Tony had a turn of sharing a teaching with the Avian Park kids at My Father's House Worcester recently, before we shared a fun Mr. Bean movie. We like to include fun as well as worship, teaching and food. This day we had a full house of leaders - Tony, Soraya, Laurie-Ann and Tanya. Here's Tony's talk:
Some have you have been here for a few weeks, and you’ve seen some movies, and last week we drew some art. You coloured in some worship pictures. You are good artists. Very good artists. (Note: you will see pictures of the kids colouring in some of Laurie-Ann's drawings in a future post).
Some of you have been here for a few weeks, and there are some movies that we showed. We saw “Who is Jesus?” You saw “Why did Jesus die?” and we saw “How can I have faith?” In some of those, you were invited, and you could say, yes, I would like Jesus to come into my life. That’s the way that people can become a Christian. Laurie-Ann became a Christian a long time ago. Tanya became a Christian quite a long time ago. When did you become a Christian, Soraya? She answers, “When I became 18.” I became a Christian in 1984.
So some of you know who Jesus is, and you would like to follow Jesus. That’s what we call becoming a Christian. But that is not the ‘end’, that is just the beginning. It’s at that point when you start feeling that God is talking to you. God doesn’t normally talk in a voice like mine. Sometimes he talks to you in a dream. Sometimes you just get a feeling in your heart that he’s talking to you.
Have you ever had one of those feelings, Soraya? (yes) Have you had some of those feelings, Laurie-Ann? (yes) I know that God talks to Tanya all the time. She’s always telling me, “he told me, he spoke to me this morning.” So we would like to gradually get to know Jesus’ voice, as he talks to us. And the reason he likes to talk to us, is two reasons, is he loves us to talk to him, when we’re praying, because he loves us so much. When you love someone, you like to talk to them. And the other reason, is that he wants to help us in our lives. We like to think that he has a plan for our lives.
And in fact, when you were first born, and before you were born, God had a plan for YOUR life.
So he’s been waiting since then to be able to talk to you and tell you about the plan. God has a plan for EVERYBODY’S life. But many people never hear the plan – because they don’t know Jesus, they don’t become a Christian. So it’s a wonderful thing to be a Christian and to follow God’s plan. Sometimes when you’re following the plan, you feel that he wants you to do something, that you don’t think you can do. You don’t think you have the skill. Jesus was talking to me about ten years ago. He said, I want you to go to Africa. And I didn’t think that I could do it. I didn’t think that I had the skill. And I really didn’t trust him that much.
But then, in the Bible, we read about people that God gave plans to. One of the first ones was Abraham. Hands up if you’ve heard of Abraham. Abraham was very, very important. But he didn’t think that he was capable of carrying out God’s plan. But God told him, I will give you all the help that you need. Another person who didn’t think he could carry out God’s plan was Moses. Hands up if you’ve heard of Moses. Moses said to God, “I can’t even speak properly. I get tongue-tied.” But God said, I will help you. And Moses became a great leader.
And then there was Joshua. And Joshua was the one that brought the Israelites back into the promised land. And he didn’t think that he was a good enough leader to do that. So in the Bible, there are many, many people who were not clever, they were not rich, they were a little shy, they really didn’t want to talk to people. Is anybody here like that; a little shy? You really don’t want to talk to people? A few of you, maybe. But always, God said to them, I will help you. And then they went on to do wonderful work for God. If they hadn’t done that work, we would not be here today. We wouldn’t know about God. So we’re very, very grateful that they worked and had God’s help.
In the Bible, one of the most important people is the apostle Paul. He wrote one third of the New Testament. And he said, it is when we are weak, that we are strong. If we are weak, and we don’t think that we’re very clever, and very rich, and to be able to speak, we are weak. They don’t think they are important, but these are just the people that God is looking for. And why do you think that he’s looking for those kinds of people? He’s looking for them, because he can teach them. We call these people teachable. There are many people in the world who are not teachable. They think they know everything. Do you know anyone who thinks they know everything? Well, there are people out there who think they know EVERYTHING. And God finds it difficult to work with them, because they always want to do it THEIR way. And God wants them to do it HIS way.
