by Tony Copple
Regular readers may have already figured this out, but for new or casual readers it is probably appropriate to explain the division of labour between the team of us two fairly new long-term missionaries.
Just about everything on our website has been designed, written and coded by Laurie-Ann using Weebly. Exceptions to that are my African daily journal and devotions, and our Twitter. Both of us post to the Facebooks: Copples in Western Cape, and Copples Western Cape Radio (as well as our personal Facebooks). Laurie-Ann has also done most of the work on reports to Iris Ministries Canada, emails to anyone who has put themselves on our list for regular updates, and emails to out prayer supporters – most important. She is the one who receives most of the words of knowledge and posts them under the “Coppleblog” or “Words”. We share the production of The Worcester Reports on CWCP every Thursday – I do the fun part of interviewing and editing. She writes, records and produces the Ways to Grow in God segments, and prepares most of the music selections. I do all the preparation and production of our Wednesday programs – the Good News in the Morning archive. I do the uploading of the pre-produced programs to hyperspace. When I feel like it and have a few hours when I will be at home, I broadcast music by Christian artists and teachings on CWCP Radio. If you happen to visit the Galcom XStreamer and see that CWCP is broadcasting at that time, check it out, in addition to our scheduled programs on Wednesday and Thursdays. CWCP radio started broadcasting 22 February 2018, so we just passed our 6-month mark. We take it very seriously as a ministry although we don’t how many are listening. We certainly plan to continue for the duration of our stay here, and maybe beyond.
We share the ministry to children in the three kids’ clubs (My Father's House Worcester, Riverview Club and Iris Vinkrivier Kid's Club). We share the preparation of our monthly soaking prayer night at church though I am the nominal leader. Laurie-Ann keeps tabs on social media communication via Facebook and Instagram. I don’t spend as much time as I would like reading posts from friends, but I post regularly on my personal Facebook, Twitter and CopplesWesternCape Twitter. I do the shopping, housekeeping and gardening. She tells me what food to buy. We share the cooking. I do the driving. She plans every aspect of our occasional holidays and she organized the travel arrangements to get here last November.
As any of you who follow us on social media will know, Laurie-Ann’s passion for visual arts and her Christian teaching blog Ways to Grow in God have blossomed. These are ministries that are not constrained by her physical disabilities. She is continually receiving inspiration for new subjects for (prophetic) art. The most recent drawings are scanned in a black and white line version for a future “colouring book,” and Laurie-Ann feels that she’s on the edge of something special in children’s ministry. Ways to Grow in God has existed for years as a blog, but for CWCP Radio she has revised and recorded many editions (28 so far) that form the backbone of our Thursday programs, The Worcester Reports. You can also hear some of her podcasts separately on the WTGIG podcast page (under "Listen" on our website).
When we were in Iris Harvest Missions school two years ago in Mozambique we learned that missionary work will soon dwindle away unless the missionary is receiving joy from it. This has indeed been our experience so far. Each week between us we are involved in about ten distinct activities all resulting in making God more real, known and loved. They are: teaching children in a Christian school where bringing God into the story at every opportunity is part of the vision, children’s ministry in Avian Park township, in Riverview Township, and in a farming community near Robertson. We are in Brandvlei Correctional Services every Saturday morning since 7 July, and on Saturday afternoons, I bring a group of teenagers from Avian Park township home, and with help from our Afrikaans-speaking YWAM friend Soraya lead them through a Mailbox Club course, after which they will lead Mailbox Clubs in Avian Park for children on behalf of My Father's House Worcester. I visit patients in a hospice. Both of us do bookkeeping for different charities. I have several encounters weekly with people I meet on the street who I will pray for, prompted by the Holy Spirit. Then there is leading the ‘Soaking prayer in action’ monthly group which we lead. In several of these, my ability to play guitar and sing is very helpful and I thank God for this capability. Maybe I should add the weekly 5:45 am men’s prayer group on Fridays, with others from Worcester Christian Church. So these activities are great source of joy in my heart. Always after prison ministry I have experienced great joy from the sessions, and here it is even more so because the prison staff all seem to be Christian and are very supportive. The smiles on the faces of the inmates while we are there would be enough joy for us, even if we weren’t involved in any of the other activities. And I should add to this another source of joy – doing most of these things in partnership with Laurie-Ann.
