by Laurie-Ann Copple
Hi everyone. We were set to leave on April 2nd initially to the UK for a family-rest stopover, and then to Canada on Good Friday. Unfortunately we have had two flights cancel on us for those dates. We are trying for an earlier date on March 31st. We cannot leave earlier due to multiple complications, such as: a broken car being repaired, a loaned car needing to be returned, arranging L-A's colouring book to be sold by others in our stead, preparing our house for the move, having our furniture picked up, sending items to others as gifts, selling other items, freight-forwarding the items that will be sent to Canada, Everything is on fast forward, but nothing in Africa moves at that pace. We are working on it. If you are a praying person, please do keep us in prayer.
Sadly we are also forced to cancel our long-awaited UK rest stopover that would have allowed us to see Tony's sisters, and allow L-A to rest. While the tumour in L-A's breast has disappeared (yes, DISAPPEARED according to four PET and CT scans!), she remains vulnerable to the virus, and Tony is in the age range that also shows vulnerability.
If we are not able to leave South Africa and travel to Canada, we will see if we can arrange to be isolated in a mountain cottage. We will probably not have wifi but we would be safe. L-A's colouring book is now in Olive Tree bookstore in Worcester's Mountain Mill Shopping Centre. We will deposit more colouring books at LeRoux and Fourie Vignerons wine shop on R60 west of Robertson. We are also working for the colouring book to be available on Take Alot (a South African e-commerce site, and Ingram (an international book site).
Apart from our own unsure situation, we are praying for others - those in the townships, who don't have good access to medical care and they are crammed in like lemmings. We pray for government leaders making tough decisions. We pray for first responders, medical people, and police. We pray for those in the aviation industry, transporting people back to their homes, that they may not contract corona virus or anything else in the meantime. We pray for calm and peace in the airports, and not panic. Let everything run well, despite the virus.
L-A still has further cancer treatments, whether in Canada or South Africa. If it is in Canada, mastectomy is likely, and hopefully herceptin injections can be continued under OHIP coverage. These injections are R9,100 each plus facility fees for nursing in South Africa, so we hope we can get to Canada. But no matter what, we know that Jesus is with us. He has not abandoned us in this time. His presence and love can still be shown through small groups of the church. We don't need buildings. We don't even need hugs, although we still love them. We attended a satellite church meeting recently at our cell group location, which is at our friends' guest house in Worcester. We were loved and loved others in return. We knew we weren't alone, and even L-A's new colouring book was celebrated.
And you aren't alone either. Jesus is standing next to you. You aren't forgotten. Whether there is another person there with you, or whether you are on your own. You aren't alone. Don't be afraid. Lord Jesus, we thank you that you are with us, and we ask that you would touch the hearts of those reading this message right now. You are in control. Please keep a lid on this virus so it doesn't spread further. Please begin to dissipate the virus, and help those who can find a cure. We speak life to those who have the virus that they would survive. We speak peace to those who are living in fear. It's like the fear is worse than the virus. We choose life, Lord, we choose you. In Jesus' name, Amen.
by Laurie-Ann Copple
When L-A sees the words of the title of this blog post, she thinks of the 1986 song “The Final Countdown” by Europe. It’s a song that we would post on the white board at Algonquin College’s radio-broadcasting department at the end of the semester. We have been counting the days to return to Canada, and yet also wanting to stay here in Worcester at the same time. Would that we could have another year in South Africa! We have loved our time in Worcester with the children and teens. We got to know so many wonderful friends and colleagues. We loved on inmates, Hospice patients, and those in Homeless Church.
Laurie-Ann’s art has continued to bloom and blossom, both as an art teacher and an artist. We are excited about the first of many colouring books to come. Since South Africa awoke L-A’s sleeping gift of art (during our extended outreach near Robertson), South Africa is the country that gets the opportunity to see L-A as a published author/artist. While the print run is small (due to us leaving not long after publishing), there is more to come for Colouring with Jesus 2.
During March, we will enjoy our last month, but we are busy! L-A is teaching prophetic art at Worcester Christian Church’s Kinderkerk (February 23, March 8), and a workshop with Avian Park kids on March 25 at 9 am (Avian Park library). We were to have other workshops, but they were never confirmed. Since we’re also active in ministry (prison, hospice, teens, school learners, kids clubs) and media (CWCP, Ways to Grow in God, our website and Facebook pages), as well as arranging our exit (moving, moving again, arranging cars, places to stay and travel), it takes time! More time than you can imagine! L-A continues to heal up from the effects of chemo and peripheral neuropathy. These are still big in her life right now. L-A uses a walker, and in one of her activities, the Touching Hearts course, she has to be helped up two series of steep steps to get into my friend’s house. She is thankful for the help, and have made dear friends that have reached out to love me. She loves them in return.
Our last Iris Western Cape family gathering is March 8th in our South African home. As well as hosting, we've been asked to share some things we've learned along the way. Tony is excited about sharing some wisdom. L-A will let him take the show. We will continue with our Legacy Relay learners until the 17th of March, since the following Tuesday is the autumn break between the summer and fall terms (we might be able to come the 31st but that is when we are cleaning out our newly-emptied South African house for inspection). Our good-bye party with the Riverview kids’ club is on March 18th, when they will colour in a drawing that L-A did of Jesus with many of them. Our last board meeting with My Father’s House Worcester is on March 20th (we’re not sure who is taking the minutes, but it will probably be Laurie-Ann). Our last Monday with the Mailbox Club may be March 30, but since we’re moving that day we will see. Our last Saturday with the teen girls will be March 28th.
Our last Hillsong Sunday will be March 15th, where we will see a few friends that we connected with over two years of monthly visits. We hope to again visit CapeGate Oncology Centre for a last goodbye, as well as bring a few copies of the colouring book to share/sell.
L-A’s colouring book launch will be at Worcester Christian Church on March 22, after the 9:15 am service, although we will also sell the book at our good-bye send-off service on March 29th. We are sad to leave but we’ll always be connected.
We’re sad to be saying goodbye, especially when we don’t know when we will return. When/if we can return, we don’t know if it will be for another long-term season, or a 3 month visit (Likely the visit). We will see how Holy Spirit leads. First we have to re-settle, re-group financially (since the cancer treatments took a LOT out of us, as well as other things), and be re-planted in Ottawa.
We won’t move back into our Ottawa condo immediately. We are being taken in first by friends that we got to know through the Alpha Course. Then we move to a new friend’s farm in Beckwith Township, near Carleton Place, Ontario. We hope to be back in the condo for early Fall. By Christmas 2020, we should be settled in our condo again, with L-A’s old library-office made into a studio as well as an office.
We will continue running this website, even though we won’t be Copples in Western Cape anymore. We’ll be Copples in West Ottawa, but our hearts will remain in the beautiful Western Cape. We fly out April 2nd towards the UK, where we will see Tony’s sisters in Stroud, Gloucestershire. Then we arrive Easter Weekend in Ottawa.
So that’s our “final” countdown. Rather than looking at the ticking clock or the calendar, we are focused on getting things done, one by one. We also have the last of L-A’s cancer treatments, the PET scan on March 11th, the oncologist visit on March 19th. But it’s all good. We will treasure the moments with the friends who have become family.
by Laurie-Ann Copple
We have been busy ever since we got into our routines of several ministries through the week. While some of the ministries are different ones than we started with, we remain busy most hours. When I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in August 2020, we were in shell shock as to how to go forward. Jesus was carrying both of us, and we managed to stay in Western Cape for my cancer treatments – chemotherapy, despite our insurance company’s demand that I at least return to Canada to any Ontario hospital emergency room (with no treatment plan, or place to stay). We are not sorry we stayed and crowd funded. Those who stepped forward and those who administered care likely saved my life. The cancer was that aggressive. Now that I’m finished chemo (with one Herceptin injection, some blood work and a PET scan to go), I can look back at five months of slowly downsizing my part of our ministry. I no longer am a ministry bookkeeper (except for our own finances), and no longer teach art to MasterPeace Academy children. Tony has finished his assignment teaching science and music. However, other ministry has expanded to fill those spaces. Why should we be surprised?
We are however, fulfilled, knowing that we are setting a legacy. Not only are the children we work with in Legacy Relay more equipped for life, but they understand a bit more about their world than other learners. The girls we love and disciple run their own Mailbox Clubs, even if they aren’t as regular as we had hoped. Many of the girls are stronger from having loving strong mentors in their lives for more than a month or two. The children that see Tony on Mondays know a granddad who is reliable, strong and loving. We often hear the cry of “Tony!” wherever we go in Worcester. The children we spent three terms with in 2019, have more than a group painting project in their memory, but a granny who let them in on her personal cancer journey. They became family. And along the way, we shared a LOT of love, hugs, kisses, art, science and songs. The 2020 grade ones are a whole different group, but they are coming to know that we love them too. They also were allowed in on my cancer story, although on the perceived near end of it. They also share love, hugs, kisses, science, drawing and songs.