So what we’re learning, after all this history, is that even if you are a little bit shy, and you don’t think you’re very clever, and you’re not a leader, and you really know that people don’t think highly of you, you may be just the person who God will speak to, and say I need your help. Maybe, right here in Avian Park, he may say, somebody is sick. I want you to go and comfort them. And you may say, “I don’t know what to say to them.” And God will say to you, “I will give you the words.” So when you go to see them, and they are sick, you will find that God will tell you how you can speak to them. That’s why some of us like to visit hospitals. And it’s amazing, that when you’re talking to someone who is very sick, and the words you should say to that person just come into your mind. That is how God works with people who are weak, and he makes them strong. So is it better to be weak, or strong? It’s better to be weak, but have God make you strong. When you read your Bible, in many places you will hear the story that I’ve been telling you.
Today I shared the gospel with the Riverview children using coloured paper. There is a version of this teaching called "The Wordless Book." I modified it a bit to add a few more colours. I had a simple translator, and Mella backed up my teaching with a review. They had a simpler version of this teaching before, but they again needed more foundations. Here's a taste of the lesson:
I love colours. I’m an artist, so I love drawing, and then colouring in my drawings.
What’s your favourite colour?
Hands up for those who love red.
How many of you love blue?
How about purple? Who likes purple?
How about the girls – any of you like pink?
Tony, what’s YOUR favourite colour? (turquoise)
And Miss Mella? What’s your favourite colour? (yellow)
My favourite colour is green.
I’m going to show you a few colours and talk about them.
So we have GOLD
GOLD: Gold reminds me of heaven – because gold is shiny like glory. Heaven is a real place! Heaven is a place where no one gets sick and everyone is happy. There are no tears in heaven.The most wonderful thing is Heaven is where God lives. He wants to invite us there to live with him after we live here on earth. But something very important tries to stop us from going to heaven. It’s something that really bothers God.
BLACK: Now we have BLACK! What do you think black represents? It’s something that prevents us from being with God. SIN. What is sin? Sins are the things we do that make God unhappy. Some of this is doing, saying or thinking bad things. Some sins are things we do every day. They include telling lies, disobeying your parents, hurting others and being selfish. Like wanting all the candy for yourself, when it’s for everyone.
But sin isn’t just something that boys and girls do. ALL of us have sinned. I’ve sinned. The Bible says that everyone has sinned and falls short. The Bible says that Everyone has sinned and are not good enough for God’s glory (Romans 3:23)
What does sin do? Because of sin, our hearts aren’t clean. God is perfect. He’s good, he’s clean and has no sin. Because God is clean, He can only allow people with clean hearts into heaven. So how do we get clean from sin? We can’t wash the sin off without help. God makes a way to have clean hearts!
RED: Now we have RED! What’s the red colour mean? Red means the blood of Jesus. It’s the only way our hearts can be made clean. What we mean by that is that Jesus had to shed his blood and die on the cross to make up for our sins. God loves us so much that he sent his son Jesus to earth. He was not like you and me. He never sinned. He’s also God like Father is. So Jesus took our place by dying for us. We don’t have to be locked out of heaven. All the wrong things we do can be forgiven. We can spend time loving God. And Jesus became alive again after three days. So after Jesus took our sin, something *amazing* happened.
WHITE: Now we have WHITE! Now our hearts can be clean! Our hearts can be even cleaner than this white page. We just need to say to God: Sorry, I’ve sinned. Thank you for dying for me, and ask him please to come into my life. Keep me away from sin and help me to live for you. If we pray these things and we really mean it, our hearts will be clean. (1 John 1:9)
PURPLE: Now we have PURPLE! Let’s pretend it’s dark purple. Purple is a royal colour. When we accept Jesus in our hearts, we become royalty. We are now princes and princesses. We are "King's Kids." It’s true! We become children of God. We can call God our Pappa. Some of us already do this. But it takes time to learn how to be royal. It means that we obey God and he changes our hearts to be better.
