Maria Valisora. The Harvest School leaders had paired Tony, myself, Katie Heap and another girl with Maria for Village Immersion. We were given a box of beans, rice, oil, spices and other things for a meal together. It was the start of a beautiful friendship with Maria, and we were given sweet hospitality in one of the worst hovels I’ve ever visited in Africa. It was a place at the bottom of a hill, with holes in the walls and ceiling. It was not safe from thieves or rain. Eventually we partnered with God to get her a newly built block home, but we couldn’t have done this alone. That is another God-story in itself!
We had decided when we were at Maria’s that we were tired of rice and beans – since we had been eating it every day for a very long time. She offered to make matapa for us, which is a green leafy vegetable that we are fond of. We gave her 200 mets, and she went off and got the ingredients. The lunch was like heaven on earth, it was so good. We had it over rice. She gave the leftovers to her children, who were scraping the leftovers off the pot. I was distressed that they weren’t eating with us, although perhaps they got beans and rice after we left. These children behaved differently than the kids at the base, but perhaps they didn’t have ‘orphan spirit’ issues.
Kids (and adults) with orphan spirit never feel like they have enough. They don’t know their identity, are insecure, and often hoard in fear of not receiving anything. They don’t feel deserving, so they believe they have to sneak, steal, hoard and worry about the next meal (or anything else) that comes. I remember hearing a talk by Valerie Britton, the wife of my Iris papa, at the Iris affiliate church in Williamsburg (and Richmond) Virginia. She’s worked with orphans in Russia, and described that sad, unloved mentality very well. Many of us have that poverty spirit in the first world. It doesn’t just happen in Africa. I had it, until I felt secure in my identity as a child of God. I always felt I had to strive desperately for approval. Orphans and those with orphan spirit do as well.
Then we arrived in South Africa two years ago and we got to know some of the children at the Footprints base near Johannesburg. We stayed there several nights as we prepared to go to Robertson (Western Cape base) for our extended outreach. These were very sweet children, who knew they were loved, and some could even be quite cheeky. Tony engaged with them by teaching them about Canada. We had offered some maple candy and stickers from Canada to the base leaders, and they decided to make a home-school class out of it. These kids weren’t hungry for food, but they gladly received love and hugs from us.
Then we arrived near Robertson, at the Western Cape base, and stayed in an inner kloof ‘farmstead.’ Outreach included meeting people in the coloured neighbourhood in Robertson, a visit to Niquebela, the Xhosa township, loving on kids that were in a South African orphanage. Some of these kids were pulled out of abusive homes, and definitely had attitude issues. I worked with twin girls – one of them was very naughty and couldn’t understand why I didn’t allow her to play with my cane or glasses (two years later I did allow a farm girl to do that, and thankfully she promptly returned them, but not before Tony had taken a picture (shown below).
We also were part of the Vinkrivier kids club, although we did not join in with the crèche, despite my love for toddlers. After we spent three weeks in Robertson, I had a very strong impression of whom one of our main calls was towards. I kept seeing eyes and faces of very sad ‘Cape Coloured’ children, who did not feel loved, and their eyes were crying out in pain and despondency. While there would be others we would also love on (widows, divorcees, vulnerable teens, inmates, etc), these ‘latch key’ kids of farmers, shop-workers and township folk would be our primary ministry. We didn’t know who that would work out, since Western Cape base doesn’t have a true “children’s centre.”
Minmarie kidding around with L-A's glasses and walking stick, watched by Danie.
When we returned to Canada in late August 2016, we began an intense downsize and preparation phase. I drove down to visit my Iris ‘papa’ Brian Britton, and also see David Hogan, whom I met two years earlier, and also at our Harvest School. While I was on the way there, I stayed over in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I didn’t want to get caught in a snowstorm in the Pennsylvania mountains and decided to break up the long drive to Williamsburg from Ottawa.
That night, I had an intense dream where the Hershey Chocolate Company had decided to sponsor me 20 thousand US dollars to become the “Hershey kiss lady” to the latch-key kids of South Africa. I was amazed. What did this mean? I didn’t think this could be literal, but it did involve South Africa and loving on township kids. I found out later that we didn’t qualify for such a bursary, but that they do have Hershey Kisses in South Africa (we haven’t found them yet, but we might). I’ve had to take Laura Secord maple candies instead, as a taste from Canada. I’m sure the dream’s meaning will become more clear with time. My then-employer, prophet Darren Canning, believed Jesus was just reassuring me that our expenses and needs would be met; although I believe there is another, deeper aspect yet to be discovered.
