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