BLUE: Now we have BLUE! This is a form of blue. Blue is like the sky, but it’s also the colour of the water if this pool behind us is full. Blue is for baptism. Baptism shows others that you are ready to follow Jesus. It means that you want to follow him for the rest of your life. If we are baptized in water, we leave our old life behind in the water. When you are baptized, you leave your old life behind you.
GREEN: Now we have GREEN! What does the Green colour mean? Green is the colour of many things that grow – like grass, trees, and plants. Since you have asked Jesus to be in your life, you can grow close to him.
Green also means NEW LIFE. Jesus gives you new life, and he gives you peace. He gives you love. And he gives you joy. You can grow in your friendship with God, like a plant grows in a garden. How can you grow? By Talking to God (prayer) Reading the Bible, obeying him and so many other ways.
And here’s our last colour – YELLOW! Yellow is the colour of faithfulness. It could be gold, but we’ve already started with gold. If we keep faithful to Jesus, we are given crowns in heaven. The crowns are filled with special jewels that God makes from what the things we experience in our lives. When we live well for him, we have many jewels.
But even right now, Jesus gives us a crown. That crown is in knowing who you are. It is in knowing that you are his child. You can’t earn it. But he gives it. I’m going to pray for us now.
We are sorry for all we have done wrong. We are sorry we sometimes forget how good you are. Thank you that you came and died in our place. We give you our lives again. We give you our hearts. Please come and fill us with your love. Help us never be lonely again. Help us to grow in you like the colours of Auntie Laurie-Ann’s story. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
We'll have to see what we do next. I'm also teaching through kids colouring my prophetic worship drawings. More on that another time.
L-A, Mella & translator// "Cree" and L-A at Father's House School//Two cuties at Riverview
Laurie-Ann has fallen in love with the Riverview kids, and many of them love her too. While they can still act a bit crazy from a sugar high (Mella’s sweets), they do respond and grow. We decided to see if they were listening. Before L-A started a talk given on April 18th, she asked if they could still remember the basics from the talk given on February 14th. It was about God changing hearts of stone to become a heart filled with love (a heart of flesh). They remembered! So L-A shared the following talk, and found that she brought two extra sponges with her. The sponge is her symbol of soaking prayer and a good memento. So after the talk, Mella gave a contest of different questions that the kids could answer to see if they were listening and learned from the talk. It was astounding at how much they remembered! Here’s the talk – it may bless you as well.
"Last time I shared with you, I talked about God giving us a new heart. We learned about God changing our hearts from stone to a heart that loves. God wants to give us his heart – like this paper heart but much bigger. (Put the heart on my chest)
Now let’s pretend this heart was ten times the size of this one, only it would still fit inside of me. That’s how big our hearts can be when filled with God’s love. It’s all about God’s love. We need to receive God’s love, so we can give it to others.
We need to ask God to fill us with love every day. We need to stop and spend time with him. Yes, you are kids. Jesus LOVES kids. You can love and touch people’s hearts. You don’t have to be a grown-up. So I have a secret in how I keep my heart full. I’d love to share it with you. We need to spend time with Jesus every day. EVERY day. His love is like fuel for our hearts. We run on love, not sadness or anger. So in your time with Jesus, you read the Bible. You also share your heart with him.
And then you quiet your heart so that you’re only thinking about Jesus. Other things may be good, but this is your special time with Jesus. It says in the Psalms, to be still and know that He is God. When we take the time to wait before the Lord, He responds. So I do something called Soaking Prayer. It’s when we soak in God’s love, like you can soak in a swimming pool without splashing and laughing. And it’s also like when you’re really thirsty and only cold water will make you feel satisfied. Coke, Fanta or Stoney Ginger Beer won’t stop your thirst. Water will.