And then I met the real children in person. After we arrived in Worcester, I got to know the beautiful daughter of our Afrikaaner guesthouse hosts. You guessed it, a toddler. Donnalee has a love for apples and sweet smiles. She knows she is loved and is a curious little girl. Then there are children at our church in Worcester who love to dance with flags during worship. And then in January 2018, we helped with the kids clubs in Worcester, and in Vinkrivier. We also became teachers at MasterPeace Academy. Monday’s club was in Avian Park, and while there are always at least 30 children, there have been as many as 60. Almost always there are some new children, so we often need to introduce ourselves to the new ones. I know many come primarily for the polony and cheese sandwiches, juice and fruit. We are thankful that these are paid for by My Father’s House Worcester, since the cost can add up, although sometimes we bring our own sweets, art activities and other surprises. While many kids are quite patient if we need to cut sandwiches in half (for increased numbers), others get restless and loud. If they don’t think they are getting their share, they can get very loud. Occasionally some have been so disruptive we have sent them out without food; and then they’ll bang on the door hoping to be let in again (the noise is not a good since our booked room is in a library). Some days, a child can eat three sandwiches and three pieces of fruit. I can’t eat that much and I’m plus size.
We found that the kids in the Riverview club are also always hungry. Our leader, Dr. Mella Davis, also runs the school where we teach science, music and art. Mella often gives these kids cookies, juice and fruit. A couple of months ago, Mella began to ask us to bring food and treats for the kids (I share teaching duties there at least once a month). She would have pizza parties, cake parties, sleep-overs and even a pool party. One day however, Mella brought banana bread and juice and it wasn’t enough. She had chocolate and it wasn’t enough. One boy called out, “Miss Mella, we’re hungry!” Sometimes Mella would help with food to some families, but couldn’t afford to help them all. It would be on a case by case basis. So since then we have been bringing jam sandwiches and naartjies (satsumas).
I had an idea of bringing sandwiches to the Roodewal primary school – but Tony stopped me on that one. If I started this, it may not be sustainable, and I would be expected to continue that ministry for some time. Could we afford that? It may be hundreds of kids. So instead I offered to bring sandwiches, fruit and juice to MasterPeace Academy on Tuesdays, right before my art class. At the time we had a very small class size – two students from Zweltemba township – very sweet black Xhosa boys. We came to love these boys, and they loved spending lunch with us. Mpho preferred my sandwiches to his mother’s and said so. We found out later that sometimes his mom is too busy to feed them breakfast.
Tony got into a routine of taking the boys swimming (as exercise) and then going to McDonalds for ice-cream cones. Sometimes there would be more of a meal involved. Sometimes the boys would be brought over to our house, so that they could have their music lesson and science experiment using equipment we couldn’t bring to the school (such as our stove). And the boys would stay for fruit, ice cream and sweets. Now let’s fast forward to the end of the second term, where Tony could not host them for a reward movie of Mr. Bean videos, due to a doctor’s appointment. So a later visit was arranged, with the boys and Mpho’s mother. However, the mother asked if their visiting cousin could come instead. This resulted in us feeding three hungry boys, who had had no lunch, and likely only a bun for breakfast. Was that mom cheeky? We’re not sure of the circumstances, but we did have these hungry children in our home, so we fed them. What did they have? Toasted chicken sandwiches, bananas, apples, cake and milky coffee! We were amazed, but maybe we shouldn’t be, we’ve seen them eat before, even at an Indian restaurant, where we were treated by principal Mella. I asked a close friend what was going on - why the boys would be that hungry. She told me that many African kids (and adults) would often eat sporadically, depending on the food supply in their home. So when they would have food available, they would ‘load up’ and eat and eat and eat. (I also remember the Mozambican cooks telling me during Pemba base kitchen duty, to put more and more rice on the plates. I had already put a large amount of rice, but they wanted a LOT more, without planning out the amounts to stretch. No wonder there were stretching of food miracles at the base – if they weren’t planning the portion size! God more than filled in the gaps).
Then we had our last group of hungry tweens and teens. We had up to eight girls (and once a boy), who are from Avian Park. They agreed to be trained to become leaders for future Mailbox Club Bible studies for children. These Mailbox clubs would replace the Monday kids’ club, since the material is designed for small groups. The only available day to train them was Saturday, and the Avian Park library was not available. So Tony picks them up and brings them to our home. Tony originally believed that we wouldn’t feed them other than giving them juice, and perhaps a cookie. However, they were hungry. The first day was cake and cookies with juice. Then it grew to juice, sandwiches and fruit. Then it expanded to include freshly made cake (which was fine, since I was using leftover pears or apples from the Monday kids club). One girl asked me after eating all that, “do you have any more cake?” She said she was always hungry and began eyeing the two tomatoes we had in a bowl on the counter. I explained that we were having those for supper, so they left those alone. I hid a second cake I had baked earlier, since we were having dinner guests not long after their Mailbox Club meeting. But yes, the second cake would easily have been eaten.
So all this experience with child hunger has been very eye-opening and I have been praying about it. I googled child hunger and found these sobering facts! Child hunger is at 13 percent of the world-wide population. That amount is one in six children in both the United States and Canada, with higher numbers in the Nunuvut Inuit population (food is extremely expensive there). The numbers for Africa are even higher – 34 percent of Mozambican children are starving, and one in four South African children are also affected. This leads to inability to learn at school (if they even go to school, since uniforms cost money), and some are stunted due to malnutrition.
