by Tony Copple
Sometimes when Holy Spirit knows that we are dragging our feet on something we have found he will intervene proactively to ‘make it happen.’
On our way back from lunch at Star Park Chinese Restaurant on a recent Wednesday, we saw a group of young people walking up Deon Britz street. I spotted Chantelle, one of our Mailbox club teen leaders at the very head of them. We continued home. Ten minutes later one of the guards called and asked if I would come and pick them up. There were three of our girls plus a friend of Britney, and about 10 teenage boys. It turned out the boys had tagged along with our girls. Chantelle's story was that she had missed two Saturday trainings and wanted to catch up. I sent away the boys and brought the four girls (Chantelle, Marsha, Britney and friend) to #48. After a discussion they suggested working through several of the key points in lessons they are currently giving in their clubs. Since I have an English copy of the lessons, I was able to do this. My surprise came when the subject matter was focused on the process of becoming a Christian, and changes it makes to one's life. It was perfect for the girls at this stage; they were refilled through the sinner's prayer with the Holy Spirit. We taught them the three words: ‘Sorry, Thank you, Please’ as a memory jogger to lead people to Christ. I felt humbled that something I had nothing to do with setting up had yielded such fruit. The combination of Chantelle's enthusiasm and my initially unwilling cooperation had worked for the Kingdom. It also allowed Marsha to apologize for failing to run her club yesterday, just with her presence today. After they had gone home I found that several of them had drawn illustrations based on ‘Sorry, Thank you, Please.’ Bella's particularly deserves a wider audience: see the drawing above.
In preparation for ministry with the teens the following Saturday, I suddenly realized (read ‘was prompted by Holy Spirit) that I must help them understand the value and power of the ministries they were all running. Six came, including Cay-Lene, but excluding Chantelle, Chrizelle, Britney and Mackayla. At Chrizelle’s house, Marco told me she and Macayla were away. At our gate, I said hello to Ebrahim, who was on duty. This shows communication with two reformed gangster leaders in the space of 20 minutes.
After the girls had their sandwiches, we had an extended praise session. They chose the songs (they still love their old favourites most, like ‘Open the eyes of my Heart, Lord). I set the Marantz to record it all. For the teaching, I started by having them update the attendance sheets, mainly so I would know which lessons they were up to, in case I should have extra copies made. Then I spent 15 minutes on our vision.
I started by telling them that what they were doing was incredibly important. They were chosen by the Holy Spirit to bring the Word to the children of Avian Park, and they were doing it. Nothing could be more powerful for changing the atmosphere from gangsterism to the Kingdom of God. Since this is so vital, it is really important that they show up for their learners on Monday afternoons. They can't just be doing something else if they don't particularly feel like teaching that day. At the end of the sessions they will feel the joy of having sowed into the children's lives.
Our vision is an Avian Park where many children would have been through the Mailbox materials, Storytime and Best Friends, and where Mailbox Clubs will have multiplied as more and more leaders are identified and trained. The gangsters are angry when we take potential gangsters from under their noses and show them a better way.
But this can save their lives, giving them self-respect and friendship so they don't need to seek it in the gangs. [These things I learned from my recent interview of Ebrahim Samboe.] We will soon have reached the end of our second course, Best Friends, and we will provide a certificate for each learner, but to keep the certificate they need to find another 8 - 12 year old to replace them in the Club. Then we will begin again with Storytime. After laying out this vision for the future, L-A and I then taught them lesson 7, for which we have English versions available. The subject was "Five wonderful things that happened when I took the Lord Jesus as my Saviour." This was an excellent faith strengthener for the leaders at this stage, and L-A got to share her own testimony with the girls.
What we learned from these two times with our teen leaders was the quality of the Mailbox Club materials – because our teens are teaching in Afrikaans, we had not kept up with what was being taught. We also learned how important is to re-motivate them with an understanding of the vital roles they are playing already in the lives of those around them.