And you may not know this, but we made of water. We need water to keep us alive. We also need God’s love to keep us alive. I have a sponge here. (show sponge) This sponge can be used to wash dishes. It can also wipe kitchen counters and sinks. But it won’t work without water.
Uncle Tony, please come on over here. (Rub the sponge against Tony’s arm). (Tony reacts) Tony, how does this sponge make you feel? (Tony says: It doesn’t feel nice! It’s hard and scratchy!)
So let’s pretend your heart is like a sponge that is dry. It has no water in it. If your heart is hard and scratchy, you might be rude and mean. But if your heart is filled, then you’re loving. Some sponges get really hard and when you rub them on the counter, it squeaks. And when you rub a dry sponge on you, it doesn’t feel very nice. So we have water here in this bowl. And we have this sponge. Let’s see what happens when we soak the sponge in the water over a long time.
(L-A dips the sponge in and keeps immersing the sponge – but it’s not that full yet. She dips again and again)
Tony (says to the kids): Do we need more? (yes)
So, what do you think happens in your day if you are tired and someone pokes you? This is a day that you didn’t have a chance to spend time with Jesus. Do you get mad? Do you laugh? Do you get upset and tell them to go away? So think - what could happen if someone pokes you AFTER you’ve spent time with Jesus? (L-A finally squeezes the sponge with the water coming out in streams)
Jesus says that whoever comes to him would have streams of living water flow from their bellies. He fills us with his deep love inside – just like this sponge and water. We are the sponge. He is the water.
Now I don’t want someone poking you, but things like that happen in life. What matters is that if you have a heart filled with love, love will be your language every day. So how do we do this at home? We don’t need a sponge and water. You need a quiet place to yourself. It helps to have soft worship music, since sometimes you can fall asleep. And you need to just rest and think of Jesus. And he will fill you with peace and love. He may even give you a little picture or speak loving words from the Bible into your heart. I’d like to pray with you. Lord Jesus, thank you for my little brothers and sisters. You love them. I love them. I ask that as they sit here before you, that you would touch their hearts. Let them feel your presence. And in this time of peace, speak to them. In Jesus’ name."
I’m finding that there is always a side of spontaneity when I talk to these (and other) children. Two weeks prior, I was asked in an impromptu way by the international students at the Iris Father’s House Discipleship School to also speak on soaking prayer. I was completely surprised, since I had not taught this for some time. So I’m glad I was reminded, since it was a perfect follow-up with the children on the stony heart becoming one of love.
You never know how some of the children will react. Take the reactions of the adults and magnify them many times – and you’ll see what I mean. I was given an impromptu translator to share my message line by line in Afrikaans. Some of the kids clearly understood both languages, so they got a double teaching. Also, both children who ‘won’ a sponge, will share them with their mothers, and will likely tell them about the soaking prayer they learned at kids’ club. Next week, I speak to both the Avian Park kids (at My Father’s House Worcester) and the Vinkrivier Farm kids. But each time my heart grows bigger and I’m stretched. May your heart but full and stretched too. It just may keep you from a spiritual heart attack!
I have been asked many times about teaching. I even considered it in the 1990s, before I went to seminary. Then I considered actually teaching as a professor to adults. I had the privilege to use my Tyndale (and University of Toronto) education in teaching aspects of faith and Christianity in Kenya, Pakistan and Sierra Leone. I am much more of a teacher than a preacher, and love coming alongside people to encourage and teach. I hadn’t yet taught art, but I love to see how things work – had I been more mathematical, I might even have become an engineer. But I recognize things by patterns. I’m the same in language, as I have discovered in Afrikaans. Tony and I are slowly learning Afrikaans, and we are very thankful for our friends and Afrikaans teachers, Janey and Andre.