We also bonded with various inmates in Brandvlei, some of whom have been released. The new Alpha videos are wonderful in sharing with them, and even with the Avian Park girls we know and love. Tony has also bonded with hospice patients, including his friend Moses.
And there were other ministries we became part of, including some at Worcester Christian Church. Some of these include art workshops for church kids, Avian Park kids, Doxa for adults, Change Makers and perhaps an abused women’s shelter.
Yet of these all, Laurie-Ann’s colouring book remains something that I will leave as a legacy in South Africa. We have an ISBN number that is connected with the South African Library. Many of the drawings were created in South Africa, which a few of them were from Canada and the US. We plan to leave some copies at Olive Tree bookshop in Mountain Mill Shopping Centre (Worcester), although most copies can be obtained from us personally at church, cell group, and L-A’s Touching Hearts group before our departure. We hope to have the book printed very soon as we are just finalizing the last changes. Is it all about the art? No, but for me, art is what I have to work with in my hands. God always uses the works of your hands. God does not waste a thing – everything we trained for in the past has been used, although art has been at the forefront for me. We are thankful – for the teens and children we see whose lives have been changed, and for the other people who have enriched our lives as we work together. It’s a legacy of love.
by Laurie-Ann Copple
We have continued to love and work in Worcester, South Africa despite L-A's diagnosis of breast cancer, and cancer treatments. However, our time here will be cut short due to leaving South Africa to continue these treatments in Canada. The chemotherapy treatments actually kept L-A in South Africa since when you receive chemo, you are in no condition to fly, especially not at least two long overseas flights, and navigating long, long airports. So when L-A's mom Carol became very ill and was in St. Joesph's Hospital all of December up to January 9th, L-A was concerned. But there was no way to go, so L-A had her sister read a message to their mother, which gave her comfort. Otherwise Carol kept asking for L-A. So Tara had to represent L-A. This went very well and was a comfort. The next day, Carol died with loving support from her younger sister Nancy, niece Cathy and second daughter Tara. It was an intimate moment; one of many during visits.
Laurie-Ann so wanted to be able to share at the funeral and she found a solution. She reached out to Carol's pastor, who is leading the service. He is very happy to share the message. So because the service won't be webcast, we are pleased to share what L-A would share via Rev. Rick:
Hi everyone, I’m Carol’s other, older daughter Laurie-Ann. I can’t be here since I’m in chemo treatments for breast cancer, but I’m with you in spirit.
Mom and I have been on many adventures together, and we shared a love for learning new places, cultures and art. I inherited from her the never-ending itch for the next adventure in different lands or provinces. She also had the desire to philosophize or talk about Jesus over a glass of wine, coffee or tea.
Mom had a big heart and one of her love languages was giving small gifts, and the other was touch in the form of hugs and a loving hand on the shoulder. She loved doing printmaking art at the Neilson Creative Centre and to sing in choirs, including Humber Valley’s senior choir, since the early 1970’s. She and I sat in the alto section, and both of us loved listening to harmonies in many kinds of music. I learned from her a deep appreciation of seeing life and nature as a symphony. All pieces are to work in harmony and give praise to God.
Mom also loved to laugh, especially at Dad’s jokes, of which there are many. She was also intensely curious, which Tara and I often interpreted as part of being a nosy mom. But I now think that she was just trying in her own way to see if we were ok. She loved Blue Jays baseball, and heaven help us if we dare interrupt her during a game. Thankfully we got to a few games in person, but otherwise she was glued to the radio.
She had favourite songs and hymns, including “It is Well with my Soul,” which she sang continually when her mother died. Once Mom and I were part of a Lenten interdenominational service when we were still part of the choir. There was a power failure and the five assembled choirs were trying to make do with candlelight. We had to walk through several hallways before we approached the sanctuary, and Mom insisted on singing “Jesus bids us shine.” I was very embarrassed at the time, but she had the right idea. We ARE called to shine in the dark places and not be afraid of those who try to shut our faith in Jesus down. Mom’s wisdom shines out at the funniest times. I still hear her voice in my head guiding me at times.
Mom’s heart’s desire was often to the welfare of Dad, Tara and myself, even though Daddy ended up being Mom’s caretaker many times – especially during the last few years. Otherwise, she needed the escape of travel and her intense desire to capture a moment of beauty in her art, or to express a spiritual question visually. She was a creative, and worked to instill that in Tara and myself. Her poetry expressed her love of travel, her questions in faith and the love of her family. I already miss the sound of her voice, which all of us will remember, whether she was singing, telling stories, or calling for Steve. And so, in her heart, she was still singing. I heard a beautiful whisper from God’s Holy Spirit shortly before she passed. I heard that “Carol Sweetly Carol” was singing to Jesus. I glimpsed a sweet impression of her singing with an expression of pure joy. Mom was given a nickname of Carol Sweetly Carol by another Humber Valley member and somehow that stuck. But at times, we often only saw the pain and reactions that come through living with it. Thankfully now Mom no longer knows pain. We can rejoice in where she is – on a great adventure. Jesus brought her to heaven and if we are willing, he can bring a taste of that to us, while we are missing Carol. We are never far from God’s love in Christ. (Say yes and let him carry you too). Thank you for letting me share, and may you receive God’s comfort as you remember my Mom, Tara’s mom, Steve’s wife – Carol Eileen Zachar. She made her life count.
by Laurie-Ann Copple
We’ve had an interesting December. Part of it was a road trip holiday to Namibia, which was eventful just getting there. Then the drive around the country, and after Christmas, more car trouble, which ruined our part in a dear friend’s wedding. However, there were silver linings to these that showed the kindness of God. After all, even though things may seem really bad, we didn’t stop. We didn’t give up, and other kindnesses happened due to these events.
We were towed up Piekienierskloof Pass on the N7 to get access to cellphone signal. We needed it to call AA, so we could get a final tow to where our car would be fixed in Worcester. First, the kind owners of the Kardosie farm stall towed us up to the top. Later they were our hosts, and even let us rest in one of their rooms during loadshedding (a planned power outage). Then they treated us to a delicious chicken braai dinner. Thank you so much, Biana and Barthlo. They encouraged us that this wasn’t the end of our holiday, and we got an extra adventure of getting to know them. We were towed back, and rented a car the next day so we could go off to Namibia (and thankfully, our first host moved our stay so that we didn’t forfeit our lodgings). We persevered on to Namibia, among rough gravel roads that weren’t good for the rental Toyota, and were rewarded seeing the beautiful pinky-orange dunes among Sossusvlei and Deadvlei. We got to know the desert wildlife while on a four wheel drive, and outside our cottage, when a jackal wanted to investigate our garbage bin.
We persevered through a beautiful city of Windhoek and found their people warm and inviting. It was a bit different in Swakopmund, which is a very German arts town. We did have some times to stop for the one, including John at the Zelia shipwreck (and his Damara colleagues), Jenny (our server at our favourite Swakopmund café) and George, a craftsman in Okahanja. Namibia is spiritually parched, but God’s kindness in special moments still touches hearts. We are thankful for this. We would have missed this if we would have given up. To give up is like becoming like the Zelia shipwreck you see in the above picture. We had hoped to see shipwrecks on Skeleton Coast. This is a famous area for ships that get stranded in the coastal fog caused by the heat of the Namib desert and the cold South Atlantic Benguela current. This fishing boat was purchased by a company in Mumbai, India, to be taken apart for scrap metal. Instead, it was mistakenly set adrift in the port of Walvis Bay, south of Swakopmund. And so the tide drew the boat to its final resting place: a beach 12 km south of Hentie’s Bay, a favourite fishing village among South African anglers. This boat has been anchored on a sand bar in front of the beach since 2008. Along come the Copples, delighted to see a shipwreck, but sad at the state of the Damara gemstone sellers on the beach.
While Tony went off with our new digital camera to take pictures of Zelia, John and his colleague spoke to L-A about the shipwreck and offered up their gemstones. Normally L-A would say no, but this time was different. The Holy Spirit was nudging her heart to listen, to purchase and to hear an important request. Their families were camped nearby and needed water and meat. Tony returned and offered some immediate water, and we promised to do what we could. So we had fish lunches in Hentie’s Bay, and produced a list for Spar so they could make adequate stews and pap for their families – minced beef, pilchards, onions, potatoes, maize meal, water and some hot pies for their immediate lunch. It was a perfect offering, greatly appreciated and they were open and willing to pray with us. We would have missed this had we not persevered.
