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.
by Laurie-Ann Copple
While we had a lovely holiday on the South African west coast and Clanwilliam, we have had a difficult January. During our holiday, I began sweating in sensitive areas and developed a rash that required a doctor's care and hydrocortizone cream. Then I developed painful boils and a huge carbuncle that left me bedridden for three weeks. In the picture above, you see me balanced on a pillow, while lying on my tummy. Tony attempts to apply Bee propolis (a wonderful product from a company named Simply Bee, in Hopefield, Western Cape). He did use a lot of that ointment, as well as colloidal silver, which was perfect for the job. Tony was an amazing nurse, and not afraid to deal with a messy illness. Unfortunately I was in pain throughout the month and had to stop nearly every kind of ministry - whether it was our newsletter, my Ways to Grow in God blog, our radio show, bookkeeping, and being with our Prison Alpha inmates or our teens. I even had to miss the first week of MasterPeace Academy, so Tony filled in for my art class. I continued my Annique shake regimen, with added fruit (thank God for South African fruit in season), and crockpot chicken soup. I kept in touch via my phone and iPad, and couldn't do much else than lay there, or sleep. Thankfully I did listen and soak to some wonderful worship music.
During that month, our friend Riana van Wyk (the lead of WCG's Kinderkerk) called to encourage me with the new Bethel Music song "I raise a Hallelujah," which was spirit-lifting indeed. Many people have prayed for me, for which I am very grateful. I wasn't healed quickly, but I was healed. The boils and carbuncle are gone, although due to being bedridden on my tummy for so long, I've lost physical strength in my inner core. I may need physiotherapy. Thankfully I still have some painkillers. Our doctor called for blood tests, since it would be a suitable followup for the boils, and he wanted to see if I was diabetic. Apparently, some diabetics are prone to what I had just experienced. I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone. It turns out that I am not diabetic at all (thank God!), although am low on iron and a bit high on cholesterol. So he arranged for a specialist to give me a colonoscopy and gastrophy to see if there was any blood loss there. While there wasn't, the doctor found a growth inside my stomach, which was sent to the lab. It should be benign. This wasn't cheap, but I did have excellent care. The specialist believes that I just have an iron absorption problem, which means not taking iron near calcium, vitamin C or my thyroxine. It makes for tricky scheduling, but I'll have to manage it.
Meanwhile, Tony has carried on, and I'm easing my way back into ministry. Just this week, I began my first art lesson of the year - on the element of LINE. I have five eager students - two are very young, so it's a different kind of challenge. So I'm learning how to teach even more simply than I have before. It's a good lesson for me.
And two groups (other than Iris family, church family and cellgroup family) have specifically reached out. First, the Brandvlei inmates wrote me a letter. The letter said, “Hello Laurie (sic). We all missed you, from the brothers from Brandvlei. We trust in the Lord to heal you soon, to be with us. We missed you a lot, because we don’t have a drummer like you.” That was heart warming.
Then the teens that we disciple and love under the wings of My Father's House Worcester reached out. First Tony filmed three of them saying how much they missed me (shown below) and then four walked up to our house from Avian Park to visit. They just wanted to love on me and cheer me up. They didn't ask for food (although we did give them cold water and a ride home). They didn't ask for money. They just came with the intent of loving me. Looks like they are learning to stop for the one. This is one of my greatest hopes. Sometimes you just have to get out of the way to see what God's been doing in those you love. He continues what he starts in us: he is faithful to complete what he creates (Philippians 1:6)
by Laurie-Ann Copple
We had a full afternoon on 15th December! Six of our eight girls (My Father's House Worcester/Mailbox Club leaders) attended. We sang Christmas carols, shared with our leader friend Soraya, and then gave our special Christmas gifts to the girls - matching pink Afrikaans NLV Bybels (Bibles) and little denim bags designed and sewed by our friend Heather. We had a little Bible study on Christmas from Luke/Lukas 2, blessed each other in the encouragement game (say something nice about the person next to you), and we shared of different Christmas traditions. While this is our second Christmas in Worcester, we had not started our children's ministry yet, so we are still learning the culture of the townships. They loved the Romans pizza, pineapple juice boxes, chocolate cake, whipped cream and strawberries. Usually they have sandwiches, but pizza is for special occasions due to the cost.