Back in 2014, I was in a transition period towards becoming a missionary. Tony was not ready and was still working full time. I was volunteering in admin, and waiting. I had a little impression from Holy Spirit while I was driving to visit my parents in Toronto. In it, I was teaching African children about art. I considered this and thought, "why not, that might be fun," but then filed away that impression for later. After I did think on it, the impression expanded to include radio.
Fast forward to late 2017, when we were asked to consider becoming volunteer teachers at MasterPeace Academy in Worcester. I had not taught according to a curriculum, and Dr. Mella Davis used Meet the Masters curriculum; which follows specific artists, their history, and then gives exercises, an online quiz, and a collage type project in the style of that artist. It felt foreign to me at first, especially with Mary Cassatt, a 19th century American impressionist, who friended Edgar Degas. When we got to Piet Mondrian, a modern Dutch artist who eventually worked in New York City, I had an opportunity to share my own art, and to pray for their own creativity. The boys were able to identify with my work, and see how both Mondrian and I worked the black lines. In Mondrian’s case, it was horizontal and vertical. In mine, they’re more organic. They could understand primary colours (red, yellow and blue), balance and composition. I recognized a strong talent, almost brilliance in young Khanyo that pleased me very much. I was able to encourage both of them in the Mary Cassatt section, but using my own art, I felt like we were family. These were like my little brothers, where we could share, and encourage. And they blossomed, especially Khanyo.
Tony encouraged ME that I’m becoming a good teacher – and while they can be very active little boys, they blossom, with my different form of discipline. Mind you, we are really taking baby steps in this process. Tony teaches every school morning with science, and weekly with music. I’m weekly with art. But it is a highlight when we get to work hands on together. It is then that I can see that they’ve been listening all along. And that is gratifying. Thank you Jesus, for this opportunity.
We also get to have mini teaching moments in kids clubs, within the context of faith. The teaching isn’t always about God – after all, we have re-learned a lot in teaching art, science and music. So we share that too. It’s all good. Now on to Tony’s experience.
Just a note: All supplies for L-A's art teaching, Tony's science experiments and the like are donated by the Copples. We are not paid as teachers, nor are given a budget. We are fine with this, since it's a good ministry. Our other outreaches are also funded out of our pockets as well. If you feel led to help, we invite you to sow through the link below (just make sure you scroll down the giving list to find - South Africa: Tony & Laurie-Ann Copple). Thank you for considering us.
As discerning readers will know – and you are all discerning – I (Tony) have been teaching in a small Christian school for disadvantaged children for two months. Although I have taught technical material to adults from time to time, this is my first time tackling 8 – 10 year olds. I chose to do this because the only way township children can rise above their backgrounds is through crime (gangsterism) or education. I liked the idea of this school because Christ is front and centre in its goals, so when I feel like explaining a scientific fact using a sentence like ‘God decided that the best design for strength with lightness was an oval,’ when explaining the genius of an egg, no school inspector will slap me down for fear of offending atheists.
I love sharing ideas, whether my own or (much more commonly) those of brilliant people. That’s why I have a web site. But the web site is like pissing into cotton wool (a phrase from some creative person, not me). There’s no push-back, and some frustration from getting no feedback. It’s so rare that when it happened once, 20 years ago from one Laurie-Ann Zachar, I got her to change her surname.
Sitting down across a table with two black charm-oozing beautiful children who with expectant smiles ask “What’s today’s experiment?” is different. I had almost forgotten the elegance of the scientific world which I embraced with enthusiasm when I was several years older than they. But I still have the rare sense of wonder that Carl Sagan gave us all with ‘Cosmos.’ The fact that only water of all liquids expands on freezing so as to keep fish alive is a stunningly elegant solution from a divine designer. The beautiful three dimensional concept of our sense of static and dynamic balance using otoliths (tiny rocks) and semi-circular canals gives me pleasure like music. But I never found anyone interested in such things to explain them to. Until now.