On our final morning in Swakopmund, we decided to say goodbye to the sweetest server we’ve met for a long time. Her name was Jenny. She took great care to serve us with kindness the day before, and this time we wanted to say goodbye. She served us each a fruit tart, two coffees for Tony and an almond latte for L-A. Non-dairy lattes are something special for L-A, since she cannot have cow’s milk, and yet loves lattes. So this café was special from the start. So L-A and Jenny bonded and we shared stories and our card with our email. We hope to hear from her again soon. Then we were off to Keetmanshoop via Windhoek. If we were in a hurry, we would have missed sweet Jenny. Then we drove off via a sandwich stop in Okahanja, at the Engen service station. A few days before, we had been met by craftsman George, who carved our names in a unique little coconut pit. We were on our way to get a pizza lunch and were greeted by George, who watched our car and wanted to know our names to carve for posterity. While we were initially trying to avoid him, we ended up meeting him again, and he asked for a sandwich, which we were happy to provide. While Tony was getting sandwiches, George and L-A talked and bonded over creative things and a love for children. He loves to work with street children. While we didn’t get to pray with him, he still experienced kindness, God’s love and encouragement over his entrepreneurship. We almost missed him.
And then we persevered through more gravel road to find Fish River Canyon, and onward back to Worcester via stops in Springbok, Clanwilliam and Piekienierskloof Pass. We found in a few days that our car was repaired and we could bring the rental back to Bidvest. All seemed well through errands, Christmas dinners and shopping until we tried to go to our friend Soraya’s wedding in a Cape Town suburb. We were to be the bride’s transport to the wedding venue, as well as photographers. And then – something else went wrong with the car. This happened close to a truck inspection stop before the N1 eastern entrance to the Hugenot tunnel. We were thankful for two things. L-A’s limping phone had enough signal to call the bride in good time for her to make other arrangements for a ride and pictures. We were sad to share the news that we would miss her wedding, but we were safe. We also really were safe in that spot, and made new friends of the truck inspection men. All three were solid Christians, and they encouraged us. Marco was very adamant that he wants to buy our car and turn it into a funeral-inspired limo. He could even drive us in our own car to Cape Town when we fly out on April 2nd, 2020. Perhaps there was more to this stop than we originally thought, although we are sad to miss the wedding. The other silver lining was that a mutual friend, Pastor Folla, was also on his way to Soraya’s wedding. He saw that our car was pulled over and he stopped to investigate. Folla needed directions to the wedding! We were glad to help him with this, as well as pass on our love and greetings to the bride and groom on our behalf. After we were towed home, we had more friends, a shared experience of the rescue, and despite inconvenience, we knew it would be okay, apart from the missed wedding. But are we going to give up because we missed our friend’s wedding? No, by no means. But we tried. Life happens, and we must continue to not give up, persevere and OVERCOME. L-A has been working on a two-part series of overcoming in her Ways to Grow in God. This was another chapter in learning how to overcome. Life is like that. Are we going to give up and be stranded on a beach for eleven years like shipwreck Zelia? Or are we going to overcome to face whatever joy awaits us? We are sure that something special is coming. We don’t want to miss that. So stop for divine moments, but never give up. Be an overcomer, not a shipwreck.
Here is the link to the Ways to Grow in God podcasts, so you can hear about overcoming. Scroll down to #67 on Overcoming Part One. Part Two is coming soon.
Comment by Peter Hartgerink: Good thoughts. In His wisdom God ensures that we have enough troubles to teach us the lessons we need to learn and enough blessings to keep us going. Inspired by your choice to listen to Holy Spirit in all these events.
by Tony Copple
Gentlemen readers, cast your mind back to when you visited your girlfriend’s family. The number one goal was to impress them that you were a suitable carer and provider for their daughter. Now hear this recent story of life in Avian Park. Something very bad happened in the house of X, a girl we know and love. Her grandmother tried to start an informal business buying groceries in bulk and selling in smaller quantities to neighbours. I helped them bring the last batch back from Boxer super market- it filled the Mercedes trunk. They had asked me to drive them home at a time that coincided with the final of the Rugby World Cup in Japan; South Africa vs England, and they needed pick up at 11, which happened to be the start of the game, so I wasn’t the most sociable as I tried to get it done fast. Three days later the drug addict boyfriend of X’s sister stole all the stock (and likely any other food in the house) to sell and buy drugs. He accessed the house using a key he stole from her sister.
So then there was no stock to sell and the business probably finished, since there was no money to buy more stock; putting them in a very serious financial position. They reported the boyfriend to the police, and I understand he is no longer the boyfriend. I took them some extra sandwiches and fruit when I went to Avian Park to visit our teenage Bible teachers. The family is bewildered at this outrage. I have got to know this family quite well. X, aged only 14, has exceptional potential, doing very well in school, and has been teaching Sunday school for some time, in addition to other ministry. She is really strong in her faith, praying daily for Laurie-Ann. X begged me not to tell anyone of their misfortune, not even her best friend, who we also know. A day later she messaged Laurie-Ann to say she would rather starve than that other people should hear about their situation.
What is the best thing to do in this situation? First I investigated the soup kitchens of Avian Park; there are many. I happen to know of who is the coordinator for soup kitchens and other good works so I sent her a message, basically asking for a map of where the soup kitchens are and which days they operate. There is no map. The kitchens are for specific groups – we gave out sandwiches in the library for months last year (as part of My Father’s House ministry). Yet this was just for that group of up to 80 children, and funded by My Father’s House. It turned out the other soup kitchens operate in a similar way. They cannot accommodate a whole family rolling up one day expecting to be fed. Second I contacted the person in our church responsible for making up food parcels for needy families in distress in Avian Park.
The week before she had provided me two grocery bags full of staple supplies for one the families of one of our teenaged evangelists, M. But this time I got no answer to my request even after repeating it twice. So the only answer was to do it ourselves, and I collected about $50 worth of staples from Pick n Pay and took them down to the family. Quite a contrast from weeks before when they had been able to buy significant food supplies from their own resources. They had spent all they had on their business venture in good faith. There was no great excitement at receiving this food, just as there had been neither wailing nor gnashing of teeth when the family thief took all their stock. The coloured community is so used to misfortune that they don’t allow themselves to show any joy when something good happens because they expect it to be followed soon enough by something bad, as happened here. However, X did send grateful thanks to Laurie-Ann, and grandmother Z did smile when a dangerous electrical power bar was replaced. My hope was that this would stop them suffering from too much hunger, particularly X; before the next government handout at the beginning of the new month.
A few days after these events, I took X and her grandmother Z to Worcester hospital from where they were transported to a Cape Town hospital where X had been scheduled for serious surgery. As I write this, she has had an MRI and the surgery will be in a few days. Her family will not pay anything, and the care will be world class, although the food is less fancy than what L-A had months ago in Worcester’s private hospital. I mention this because in South Africa if you have no money or possessions, good medical treatment is freely available. South Africa has a huge heart.
On the day I wrote this article, there was a news item on SAFM, the talk radio channel of the national broadcaster. At 1 am this morning near Johannesburg (?) a mother and two of her children were murdered by her 22 year old son, and two other children injured. A police report suggested the son, who is in custody, had demanded money from his mother to buy drugs, and her punishment for refusing was death for her and her children. The connection with my first story is the horrendous power of drugs over a person needing them.
Has anyone reading these ever taken illegal drugs? How did you not know their potential for evil? It permeates the media. Was it not obvious to you that the easiest time to give up drugs is before you ever took them? Many (most?) of the world’s criminals got very rich because people started taking drugs even though the consequences are one of the best known facts on earth. Yet you still did it!!!! If you can answer why, then how can you condemn X’s sister’s friend, or the 22 year old monster. Sorry if this makes you uncomfortable. The time for comfort is long past as this nation of South Africa murders each other faster than all but 13 other nations on earth, and while fortunes are being made right here in Avian Park by dealers selling to people whose capability just to say ‘no thanks’ is around the same as yours. Teach your children never to touch illegal drugs and, while we are at it, not to have sex before marriage, and this world would be changed out of all recognition in a generation, and poverty eradicated.
by Laurie-Ann Copple
L-A encouraging young artists in Worcester Primary School under Legacy Relay
Tony and I have been walking through a glorious mission convergence season. And when after we returned from our mid-point home visit (otherwise called furlough), we discovered inflammatory cancer in my left breast. All of 2019 has been a time of testing – from the boils, carbuncles and rashes of hidradenitis superativa, to this. However, I’m not the first missionary to get really sick on the mission field. Our own Heidi Baker came down with MRSA, or flesh-eating disease back in 2005, which was first attended to in a South African hospital, but later was completely and supernaturally healed at a Toronto conference in 2005. Then two years later, her husband Rolland contracted cerebral malaria and it did not look good. But in time, after Rolland was taken to Germany, he was completely healed as well. They didn’t just pack up their bags and go back to the US. They stuck out their calling where they were. Even during our Harvest School training in 2016, Heidi taught us while she was in dental pain. That’s courage. That’s persistence. She has both.