Sometimes you just have to go back to the basics to have the wonder of it all come to you again.
by Laurie-Ann Copple
Hello everyone! This is an article I wrote for the people of my Anglican church back in the west end of Ottawa, Canada. I had a Whats-App conversation with a lady who manages our Canadian affairs while we are in South Africa. She is excellent at it and I am very thankful for her. She has been a tremendous support in wisdom, encouragement and handling things back home. She told me however, that people approach her in church, and ask how we are doing, despite reading my articles in the local church newsletter. They don't seem to understand that our base isn't the type of base where everyone lives together on a compound. There are those, but Western Cape is not one of them. We are spread out over two towns and a farm. The two towns are Robertson and Worcester. We are the Worcester cluster, which makes us semi-pioneers. We chose to connect with several existing ministries, and each could become a full-time job - so we juggle. Then we also do our unique ministry of art, internet radio, and pastoral care. We know that love looks like something, and in each place where you are, love can look a little different. The culture is different. The needs are different. Although all of us need love. Here is what I am sharing with one of my church families in Ottawa. You can also have a glimpse of what we do, without going into each part of our website to figure it out. Our official motto is that we are ouma and oupa (grandparents) to township latch-key kids. However, we became more than grandparents. We became mentors. Here is what I said below:
Tony and I have been in South Africa for a while now (since November 2017). It almost seems like Canada is a far-away dream, but we look forward to seeing you when we are on home visit in June. Fr John and Lorna have arranged for us to speak during the youth services on June 23rd in a question-and-answer format. However, I get the impression that some of you have questions already. Most think of missionaries as 3rd world evangelists in the jungle, working with lots of children in an orphanage. In some cases, that is true. Yet we have learned that different regions require different forms of love.
Officially, we are Iris Ministries Canada missionaries, connected with the Western Cape base, and assigned specifically to the nearby town of Worcester. We are the first Iris missionaries planted here, so we are pioneers. However, we didn’t need to start something new. We have instead connected with existing ministries and partnered with them. The ministries we have become involved with include: My Father’s House, Master Peace Academy, Prison Alpha, two kids’ clubs, Change Makers, a Worcester hospice, and a local financial planning group. We have begun doing home visits to lonely and shut-in people in the retirement village in which we live. We also produce our own internet radio show on Thursdays, “The Worcester Reports.” So, let me tell you a bit about each of these, and hopefully answer some of your questions about what we are doing, and how.
My Father’s House (myfathershouse.org) is a project in the Avian Park community that works with teens and adults. Avian Park is a community that struggles with poverty, addiction, and gang activity. Our hope of working with township children was not part of their plan, but leader Jan Buchanan blessed us to do children’s outreach under their ministry. We eventually found that it was not sustainable to minister to 60-80 children on our own, when we don’t speak Afrikaans well. We needed to train up our young helpers to be actual evangelists instead with young children in their own community. This is a model that can multiply: local people ministering in their own communities within the context of small groups. Since these are teens, they gain confidence, have an opportunity to let God love the children through them, and they also grow in their own faith. We continue to minister to these teens on Saturdays (with Bible study, worship, prayer, food and events). We also bring some of them to church and youth group. While they live with their own parents, we have become second parents to most of them.
Heidi Baker, one of the co-founders of Iris, says that “love looks like something.” That “something” looks different depending on the context. What does love look like to suburban teens in Kanata? What does love look like to teenage girls who grow up in alcohol-sodden, drug-infested, gang-filled townships? One of our teen girls, Britney, just had the misfortune of her mother being attacked by her step-father. Then her phone was stolen by this man. The mother, Britney and her siblings are in a safe house elsewhere. Britney spent the first night with us, while her siblings were with other relatives. Tony and I cared for her the first night, and then she was placed with a family who could provide better than our living room futon. Still, she walked up from Avian Park (a long walk!) to our house with two of our other girls – just to visit. They know that we love them. They feel safe with us. To Britney right now, love includes safety. This same girl has witnessed gang shootings and deaths many times, and she is only thirteen years old. What we are bringing to these townships is to instill the love of Jesus, hope, resiliency and a future to eight girls.