“But you haven’t got a teaching qualification!” I hear the authorities say in advanced countries. You must learn how to discipline children to pass exams. Kids are not interested in learning; they have to be forced. Baloney, I say. They are actually keen to learn about the world around them! And they don’t even know that very few other kids of their age are being taught this stuff. Furthermore, such principles will stay with them for a lifetime, as they have with me. Maybe, just maybe, Khanyo will forsake his idea of becoming a diver, and become a scientist, or better still, an engineer. Now wouldn’t that give me a sense of satisfaction if I meet up with him again in 30 years and he is the principal of a technical college here in South Africa!
Music is my passion and teaching. Even talking about any aspect of it gives me goose bumps. But even more important than learning to play an instrument (which takes thousands of hours to be good enough to earn a good living) is to be able to appreciate and enjoy music. As I write this I am listening to obscure rock music by Kevin Ayers. It’s taken me 30 years to fully appreciate it. What if I can open the kids ears to the fact that there is wonderful music to be savoured in many genres, and that it’s not just for background listening? They are 40 years after the greatest music renaissance in history, and in a superb position to wonder at it if only they become aware of it. So before I taught them to play a note on any instrument, they learned about 36 genres to explore, the instruments of the orchestra (plus the (electric) guitar), musical forms from symphonies to jazz and their origins, how to choose an instrument to learn, scales, notes, keys, sharps, crochets. Then after two lessons learning recorder and keyboard basics, I had one of them (Mpho, 8) compose a tune. He didn’t know he isn’t meant to be able to do this at that age. I admit he got a little help, but now he has a tune that I later recorded on recorder to make him feel good. Here’s the song. What’s not to love about teaching music?
Some learning involves the teacher to have fun!
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Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple
Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa
While many of our Anglican friends around the world were focused on Ash Wednesday, we shared Valentine's Day with one of our kid's clubs. We didn't have chocolate (which would have melted in plus 35C heat anyway), but we did share Canadian Laura Secord maple candies. Here's a peek at what we shared after singing "Great Big God," "Sandyland," "Say Say," "Open the eyes of my heart," and the request of "Amazing Grace."
So we had a wonderful Valentine’s Day with the Riverview kids club. Not only did I share on forgiveness and God giving us a new heart, but they learned about Canada and maple. Here’s a taste of what I shared (yes, that’s an intentional pun):
It’s February 14. Who knows what today is?? It’s Valentine’s Day! So we are all Jesus’ valentine today. He’s the one who really loves us. Does he love us more than our brothers and sisters do? (Yes) Does he love us more than our mothers and fathers do? (Yes) Does he love us more than our ouma and oupas do? (Yes) Does he love us more than our tantes and ooms do?
We know that Jesus loves us. Does he love people even when they do bad things? (Yes)mmHe does love them but he’s not happy with the bad things they are doing. That makes Jesus sad, and he helps us to forgive when other people may hurt us. They might say mean things, but those mean things aren’t who you are. They may say you’re slow or stupid. But, they are just saying bad things. Please don’t believe them. Jesus will deal with people who do bad things.
Sometimes when people say bad things like that, their hearts are like a stone. We call that having a hard heart. (Show a rock).
Do you see how hard that rock is? If you hit that rock with your hand, it would hurt. It also doesn't breathe and it's really heavy. It looks like it doesn't feel anything, but it hurts the rest of you. That’s what a hard heart that can feel like inside you. It can be full of hurt, anger and feeling alone. When you have a hard heart, you can’t feel how other people love you. All you feel is hurt.
Today we’re going to learn that God can heal our hearts with his love. He can change hurt hearts and stone hearts into love hearts. God loves us like this heart (Show a red paper heart).
But let’s pretend that this heart is as big as Worcester - maybe even as big as the province of Western Cape. Have you noticed on the map of our province that it's in the shape of a heart? That's really special. But do you know what's even more special?
God loves so much that he died to take away all the bad things in our hearts – things we do wrong, things we’ve thought, or when we don’t forgive those who hurt us. We can’t STAY angry at people who hurt us. We need to forgive them.