Australian missionary Jan Buchanan started My Father’s House ministry about 10 years ago. When we met her through a recommendation from YWAM, one of the parts of the ministry needed more helpers, and we have been involved ever since on Monday afternoons in the library in Avian Park. When we started, there were more teenagers than pre-teens. Soraya Volkwyn was giving teachings in Afrikaans to 30 + kids, and much of her time was taken up with persuading them to quieten down so she could be heard. Over the months, the average age has fallen, and Soraya has been otherwise engaged, leaving the ministry to us. Two weeks ago we had 80 children turn up, many attracted by the sandwich and fruit we give out at the end of the session. At least 40 of these children were under 8, with little understanding of English. Jan explained the following week that we would need to exclude all children under 8, and we would only accept up to 40 children. We are using the Youth Alpha course, but our plan is to move the Mailbox Club courses, which cater for younger children than Alpha does. For the last three months on Saturday afternoons in our home, we have been training six teenagers to run Mailbox clubs with up to ten children. We are seeking venues in Avian Park where these clubs could operate. If it all works out we will be able to vacate the library (they don’t like us much because of the noise levels). If the Mailbox clubs follow the patterns of other Mailbox Clubs worldwide, they should become self-replicating as new clubs are set up by participants. Our role will be mentoring the club leaders.
Last term, we had two learners (read ‘students’ for non-South Africans) in MasterPeace Academy. This term we have six! Our science, music and art lessons are received well. When we were introduced last November to the school principal, Dr. Mella Davis, I felt good about getting involved in this because education is the hope of the future for the poor in the townships. There is no other route out of poverty and dependence. Our children are bright and energetic. They are learning stuff that they wouldn’t get to until several grades later in the state school system, and they would be in classes of 30 – 45. Since we are working in several different ministries, we have got to know quite a large circle of people, and through these contacts we have been able to benefit the school. We were involved in bringing in one of the learners, and the teacher’s assistant, Amber, who at 19 is exceptional in the job.
I have joined a GIG Club. The Generational Inheritance Group was founded by Jasper Cloete in 2008 to provide financial literacy. Among its several missions (for it is a Christian organization) I see it as a vehicle to help the very poor, again through education, and free memberships are available for financial literacy material on line. Of course, if you are very poor your only potential access is with a smartphone and free wifi. So I have teaching materials downloaded. This week I will be giving two talks, one to the Change Makers. This is a group of ex-gangsters and addicts who want to change their lives. Laurie-Ann does their books. Excel skills are at a premium. Someone keeping track of finances for an organization allows the members to be out changing lives, and such people are in demand.
Our home is a refuge and sanctuary. It is a small house in a gated community for 55+ residents, so security issues are less acute than for our friends who live in Worcester homes with significant security systems, and guard dogs. Unlike typical hotels and guest houses, restaurants, etc, we have installed fast unlimited wifi that allows for our internet broadcasting, and the many other on-line activities that we engage in, mostly ministry-related.
Health issues are of concern to us. I thought I was the healthy one, but lately I was been diagnosed by MRI scan with a lower back disk issue. I will be seeing a spine specialist on 13 September. Should he recommend surgery, it is possible our travel insurance company will demand that it be done in Canada. This is not because of the quality of surgery (South Africa has excellent private health facilities), but that if there were complications they want to lessen their risks. The situation is fascinating because I am actually managing on fewer anti-inflamatories and painkillers as the weeks pass, and it feels to me as if I am being healed divinely. Laurie-Ann is on the strongest such medicines for her knees and has recently been suffering from nausea from the meds. But neither of us is lying around worrying about these things, which is good. They aren’t impacting our effectiveness in the field. We just move a little slower and have to sit down a lot. Laurie-Ann even brought her Picnic Time chair from Canada just for that purpose. The smallest kids love trying to sit on its attached table.