I have learned that true courage is a gift from God. But it is also developed as we choose to focus on our source: God. This is what David did when he confronted Goliath in a mighty way to defend God’s honour to the Israelite army. Courage, strength and joy are connected, as the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). But so too, is courage. Courage goes beyond the ability to stand and not back down. It’s also strength in the face of pain and grief; especially in the example of fighting an extended illness with great courage. The illness could be cancer, or many invisible disabilities that bring daily pain and discouragement. This is why courage to face the day is needed. I used to work for Canadian prophet Darren Canning as his assistant. I learned a lot from him about faith and walking into the unknown. He is a man of courage – while he may encounter fear, he does not act on it. He recently was on a ministry trip with his family in the southern US. He bought a recreational vehicle so that he could bring his wife and family with him more easily than he did in the past. All was going well, until one of the tires blew out while he was on a high speed section of the I-95. He just managed to pull the vehicle over, with great difficulty. I’m sure there were angels protecting them from what could have been a tragedy. While he had a CAA membership, this wasn’t honoured by AAA assistance. I’m not sure what happened there – but Darren and his family were frightened. They prayed, they trusted God, but they humanly felt fear. Darren was concerned for his family. This was a normal response for a loving husband and father. Eventually, a friend called up a local towing company, who helped them, and managed to get them to safety. They spent the night in a hotel, recovering from their ordeal of spending hours on the roadside, with cars driving at 70 miles an hour whizzing past. Darren’s response to get the vehicle to safety was one of courage. Not too long before this incident, Darren shared another great example of courage. He said, “One person in a war may seem like one piece of sand upon the seashore but one person filled with courage can speak to the wildest waves and they will have to obey.” Courage ties in with authority. If you are given the authority as a child of God, in the midst of your God-given assignment, you have authority.
I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in August, although I’m sure it was under the horizon while I was in Canada on home visit. It came up so quickly that when I did have symptoms of strange pain, but no lump, I was in shock. I even asked Holy Spirit what that weird sensation was. I was told, “it’s cancer.” It was like I didn’t hear that word. I didn’t move forward in courage, but was in shock, or almost denial. I had hoped for confirmation. And then… I actually forgot, until my surgeon told me two weeks later that we needed to rule out a rare cancer. Intuitively I knew. So when the diagnosis came, I was no longer in shock, but ready to just let Jesus carry me through whatever was to come. I sometimes wonder if there would have been a difference had I just asked my family doctor to have me checked for cancer. I don’t think so, since this doesn’t show up on xrays or ultrasounds. It does show up on the mammogram, but just barely.
I am thankful that I was put in the care of a compassionate surgeon, a man of deep faith. I also have the best oncologist in the province, although we don’t see her as much as we would like. But we have excellent, loving care. I also have not forgotten the promise that Holy Spirit gave me TWICE while sitting in translation row in our very Afrikaans church. This whisper to my heart was given to me very clearly. It was that South Africa is to be the place of my healing. This was before the boils and before the cancer. I thought this was referring to the ailment that I’ve sought God on many times – my osteo-arthritic knees. However, until that healing, I have been given grace upon grace for getting out there with children. And if I can’t come to them, Tony brings them to me. My heart has become huge like Mama Heidi’s when it comes to children. And I bring them something different as I love them – my colouring sheets. This has been allowed in public schools, our little home school, Kinderkerk at Worcester Christian church, our kids clubs, and so many other ministries. Even Hillsong in Somerset West is interested in them, as are our local YWAM base.
To do this all requires courage. I didn’t think I had courage, instead I had an innate stubbornness and faith that if I am assigned something I will continue until it is done. I’ve already had experiences of giving up, as I did with my art for a while. My art became my identity, and while I put it on the altar to give it back to God, I never took it back, until we went to Harvest School. Oh, there were exceptions, but the heart of me left my art for years. Instead, my creativity went into audio production and writing. But every time I saw an artist painting during worship, I wanted to do the same – although I prefer drawing to painting.
When I was at Harvest School, I was determined to do as much as I could during the crazy schedule. Tony did some of my chores so that it could be a little easier for me, but I did all that I could do, from outreach with Mozambican mamas, our time in the bush-bush, sharing my conversion testimony and more. I constantly remembered a prophetic lesson that one of my pastors gave me. His wife learned in the very first Harvest School. He knew that the schedule was tough, although sometimes amazing. Since the school was like a crucible, people either quit or they pushed through in triumph. Heidi often told us, “if you don’t quit, you WIN.” And this is true. But it was Pastor Shawn’s words that rang through my head: “keep your focus forward for what the Father has for you this season.” Courage looks forward. Fear shrinks back. I chose to go forward, even if it was slowly.
This meant going up and down that steep hill on the base. It meant being committed to the classes and ministry as much as possible. There were younger Harvest Schoolers who kept telling me how brave I was. I didn’t think much of it at the time, I was just trying to keep up. And Tony thrived. There were times that I was frustrated at Tony’s slow progress, and then all of a sudden, he bloomed. It was amazing to see the transformation. I had to step back and just let him receive from others, and then see him bloom when we arrived in Western Cape. And then I bloomed in art – first at Harvest School, and even more so when we were in the beautiful kloof where Pomegranite homestead lies. This will always be a special place for me. It was a place of growth, strengthening and letting me act on the courage I had already been given. I was allowed to just draw and draw. With every drawing, I bloomed, so that when it was time to go into the townships, I had energy to spare.
Here in Western Cape, I have been allowed to grow in my assignment with Tony. He has different in skills, but we have the same vision to love kids, and be mentor, uncle, aunt, mom and papa. We know there is more to come, but Holy Spirit has given us both to be comfortable in uncomfortable places. We are white internationals working in a brown township that is full of drugs, drinking and gangs. We are welcome because they know us and know we love their children. We are also internationals in a loving but very Afrikaans church. We are Canadian soujourners in a land not our own, but one that we’ve come to love very deeply. If not for the cancer, we could retire here. That’s despite the violence. However, we will never forget our assignment here. We aren’t afraid to do what God calls us to do… and we’re thankful that we’ve been allowed to hug children, where it would not be allowed in Canada. We’re thankful that we can speak the name of Jesus openly. In Canada we’ll have to find a strategy and opportunities. There will be God moments, there always are. Don’t be afraid to stop for those moments, and battle the fear of man that rises up. That’s something that South Africa has taught us.
Do it now. Time may be more fluid here, but if you’re given the moment to tell someone about Jesus, that’s the time. The way of sharing is uniquely you. For me it’s my art, and then the questions come. Think about how you’re called forward. That takes courage and grit. That’s a gift just to step forward. And then you trust God with the rest… to be uniquely you, but filled with Him. It’s a journey of trust, a journey of faith, of joy and courage.
Don’t shrink back, but push forward. And when the battle is fierce as it is with us right now, just stand and let God fight the battle for you.
by Tony Copple
When serious problems arise (as they do from time to time in all our lives) I am a bit of a stoic. I treat it like I used to deal with a business issue. I look at it as a challenge, for which there is a least-bad solution, try to remain calm and logical, above all don’t make decisions rashly or without advice, try to keep eating healthily so the brain can operate well.
We had both understood that Laurie-Ann was suffering from a rare and painful skin condition, Hidradenitis Suppurativa, and the latest flare up was a carbuncle on her left breast, making it swell, harden, and a deep red colour. There was talk of mastitis and she had tests including ultrasounds (repeated because they weren’t showing anything). Then Dr Arnold Smith decided to do biopsies on the breast. I was in the room and even took a photo of him at work. Laurie-Ann was a model patient, while I was somewhat stressed as he fired what looked and sounded like a staple gun into the not-so-soft flesh.
We had the cancer diagnosis within a couple of days: inflammatory breast cancer. Dr Smith arranged for us to meet oncologist Dr Hanlie du Toit a few days later in the Cape Gate Oncology Centre, an hour away. When we arrived for the appointment she had already studied all the records and confirmed the diagnosis as stage 3B inflammatory ductal breast cancer. Then she designed a chemotherapy program. Her research and planning gave me a strong confidence in her expertise. She even dictated a letter in our presence recommending that L-A not travel back to Canada at this crucial stage. Later we heard that her husband had been murdered a year or so ago and she was keen to leave this violent country.