I asked the girls what they would like to do for some future outing that wouldn't be too expensive. Two ideas came up - a beach visit (Hermanus or the Strand - which would be more than an afternoon!), and to rent the movie Annie. I have good memories of both the film and play, and thought, yes, this could work. We thought of the new Grinch movie, but NuMetro wouldn't be cheap, and then there's popcorn and cool drinks. Need I say more. We'll see what other ideas pop up, although they enjoy our Bible studies, singing sessions and discipleship over how they are leading the Mailbox Clubs.
Four of these girls have come with us to Worcester Christian Church, although Anthonica and Chantelle have come the most often. They were even present during my last presentation at WCG Kinderkerk on 9th December. They all love flagging - and Jamelia in particular, loves to dance. We hope to hear their Christmas stories soon, although I have been told that Christmas is a regular day with a fancy meal if they can afford it. So not all of them get gifts. We hope that ours blesses them.
by Laurie-Ann Copple
Today we had an amazing day with four of our Mailbox Club leaders/My Father's House teen girls. I was led to share with them some of the different ways that Holy Spirit speaks to us: through scripture, Jesus, creativity, and the still small voice. There are other ways of course, but today had to be in line of them hearing or seeing. We did a little Bible study in English and Afrikaans, then listened to a beautiful soaking song with our eyes closed. The girls were still before the Lord for the whole song - then all six of us, including myself and Tony all drew. The girls and Tony drew more symbolic, while I drew a girl worshipping in love at Jesus' feet and he was loving on her too. This was a very special time, that I hope we do again with the other girls. We also spent some time singing worship songs.
The scriptures we studied were: 2 Timothy 3:16, Luke 8: 23-25, John 10:27, 1 Kings 19: 11-13 and Romans 8:26-27.
by Laurie-Ann Copple
We shared a special commissioning time and teaching about honour with our Avian Park girl teens. It was also Chrizelle's birthday, although we didn't know, otherwise we could have made birthday cake in advance. I shared this talk, we had a Bible study on 2 Cor 5: 11 & 15-21). And then as Tony led prayer for each girl, and we all joined in with that prayer, I had prophetic words for each of the leaders (but not the guests). The guests were given a blessing prayer instead. Before we started, we sang "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord," and I shared of an impression I was given of Jesus placing princess crowns on their heads as we were commissioning them. So Jesus was right here with us.
Here's my talk:
I’ve been praying for you girls for months now. We need to have a special time where we pray over you and commission you. It’s like Jesus has taken you from the ordinary people and set you apart to be his girls.
One thing first though – God loves all people, but he chooses to work with those who say yes. You have said yes and have heard the call of Jesus. Jesus says “Come Follow Me!” Jesus said this to me and I became a short-term missionary that went to countries like Kenya, Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland, Pakistan and Mozambique. Then he called Tony and me here into South Africa. He gave us dreams, visions and words. So I want us to pray over you all later. This is a very special holy time.
Now I know that you aren’t perfect and neither are we. God takes us as we are. But we need to remember to ask Jesus to keep cleansing us from sin we do, and our old ways. Jesus is loving but he is also holy. So we need to keep our hearts soft to him, so he can take out the things that aren’t him. This is a good thing.
So we represent Jesus to those who do not know him. We do this with grownups, children, people in prison, people in the hospice and even here where we live. So when we are with them, sometimes we need to remember “What Would Jesus Do?” (Tony show his bracelet).
We represent Jesus like we are his ambassadors. 2 Corinthians 5 talks about us becoming ambassadors for Jesus, like a diplomat is when they speak for their country. An ambassador speaks for and represents their country. Tony and I are like ambassadors for Canada here in this village. You can tell that when you come into our home by seeing the Canadian flag on the front window. To be an ambassador is a GREAT HONOUR. You represent Avian Park when you’re in other parts of Worcester. But even more, you represent JESUS.
BIBLE STUDY (where the girls shared what they believed those verses meant)
Here’s some good Bible verses about being ambassadors for Jesus. Let’s read 2 Corinthians 5: 11,and 15-21. How about we take turns to read the verses?