I’m praying about what God would have us do concerning the kids we work with and love on. I had originally hoped that we could have a store-front ministry, where we could live in the back, but have ministry in the front room(s). I could feed and love on kids say, twice a week. But this hasn’t worked out that way. What might work out in Robertson, doesn’t seem to work out in Worcester. Going outside of our gated retirement village into the townships for kids clubs, or bringing small groups home for a visit is a better answer.
I received further confirmation about feeding the children during a prayer time on June 24th, 2018. Tony and I lead a soaking prayer group that was born out of a ‘Street Ministry Team’ from our church in Worcester. We have met twice in our church, and the latest meeting was held in our home, because the church building was closed for the winter school holiday (South Africans love their holiday breaks). So we prayed for specific things, including the issue of child hunger in the Worcester townships. After I shared my concern, one dear lady had prayed and said that her eyes were opened to think of her part time gardener and maid. They likely were just barely getting by, and had children to feed. Did they need some extra help feeding their own children? Food costs had already increased through the extra VAT tax just two months prior. Even cheese and meat were taxed, although brown bread, milk, fruit and vegetables were not.
Then I lifted up my own heart to the Lord during the communal soaking time and Holy Spirit spoke to me. He reminded me of a vision that Heidi Baker shares about in the film Compelled by Love. It’s also shared in Jason Lee Jones’ song “Song of the Martyr.”
Heidi shares about a vision where one million children come to her. They were children from all over the world. There were so many that Heidi was overwhelmed. She was told to give them something to eat, just as Jesus told the disciples to feed the five thousand. Jesus gave her a piece of flesh from his bleeding side, and when Heidi took it, the flesh became bread. She was told to give it to the children to eat. This probably was both physical and spiritual food. Jesus told Heidi, “because I died, there is always enough.” And her dream continues on about the cups of suffering and joy – cups that Jesus also drank.
In Jesus’ food example, he took pity on thousands of people, who may not have eaten for days. They were just curious about Jesus. So Jesus took what he was given, a little boys lunch. He gave thanks, broke the bread and fish, and the food stretched to fill the bellies of a multitude. This miracle was written about in all the Gospels (Matthew 14, Mark 9, Luke 6 John 6) for five thousand men (plus women and children). It happened again with four thousand (Matthew 15 and Mark 8), although I wouldn’t be surprised if this miracle occurred other times as well. This food stretching miracle has happened in small and big ways at Pemba base and other bases too. This is not just a biblical miracle that happened with Jesus (and earlier with Elijah, Elisha and the widows’ oil - 1 Kings 17 and 2 Kings 4). So this is not a new phenomenon – extreme physical hunger with spiritual hunger that brings a special response from God.
So after Holy Spirit reminded me of Heidi’s vision, he then gave me one of my own. Instead of seeing children from all over the world, I had South African children surround me. I saw Xhosas, Cape coloureds, white Afrikaaner kids, Zulus and many others that I couldn’t yet identify. Perhaps some of the others were third-culture kids, otherwise knowns as missionary’s kids. Jesus said to me, “You give them something to eat.” And, “You are giving them food to eat. Please continue. There’s always enough because I died.” Then I was reminded of something that our Afrikaaner pastor Johan Schoonrad said in a recent sermon about Jesus feeding the group of 4,000. Jesus used what was sown towards the miracle – he had the seven loaves and a few fish. Johan shared that bread symbolizes all the needs, not just physical bread.
Then in the impression I was given, Jesus asked me to use whatever WE have at hand. He will make the resources stretch or bring more to us as we need. He said, “Don’t worry, just do.” So that is just what we will do! We’ll see what happens on this exciting journey of feeding and loving on South African kids!
Please let us know if you’re interested in receiving our prayer email newsletters, or would like to help with our outreach. We love on township kids, farm kids, and very soon, inmates.
Blessings and love, Laurie-Ann
If you choose to give (first off, thank you!) please click the above giving button and scroll down the fund list to South Africa - Tony & Laurie-Ann Copple. Bless you!
South Africa has abundant fruit and fruit stalls, especially here in the Western Cape “Winelands.” L-A has made many apple or pear crumbles, and decided to do something different in a loaf cake. L-A is well known in Ottawa for her elderberry loaf cakes, as well as other berries. Since trying out pear cake on Tony, we have now served this cake to our teen Mailbox Club teen leaders (who are in training), and to our friends Andre and Janey, who are dear friends, and our Afrikaans tutors. Most baking recipes are exact. This one is approximate, since it depends on how many pears you have. You can substitute apples, but if you do, skip the ginger and add cardamom. I also recommend that you saute the apples, since some apples don't puree well unless they are cooked.
L-A’s South African pear cake
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup chopped pecans
1 cup vegetable oil
2 ½ cups flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp real vanilla extract (bourbon Madagascar vanilla)
Generous sprinklings of cinnamon and ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
Lyle’s Golden Syrup to seal and top the cake
Peel the pears, and chop pieces into a bowl. Pour half of the sugar, ginger and cinnamon over the pears, and put in fridge for an hour or two. Overnight is acceptable if need be.