I called our travel insurance company, Allianz, and told them. They gave us a new claim number and said we should switch expenses from the existing Hidradenitis Suppurativa claim. Months ago Laurie-Ann had planned a few days break from our missionary work in a small Atlantic town called Yzerfontein (and the village of Paternoster). We decided that despite the new situation we were in, we should go as planned. On our first night there, Allianz called and said that since she had cancer, she must be repatriated to Canada immediately, before chemotherapy, which was set for the following Thursday at Cape Gate. They would pay for business class travel, and also for a travel companion, but that could not be her husband! I asked them would they be arranging the chemo and treatment in Canada, and they said ‘No,’ she should check in to an ER on her arrival. After the call I think we were both in shock. Some of those intentions of mine to remain calm and logical were significantly strained. What on earth should we do? L-A had figured out an estimate of the cost of chemotherapy. We had already paid for the pre-chemo tests, including the 4 days hospitalization. Although these amounts are a lot of money, I knew that we could actually fund them over the coming 6 months by redeeming some of the investments on which our retirement depended. L-A said she said she just wasn’t going. She was emphatic. The core reasons were the trauma of the 19 hour flight when she could relapse without the proper medications, and the thought of being alone in Ottawa without a car or her own home and being at the mercy of an ER that would need to start the process from scratch. A secondary issue was that we couldn’t both leave the country in a couple of days without a trail of destruction behind us; I would have to stay. Then the idea came to her that she should stay for the chemo here, but then we would both return to Canada in March 2020 cutting our mission by 7 months. By then we would have had time to arrange for a smooth transition to the Canadian health service, and she would have the surgery plus radiation if necessary there, and be covered for any possible complications arising.
As an ex insurance agent, I did understand Allianz’s position. But it seemed to me they were not taking account of the fact that this particular cancer had arisen so fast that it was an emergency, requiring immediate attention. Also, travel insurance companies repatriate regardless of the quality and cost of medical services in a country. South Africa, in its private hospitals and other medical services including GPs, offers better quality than Canada at significantly lower cost. Our primary motivation in declining Allianz’s repatriation was to expose Laurie-Ann to the minimum risk to her life. I resolved to be by her side throughout whatever may come now. I felt our relationship growing stronger, as I saw her pain and joined her in prayer. I was grateful that we were on this short break, seeing the bursting out of thousands of flowers that the area is famous for. It did both our hearts a lot of good. We would be together on this journey.
We decided to set up a funding plan, inviting our supporters and friends to help fund the treatment that we would not now be able to claim. We have been highly blessed by the response already, with numbers of kind people responding very generously. More recently it has emerged that Allianz may fund some or all of the treatment up to the point that they placed a ‘limitation of benefits’ on the case – meaning no payout for costs subsequent to that. If this proves to be the case, then our financial situation will stabilize, since we have already received sufficient donations to prevent the need for redeeming investment capital at least for the next month. Since we have a significant line of credit secured against our house, redeeming much capital would lead to having to sell the house.
I include these financial details because a cancer diagnosis has significant implications for one’s personal finances. We must balance prudent financial activity with new medical expenses that in our situation will not be covered by insurance. There is no way we are going to pass up ways of reducing risks to Laurie-Ann’s health. Richard Bendall, my friend with Good News Christian Ministries, has the knowledge and experience to help her have the best nutritional leverage, while the latest in chemotherapy science that we are receiving here does the heavy lifting. With a huge amount of prayer and love added to the mix, and the healing power that raised Jesus from the dead, Laurie-Ann and I really have nothing to worry about.
Tomorrow she goes for the second chemo. Nothing would keep me from going with her, even though there is free transport from Worcester. She may now have very little hair after being shaved at Salon Joan on Monday, but my love for her just gets stronger day by day. This illness brings pain and other very unpleasant side effects, but there are good side effects too. The tangible love of so many supporters and prayer warriors is a powerful healing force. Yesterday a group of them held a prayer vigil in St. Paul’s Kanata that we witnessed on YouTube - see the photos above. My involvement in all of this is a rare privilege and just being with her night and day beings joy to me every minute. Anything she wants that I can bring is hers, and with no sense of chore. After 20 years we have learned how to love each other to the full. How good is that!
For info on the our private medical crowdfunding campaign, please visit our medical page (the financial info will be updated after paying for the second treatment and oncology visit):
Three days in the life of a missionary husband in South Africa (Abridged version of recent segments from Tony’s daily African journal)
by Tony Copple
Two of our My Father's House girls ministering with Tony in Boland Hospice. We are so proud of them.
Sat Aug 3, 2019
I (Tony) slept quite well – even though Laurie-Ann was in the hospital. I put on some Vineyard praise music while getting up and breakfasting, and got to YWAM before Soraya came out. At Brandvlei Youth Centre, they weren't expecting us but they were friendly enough. A pastor was having a 1-on-1 with an inmate in the room we use. While we waited around, an inmate called Ali came and chatted. He was serious about his faith. He was in the 8th year of a 10 year sentence and lived in Rawsonville, not far away. Finally men started to come and we set up. In fact 30 arrived, nearly as many as last week. Because we were late, we began with the video - 'Who is the Holy Spirit.' At the end I led them in the song 'We are One in the Spirit,' before a short discussion time. It was excellent. In the afternoon, instead of having our teen Bible class leaders up to our house, I intended to drive round and tell them about L-A's being in hospital, and give them the sandwiches, cake and fruit I had already bought. So I prepared the food and was at Jamelia's shortly after 3. She understood. Bella wasn't home but I left her food with her mother. I also left food for Chantelle, Britney, and Marsha. I prepared my talk on the Bible for the Homeless Church tomorrow and loaded it to my phone. It was based on the Alpha talk on the Bible. In the evening I spent an hour or so with L-A. She was still smiling, but not hearing any useful diagnosis from Dr. Smith yet. I remembered to upload tomorrow's ‘Good News in the Morning podcast.’ In the evening I reorganized the top of L-A's chest of drawers.
Wed Aug 7
LION KING TODAY - with 5 of our MasterPeace Academy kids, in 3D and great sound at Nu Metro. It is beyond me why everyone is not rushing to see it. Long after the children have forgotten much of what they learn in school, they'll remember the Lion King. And so it turned out to be. The children were excited on the way there. They all had a little money, and Paula went and bought a large ice cream cone while I was getting the tickets for 5 children and a senior. They rode the fairground-style cars till I called them towards the cinema, where Paula was not allowed to take her ice cream. Amazingly she accepted that she must throw it away, without crying. Soon we were seated in the almost empty cinema, and wearing 3D glasses. The movie was wonderful, even better than I had expected. I feel sorry for the majority of the world who will watch it on phones and iPads. The 3D cinema experience was spectacular. The children were almost quiet throughout, except they joined in with 'The lion sleeps tonight.' After the film we went to McDonald Mountain Mill (my first visit there) for burgers and cones. They also got balloons, and kept the other guests entertained. It was very windy outside, and Paula let go of her balloon, then chased it half way back to the mall entrance. On the way back to school, I took them to Hooggelegen to see L-A. Getting back into the car, Paula again lost her balloon in the wind, this time for good. The music class ran as I had envisioned it, teaching them to sing 'Can you feel the love tonight.'
Mon Aug 12
At 8:30 and 8:45 I (Tony) was unable to get Dr. Smith's phone to ring. I decided to go to his office after school. There had been only 2 lessons last week due to the Lion King outing and a holiday on Friday. Those lessons (50 and 51) were about the solar system. The children have huge difficulty learning the earth rotates once a day, goes round the sun once a year, and the moon goes round the Earth approximately once a month (actually once every 29 ½ days). Sinegugu seems to find these facts harder to remember than the others, and Paula remembers them the best. In Lesson 51 we learned that the outer planets are huge distances from Earth, as we laid out a ‘toilet paper solar system’ on the floor. After this revision we watched Episode 1 of Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’, from minute 22 to 40, which simulates a visitor from space arriving at the solar system, past the outer planets, asteroids, Mars (in some detail), Venus, and finally the beautiful reality of Earth. Hopefully it cemented some of what we have been learning the past 2 weeks. It was quite well received by the kids, so I'll dip into Cosmos occasionally in the future. In Avian Park in the afternoon, Jamelia and Chantelle were running Mailbox Clubs. Jan had left the ingredients for hearty soup at Jamelia's and Bella's yesterday, but neither of them were cooked up because they had no power. I gave them R10 each so they could have soup tonight. I don't know why both families are at a very low point financially, but there seemed to be several extra adults staying in Jamelia's, and a couple of those were begging from me. I took Jamelia and Chantelle to our house after the clubs to do their homework. Then I drove to Jan's to go through the minutes of the last board meeting with her and see if any actions were being taken. It turned out that there were - quite good progress. Jan asked me to prepare a financial report, as I had a year ago, for the AGM coming up. I returned home, but J and C were not ready to return to their homes. So I went in search of Trevor Daly, the founder of Daly Bread, our favourite bread. Trevor is the brother of Kevin and lives is a corrugated iron-roofed shack near Kevin's large dwelling. His helper Arnold was there when I arrived, who said he hadn't gone far. It turned out he had taken his dog for a walk. We sat outside as the sun went down and I interviewed him about the bread business. It was quite the most unusual interview setting yet, and Trevor was very willing to tell his story. Afterwards I returned home, took the girls home, and prepared for a big day tomorrow. (Legacy Relay, MasterPeace Academy, the doctor, Worcester Radiology and Worcester Christian Church expats dinner).