11 We know what it means to fear the Lord. So we try to help people accept the truth. God knows what we really are. And I hope that in your hearts you know, too.
15 Christ died for all so that those who live would not continue to live for themselves. He died for them and was raised from death so that they would live for him.
16 From this time on we do not think of anyone as the world does. It is true that in the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks. But we no longer think of him in that way.
17 If anyone belongs to Christ, then he is made new. The old things have gone; everything is made new!
18 All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself. And God gave us the work of bringing everyone into peace with him.
19 I mean that God was in Christ, making peace between the world and himself. In Christ, God did not hold the world guilty of its sins. And he gave us this message of peace.
20 So we have been sent to speak for Christ. It is as if God is calling to you through us. We speak for Christ when we beg you to be at peace with God.
21 Christ had no sin. But God made him become sin. God did this for us so that in Christ we could become right with God.
Laurie-Ann again: So we also are made new, and Jesus continues to make us new. You don’t have to be perfect to let Jesus make you a leader, but you have to keep close to him. Pray as you start your day, and definitely pray before you go out to your Bible studies with Mailbox club. The Holy Spirit will help you.
So before we go into ministry time with you, let’s learn about honour. We need to learn how to give it in all you do.
To honour something is to see it has great value. Like say, my wedding ring. It’s special – not just because it’s gold, but because it’s a symbol of my marriage to Tony. So I need to treat it with honour and respect. I need to treat Tony with honour too. There’s only one Tony. God sees each of us as very, very special. When he looks at us, especially when we’ve accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour, he sees Jesus in us. God honours us by making us better.
When we have honour in our lives, God blesses us. He makes us honourable. That means we are full of honour, truth, and we mean what we say. It means that we treat people like they are very special. That’s part of what honour means. It starts with honouring God.
We honour God more than anything and anyone. He made us. He loves us. He is worthy of all our love and worship. He loves to give us good gifts, every day, just because. Some of us don’t even see all the good gifts, from good friends, good weather, some loving family and so on. Even if our life is hard, he always has good for us. (I’ve been sick this week, but I’ve been given a really good and kind doctor, right here in Worcester. I’m thankful and I honour Father God for giving me a doctor that I love).
We honour our parents. It says in Exodus 20 to honour your parents. It’s the first commandment with a promise. When you honour your mother and father, “you will live a long and full life in the land.” God also says in Exodus 21 that “anyone who says cruel things to his father or mother must be put to death.” Thank God we have Jesus who takes away our sins. We can go to God and say sorry, and he’ll help us to honour our parents. When we honour our parents, and our spiritual parents, you make yourself ready to receive honour and blessing. It’s part of the Lord’s blessing. Part of that blessing is long life.
We honour our leaders in church and the community. We also honour our elders, or older people. They’re not perfect but they are there to help you. Pray for them. We honour our pastors and they bless us all the time. We honour older folks and learn from their stories. Often they are very wise. If you ask them to help you learn, they could say yes!
We honour those we minister with. For Tony and me, that means the kids in the kids clubs. It means the men we see in the prison, it means the kids we teach in our school. It means we honour the principal in the school we work in, and the other leaders we work with. Even if we don’t agree on everything, we honour them, and love each other. Always be nice.
And we honour and love you. You are in our prayers all the time – both as a group and each of you girls. We are proud of you. You’ve made some mistakes during your time here, but we’ve forgiven those. We want only the best for you.
But let’s give an example. You’re now going into other people’s homes to minister for Jesus. You are to honour the hosts of those homes. Even if it’s your own home – your mom, dad, tannie or ouma is there. Honour them. They are your host or hostess. Treat them with kindness.
Jesus always had his disciples go into people’s homes to minister to them. They would speak peace to the house they came into, and a blessing on the family. I was asked to do this when I went to Pakistan. Families would ask me to bless marriages, babies, homes and businesses. I was always full of wonder when they asked me to do this, but it was Jesus’ blessing, not just Laurie-Ann’s.
So when you go into other people’s homes for ministry, honour them. And if you’re with another girl together, honour each other. You are a team.