Use a larger second bowl and add flour, salt, baking powder, and spices. Stir with a whisk. Use a smaller third bowl and whisk three eggs, and vanilla extract. Add oil and stir well. Go back to the pear mixture, and use a hand blender to puree the fruit. It is okay to leave some chunks for texture.
Pour in the pear mixture into the eggs and oil and mix well. Then slowly combine the wet mixture into the dry mixture bowl. Make sure all the flour mixture is fully moistened. Throw in the raisins and mix again.
Prepare your baking pans with a little butter or oil so the cake will not stick (I used a meatloaf pan and a second pan of the same size).
Set your oven at 175C (350F) and bake for approx. 45 min – 1 hour. Test the cake in the centre with a clean knife and make sure the dough is fully cooked.
While the cake is still warm, use a pastry brush to seal the top of the cake with Lyle’s Golden Syrup (or another sugar syrup).
The two cakes serve about 16, depending on how hungry they are. With the teens they can never get enough. The adults like it too. While you can serve the cake with vanilla ice cream, the pear flavour is subtle, so we recommend it on its own.
By Tony Copple
Tony in a whir, talking with the kids at an earlier time
Tony and the Avian Park kids during a rare moment of 'stillness' during soaking prayer.
Tony shared a little talk on the importance of being motivated by hunger - a desire to do something, not only to improve their personal lives, but to help others. Here's what L-A was able to transcribe from our My Father's House Worcester meeting on June 11, 2018:
How many of you are hungry? I want to talk to you about being hungry. You probably think that being hungry is very bad. But actually, being hungry can be good. It says in the Bible, that God wants to give us a hunger and a thirst for Him. He wants us to feel that we are hungry for more of him. If you are not hungry for God, then you won’t take any notice of him. You won’t bother about him. But let’s talk about hunger in the stomach – that is, that you are hungry because you didn’t have enough food. Here’s why that can be a good thing. There is a phrase that necessity is the mother of invention. It means that if you are hungry, then you will try and find ways to find food. If you’re not hungry, you won’t be willing to find ways to find food. Do you understand what I am saying? Where there is no hunger, no one really cares about such things as finding food.
But when you have nothing, no food and very little money; then you need to act, to improve your life. You need to do something that will make your life better. It is only because you are hungry that you will try and do that. Now some people when they are really hungry, will go begging on the street. And we see plenty of those here in Worcester. But other people, instead of begging on the street, they can find ways so that they can earn some money. Maybe they will help with parking your cars. Maybe they will make a little business selling fruit. They will do all sorts of things to make some money. And this is good – because if you’re hungry, you want to change things. You want to change things in your life. Think about your parents. When they were hungry, they did some sort of work, so they could earn some money. That’s why they did it, because they were hungry. Many of the people who are now famous in the world, started out very hungry. And they thought, maybe I should start selling something to people, or doing some service for people. So these people did it, became successful, and then they became famous! But if you ask them how they started – many of them were very poor. I’m talking about film stars and singers! They started out very, very poor and they had this drive to improve themselves. If they played the guitar, they made themselves practice for many, many hours, so they could play the guitar. And then they started making money from it. Elvis Presley, one of the most famous singers in the world – he started out very, very poor. And there are many others who have the same story.
But it’s also true that some people start out rich; some people are the children of millionaires. They start out in life with plenty of money. And you know what happens to many of those people? They waste their money. They use it for bad things like drugs and alcohol. And after years, those people who started out rich, become poor. They use up all the money that they had. Is it better to start out poor and become rich, or start out rich and become poor? I think it’s better to start out poor and become rich. And we always need to teach our children. When you grow up and have children, you need to teach them how they can earn money, so they can be self-sufficient and not end up begging. This is particularly true in townships. Because people give up, and they think, “I give up. I can’t ever become successful or rich.” This is NOT true! In this group, there are sixty people that we have here. Some of you have a lot of brains, and you can become very successful. Maybe some of you are musicians, or you want to become musicians. Maybe some of you can become businessmen. Now not everyone has those kinds of brains. But sometimes, God will give you a wish to help others, and give service to help people. And that’s good too. God gives these gifts to help people. I don’t care if you’re in California or Worcester.
There are just as many good brains – they’re all spread out equally. Everyone has an equal opportunity. God wants the best for us. That’s why he gives us brains. That’s why he gives us talents. That’s why he shows us that there are things that we can do, if we follow his plan. Christianity is all about following God’s plan. Christianity is following God’s plan and having that feeling that he wants you to do this or that, and then doing it. (It’s about obedience to Jesus). If you feel that he wants you to do something, but you don’t do it, that’s very sad. And he does want everyone to be successful.
