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.
Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
L-A's devotional blog
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Tony's south african journal
TONY'S POST MISSION JOURNAL