But when we ask God to forgive us of our own bad things, we can ask God for a new heart too.
When we have HIS heart, we can forgive. God helps us. Then he gives you a new heart, full of his love. It’s like he fills your heart with SO MUCH sweetness that you want to dance or sing. So he puts his heart inside you and me. He gives us joy, even if we have a bad day. So he HEALS you by giving you a new heart.
If God’s love could be a flavour, do you think it would it be sweet? It says in the Psalms that God’s words are sweeter than honey (Psalm 119:103) Tony and I brought something for you all the way from our country Canada that is sweet. Let me tell you about Canada.
Here is the Canadian flag – it has a maple leaf in the centre of it. (show the Canadian flag) The maple is a tree in Canada that has a special juice, or sap at the end of our winter.
They boil that juice down and make maple syrup. Some people here in South Africa have syrup like that on pancakes. And if you boil the syrup even more, you get maple candy. So we brought some of the maple with us that you can try. Think of the sweetness like God’s love that he wants to pour into your heart. And we found that there is a special tree in heaven. It’s called the tree of life. The last book in the Bible, is the book of Revelation. It talks about that tree. It says the leaves of that tree are for the healing of the nations.
My country, Canada is meant to be a place where nations are healed in God’s love. But you can have that healing right here in South Africa. God’s promise is life. God’s promise is his sweet love and Jesus died for us. We can receive that promise by saying yes to Jesus.
So we have some candy made from those maple trees. We just wanted to share that God’s love is sweet as we give you a special sweet. God had you in his heart even when I chose these candies for you in Canada. Think about that. He loves you. And so do we. He wants to give you hearts like his heart, instead of hearts of stone. Would you like to have God's heart?
Lord Jesus, I thank you for our friends here in this Riverview club. I ask that you surround them with your protection, and fill them with your love. Speak to their hearts and show them in many ways that you love them. They are your children. In Jesus’ name. Amen
(Note: The maple candies were popular, and one of our boys wanted to keep his for show and tell at school. It's pity we didn't have a spare Canadian flag to loan him to go with it).
May Jesus be your Valentine too.
Love, Laurie-Ann (and Tony).
This post is based from a talk that Laurie-Ann shared near Robertson, Western Cape, January 28, 2018)
Tony and I attended Iris Harvest School 24 in 2016. During the time there, (Mama) Heidi shared a dream that she had recently. She saw a net in the coming harvest and when she shared, she got really excited, because there were many, many fish. She originally assumed this net was of Iris’ impact in the present and future harvest of people.
Then the scene in her dream widened and showed that the Iris net wasn’t that big – it was actually small (despite all the work that Iris is doing). There were many, many nets – these were thrown out by churches, ministries and individuals and these were small nets and they needed more of them. When I was hearing this, I got an impression that there were lots of empty spaces not covered by nets (yet). I believe that not only do we need more nets, but those nets needed to be connected. I’ve had an intermittent pastoral care sense since the 1990s where I notice people who are about to fall through the cracks. I’ve seen this in nearly every place I’ve been. It’s like people have to be intentional that they don’t fall through the nets – which happens when they get isolated from others.
I’ve seen this phenomenon in North America, the UK, Pakistan and Africa. I’ve even fallen through the safety nets myself – not in terms of salvation, but in pastoral care and support. But that’s where Jesus comes in to catch US when we fall through the net. But does this take away our own responsibility for going after the one, when the 99 are in the net? NO!
I believe we are called to be net-workers, net builders, and net repairers. This is not just a task for missionaries but all people who are in Christ.
Importance of foundations
Tony and I heard Pastor Phil Dooley from Hillsong South Africa speak after we first arrived in South Africa - on our first Sunday in Cape Town. Phil talked about the importance of building foundations in relationships, not tearing them down. We thought as we are building a foundation for a new Iris Western Cape cluster, and could see this was a God moment to encourage us. Phil said, “Foundations are the most important part of the building. While we don’t see them, it is essential that this part is properly built” – with love, support, and a strong frame. These take time, just like good relationships take time.