So Honour is something that is intentional. You honour someone on purpose. Jesus wants us to honour each other. The Apostle Paul asks us in Philippians 2:3 to honour and esteem each other. We need to remember that, especially if another person is having a hard time.
When we first came to Worcester, we looked for a place to live. I found this house online and we made an appointment with a rental agency. So we came for a visit with our rental agent. Right now, this house has a Canadian flag. It’s like you are in Canada when you come visit.
At that time, there was a family from South Korea here. In that culture, you have to take off your shoes as a sign of honour and respect to that family. If you don’t, you not only hurt the feelings of the family, but you may deeply offend them. So we honoured them and took off our shoes. They were kind and let us walk around the house, looking into rooms, although we didn’t go into their cupboards or drawers since they were private. In Canada, we understand that doing that is not good unless you are invited.
When you go into other homes, and even more into other cultures, honour becomes even more important. I made a mistake with a lady pastor from Japan. We were good friends until one day I brought over another friend and I forgot to take my shoes off. She was so upset that she never spoke to me again and I became very sad. I made a mistake by dishonouring her and her home. I will always remember that lesson.
In our home, we also ask that we be shown some honour, especially since we have honoured and loved you. Sometimes some of you have gone into our drawers or moved things. We understand that you have a different culture where a lot more is shared. We want to share some things, but not all things, since we need them. So here’s an example. My phones are now off limits – not because I don’t like your selfies. You can use your own phones and wifi while you are here.
But I allowed the use of first my regular phone and tablet and then my other phone until I found some things were broken or used wrongly. My tablet was taken across the street to the neighbours to take pictures of their motorcycle. We don’t even do that. That’s someone else’s house. That’s private. So, no more tablet.
I found that someone sent a Whatsapp message on my phone to Father’s House ministry board, and they thought it was Tony. The person said, “hey.” I had to explain about that, and I was advised to not let anyone use my phone.
Then last time, one of you used my phone and put their own Facebook account on my phone. That was bad enough – but by accident, I was locked out of my own account with a changed password. I was eventually able to fix it, but it wasn’t easy. My phone is my phone. It was one thing to take pictures, but this means no more phone. Now that girl, who we love and forgive, has to use her own phone now. It’s just part of the consequences. I wasn’t shown honour, but I forgive. Before I move on, I can say that I could have chosen to be angry and go into her Facebook account. When I went to radio school, when other students left their Facebook accounts open on a school computer, other students would make a joke and post nasty words coming from that person. I could have done the same with that girl’s account. I know the devil certainly whispered into my ear to do that. But I chose not to do that. On purpose I said, “No, I will not dishonour her, and I forgive her. Locking me out of my account was an accident. I choose to honour her and NOT write nasty things on her Facebook page.”
Sometimes honour looks like choosing mercy, forgiveness and not to dishonour someone. To dishonour is like a curse, if you see it God’s way. To honour someone is to give a blessing.
And in the best way, to give honour, is like to put a crown on someone’s head. So when someone gives you honour, it’s like they are putting an invisible princess crown on your head.
And we choose to do that with you. We love you, we are proud of you and we honour you. You are going to be amazing leaders in Mailbox Club. So we’re going to pray for you now.
After we shared, these are the core parts of the words I received for the girl leaders who were there (Chantelle and Bella were away).
Antonica - Will be known for her kindness. It's kindness that will lead people to God
Macayla - Will be known for her bravery like Queen Esther. God will use her spunkiness to reach people others may not reach.
Chrizelle - Will be known for gentleness and wisdom. She has been crying out to God to know about things - of the kingdom of God and generally. She has already known about the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom, and is thirsty to know more.
Jamelia - Will be known for greater creativity. She will also be a big sister in the Lord to many younger children. Holy Spirit wants to bless her deeper in more creativity in writing, drawing and dancing.
Marsha - God wants to give her JOY despite any difficult circumstances, and more healing for her heart.
If you are reading this talk, please offer up a prayer for these girls.
by Laurie-Ann Copple
July and August were creative months for us – especially for me. Near the end of July, there was a special worship night focused on healing. I received a prophetic word (shown in the Words Blog section) about a coming creativity awakening in Worcester. This wasn’t just any creativity – but creativity that points to God. There is a coming arts festival that is part of this, as is my art, and the arts of many Christian creatives in this area.