At 3 I took Jamelia and Chantelle to the hospice, at Chantelle's request 10 days ago. When I stopped at Jamelia's house, she asked me to go inside. Her mother and (step?)father were there and very soon I realized they were asking financial help to do with her schooling, though it was hard for them to explain it in English. When Jamelia was in the car, she told me the details. There is a hostel associated with the school where learners may stay during the week rather than commuting. This would make a tremendous difference to Jamelia, saving travelling time and providing a learning-friendly environment. They have a source of funds for the cost of boarding, but R200 is necessary with the application, which is due by Monday. We picked up Chantelle and soon arrived at the hospice. and they prayed for all the patients, one by one. Both patients and staff responded very positively to them. It touched the hearts of the patients to see two teenagers who cared enough about them to be there. On the way home (of course) they persuaded me to let them come to our house for an hour to do homework that they couldn't do in their overcrowded homes. This ties in with Jamelia's wish to board weekly at school. L-A didn't see them; she was resting. I was preparing tonight's Worcester Report and they didn't get in the way of that. I took them home about 5:30, deliberately dropping Chantelle off first. When she was gone I asked Jamelia if there was a letter from the school asking for the money for the application for the hostel. There was, and when we reached her home she brought it and I photographed it. I then gave her the R200, plus instructions that it could only be used for the application. We trust Jamelia, and if this will significantly help her education, I have peace with it and it was an easy decision. Back home I cooked ostrich burgers, sautéed cabbage and onions and mashed potatoes, and then we listened to Trevor Daly on the CWCP transmission with a beverage or two.
by Laurie-Ann Copple, shared at Britannia Baptist Church, Ottawa, Canada July 7, 2019
Tony shared after L-A and used our old GPS (now owned by Terry and Ellen Orchard) as a story of God`s guidance
Scripture verses: Isaiah 6: 1-8
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted; seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King,the Lord Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Talk: How many of us really want a divine encounter? I know I do. Sometimes we can have a call like this, and other times our call is more subtle. You may be reading scripture and it seems to jump right into your heart. Or you may have a series of dreams – which was what happened with both Tony and I for South Africa!
Many revivals and mission calls start with a special encounter. Not all do, but some do. I’ve heard of some people who go into missions when they are upset with God. They see a need and ask God, “why don’t you do something?” That’s exactly what Matthew West sings. Just listen to the words from the song, “Do Something:” “I woke up this morning. Saw a world full of trouble now; thought how we'd we ever get so far down, and How's it ever gonna turn around? So I turned my eyes to Heaven. I thought, "God, why don't You do something?" Well, I just couldn't bear the thought of people living in poverty, children sold into slavery. The thought disgusted me. So, I shook my fist at Heaven. And said, "God, why don't You do something?" He said, "I did, I created you!"
Sometimes, this is all it takes for Holy Spirit to nudge our hearts: A song, someone encouraging us in our assignment, or the still small voice of God in our ears.
Whether you have a big or small encounter, don’t ignore it. What is God saying to us in Isaiah 6? He shows us who he is. It’s a PERSONAL encounter with him. Then he gives Isaiah his assignment, which he shares in chapter 7. But this is what the Father says to us: “Who will go for me?” This is when we have the opportunity to say along with Isaiah, “Here I am Lord, send me!” The Lord heals and equips you. He invites you on the journey of preparing you.
In my case, my preparation took time. My first short term mission was in Kenya, where I worked with Somali refugees and Kenyans. Kenya was my first African country, and I’ve loved Africa ever since – in Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Botswana and South Africa. I was sent on nine short missions, and Tony two. I wanted more but I had to wait for us to go to missionary school until Tony retired. Meanwhile, I met an amazing lady named Heidi Baker, and later, her husband Rolland. They both minister with intense love. I was drawn to her. I met her briefly in 2010 at a women’s conference. One night she spoke on missions, and called more missionaries to serve the Lord to reach out to the poor. I went to the altar and said ‘yes.’ The next morning, I remember I worshipped the Lord and sang some special songs that I loved. My eyes were closed and I was intent on loving Jesus.
Then I sensed the presence of Jesus so strongly, that I just had to open my eyes. Heidi Baker stood beside me, smiling at me. She held a bouquet of roses. She gave me a hug, a kiss and the roses. And then, she was off towards the front of the church. I was shocked. Heidi’s assistant told me that she was led to go right to me. I wondered for years what this moment actually meant. I wanted to ask Heidi when I saw her at her mission school in Mozambique. I finally clued that Heidi and I were having a divine appointment. Heidi calls this stopping for the one. She is led to the right people to bless at just the right time. And in that moment, I was ‘the one’ being blessed. It was like Jesus wanted me to know what it’s like to receive his love this way; especially since Tony and I were to stop for the one as a lifestyle. This means we stop for the one all the time – wherever we are! This is the best and easiest way to do missions, with whatever you have on hand. This could be some food, a cup of tea, or in my case, flowers.
Tony has his own missions call story – he took his time, but once he got his own call, he was in step with me. He even ran on ahead and began stopping for the one everywhere. Holy Spirit tugged on his heart and he goes into the local hospice. He befriends and prays for the patients. Tony’s known a man named Moses for over a year now. Moses was hit by a truck and is in a wheelchair. He’s always happy to spend time with Tony. One day Moses asked Tony if he’s paid to come visit. Imagine Moses’ surprise when Tony said, “no, we’re volunteer missionaries.” South Africans do not pay us.
Our call together began with little ministries here in Ottawa, where we ran the Alpha Course in many places, including the prison. We also did radio shows together on CKCU. But then Tony had a dream in Mozambique that began the confirmations of our current assignment. In the dream, I had a baby. I remember Tony waking me up and telling me. A baby is a symbol of God birthing something new: a new ministry, a new home, a new season. Tony could not see the baby in the dream; he was distracted. So I prayed and asked God to give me the dream. He did this the next day, right during worship. The answer was like a little movie inside my mind’s eye. I saw myself go up to the baby’s cradle, and the baby was black at first. Then the baby kept changing colour. I had no idea what that meant, but we did feel a pull towards South Africa. Tony continued to have dreams, as did I. We shared these with the couple who later became our supervisors in South Africa. Johan and Marie are familiar with dreams and Marie has the gift of dream interpretation. Yet it was Johan who laughed when I told him about the baby dream. He said, “did you know that South Africa has a nickname? We’re called the ‘rainbow nation.’ The rainbow baby is the rainbow nation. You are called HERE.”
Since then we haven’t looked back, except to see that we’ve been prepared for South Africa for a long time. God is faithful. During our initial outreach three years ago, I was given a strong impression of the people God wanted us to reach out to the most. These were the neglected Cape Malay children of the townships. The townships are like the worst neighbourhoods in town. These kids are the fatherless and the poor. They are left alone while their single moms try to make ends meet. Or their adult family members work in the vineyards.
What does love look like to these kids? Love to these kids looks like time, sandwiches, fruit, cold drinks and tea. It looks like our hugs, time and wi-fi. Love to the young teens looks like equipping them to run Bible studies for younger children. It also means weekly discipleship, so they could be leaders, but still be allowed be kids, to grow in our love and our time with them.
Missions legacy is about multiplication. We can’t reach out to those around us alone. We are a growing team together. We tried to run after school kids clubs that got bigger and bigger. Some kids just came for the food. But there were days when we had 80 kids. They didn’t speak English well. We needed help. Jesus tells us that many labourers are called – but not everyone says yes. Because of this, not many are chosen. To be chosen, all it takes is a yes.
We were then led to another ministry that helped us train up our teen helpers. These teens were to lead smaller groups of these kids. The teens became Bible study leaders. They are becoming missionaries in their own community. The kids love it. The teens love it. And we love it.
When we were at mission school, Heidi told us of a dream where the mission field was on the ocean, and that she had a tiny net. Then she saw more people with nets, but they weren’t yet connected together. These people were different ministries, churches and missionaries. But there was room for more – and all the nets were meant to connect together. All of us are needed to pick up an edge of the net.