The second ministry that we were grafted into is Master Peace Academy, a small Christian school for children mostly from the black township, Zweletemba and migrants from Zimbabwe. Last year our group of learners included up to six boys, and they all responded well to love, teaching on science, music and art. Other teachers were brought in for other subjects, and our principal taught English, French and social studies. This ministry keeps Tony hopping five days a week, although my own involvement is on Tuesdays. Currently we have two boys and two girls, aged 5 – 8. We’re finding their youth a little challenging for the material. We are teachers: teaching children through curriculum, love, wisdom and like an aunt and uncle.
The third ministry we do together is weekly – Prison Alpha. We have been in the medium wing of Brandvlei prison since early July (it took a while to get clearance), and we will switch to the youth offender unit in March. This was something that we wanted to do from before we arrived in South Africa. It’s similar to what we did in Ottawa, but with more favour, despite the time it took for South African police clearance and a request for a renewal in less than a year. We are prison “spiritual care” volunteers.
We are also involved with two other kids clubs – one is run by the Iris Western Cape base. They work with farm worker’s children in Vinkrivier. These children are rough, not sweet at all, so they need a lot of extra love. We met these kids when we were on our extended outreach in 2016, so we knew they would be a part of our lives. We are with them for two hours a week. We do similar ministry with township children in Riverview township. Mella (our school principal) often provides teaching, but sometimes she asks us. We give fruit, cookies and juice, as well as lead worship each Wednesday. We are children’s workers, training up the children in the way they should go, like second parents.
Then Tony and I have different ministries. I became bookkeeper to an important ministry called Change Makers in Roodewal township, another gang-infested area. Change Makers helps transform recovering addicts, gang members and broken men into men of love and integrity. It’s like an adult version of Teen Challenge, and what goes on there is a lot of work, but also of love. They run camps, training, counselling, rehab and so much more. While I’m in the background, they needed an international to do their books. This is one of my most challenging tasks. Tony also helps with the books on My Father’s House. Tony goes into the hospice weekly, sometimes alone, sometimes with others. I plan to join him in future when I can. He also is involved with a financial planning club that promotes savings and investment in the townships. We are background support workers, helping others learn and grow in their own ministries. We are pastoral care workers.
And I am involved in art – in so many guises. Not only do I draw during times of worship, I share this with the children and teens as well. The farm children, and Avian Park children love to colour in my drawings, as did the children’s church kids at our local church in Worcester. They all have an increased awareness that they can also express their faith in art. I am gathering my own worship drawing images to make a colouring book, so that not only can it be a source of income, but it can bless more children. I also like teaching art in the school, but find it a challenge when they all ask questions at the same time. And we have our own Christian radio station on the internet. Tony rents a broadcasting device from Galcom Canada, and we program our own show, “The Worcester Reports” every Thursday. People listen to us in many countries, as well as South Africa and Canada. People all over the world read our website, as well as my own Ways to Grow in God blog. I can tell by our stats that people read my articles in countries were Christians are persecuted. May their faith continue to be encouraged. We are media missionaries, in art, radio and online.
Do we get paid for any of these tasks or jobs? Not directly. We are officially considered Iris Ministries Canada contract workers/missionaries. This means that free-will donations come through Iris Ministries Canada, and are taxed by the government like a regular job. We have five monthly partners, and receive roughly $220 a month, not counting one-time donations.
How do we manage financially? Tony has pensions, one of which was a business pension. Unfortunately, this ends in April, so now we are about to take a leap of faith. Either another income stream will come, or Holy Spirit will touch specific hearts to contribute through Iris Ministries Canada. We don’t know how the provision will come, but it WILL come. If God called us here, He will provide in some way. We can only trust him on this.