Maybe God wants us all to be rich too. Abraham, who is the father of the Jewish nation, which gave birth to Christianity too. Abraham was very, very rich. He had hundreds and hundreds of cattle. He had lots of gold and silver. God loved him, even though he was very rich. So being rich is not bad. But if you become rich, you have a chance to do lots of good in the world, if you don’t waste your money. And that’s what God would like us to do, he would like us to become rich through the talents and gifts he has given us, and then work with our friends, and help everybody do better than they are doing. You can be full of hope, because everyone has skills and talents and every one of you can do well. If you’re in school, listen to what the teachers are teaching you, because you need that information to do well in life. If the teacher is teaching you about history, listen to them. If they are teaching you about math or reading, listen to them.
That’s the way you start out a good life. It’s very sad to see someone who leaves school very young. They never get an education – it’s very, very sad. So education is a way forward for all of you. I’m just going to pray a little prayer and thank the Lord for all the skills and talents that he gives us.
Dear Lord Jesus, I ask you to bless all the people here. I ask you to show them what’s in store for them, your plan for them. Show them that they are loved by you every minute of the day. You love them and want the best for them. You want to show them what is the best way, for your plan that you want to work out in their lives. Show them how to make friends and not enemies. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Laurie-Ann became an art teacher at Worcester’s MasterPeace Academy in January 2018. She found it puts her on the edge in creating new art, as well as teaching different styles to the students. Our current students are Khanyo and Mpho from Zweletemba township, although new students will join our school, MasterPeace Academy in July 2018. Khanyo is very gifted in art and she has hopes for him. L-A spent four weeks in art history powerpoint presentations, which included styles through the ages, and then Christian prophetic art in many of those same styles. When I asked the boys who their favourites were, Khanyo said he liked Akiane, an artist who painted a vision of Jesus she had at age 8. Mpho told me that L-A was his favourite artist! Four years ago, L-A received a prayer impression that sje would teach art to African children. We are so glad this is happening! Yet there is more to come!
We’ve been in South Africa for seven months now. Since we’ve been here, Laurie-Ann has completed two brand new drawings, and she finished four started in Canada or the US. L-A also recently sold a drawing she drew in South Africa two years ago. As she was working on the black lines of another drawing, she had a very strong creative urge that she should scan the drawings once she had finished the lines, but before she added the colour. L-A was to led to give the children scanned copies of the drawings so they could colour them in instead. She finished the lines on two complicated drawings – one that she started in Redding, California. The second was drawn during worship at the local YWAM base in Worcester. This one was special. L-A began drawing an impression from a worship song called “Revelation Song,” before the worship team actually sang it. Both drawings have been a hit with the unruly farm kids in Vinkrivier, the township kids in Avian Park, and our boys at the school. Here’s what they look like without colour:
L-A's plan is to combine more of these worship drawings in a Christian worship colouring book for children. So far, there are seven drawings. L-A needs to start new drawings (after she colours in the current drawings).
These past five months have been a really creative time! There is something special about what happens when children begin colouring these drawings. It becomes not just colouring, but an act of worship! We discovered this first with the farm kids. That day, our regular leader was away on outreach, so this left Tony, L-A and two friends to handle thirty farm kids. At least five of these kids have fetal alcohol syndrome and just do what they want to do. They scream. They disrupt worship. They don’t listen. So this day, none of the kids wanted to sing worship songs. One quarter of them wanted to listen to me share an interactive talk. The same number joined in limbo dancing with us. The others ignored us. Yet, when L-A pulled out her drawings, ALL of them drew. Every single one of them! They were quiet for over 45 minutes! We were stunned, and L-A remembers thinking, “what’s going on here??” The Vinkrivier farm kids are shown in the top photo gallery - they are the montage to the right.
So then L-A shared the drawings with our boys at MasterPeace Academy. She asked Khanyo if her drawings would make a good colouring book. He agreed that they would, and he eagerly wanted to get to work on one of her drawings. Since these pictures were taken, the boys are now working on another two drawings.
Then we shared the two drawings with the kids in the Avian Park township. This was a larger group, who had no access to art supplies, so we also had to buy them crayons. They also got to work on the drawings, although they were less quiet than their farm kids counterparts. L-A believes we should do this once a month with the different kids clubs. We've done this twice with the Avian Park kids for My Father's House Worcester. We’ve yet to share this with the Riverview club, since we meet outdoors and it’s getting cold.
We think we're on the edge of something special here. L-A can feel that something new will come out of this. And what she also loves is, she can be singing along with great worship music while she draws (but meanwhile, there are lots of other tasks to work on as well, so this is a process). God never wastes the things in our lives, once we give them to him. He’s been combining L-A's art, writing and radio. The next area is the counselling and pastoral care, although she's had some times of that when she least expects it. May the God of surprises also surprise you. He's bigger than we think he is!
Love and blessings,
PS Below is the finished version of "Wine from the Heart of the Trinity." Yes, it is available for purchase, unframed (if you are local in Worcester, Robertson or Cape Town.