I was invited to apply for an art stall at the Doxa Christian Arts Festival (that will be held at Worcester Christian Church on October 13th). I emailed a jpg of two worship drawings – one that I drew in Ottawa, and the other in Worcester. I still needed one more to make the limit of three. Since these are small pieces (only 9 x 12 inch image size), my space would not have to be large like most artists.
So I went about the process of being inspired for the third drawing, and while working on the third drawing, was inspired for another. I spent time in soaking prayer, and asked Holy Spirit what topic or image I should pursue for the next drawing. I was given an impression of me as a little girl, romping in a spring meadow with Namaqua daisies. These look like daisies but instead of being white petals with a yellow centre, they are orange petals with a black centre. When I went through images I had on file, I had one of an early drawing of Jesus, who was lovingly touching the face of a little girl. And I was also inspired by a photograph by landscape photographer Kyle Groetsch of Cape Town. He travelled to Namibia and photographed a scene of the red, white and yellow desert dunes with sparse black trees. I had my art students at Master Peace Academy draw this scene, and I also included it in the background. So Jesus in the context of my drawing, was bringing new life to the desert by transforming it into a hill with spring flowers – including Namaqua daisies. He was also transforming the life and heart of this little girl.
As I got to the point of finishing the black and white lines of the drawing, I had Tony scan it, so it would join the images of my upcoming prophetic colouring book. When I returned to the drawing to begin the colouring process, I was nudged instead to start another drawing. This one wouldn’t be for the Doxa Festival – but it would still be highly effective and relatable. For the second drawing, I had a Google image of a person on a tree stump with four kids. I drew that scene, and the adult became Jesus. Instead of drawing the children who were in the picture, I went through photos we have of some of our kids club children – in Avian Park (My Father's House) and Vinkrivier. I ended up drawing six ‘coloured’ children – Francesca from Avian Park, and Desnae, Keenan, David, Minmarie and Lydia from Vinkrivier. I felt like I was on to something like I was on the cutting edge. I finished that black and white drawing and once it was scanned, I shared it with the kids of these two clubs – later to be coloured in by many of them.
There were different reactions from the kids I chose for the drawings. Francesca and Lydia were embarrassed and covered their faces. They weren’t used to being noticed like this. They didn’t know what to say. Keenan was surprised but was okay with it.
Desnae is only four, so she didn’t mind at all. And Minmarie, had the reaction that I had hoped for. She was surprised but not embarrassed. I told her that as I was drawing, I sensed that she was on Jesus’ heart at that time. Right now he has something special for her and it’s her time to receive. But she was to know that God always notices her. She is not hidden. God sees her and so does Laurie-Ann. That was a special moment. I wish I had a picture of that time, but it's stamped on my heart forever. Tony did however capture that day when we drew and shared in the Vinkrivier kids club, along with dear family friends of our leader Kaysha.
I then shared these drawings with my art students at Master Peace Academy, and they loved them. I was given the idea of having them model with me (with Tony modelling as Jesus). They were excited and agreed. So in their case, they were willing participants in a coming drawing. Yet, I sense that there is more to come.
The people with Jesus don’t have to be children, but they must become LIKE children. We need to humble ourselves and just come to him. I used to think that this was all about gaining childlike wonder – but being with the farm and township kids, I can see that some of these have lost their sense of wonder. They are desensitized by internet, Facebook, and other social media. They want personal interaction and touch rather than amazing visual and auditory effects. Their wonder has to be instilled in them as they receive and absorb more and more love. We are glad to be in a position to love these kids, and show them hope. Whether it is our school kids or our kids club kids, we are like family to them now. This means extra struggles with boundaries but it is worth it.
If you are a praying person, please pray for us and the children. We need keys to each child’s heart, so they can receive love from us and from God. They also need to learn important life lessons that they aren’t necessarily getting from home. And we of course are on quite the learning curve ourselves. We also are humbling ourselves, learning to play (so to speak), and growing in our interaction with them. Recently, the Avian Park children even prayed for my healing, which was a very special time! We trust that prayer is being answered. Here's a glimpse of the Avian Park kids in My Father's House Worcester club.