We also rent out our Ottawa condo, which pays for our South African rent. Is this enough for us to live and minister? Sometimes it is, although we did not expect health issues to arise. Some of these are covered by our emergency insurance, some of these are not. We also sold our cars, and I’m trying to sell my art. We are surprised by God at different times with financial help. Sometimes it’s a tax break. There were errors in two of Tony’s pensions, where we suddenly stopped receiving them, but these were rectified just in time.
How can we afford to come for a home visit? Well, it is a stretch, but it’s the middle of our three year term, and we need to strengthen our ties to Canada. We need to make sure that we are not forgotten, and we need to take a break for a different kind of ministry. “Furlough” or home visit, isn’t a vacation – although we will have times for that. We are to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary while staying near Carleton Place. Ten years ago, our journey was to Paris and the UK. This year, our celebration trip is not a journey to an exotic location, but instead, it’s a journey home. We can celebrate with you! I also need to see my parents. My mom was quite ill in hospital for a month, and I struggled with whether I should go see her. But we really couldn’t afford to do both. We will spend early July with my folks and sister.
What do we hope to do on our home visit? We plan to speak at St Paul’s, and visit other churches we are friendly with. We are working to arrange sharing and praying in small groups during the week while we’re in the Ottawa area. We need to meet more prayer partners and financial partners as well. I will bring unframed worship drawings that will be for sale as well.
Please continue to keep us in prayer as we continue to minister in Worcester (and beyond) to children, teens, inmates, and vulnerable people in hospice, hospital and our retirement village. We’ll be at St Paul’s on June 23rd, and at Christ Church Ashton Morning Prayer on June 20th, as well as other places from early June to early July.
by Laurie-Ann Copple
While we had a lovely holiday on the South African west coast and Clanwilliam, we have had a difficult January. During our holiday, I began sweating in sensitive areas and developed a rash that required a doctor's care and hydrocortizone cream. Then I developed painful boils and a huge carbuncle that left me bedridden for three weeks. In the picture above, you see me balanced on a pillow, while lying on my tummy. Tony attempts to apply Bee propolis (a wonderful product from a company named Simply Bee, in Hopefield, Western Cape). He did use a lot of that ointment, as well as colloidal silver, which was perfect for the job. Tony was an amazing nurse, and not afraid to deal with a messy illness. Unfortunately I was in pain throughout the month and had to stop nearly every kind of ministry - whether it was our newsletter, my Ways to Grow in God blog, our radio show, bookkeeping, and being with our Prison Alpha inmates or our teens. I even had to miss the first week of MasterPeace Academy, so Tony filled in for my art class. I continued my Annique shake regimen, with added fruit (thank God for South African fruit in season), and crockpot chicken soup. I kept in touch via my phone and iPad, and couldn't do much else than lay there, or sleep. Thankfully I did listen and soak to some wonderful worship music.
During that month, our friend Riana van Wyk (the lead of WCG's Kinderkerk) called to encourage me with the new Bethel Music song "I raise a Hallelujah," which was spirit-lifting indeed. Many people have prayed for me, for which I am very grateful. I wasn't healed quickly, but I was healed. The boils and carbuncle are gone, although due to being bedridden on my tummy for so long, I've lost physical strength in my inner core. I may need physiotherapy. Thankfully I still have some painkillers. Our doctor called for blood tests, since it would be a suitable followup for the boils, and he wanted to see if I was diabetic. Apparently, some diabetics are prone to what I had just experienced. I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone. It turns out that I am not diabetic at all (thank God!), although am low on iron and a bit high on cholesterol. So he arranged for a specialist to give me a colonoscopy and gastrophy to see if there was any blood loss there. While there wasn't, the doctor found a growth inside my stomach, which was sent to the lab. It should be benign. This wasn't cheap, but I did have excellent care. The specialist believes that I just have an iron absorption problem, which means not taking iron near calcium, vitamin C or my thyroxine. It makes for tricky scheduling, but I'll have to manage it.