How can we do this? It doesn’t have to be hard. Ask God to set up divine appointments where the people are ready for you to share. It also means to use your skills for God. He will use everything. Tony teaches science and music. He fixes things, I do bookkeeping and teach art. We sing songs and love children. And they love to colour my drawings. We’re making a colouring book. I draw during worship, and these drawings are special ways to share worship with troubled kids. When they colour them in, they are also worshipping Jesus. I had a little picture from the Holy Spirit five years ago that I would teach African children about art. This part of the ministry has grown like a big garden. You can see some of those drawings today if you like.
Now here’s the big question. What if you feel the Holy Spirit calling you? Yet you think you are poor and needy yourself? That’s what’s amazing. Missions work even better then! God ministers through your story. You have overcome, and when you reach out, He stretches your ability. He gives you so much grace. You can do things you never would have imagined. And you feel joy as you’re doing it. Your trust in God grows – since his kindness and faithfulness are always, always there. And if you’re weak, or sick, God helps you with that too. People see the peace you have in hard times. They want that too. Don’t be surprised when they ask the reason why you have such peace or love!
It’s all about where God has called you. Not all of us are called overseas. Some are called right here. Some are called to their families for a time. Others can go for short-term missions, which is always good. You could even be called to go with Pastor Terry to Malawi and love on the children there.
And even for long-term missionaries like us, this is a specific assignment. We likely won’t be in South Africa for the rest of our lives, although we are willing.
But - where does God want you? Ask him. Be still in your heart and seek him. Holy Spirit will show you.
(Prayer) Lord Jesus, thank you for these dear people in this church. I ask for you to open their eyes and ears. Some are called right here in Britannia to be your helpers. We need you in this area. Some may be called away for a time. We thank you for your ministry assignments. We thank you for your provision for these as well as our everyday needs. You are our perfect papa and you’re faithful. Deepen your love in our hearts, so that we can walk and grow in it every day. Come Holy Spirit and fill your people. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
by Laurie-Ann Copple
I had the great privilege to share in Christ Church Ashton, one of the parish points connected with my parish of St Paul's Anglican Church, Kanata. Tony and I have a history here with our friends Jennifer Bulman and Henry Troup. We were part of their part-time worship team "Kenosis" - which played many venues, Cursillo and Alpha events from 2000 - 2005. It was good to be back. We were warmly welcomed by the attenders, and given coffee and goodies afterwards. Here is what I shared with them:
In 1 Peter 3:15, we find Peter giving the following command: "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear."
I thought and prayed on this verse for a while, and I then came up with this deep explanation: Think on and worship God in your heart always. Give OPPORTUNITY to share the reason for your hope within that worship attitude. Meekness equals humility. This fear is not the fear of man, but rather of reverence and obedience to God. It’s also sensitivity to what the Holy Spirit might want to bless another person with.
Some Christian leaders turn this sharing into a major theological thing. The reasons for our hope don’t have to be complicated. They should be personal – and what’s more personal than your own story? What you have to give are your own gifts, your own story of how God is faithful to you.
Some people’s idea of sharing their faith is to say that Jesus is/was a real person; and that he is real, as God. Others share that the New Testament was a real historical document, with many early copies. It wasn’t made up as a novel. Others talk about the resurrection, and the evidence of the empty tomb. If you know the details of these things, that is helpful. It’s great to know truth – but if you’re having coffee with your friend over the kitchen table, that’s likely not what they will ask. You need to do something as simple as what Bishop Malcolm Harding says. That is to “gossip the gospel.” You can do this through your own story. Think of the Samaritan woman at the well. When she told her town about Jesus, she was also sharing her story; that and the invitation to “come and see.”
The Apostle Peter talks about hope. What is hope? Hope is more than simply wishing. When we hope in the Lord, we are given strength. The Psalms talks about hope 23 times, usually when King David is remembering his hope in the Lord during extreme difficulties. Isaiah 40 shares that when we hope in the Lord we rise up on eagles wings – we are carried by Him. We will walk and not be faint. We will run and not grow tired. This speaks of perseverance. Hope is also like a life preserver that keeps you afloat in hard times. I’ve written a few devotionals on hope and I’ve found that hope is powerful.
The church needs to remember the hope we have. The world around us needs hope desperately. We need to look to Jesus and let Holy Spirit fill us with that hope to pass on to others. This isn’t about religion. It’s about life. It’s about relationship.
Tony and I pass on this same hope to kids in South African ghetto slums – they call these townships. These townships aren’t like the rural municipalities we have in Eastern Ontario. These are separate neighbourhoods that are big enough to be towns or cities in their own right. And these area are set up in a ring outside of the town – out of sight from the town centre.
The townships are enmeshed in desperate poverty, gang violence, alcoholism and drugs. Most families are headed by single moms. The moms can’t cope well so when they get their government family allowance, they spend a lot of it on cheap wine. The kids go hungry. So our girls call us for food, a quiet place to do homework, a ride and sometimes just to talk. We have become not only aunt and uncle, but like second parents. In us, they see a healthy, loving couple who loves Jesus. We model God’s hope for them and treat them like our own family. We do the same for our pupils in our small South African school. They hug and kiss me, since they know they are loved, and they are safe. When I teach them art; they draw line drawings of real things one week, and things of their dreams the next.
I’m creating a colouring book filled with drawings of love, hope and faith. I was inspired by Holy Spirit to also make colouring books out of our learner’s drawings. This was very challenging, but they were so excited to see their drawings in a similar format to their own. I was showing them that they are worthy to do this, and they can have hope of drawing better and better. Hope includes confidence in the future, but some of that future is right now.
Jesus is our hope, and he is coming back, sometime sooner than we think. Even though the world is getting darker, He wants his church – US – to get lighter and lighter. Why? He does say that a city on a hill cannot be hidden. And that a light shouldn’t be hidden under a bowl. We are that city. We are that light. So how easy is it to share your faith to someone? It’s easier in South Africa in some ways – but there ARE ways here in Canada. They’re called divine appointments. Heidi Baker, the co-founder of the Iris movement, of which we are part, calls this “stopping for the one.”
This is the way I personally share. You don’t have to be Billy Graham. Even with political correctness muzzling our mouths, there are still ways to reach out, especially to those in need. Pray every day and ask God to set these times up at just the right time. It could be as simple as helping someone out who needs it like helping someone carry their grocery bags. Or seeing someone who is struggling physically who needs prayer. In some churches, people see my cane and approach me for prayer. I’m always happy to receive it. Many people are lonely and no longer know how to reach out. But there are opportunities to just start new friendships.
Back in 2001, Tony and I took Cursillo. They share a motto that I’ll always remember – “Make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Jesus.” This takes time – just like when we are teaching, leading, guiding and feeding the teens every week, this takes time. They are eager for more and more of it, as well as food and prayer.
People just want love. And love looks like something – friendship, time, food, and other needs. Sometimes sharing your faith is as simple as sharing relationship with them. And then they ask, “Why are you doing this? Are you being paid?” Tony’s friend Moses asked him this after he has helped him for over a year. Moses is often in our local hospice, where he was cared for after he was hit by a truck. Moses was amazed that we aren’t paid to go visit, pray and love people. Even though he knows and loves the Lord, he didn’t realize that God’s love is deeper than ever imagined, and he sends people to them to experience his love. It’s not about money. It’s about love and sharing our hope.
Or others would be shocked because they’ve put the needy out of sight and mind. One of the insurance men that Tony met early in our mission was amazed why were in Worcester. He couldn’t fathom why someone would help township people, rather than let them help themselves. We gave him a reason for our hope and why we are called to these people – especially the neglected children.
The townships are outside the towns on purpose – so they aren’t visible to the tourist who stays in certain areas, but they are there. It’s the same where we are – the hidden needy are around us. Sometimes the needy look just like us. But they are forgotten.
The core of showing love and hope in practical ways is the core of our ministry. Some practical ways include teaching art, music and science, visiting hospice, prison ministry, singing and loving kids in kids clubs, drawing with kids, bookkeeping for a major Worcester ministry, helping lead another. And it’s about training up these children and teens to impact lives for others, as we continue to pour into them.
Lord Jesus, please open our eyes to the people you want to touch through us. Let us be open vessels for you. In your name, Amen.
Have you tried to share your story? If you did, how was it?
Have you experienced ‘divine appointments’?
Have you ever had the love of God well up in you, and you just had to do something? (This is what often precedes a divine appointment)
Do you have any questions about what we do in South Africa?
by Laurie-Ann Copple
I've been teaching art at Master Peace Academy since January 2018. The first year I taught art history, art appreciation and certain modules that included drawings inspired by Roy Lichtenstein, Georgia O'Keefe, Mary Cassatt, Piet Mondrian, Vincent Van Gogh and more.
In 2019, we lost five of our learners, which were replaced by Sinegugu, Paula and Delivenence. Sinegugu is 8, Paula is 7, Seth is 6 and Delivenence is 5. While we normally don't have provisions for kindergarten (Grade R in South Africa), we had to take Delivenence in with his sister Paula. Delivenence has made leaps and bounds, and while he can't yet read, he knows his numbers, he's practicing with a pencil (but is more comfortable on the whiteboard), and he knows his basic colours. The others have been learning as well.