Remember me mentioning the three drawings that I entered into the Doxa Festival? They were all accepted! We even made a few reproductions of “Jesus makes all things New.” The original will be for sale, as well as the other two drawings.
If you have questions about our ministry, our email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can also send us a note on our contact page. Perhaps you’d like to be in a drawing with Jesus too? Here are the drawings that will be in Doxa. They are framed with a white wood frame, white mat and coloured liner mat. Each original drawing is priced at R3,400 due to the commission involved to the festival.
Here is the link to the Doxa Festival:
by Laurie-Ann Copple
Tony and I have had stretching times with Avian Park children and teens during the past month or two – especially when we’re the only adults. During August, we had YWAM short-termer Daniel Mendes come help from YWAM Worcester. While he didn’t know Afrikaans and he’s still learning English, he reached out and connected with kids’ hearts – through singing, playing the violin and just being there. We also had one week with the Iris Harvest School 28 outreach team, who were with us for the Holy Spirit ministry day. We do have the teen helpers, but they don’t help with content, they help with crowd control and serving sandwiches and drinks. Even individual boys like to help, including setting up chairs and other infrastructure.
Recently, Tony has started to give these kids the Alpha talks personally, although without visual aids. Prior to this, we were using the Youth Alpha videos, which are good for teens, but these kids preferred personal interaction with Tony, as they also love it when I touch them. We’re learning their love language, even if they are still loud and easily distracted. So while Tony isn’t using visual aids (which I believe we need, he instead uses questions, and keeps the talks short. Last week, he presented How does God guide us very simply, and the kids seemed to catch on in questions. That day, when we sang, I was nudged to look into the children’s faces when we were singing. Often they watch us very closely but I usually look at Tony’s music, or close my eyes. Now I look at the children and smile. I work at connecting, physically touching them and encouraging them in shaking the shakers or drumming with me in good rhythm. The older kids also help me in moving things around, including my chair or drum bag. They naturally want to help.
I have begun touching these kids with a hug, kiss on the cheek, high five, or gently tucking in stray t-shirt tags. I do the same with the teens, but appropriately with hugs, kisses on the cheek and shared work in preparing food for the leadership training on Saturdays. The younger girls have now begun playing with my hair – which I don’t mind, unless it’s freshly washed (hey, don’t mess with my curls!). This week, one of my shakers was damaged - the apple shaker, which is very popular with all the kids clubs, as well as our prison inmates. However, four of the kids heard my pleas for help and they discovered that there was a missing stopper in the bottom of the apple shaker! One of the kids had pulled it out in a struggle with a second child. The stopper was found, as were little bits that were in the apple. Now all is good percussion-wise, although I’ve asked Tony to look into some more shakers at the local music store.
Meanwhile earlier during the day the shaker was damaged, I still wasn’t feeling that well but knew I had to come to kid’s club. I couldn't leave Tony on his own. I mentioned that perhaps the children could pray for me, since Holy Spirit can really work through children. It’s an Iris thing to get children involved in prayers for healing and other things. Their faith is much simpler and they have less doubts. So Tony decided to teach on healing, and use me as a prayer object.
Yesterday, I received a very special word of knowledge from another church member at Worcester Christian Church. The man who blessed me is named Johan. He ministers deeply from the Father Heart of God, and he always greets the non-Afrikaans speaking people on "translation row" with a smile, hug and encouragement. So later Johan approached me and told me something special right from the heart of the Father. He told me that God has heard my quiet, private cries to him in the night. These were prayers that not even Tony knew about. I was begging God for a change, for healing, for energy and even more inspiration. I told God that I just couldn’t continue on this way, endlessly working, and getting sick very often. This wasn’t just about my weight issues, my knees, or about an immunity issue I have with colds and flu. It was about all of it.