Meanwhile, Tony has carried on, and I'm easing my way back into ministry. Just this week, I began my first art lesson of the year - on the element of LINE. I have five eager students - two are very young, so it's a different kind of challenge. So I'm learning how to teach even more simply than I have before. It's a good lesson for me.
And two groups (other than Iris family, church family and cellgroup family) have specifically reached out. First, the Brandvlei inmates wrote me a letter. The letter said, “Hello Laurie (sic). We all missed you, from the brothers from Brandvlei. We trust in the Lord to heal you soon, to be with us. We missed you a lot, because we don’t have a drummer like you.” That was heart warming.
Then the teens that we disciple and love under the wings of My Father's House Worcester reached out. First Tony filmed three of them saying how much they missed me (shown below) and then four walked up to our house from Avian Park to visit. They just wanted to love on me and cheer me up. They didn't ask for food (although we did give them cold water and a ride home). They didn't ask for money. They just came with the intent of loving me. Looks like they are learning to stop for the one. This is one of my greatest hopes. Sometimes you just have to get out of the way to see what God's been doing in those you love. He continues what he starts in us: he is faithful to complete what he creates (Philippians 1:6)
by Laurie-Ann Copple
We had a full afternoon on 15th December! Six of our eight girls (My Father's House Worcester/Mailbox Club leaders) attended. We sang Christmas carols, shared with our leader friend Soraya, and then gave our special Christmas gifts to the girls - matching pink Afrikaans NLV Bybels (Bibles) and little denim bags designed and sewed by our friend Heather. We had a little Bible study on Christmas from Luke/Lukas 2, blessed each other in the encouragement game (say something nice about the person next to you), and we shared of different Christmas traditions. While this is our second Christmas in Worcester, we had not started our children's ministry yet, so we are still learning the culture of the townships. They loved the Romans pizza, pineapple juice boxes, chocolate cake, whipped cream and strawberries. Usually they have sandwiches, but pizza is for special occasions due to the cost.
I asked the girls what they would like to do for some future outing that wouldn't be too expensive. Two ideas came up - a beach visit (Hermanus or the Strand - which would be more than an afternoon!), and to rent the movie Annie. I have good memories of both the film and play, and thought, yes, this could work. We thought of the new Grinch movie, but NuMetro wouldn't be cheap, and then there's popcorn and cool drinks. Need I say more. We'll see what other ideas pop up, although they enjoy our Bible studies, singing sessions and discipleship over how they are leading the Mailbox Clubs.
Four of these girls have come with us to Worcester Christian Church, although Anthonica and Chantelle have come the most often. They were even present during my last presentation at WCG Kinderkerk on 9th December. They all love flagging - and Jamelia in particular, loves to dance. We hope to hear their Christmas stories soon, although I have been told that Christmas is a regular day with a fancy meal if they can afford it. So not all of them get gifts. We hope that ours blesses them.
by Laurie-Ann Copple
Today we had an amazing day with four of our Mailbox Club leaders/My Father's House teen girls. I was led to share with them some of the different ways that Holy Spirit speaks to us: through scripture, Jesus, creativity, and the still small voice. There are other ways of course, but today had to be in line of them hearing or seeing. We did a little Bible study in English and Afrikaans, then listened to a beautiful soaking song with our eyes closed. The girls were still before the Lord for the whole song - then all six of us, including myself and Tony all drew. The girls and Tony drew more symbolic, while I drew a girl worshipping in love at Jesus' feet and he was loving on her too. This was a very special time, that I hope we do again with the other girls. We also spent some time singing worship songs.
The scriptures we studied were: 2 Timothy 3:16, Luke 8: 23-25, John 10:27, 1 Kings 19: 11-13 and Romans 8:26-27.
by Laurie-Ann Copple
We shared a special commissioning time and teaching about honour with our Avian Park girl teens. It was also Chrizelle's birthday, although we didn't know, otherwise we could have made birthday cake in advance. I shared this talk, we had a Bible study on 2 Cor 5: 11 & 15-21). And then as Tony led prayer for each girl, and we all joined in with that prayer, I had prophetic words for each of the leaders (but not the guests). The guests were given a blessing prayer instead. Before we started, we sang "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord," and I shared of an impression I was given of Jesus placing princess crowns on their heads as we were commissioning them. So Jesus was right here with us.