I was at a loss in how to teach these kids from the curriculum that I developed the year before. They didn't have a foundation of art elements, and certainly weren't ready for art history! So I prayed about it, and was given a dream of teaching these kids art elements like: line, shape and colour. Term 1 was spent on these elements again and again, with some practice. Term 2 was spent on drawing lines in contour drawings - and training their eyes to see the shapes behind whatever they were drawing - geometric shapes, organic shapes and three-dimensional shapes. Since I am already working on a colouring book of my own drawings, I have been sharing my progress with these learners. They are excited to see new drawings being added to the mix. Then I was inspired to do the same with THEIR drawings - if they would not colour in their line drawings, then I could strengthen their lines, and make a colouring book that they could colour in themselves.
Every week they would ask me the status of their own colouring books, but I had to wait until near the end of the term to gather them together. While the end of the term is early June, we head back to Canada on May 27th. This means their art exam is on May 21st (although Seth has already had his). Since Seth's exam is done, the girls are to have theirs next week. Delivenence is too young to have an exam, so his marks are through his colouring book, and teacher assessment.
This has been the most challenging project yet. I wonder what will be next for term 3, other than to begin work on other elements, like texture and perspective. Term 3 begins July 9th, when we are still in Canada, so we are back with the learners the following week on July 15. I will be praying for direction. But through the process, my own art is growing, and I can see some progress with these kids as well. Thank you Jesus for inspiring me to pour your creativity in these kids! Tony's doing the same in music (as well as teaching them in science).
by Laurie-Ann Copple
I’m celebrating my 31st spiritual birthday (as of April 27th, 2019). My faith came alive at a Holy Spirit conference, held in a Toronto church, and led by Episcopalian (Anglican) canon Dennis Bennett. Much has happened since then: University, Seminary, nearly 20 years of marriage, ten short term mission trips (Kenya, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Botswana and South Africa), radio school, a short radio career in writing and audio production, Alpha leadership, ARM Canada service, over a year as a Darren Canning Ministries assistant, and life as an Iriser based in Western Cape, South Africa, since November 2017. I have lived in Etobicoke (Ontario), Nairobi (Kenya), Belfast (Northern Ireland), North York (Ontario), York Region (Ontario), Kanata (Ontario), Nelson BC, Pemba (Mozambique), Ottawa (Ontario), and finally in Worcester, South Africa (1 ½ hours east of Cape Town). I am a traveller, and probably always will be.
My hardest move was from Etobicoke to Kanata, which took about two years to acclimatize. However, our move to South Africa was easy in so many ways, with so many open doors. Our cell group leader once told us that she was amazed at so many answers to prayer involving our life here. These included our retirement village home, ministry places, Tony’s car (that’s perfect to ferry children around), a wonderful South African doctor, Afrikaans tutors, and many ministry connections. Prayers are answered nearly daily in so many ways. It’s been this way since the start, with the exception of a long illness of boils. I am finally off pain medication after nearly four months.
But we do have lots to celebrate. Tony and I are about to enter into our middle point of our journey in South Africa. We arrived in Cape Town on 10th November 2017, and then in Worcester three days later. On 10th May, we will be at that half-way point. The first 18 months have flown by. We were already prison volunteers for many years in the Ottawa area. I’ve done online ministry, radio ministry, admin ministry, bookkeeping ministry and prayer ministry for many years. But in the South African mission field, we’ve become teachers and children’s workers. It’s been a stretch in many ways, but we’ve been given the skills that we need, whether in music, art, science, engineering, prayer, radio, outreach and more.
We took a day-trip break recently to Cape Agulhas, the meeting place of the Indian and Atlantic oceans. Naturally the area is full of dangerous currents, and was nicknamed the “Cape of Needles” by early sailors, because their compasses would go a little crazy when sailing nearby. This is also the southern-most tip of Africa. If you’re thinking of Cape of Good Hope, we’ve been there too, but that’s the most south-western tip of Africa. That beautiful area is much closer to Cape Town. While we were at Cape Agulhas, I decided to be silly and use my walking stick as the measure between the two oceans, as you can see from the above photo. In 2012, we did something similar at the Four Corners monument showing the intersecting corners of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. Borders fascinate me, as do milestones. Beginnings and endings matter. Knowing where you are in the process matters. And alongside us on the whole journey, is Jesus. He brings us places that we can only dream about.
Several projects are also bearing fruit from our South African season. One is a colouring book that we trust will be published locally in Worcester. I have been working on inspired drawings within the context of worship, or that of children, since our arrival. I was given insight that the children would love to colour copies of my line drawings. Since then, we have scanned fifteen line drawings to go into a future colouring book that will include scriptures and stories. We have printed some of these drawings in sheets for children to colour. We first started with the coloured farm children in Vinkrivier, who were so totally involved with the process, that they were quiet for over an hour. We took them to Avian Park township and they were louder, but they also liked them. We shared them with our learners in Master Peace Academy and they enjoyed colouring them in different ways, whether they were the older group (in 2018) or the younger group (in 2019). In December 2018, I was able to teach and share the drawings with the children of our Afrikaaner church. They also loved to colour, and the following week, they drew their own inspired drawings. Finally, I was able to share the colouring book idea, and colouring sheets with some children from Riverview and Roodewal while we were leaders on a retreat. It was again a hit, and some of these kids were interested in watching me draw mountains the next day. All of this began from my drawing taking flight again while we were on a 2016 extended outreach in nearby Robertson.
The other project may become a bound printed book as well as an e-book, based on written versions of my current Ways to Grow in God series. I developed a Christian devotional site called waystogrowingod.org. In March 2003, and would usually publish monthly articles when I was able. Then in February 2018, Tony and I began broadcasting on a little internet radio station we call CWCP (Copples Western Cape Radio). We needed content: especially for our show “The Worcester Reports,” which airs Thursdays at 8 pm SAST (2 pm EDT). Tony interviews local people in ministry, and those with great stories that we need to hear. We include music, and I began to record me reading updated versions of Ways to Grow in God from my Christian devotional site. It was a perfect place to showcase these devotional articles, while using some of my radio skills. I already had 33 articles I could use, but these fast ran out, so I have been working on more ever since. At this time, I am working on the 54th Way to Grow in God. I’ve had inspirational nudges for some time about getting the new/updated versions in a book format – even though these are readily available in audio on our mission website (coppleswesterncape.ca – WTGIG podcasts), and the older versions are on the Christian devotional site. So that’s two books (once I’ve found the necessary software I can use to format the book).
One friend shared with me three years ago that there would be three books coming from our journey in South Africa. It’s possible that may come from Tony, or he may write an additional one. Still, we’re finding creative fruit, and lasting fruit of legacy in the girls that we disciple on Saturdays. They are becoming strong leaders and will not only represent Jesus in Avian Park, but us as well. That’s the whole idea behind mission work – training, loving and empowering the locals, since you’re only a temporary watering can of God’s grace.
We also are leaving legacies with the ministries that we work with as bookkeeper, teachers, webmasters, and prison workers. I’m helping create a stable infrastructure for a growing ministry that transforms former addicts and gangsters into changed men. Yet the workers were focused on the tasks and ministry at hand, without a good bookkeeping system in place. While I’m not the best bookkeeper, I’m working to prepare them for a local person, who will use the system that I’ve set up for them. Previously I’ve only worked with systems set up by others. God is really stretching me on this, but it’s working out. We are also leaving legacies for the school learners by teaching them things they wouldn’t learn in regular primary school. In my case, teaching art actually helps me become a better artist. Teaching music appreciation helps Tony with his own love for music.
Another praying friend of mine suggested that on our return from our upcoming home visit (May 30 – July 9), we will start new projects. We will have to see how that pans out, since so much of our time is filled by Master Peace Academy, My Father’s House Worcester/Mailbox Club Mondays, Riverview kids’ club, Vinkrivier kid’s club, Prison Alpha, teen leadership development, Vinkrivier farm kids’ club, hospice visiting, GIG Club (Tony), Change Makers (Laurie-Ann), Iris family gatherings, our Worcester church (cell group, soaking prayer evenings), and our preparation/broadcasting of CWCP two nights a week.
Please pray which is wrapped up, and what should replace it. All of what we are doing is good, but we need space for God, space to create, listen and grow. But this has been a blast, with no complaints, other than health issues that are improving for me, and somewhat for Tony. We’re grateful. We have full hearts.
Love, Laurie-Ann Copple
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.
Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
L-A's devotional blog
TONY'S DEVOTIONAL BLOG
Tony's south african journal