Tony had a turn of sharing a teaching with the Avian Park kids at My Father's House Worcester recently, before we shared a fun Mr. Bean movie. We like to include fun as well as worship, teaching and food. This day we had a full house of leaders - Tony, Soraya, Laurie-Ann and Tanya. Here's Tony's talk:
Some have you have been here for a few weeks, and you’ve seen some movies, and last week we drew some art. You coloured in some worship pictures. You are good artists. Very good artists. (Note: you will see pictures of the kids colouring in some of Laurie-Ann's drawings in a future post).
Some of you have been here for a few weeks, and there are some movies that we showed. We saw “Who is Jesus?” You saw “Why did Jesus die?” and we saw “How can I have faith?” In some of those, you were invited, and you could say, yes, I would like Jesus to come into my life. That’s the way that people can become a Christian. Laurie-Ann became a Christian a long time ago. Tanya became a Christian quite a long time ago. When did you become a Christian, Soraya? She answers, “When I became 18.” I became a Christian in 1984.
So some of you know who Jesus is, and you would like to follow Jesus. That’s what we call becoming a Christian. But that is not the ‘end’, that is just the beginning. It’s at that point when you start feeling that God is talking to you. God doesn’t normally talk in a voice like mine. Sometimes he talks to you in a dream. Sometimes you just get a feeling in your heart that he’s talking to you.
Have you ever had one of those feelings, Soraya? (yes) Have you had some of those feelings, Laurie-Ann? (yes) I know that God talks to Tanya all the time. She’s always telling me, “he told me, he spoke to me this morning.” So we would like to gradually get to know Jesus’ voice, as he talks to us. And the reason he likes to talk to us, is two reasons, is he loves us to talk to him, when we’re praying, because he loves us so much. When you love someone, you like to talk to them. And the other reason, is that he wants to help us in our lives. We like to think that he has a plan for our lives.
And in fact, when you were first born, and before you were born, God had a plan for YOUR life.
So he’s been waiting since then to be able to talk to you and tell you about the plan. God has a plan for EVERYBODY’S life. But many people never hear the plan – because they don’t know Jesus, they don’t become a Christian. So it’s a wonderful thing to be a Christian and to follow God’s plan. Sometimes when you’re following the plan, you feel that he wants you to do something, that you don’t think you can do. You don’t think you have the skill. Jesus was talking to me about ten years ago. He said, I want you to go to Africa. And I didn’t think that I could do it. I didn’t think that I had the skill. And I really didn’t trust him that much.
But then, in the Bible, we read about people that God gave plans to. One of the first ones was Abraham. Hands up if you’ve heard of Abraham. Abraham was very, very important. But he didn’t think that he was capable of carrying out God’s plan. But God told him, I will give you all the help that you need. Another person who didn’t think he could carry out God’s plan was Moses. Hands up if you’ve heard of Moses. Moses said to God, “I can’t even speak properly. I get tongue-tied.” But God said, I will help you. And Moses became a great leader.
And then there was Joshua. And Joshua was the one that brought the Israelites back into the promised land. And he didn’t think that he was a good enough leader to do that. So in the Bible, there are many, many people who were not clever, they were not rich, they were a little shy, they really didn’t want to talk to people. Is anybody here like that; a little shy? You really don’t want to talk to people? A few of you, maybe. But always, God said to them, I will help you. And then they went on to do wonderful work for God. If they hadn’t done that work, we would not be here today. We wouldn’t know about God. So we’re very, very grateful that they worked and had God’s help.
In the Bible, one of the most important people is the apostle Paul. He wrote one third of the New Testament. And he said, it is when we are weak, that we are strong. If we are weak, and we don’t think that we’re very clever, and very rich, and to be able to speak, we are weak. They don’t think they are important, but these are just the people that God is looking for. And why do you think that he’s looking for those kinds of people? He’s looking for them, because he can teach them. We call these people teachable. There are many people in the world who are not teachable. They think they know everything. Do you know anyone who thinks they know everything? Well, there are people out there who think they know EVERYTHING. And God finds it difficult to work with them, because they always want to do it THEIR way. And God wants them to do it HIS way.
So what we’re learning, after all this history, is that even if you are a little bit shy, and you don’t think you’re very clever, and you’re not a leader, and you really know that people don’t think highly of you, you may be just the person who God will speak to, and say I need your help. Maybe, right here in Avian Park, he may say, somebody is sick. I want you to go and comfort them. And you may say, “I don’t know what to say to them.” And God will say to you, “I will give you the words.” So when you go to see them, and they are sick, you will find that God will tell you how you can speak to them. That’s why some of us like to visit hospitals. And it’s amazing, that when you’re talking to someone who is very sick, and the words you should say to that person just come into your mind. That is how God works with people who are weak, and he makes them strong. So is it better to be weak, or strong? It’s better to be weak, but have God make you strong. When you read your Bible, in many places you will hear the story that I’ve been telling you.