So Johan said that God was so concerned about my prayers that he was saying “shhh” to everyone in heaven so he could hear my quiet cries. I matter that much to him. The worship was temporarily put on hold. Then Johan said that there is about to be a very big change in my life and that God has not forgotten me. I’ve been promised healing before – and I know that it will happen here in South Africa. I just didn’t know the timing. Anyway, after Tony shared about healing and that God answers many children’s prayers, he had me share Johan’s word of knowledge with the children. I told them that just like Johan told me that God said “shhh” in heaven, so that he could hear me, he would do the same for their own deep heartfelt prayers to God.
I told them that I knew that God would hear their prayers. I did not share of another time when children prayed for me, which was back in 1991, in a Vineyard Family Camp. I still remember seeing in the Spirit when a girl named September Proctor had prayed over my thyroid and it was like she was saying in her prayers, “Don’t be dead, come back to life, right now, in Jesus.” Since we had 77 kids today, Tony decided that we wouldn’t have them all come up and lay hands on me, but instead he would. He would lead prayer and they would pray and stretch out their hands in prayer towards me. I’m not sure how many of these kids understood, but we both made it very clear that God can work through children just as well as he does through grown-ups (often even better). So they prayed. I continue to contend for the healing, although I do feel stronger. May this continue in Jesus’ name. Then I will give all the kids a high-five and a hug, like I did with the kids who helped me fix my apple shaker. We’re thankful that through the ups and downs with this particular club, we are deepening our relationship with these kids. We are thankful. We are finding that as we reach out and touch them, and are real, they reach back and respond.
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).
by Tony Copple (and L-A, Kaysha and Daniel) (A Day at My Father's House Worcester)
Pictured above, is L-A, and to the right is Tony sharing at My Father's House Worcester. These pictures were taken by one of our leaders, Chantal on L-A's phone. She usually takes selfies, but blessed us with these as well. L-A captured Tony and Daniel practicing up for the music. L-A is otherwise singing and playing bodhran, and some of the children shakers.
This sharing was mostly by Tony, but he invited L-A and our friends Kaysha and Daniel to share as well. This is how it unfolded:
Tony: God is like one man with three jobs – God the Father is the creator. He made us. Jesus is like the designer. A designer helps people to make something, that’s Jesus. And the third one has the job of being the comforter. But he’s one person. One person. We’re going to think and learn about the Holy Spirit today.
Daniel: Hello guys, I remember you from last week. You know that God is a person, right? He is in heaven, but can be in your heart too. He can be in heaven, but we can be all the time with God, because the Holy Spirit stays right with us. And he’s always speaking to us.
Tony: Daniel is from Brazil. Who knows where Brazil is? It’s in South America. But we have someone who is from North America. This is Kaysha. She’ll tell you about the Holy Spirit in her life.
Kaysha: I’m Kaysha, I’m from America, and right now I’m living in Robertson. That’s not very far from you. I want to tell you about the Holy Spirit. He’s personal for me and he’s personal for you. He loves all of us the same, but he loves each one of you, individually and uniquely as you are. So for me, he loves me and he’s like a best friend to me and to you. Do you know that about God? (yes)
L-A: You all know who I am, Tante Laurie-Ann. I also come from North America, but in Canada. And for me, Holy Spirit is a friend. Even when I didn’t know God, I knew about God. I was actually into evil spirits and not the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit starting speaking to me about finding God. I remember sitting at my friend’s kitchen table, and my life wasn’t going very well. So I said to myself, “Well, next year is going to be the year when my life is going to change.” And do you know what? The Holy Spirit came to me and touched me. He felt like a waterfall of joy and love over me. Do you know what he said to me? He said, “Good, now is the time to find God” – and I knew he meant Jesus, because the Holy Spirit always points to Jesus and always points to the Father. So I began to search for Jesus, and I began to read the Bible. I then went to a conference, where a man told me that you could only love Holy Spirit and not evil spirits. Jesus became my friend that night and Holy Spirit washed over me again. So Holy Spirit since then has always been with me. He’s the one who gives me strength, he’s the one who gives me smiles, he’s the one who gives me joy. And if you’ve ever noticed, the Holy Spirit comes to you through my smile.