One aspect of my life is that I have to be a pretty good roadie. Several times each week we transport musical instruments and audio equipment, for guitar and music amplification and presentations. I now have detailed lists of every item, every cable, every power plug, because I have been known to forget things necessary to enable ministry to take place. I also drive our township children to ministries. 10 days ago I had eight in the car! We think back to the time when the opportunity to buy our 2004 Mercedes E270 (automatic, rare in South Africa) from our first guest house hosts and we see now that God had it all planned, The car is perfect for our needs. Some people we work with have no cars and we are able to help them out with lifts, and happy to do so.
In summary, I can say that things are going better than I ever dreamed they would. Every day we learn more and put it into practice. The Lord has been faithfully watching over us – admittedly delegating the work to some of his angels, and that’s fine. We have many friends who are quality people. No-one here questions the reason we would want to be doing this. Our relationship with our IRIS leaders Johan and Marie Fourie is excellent and they give us the freedom to serve wherever we feel there is a need in line with our mission. Embarking on this my fourth career may have seemed strange to my relatives and friends who don’t know the Lord, but we feel supremely grateful that we do know Him, and that it is He, the creator, who loves and inspires us. I can’t imagine, and don’t want, a life without Him at the centre.
by Tony Copple
This is a talk that Tony shared this talk with the kids of My Father's House Worcester - Monday club:
Many people think that as they get older, that things will just happen naturally. Maybe you’ll go to school, or maybe you’ll do something else other than college. Or maybe you’ll go out and work in a shop or whatever. But I want to tell you today is that your life can be what you want it to be as long as you plan it. As long as you say “what I would like to do is this, or that.” I know that some of you have plans for your lives, I know that some of you would like to be a lot of different things. (A girl shares she wants to be a teacher). That is wonderful that you want to be a teacher. We need teachers. As you get older, your mind is getting ready to be a teacher.
Now you can change from the inside out. That means it’s not something where the outside world changes. We have to plan something now. There are people in prisons today. They didn’t plan to be in prisons. They did something and then they were taken off to prison. But if they had done some better planning, then they wouldn’t be in the prison in the first place. So it’s you, in your heart that allows you to decide what’s going to happen in your life. And really, it can work out very well. It doesn’t work out for everybody; sometimes you get ill or sick. That’s not your fault. You can’t help that. But you can still plan for what you’re going to do after you get better, after you have been ill.
You know about St. Paul, you’ve heard about him. Before he was St. Paul, he was Saul. He was not a Christian. He was a Jew; he was a very good Jew. He understood everything about the Jewish faith. He could even teach the Jewish faith; and he didn’t like Christians. And St Paul persecuted the Christians, he made it very difficult for them. In fact, some Christians got killed because of St Paul. These are people who were put in jail for loving the Lord Jesus. Saul took them and put them in jail. He went on a trip, and was on course to go and find more Christians so that he could put them in jail too. Something very, very special happened on the way that changed him and changed the world. Do you know what it was, when St Paul was on his horse and he was going somewhere.
Suddenly, there was a very bright light and he saw Jesus standing right there in front of him. The light was so strong, it knocked him off his horse. Jesus spoke to him by name. When he got off the ground, he couldn’t see anything - he was blind. But he had servants to help. And he went on with them to the town of Damascus. He found a place where he could stay in Damascus. And then another man came and knocked on his door, and this man had heard the voice of God, telling him that he had to go and see Paul, and gave him the address - Straight Street. Now everybody knew that Paul was really, really bad, and they were afraid of him. So this person, whose name was Ananias. was very worried about going to see Paul. But God said, Go and see him, and you will be able to bring his sight back. And you will tell Paul that from now on, he is going to follow Jesus. And that’s what happened. Ananias went to see him, and Paul knew that Jesus was alive, even though he had died. From that moment on, Paul was completely different. He didn’t have any experience as a Christian, but he decided that he would study. So he studied all the people who knew Jesus, when Jesus was first alive. He learned from them, people like Peter and the other apostles. And then he spent the rest of his life telling people about Jesus, and that Jesus died for us, so that our sins could be forgiven. None of us would be talking about Jesus today if that happened to Paul. So that’s a situation that where God got involved in Paul’s life even though Paul hadn't believed that Jesus was God.