Today I shared the gospel with the Riverview children using coloured paper. There is a version of this teaching called "The Wordless Book." I modified it a bit to add a few more colours. I had a simple translator, and Mella backed up my teaching with a review. They had a simpler version of this teaching before, but they again needed more foundations. Here's a taste of the lesson:
I love colours. I’m an artist, so I love drawing, and then colouring in my drawings.
What’s your favourite colour?
Hands up for those who love red.
How many of you love blue?
How about purple? Who likes purple?
How about the girls – any of you like pink?
Tony, what’s YOUR favourite colour? (turquoise)
And Miss Mella? What’s your favourite colour? (yellow)
My favourite colour is green.
I’m going to show you a few colours and talk about them.
So we have GOLD
GOLD: Gold reminds me of heaven – because gold is shiny like glory. Heaven is a real place! Heaven is a place where no one gets sick and everyone is happy. There are no tears in heaven.The most wonderful thing is Heaven is where God lives. He wants to invite us there to live with him after we live here on earth. But something very important tries to stop us from going to heaven. It’s something that really bothers God.
BLACK: Now we have BLACK! What do you think black represents? It’s something that prevents us from being with God. SIN. What is sin? Sins are the things we do that make God unhappy. Some of this is doing, saying or thinking bad things. Some sins are things we do every day. They include telling lies, disobeying your parents, hurting others and being selfish. Like wanting all the candy for yourself, when it’s for everyone.
But sin isn’t just something that boys and girls do. ALL of us have sinned. I’ve sinned. The Bible says that everyone has sinned and falls short. The Bible says that Everyone has sinned and are not good enough for God’s glory (Romans 3:23)
What does sin do? Because of sin, our hearts aren’t clean. God is perfect. He’s good, he’s clean and has no sin. Because God is clean, He can only allow people with clean hearts into heaven. So how do we get clean from sin? We can’t wash the sin off without help. God makes a way to have clean hearts!
RED: Now we have RED! What’s the red colour mean? Red means the blood of Jesus. It’s the only way our hearts can be made clean. What we mean by that is that Jesus had to shed his blood and die on the cross to make up for our sins. God loves us so much that he sent his son Jesus to earth. He was not like you and me. He never sinned. He’s also God like Father is. So Jesus took our place by dying for us. We don’t have to be locked out of heaven. All the wrong things we do can be forgiven. We can spend time loving God. And Jesus became alive again after three days. So after Jesus took our sin, something *amazing* happened.
WHITE: Now we have WHITE! Now our hearts can be clean! Our hearts can be even cleaner than this white page. We just need to say to God: Sorry, I’ve sinned. Thank you for dying for me, and ask him please to come into my life. Keep me away from sin and help me to live for you. If we pray these things and we really mean it, our hearts will be clean. (1 John 1:9)
PURPLE: Now we have PURPLE! Let’s pretend it’s dark purple. Purple is a royal colour. When we accept Jesus in our hearts, we become royalty. We are now princes and princesses. We are "King's Kids." It’s true! We become children of God. We can call God our Pappa. Some of us already do this. But it takes time to learn how to be royal. It means that we obey God and he changes our hearts to be better.
BLUE: Now we have BLUE! This is a form of blue. Blue is like the sky, but it’s also the colour of the water if this pool behind us is full. Blue is for baptism. Baptism shows others that you are ready to follow Jesus. It means that you want to follow him for the rest of your life. If we are baptized in water, we leave our old life behind in the water. When you are baptized, you leave your old life behind you.
GREEN: Now we have GREEN! What does the Green colour mean? Green is the colour of many things that grow – like grass, trees, and plants. Since you have asked Jesus to be in your life, you can grow close to him.
Green also means NEW LIFE. Jesus gives you new life, and he gives you peace. He gives you love. And he gives you joy. You can grow in your friendship with God, like a plant grows in a garden. How can you grow? By Talking to God (prayer) Reading the Bible, obeying him and so many other ways.
And here’s our last colour – YELLOW! Yellow is the colour of faithfulness. It could be gold, but we’ve already started with gold. If we keep faithful to Jesus, we are given crowns in heaven. The crowns are filled with special jewels that God makes from what the things we experience in our lives. When we live well for him, we have many jewels.
But even right now, Jesus gives us a crown. That crown is in knowing who you are. It is in knowing that you are his child. You can’t earn it. But he gives it. I’m going to pray for us now.
We are sorry for all we have done wrong. We are sorry we sometimes forget how good you are. Thank you that you came and died in our place. We give you our lives again. We give you our hearts. Please come and fill us with your love. Help us never be lonely again. Help us to grow in you like the colours of Auntie Laurie-Ann’s story. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
We'll have to see what we do next. I'm also teaching through kids colouring my prophetic worship drawings. More on that another time.