Here's my talk:
I’ve been praying for you girls for months now. We need to have a special time where we pray over you and commission you. It’s like Jesus has taken you from the ordinary people and set you apart to be his girls.
One thing first though – God loves all people, but he chooses to work with those who say yes. You have said yes and have heard the call of Jesus. Jesus says “Come Follow Me!” Jesus said this to me and I became a short-term missionary that went to countries like Kenya, Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland, Pakistan and Mozambique. Then he called Tony and me here into South Africa. He gave us dreams, visions and words. So I want us to pray over you all later. This is a very special holy time.
Now I know that you aren’t perfect and neither are we. God takes us as we are. But we need to remember to ask Jesus to keep cleansing us from sin we do, and our old ways. Jesus is loving but he is also holy. So we need to keep our hearts soft to him, so he can take out the things that aren’t him. This is a good thing.
So we represent Jesus to those who do not know him. We do this with grownups, children, people in prison, people in the hospice and even here where we live. So when we are with them, sometimes we need to remember “What Would Jesus Do?” (Tony show his bracelet).
We represent Jesus like we are his ambassadors. 2 Corinthians 5 talks about us becoming ambassadors for Jesus, like a diplomat is when they speak for their country. An ambassador speaks for and represents their country. Tony and I are like ambassadors for Canada here in this village. You can tell that when you come into our home by seeing the Canadian flag on the front window. To be an ambassador is a GREAT HONOUR. You represent Avian Park when you’re in other parts of Worcester. But even more, you represent JESUS.
BIBLE STUDY (where the girls shared what they believed those verses meant)
Here’s some good Bible verses about being ambassadors for Jesus. Let’s read 2 Corinthians 5: 11,and 15-21. How about we take turns to read the verses?
11 We know what it means to fear the Lord. So we try to help people accept the truth. God knows what we really are. And I hope that in your hearts you know, too.
15 Christ died for all so that those who live would not continue to live for themselves. He died for them and was raised from death so that they would live for him.
16 From this time on we do not think of anyone as the world does. It is true that in the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks. But we no longer think of him in that way.
17 If anyone belongs to Christ, then he is made new. The old things have gone; everything is made new!
18 All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself. And God gave us the work of bringing everyone into peace with him.
19 I mean that God was in Christ, making peace between the world and himself. In Christ, God did not hold the world guilty of its sins. And he gave us this message of peace.
20 So we have been sent to speak for Christ. It is as if God is calling to you through us. We speak for Christ when we beg you to be at peace with God.
21 Christ had no sin. But God made him become sin. God did this for us so that in Christ we could become right with God.
Laurie-Ann again: So we also are made new, and Jesus continues to make us new. You don’t have to be perfect to let Jesus make you a leader, but you have to keep close to him. Pray as you start your day, and definitely pray before you go out to your Bible studies with Mailbox club. The Holy Spirit will help you.
So before we go into ministry time with you, let’s learn about honour. We need to learn how to give it in all you do.
To honour something is to see it has great value. Like say, my wedding ring. It’s special – not just because it’s gold, but because it’s a symbol of my marriage to Tony. So I need to treat it with honour and respect. I need to treat Tony with honour too. There’s only one Tony. God sees each of us as very, very special. When he looks at us, especially when we’ve accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour, he sees Jesus in us. God honours us by making us better.
When we have honour in our lives, God blesses us. He makes us honourable. That means we are full of honour, truth, and we mean what we say. It means that we treat people like they are very special. That’s part of what honour means. It starts with honouring God.