Tony: It’s my turn to share about the Holy Spirit. I have Holy Spirit on my phone (and my heart). I’m going to tell you some things about him. I heard this teaching this week from a wise man who knows Jesus very well. Here are some things that he said about the Holy Spirit. First of all, the Holy Spirit makes us STRONG. He makes us strong. Another word for strong is that he makes us mighty. He makes us mighty. And he makes us able to do things. In the Bible, they say ‘mighty’ a lot. They say God is mighty. God almighty – and that’s because of the Holy Spirit. He’s the one that gives us strength – and even Jesus needed the strength of the Holy Spirit, when he was on earth two thousand years ago. He had to have the Holy Spirit in his heart, so he would know what to do. In those days, not too many people had the Holy Spirit in their heart, just a few people. So if Jesus needed the Holy Spirit, you can see that WE need him even more. We need him a lot more than that.
The Holy Spirit may be part of ministry. I’d like to say that the Holy Spirit is here, and he is laying hands on this group of people (Tony touches some of the kids). His holy hands are touching everybody here, so we have the Holy Spirit watching over us. But he is also IN people. He is here in ministry. I know for a fact that he is inside Laurie-Ann’s heart. And he’s inside Daniel’s heart and Kaysha’s heart. Am I right? Actually, he’s in all your hearts. He’s inside talking to you, but you have to learn how to listen to him. He’s the one who will guide you.
We will see a movie about this a little while later. The Holy Spirit is a leader. He leads us on paths that we have to go on. He may say to somebody, “You need to go to Africa – there are children who want to know about me.” And there are other children, in China, in Africa, in all these places. The Holy Spirit gives them that feeling that they just want to come.
And the Holy Spirit empowers people. That means he gives them power. So you may think you’re a little bit weak and you’re not very good at something. But when you’re doing something for God, then he will give you the power that you need. He will give you the strength and the knowledge. I love feeling the power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I feel him a little bit, sometimes I feel him a lot. So he anoints us. Anointing is like he touches this hand, and says, I’m not you, but you will have special capabilities from me. You can read about that in the Bible. I’d like to think that he wants to anoint all of us for something special. I am weak. But if I have the Holy Spirit, then I can be strong. I don’t mean physically strong, I don’t mean that I can come and lift a car up. But I mean that he gives me strength, like right now, to talk to you about him. That’s coming from him, and not coming from me.
He is our stand by. Sometimes we call him our stand-in. Sometimes we fall by the wayside. We are not doing what we should do. We drop out a little bit. The Holy Spirit can take over a little bit. He can stand in for us. You know, whatever strength you think we have, it is TINY compared to the Holy Spirit’s strength. The Holy Spirit’s strength is huge and our strength is tiny, so we need his strength in our lives. Now Jesus, before he died, he said to his apostles, “When I go away” )he meant when I die) “then the Holy Spirit will come.” The Holy Spirit will come. He won’t come unless I die. So people were a little confused, they didn’t know what he was talking about. But what he meant was that when he went back to heaven, to be with the Father; then the Holy Spirit would come and be available for everybody. This meant more than just for a few people, like it had been at that time. So Jesus said, “When I go away, I will send the Holy Spirit to be a comforter. He will be a comforter. He will also be an advocate. Now advocate is another name for a lawyer. It means that if you end up in a court of law, you have a lawyer who puts your case before the judge. The Holy Spirit will take our case. He will say, ‘Yes, I know he’s done some bad things in his life, but he’s also done some good things.” That’s the kind of help he can give.
And he will be a counsellor. A counsellor is someone who can give you wisdom, or advice. Most of us don’t know much about anything. So if we need help, we can go and ask someone who can help us. That’s what a counsellor does. He’s a helper. He’s an intercessor. That means he helps us pray, and is passing our prayers onto God the Father. So when you pray, don’t ever think your prayer is wasted, because the Holy Spirit is carrying your prayer to God the Father. Alright, so that’s a few things about the Holy Spirit, and now we’re going to have an Alpha video about “Who is the Holy Spirit.”
The following week, we invited the Iris Harvest School extended outreach from the Robertson area base to come minister with us. It was the Holy Spirit day "How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?" Not only did they join us, as well as our friend Daniel, but MFHW founder Jan Buchanan was there as well! What a blessing! Here are montages of that day:
Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
L-A's devotional blog
TONY'S DEVOTIONAL BLOG
Tony's south african journal