L-A, Mella & translator// "Cree" and L-A at Father's House School//Two cuties at Riverview
Laurie-Ann has fallen in love with the Riverview kids, and many of them love her too. While they can still act a bit crazy from a sugar high (Mella’s sweets), they do respond and grow. We decided to see if they were listening. Before L-A started a talk given on April 18th, she asked if they could still remember the basics from the talk given on February 14th. It was about God changing hearts of stone to become a heart filled with love (a heart of flesh). They remembered! So L-A shared the following talk, and found that she brought two extra sponges with her. The sponge is her symbol of soaking prayer and a good memento. So after the talk, Mella gave a contest of different questions that the kids could answer to see if they were listening and learned from the talk. It was astounding at how much they remembered! Here’s the talk – it may bless you as well.
"Last time I shared with you, I talked about God giving us a new heart. We learned about God changing our hearts from stone to a heart that loves. God wants to give us his heart – like this paper heart but much bigger. (Put the heart on my chest)
Now let’s pretend this heart was ten times the size of this one, only it would still fit inside of me. That’s how big our hearts can be when filled with God’s love. It’s all about God’s love. We need to receive God’s love, so we can give it to others.
We need to ask God to fill us with love every day. We need to stop and spend time with him. Yes, you are kids. Jesus LOVES kids. You can love and touch people’s hearts. You don’t have to be a grown-up. So I have a secret in how I keep my heart full. I’d love to share it with you. We need to spend time with Jesus every day. EVERY day. His love is like fuel for our hearts. We run on love, not sadness or anger. So in your time with Jesus, you read the Bible. You also share your heart with him.
And then you quiet your heart so that you’re only thinking about Jesus. Other things may be good, but this is your special time with Jesus. It says in the Psalms, to be still and know that He is God. When we take the time to wait before the Lord, He responds. So I do something called Soaking Prayer. It’s when we soak in God’s love, like you can soak in a swimming pool without splashing and laughing. And it’s also like when you’re really thirsty and only cold water will make you feel satisfied. Coke, Fanta or Stoney Ginger Beer won’t stop your thirst. Water will.
And you may not know this, but we made of water. We need water to keep us alive. We also need God’s love to keep us alive. I have a sponge here. (show sponge) This sponge can be used to wash dishes. It can also wipe kitchen counters and sinks. But it won’t work without water.
Uncle Tony, please come on over here. (Rub the sponge against Tony’s arm). (Tony reacts) Tony, how does this sponge make you feel? (Tony says: It doesn’t feel nice! It’s hard and scratchy!)
So let’s pretend your heart is like a sponge that is dry. It has no water in it. If your heart is hard and scratchy, you might be rude and mean. But if your heart is filled, then you’re loving. Some sponges get really hard and when you rub them on the counter, it squeaks. And when you rub a dry sponge on you, it doesn’t feel very nice. So we have water here in this bowl. And we have this sponge. Let’s see what happens when we soak the sponge in the water over a long time.
(L-A dips the sponge in and keeps immersing the sponge – but it’s not that full yet. She dips again and again)
Tony (says to the kids): Do we need more? (yes)
So, what do you think happens in your day if you are tired and someone pokes you? This is a day that you didn’t have a chance to spend time with Jesus. Do you get mad? Do you laugh? Do you get upset and tell them to go away? So think - what could happen if someone pokes you AFTER you’ve spent time with Jesus? (L-A finally squeezes the sponge with the water coming out in streams)
Jesus says that whoever comes to him would have streams of living water flow from their bellies. He fills us with his deep love inside – just like this sponge and water. We are the sponge. He is the water.
Now I don’t want someone poking you, but things like that happen in life. What matters is that if you have a heart filled with love, love will be your language every day. So how do we do this at home? We don’t need a sponge and water. You need a quiet place to yourself. It helps to have soft worship music, since sometimes you can fall asleep. And you need to just rest and think of Jesus. And he will fill you with peace and love. He may even give you a little picture or speak loving words from the Bible into your heart. I’d like to pray with you. Lord Jesus, thank you for my little brothers and sisters. You love them. I love them. I ask that as they sit here before you, that you would touch their hearts. Let them feel your presence. And in this time of peace, speak to them. In Jesus’ name."
I’m finding that there is always a side of spontaneity when I talk to these (and other) children. Two weeks prior, I was asked in an impromptu way by the international students at the Iris Father’s House Discipleship School to also speak on soaking prayer. I was completely surprised, since I had not taught this for some time. So I’m glad I was reminded, since it was a perfect follow-up with the children on the stony heart becoming one of love.
You never know how some of the children will react. Take the reactions of the adults and magnify them many times – and you’ll see what I mean. I was given an impromptu translator to share my message line by line in Afrikaans. Some of the kids clearly understood both languages, so they got a double teaching. Also, both children who ‘won’ a sponge, will share them with their mothers, and will likely tell them about the soaking prayer they learned at kids’ club. Next week, I speak to both the Avian Park kids (at My Father’s House Worcester) and the Vinkrivier Farm kids. But each time my heart grows bigger and I’m stretched. May your heart but full and stretched too. It just may keep you from a spiritual heart attack!
Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
L-A's devotional blog
TONY'S DEVOTIONAL BLOG
Tony's south african journal