We honour God more than anything and anyone. He made us. He loves us. He is worthy of all our love and worship. He loves to give us good gifts, every day, just because. Some of us don’t even see all the good gifts, from good friends, good weather, some loving family and so on. Even if our life is hard, he always has good for us. (I’ve been sick this week, but I’ve been given a really good and kind doctor, right here in Worcester. I’m thankful and I honour Father God for giving me a doctor that I love).
We honour our parents. It says in Exodus 20 to honour your parents. It’s the first commandment with a promise. When you honour your mother and father, “you will live a long and full life in the land.” God also says in Exodus 21 that “anyone who says cruel things to his father or mother must be put to death.” Thank God we have Jesus who takes away our sins. We can go to God and say sorry, and he’ll help us to honour our parents. When we honour our parents, and our spiritual parents, you make yourself ready to receive honour and blessing. It’s part of the Lord’s blessing. Part of that blessing is long life.
We honour our leaders in church and the community. We also honour our elders, or older people. They’re not perfect but they are there to help you. Pray for them. We honour our pastors and they bless us all the time. We honour older folks and learn from their stories. Often they are very wise. If you ask them to help you learn, they could say yes!
We honour those we minister with. For Tony and me, that means the kids in the kids clubs. It means the men we see in the prison, it means the kids we teach in our school. It means we honour the principal in the school we work in, and the other leaders we work with. Even if we don’t agree on everything, we honour them, and love each other. Always be nice.
And we honour and love you. You are in our prayers all the time – both as a group and each of you girls. We are proud of you. You’ve made some mistakes during your time here, but we’ve forgiven those. We want only the best for you.
But let’s give an example. You’re now going into other people’s homes to minister for Jesus. You are to honour the hosts of those homes. Even if it’s your own home – your mom, dad, tannie or ouma is there. Honour them. They are your host or hostess. Treat them with kindness.
Jesus always had his disciples go into people’s homes to minister to them. They would speak peace to the house they came into, and a blessing on the family. I was asked to do this when I went to Pakistan. Families would ask me to bless marriages, babies, homes and businesses. I was always full of wonder when they asked me to do this, but it was Jesus’ blessing, not just Laurie-Ann’s.
So when you go into other people’s homes for ministry, honour them. And if you’re with another girl together, honour each other. You are a team.
So Honour is something that is intentional. You honour someone on purpose. Jesus wants us to honour each other. The Apostle Paul asks us in Philippians 2:3 to honour and esteem each other. We need to remember that, especially if another person is having a hard time.
When we first came to Worcester, we looked for a place to live. I found this house online and we made an appointment with a rental agency. So we came for a visit with our rental agent. Right now, this house has a Canadian flag. It’s like you are in Canada when you come visit.
At that time, there was a family from South Korea here. In that culture, you have to take off your shoes as a sign of honour and respect to that family. If you don’t, you not only hurt the feelings of the family, but you may deeply offend them. So we honoured them and took off our shoes. They were kind and let us walk around the house, looking into rooms, although we didn’t go into their cupboards or drawers since they were private. In Canada, we understand that doing that is not good unless you are invited.
When you go into other homes, and even more into other cultures, honour becomes even more important. I made a mistake with a lady pastor from Japan. We were good friends until one day I brought over another friend and I forgot to take my shoes off. She was so upset that she never spoke to me again and I became very sad. I made a mistake by dishonouring her and her home. I will always remember that lesson.
In our home, we also ask that we be shown some honour, especially since we have honoured and loved you. Sometimes some of you have gone into our drawers or moved things. We understand that you have a different culture where a lot more is shared. We want to share some things, but not all things, since we need them. So here’s an example. My phones are now off limits – not because I don’t like your selfies. You can use your own phones and wifi while you are here.
But I allowed the use of first my regular phone and tablet and then my other phone until I found some things were broken or used wrongly. My tablet was taken across the street to the neighbours to take pictures of their motorcycle. We don’t even do that. That’s someone else’s house. That’s private. So, no more tablet.
I found that someone sent a Whatsapp message on my phone to Father’s House ministry board, and they thought it was Tony. The person said, “hey.” I had to explain about that, and I was advised to not let anyone use my phone.