So Paul decided to plan everything out, and he went on three journeys all around the Mediterranean, telling people about Jesus. He planned it, and had a lot of problems on the way. But with all the problems, God helped him overcome them. He was shipwrecked, he was whipped, he was stoned, he was put into jail. Once when he was put into jail, he and his companions were singing praise songs! Songs just like we were singing outside; not those exact same songs, but other songs just like that. Then there was an earthquake that came when they were singing; and unlocked all the doors – so he could have walked out of the prison. He didn’t walk out of the prison, because he knew that the jailer would probably kill himself if he (and the other prisoners) escaped. So he said to the jailer, “no, don’t kill yourself. We haven’t left, you will not lose us. You don’t have to lose your life because of us.” And the jailer followed Jesus from that time on – he and his family.
Now if we go back a long time, thousands of years, we’ll look at the Children of Israel, who used to be slaves in Egypt. They didn’t earn any money, and yet had to work, work, work, work. And Moses led them away from Egypt to a place called the Promised Land. It was a land of milkk and honey and many other good things. This meant that they could have their own land, their own homes, and they wouldn’t be slaves any longer. Now God gave them a lot of miracles on the way there there. At one point they had to cross the Red Sea. As they arrived there, the Egyptian army was in hot pursuit of them to stop them escaping. And God divided the waters
of the sea, so they could go right through the sea on dry land. And then once they were through, he let the waters come back again. So, the Egyptian armies couldn’t catch them. That’s one of the miracles that God did to help the children of Israel. But do you know? Some of those children of Israel, even when they saw how they were being helped by God, into a better life, wanted to go back to Egypt! This was because they were hungry and they thought their old life was better. They didn’t have a plan for their life. They didn’t have a plan for going forward. And do you know what God did? He made a miracle that bread would grow on trees (or fall from a cloud), so that they could eat and not be hungry. They called it manna, so they were able to stay alive, because of this miracle.
Why I’m telling you this, is for, is that all these people who wanted to get to the promised land, they had to follow a plan. They had to be determined. They needed to not give up. And that’s the message I wanted to give to all of you, for all of your lives. If you want to be a teacher, never give up. Go and study. You have to study a lot to be a teacher, but it’s a wonderful life because you will be able to teach LOTS of people! You can tell them about Jesus, among other things. What would you like to teach? Anything particular? How about science? Science is a good topic.
So we need to change our thinking, if we are going to change our life. If we’re going to be able to make ourselves a better life, then it starts here, in our brain, in our head. And we plan it, and we are determined to get there. And if any of you is determined enough, and you want to be an astronaut, you could probably be an astronaut. It’s determination that makes the difference. So I’m hoping that all of you will have that strength, and that courage in your hearts that will be able to achieve whatever you want to achieve in life. The first thing to do, is to decide what that’s going to be. I’m so proud of you because you said you want to be a teacher. Everybody here should decide what they want to be when they’ve grown up. Would any others of you like to share what you’d like to be? An artist? Anybody like to be a film star? Yes? A doctor! Wonderful! I’ll tell you something. Some of the best doctors in the world are in South Africa. We think they have some of the best medical training in the world; so that’s a good thing. A firefighter! Right now, you’re needed! You’re needed in California. Right now they are having terrible fires there. So if you were a fire fighter, they might send you to California to help there. That’s a very good thing to do.
Does anybody here want to end up in jail? I hope not. It’s very important that you keep clear of people who might go to jail. You might have friends that are doing bad things; keep away from them, they are not your friends. If there are people who are trying to get you to take drugs, don’t go anywhere near them. Never say, “Oh, I’ll just take a little, and it won’t matter.” If you take a little, you will certainly end up taking a lot. This is strength of character. Every one of you can make a big difference in the world, if you have that strength of character. The BEST place to get your strength of character is from God, from Jesus. Keep him in your heart. Keep the Holy Spirit in your heart. And if you’re ever tempted to do something that you know is wrong, say “No, I’m NOT going to do that.” And there’s one other thing you can do - love your parents. Or if you only have one parent, then love him or her. Because they love you, just as God loves you (and we do too).
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