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.
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