Then last time, one of you used my phone and put their own Facebook account on my phone. That was bad enough – but by accident, I was locked out of my own account with a changed password. I was eventually able to fix it, but it wasn’t easy. My phone is my phone. It was one thing to take pictures, but this means no more phone. Now that girl, who we love and forgive, has to use her own phone now. It’s just part of the consequences. I wasn’t shown honour, but I forgive. Before I move on, I can say that I could have chosen to be angry and go into her Facebook account. When I went to radio school, when other students left their Facebook accounts open on a school computer, other students would make a joke and post nasty words coming from that person. I could have done the same with that girl’s account. I know the devil certainly whispered into my ear to do that. But I chose not to do that. On purpose I said, “No, I will not dishonour her, and I forgive her. Locking me out of my account was an accident. I choose to honour her and NOT write nasty things on her Facebook page.”
Sometimes honour looks like choosing mercy, forgiveness and not to dishonour someone. To dishonour is like a curse, if you see it God’s way. To honour someone is to give a blessing.
And in the best way, to give honour, is like to put a crown on someone’s head. So when someone gives you honour, it’s like they are putting an invisible princess crown on your head.
And we choose to do that with you. We love you, we are proud of you and we honour you. You are going to be amazing leaders in Mailbox Club. So we’re going to pray for you now.
After we shared, these are the core parts of the words I received for the girl leaders who were there (Chantelle and Bella were away).
Antonica - Will be known for her kindness. It's kindness that will lead people to God
Macayla - Will be known for her bravery like Queen Esther. God will use her spunkiness to reach people others may not reach.
Chrizelle - Will be known for gentleness and wisdom. She has been crying out to God to know about things - of the kingdom of God and generally. She has already known about the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom, and is thirsty to know more.
Jamelia - Will be known for greater creativity. She will also be a big sister in the Lord to many younger children. Holy Spirit wants to bless her deeper in more creativity in writing, drawing and dancing.
Marsha - God wants to give her JOY despite any difficult circumstances, and more healing for her heart.
If you are reading this talk, please offer up a prayer for these girls.
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 (My Father's House) 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 email@example.com 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 (My Father's House Worcester, Riverview Club and Iris Vinkrivier Kid's Club). 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 on behalf of My Father's House Worcester. 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 Change Makers. 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
This is a talk that Tony shared this talk with the kids of My Father's House Worcester - Monday club:
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. Jesus spoke to him by name. When he got off the ground, he couldn’t see anything - he was blind. But he had servants to help. And he went on with them to the town of Damascus. He found a place where he could stay in Damascus. 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, and gave him the address - Straight Street. Now everybody knew that Paul was really, really bad, and they were afraid of him. So this person, whose name was Ananias. 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 he had died. From 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. 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 even though Paul hadn't believed that Jesus was God.
So 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 them. He was shipwrecked, he was whipped, he was stoned, he was put into jail. Once when he was put into jail, he and his companions 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 from that time on – he 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 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 land of milkk and honey and many other good things. 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 on the way there there. At one point they had to cross the Red Sea. As they arrived there, the Egyptian army was in hot pursuit of them to stop them escaping. And God divided the waters
of 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, 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 this 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 is determined enough, and you want to be an 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. We think they have some of the best medical 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 is 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 - love your parents. Or if you only have one parent, then love him or her. Because they love you, just as God loves you (and we do too).
by Tony Copple (and L-A, Kaysha and Daniel) (A Day at My Father's House Worcester)
Pictured above, is L-A, and to the right is Tony sharing at My Father's House Worcester. 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
This week at My Father's House Worcester: 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. This is also part of My Father's House Worcester. 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 My Father's House 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 who act as helpers at My Father's House. 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 (whether My Father's House or the other clubs), 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 (for My Father's House Worcester) 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 on behalf of My Father's House. 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!
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Blessings and love, Laurie-Ann
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Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
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