And if we think of it, Jesus himself is our foundation – and so he needs to be in all of our ministry from the very beginning. We need our time with him in all things. Our foundation must be sturdy and built on Jesus: Matthew 7:24 (NLT)
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.”
Whenever I think of this scripture, I remember a Vacation Bible School I helped with when I was a brand new believer. We sang a song called “Sandyland” with them. Here it is:
“Don't build your house on the sandy land,
Don't build it too near the shore.
It might look kind of nice but you'll have to build it twice
Oh, you'll have to build your house once more, more, more
You better build your house on a rock,
Make a good foundation on a solid spot.
Then the storms may come and go, but the Peace of God you will know.”
There’s also a popular song called “Two Sets of Jones'” by Big Tent Revival that illustrates personal faith foundations as well.
I believe that foundations don’t have to be fixed and immoveable – they can be flexible – since we aren’t a building – we move around. Imagine a bendable kind of foundation. This foundation is a connection of cords of love, like what is shown in Ecclesiastes 4:12:
"By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped."
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (Message)
Tony and I had this scripture read at our wedding, and it symbolized that we were inviting Jesus to be woven into the core of our marriage to each other. We were to be infused with his strength and love far more than just a third friend. It makes for more than a strong cord – but one that is living!
But this kind of connection isn’t just for marriage! It can be for any relationship that the Lord would use. It’s about family. Whether they are part of our church family, Iris family, ministry family or the people who come to faith right before our eyes.
So when Tony and I came to Worcester, we began networking right away. We are thankful for the huge head start we got through YWAM and existing ministries in Worcester. We saw empty spots, which we will fill for a time. (We trust that our own unique ministry will come out of this in an area not covered by all the ministries we are encountering).
In the past, I have had various impressions on starting a kids club with art and radio. I’m not sure how this will happen, since we can’t duplicate what’s going on in Robertson or Vinkrivier. But what will come will be unique and needed for Worcester.
So we Copples feel that one of our main tasks in Worcester is to TIE THE NETS TOGETHER. I discovered last week that a YWAM worker named Soraya has the same heart – she’s involved in at least three ministries, some connected with YWAM, others independent. I felt like she was a real sister, since we have the same heart that reaches out.
We don’t mind where the nets are coming from, what denomination or background. We are working to repair breaches, and sewing the nets together to reach Worcester together. We aren’t copying what each other is doing – we are learning from them, as we eventually find our ministry in the unreached areas between the nets.
With each ministry, we’ve noted that these workers are family –cousins in outlook, but brothers and sisters in Christ. One phrase of Papa Johan has continually stayed with me since our Harvest School Outreach in 2016. It was “it’s all about family.” And while there never is a perfect family – I am led to choose to see each of these workers, and those we reach as family.
Here’s another impression I’ve recently received. The nets aren’t just ropes, or three-fold cords – they are hands and hearts. The nets are living. They are our hands; our hearts – and they are especially Jesus’ heart.
Two nights ago, I went to bed thinking about the nets, which I knew would be a foundation of this message. It wasn’t just about Jesus’ direction of casting the nets on the other side of the boat – the likely overlooked spot that seems to be hidden in plain sight – just like many of the township or street people are.
I woke up with an impression that I could almost draw. As we cast the nets in the forgotten spots that Jesus shows us – we reel in hearts. We notice them. We validate them and Jesus loves on them directly and through our own hands and hearts. Our hands and hearts are part of the nets.
Jesus and the Nets (John 21: 1-10 NLT)
“Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee.[a] This is how it happened. 2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin),[b] Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.
3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Fellows,[c] have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they replied.
6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 8 The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards[d] from shore. 9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn".
Isn’t it amazing that the nets didn’t tear? I love that this is a supernatural God-thing.
Impression: Hearts in the net becoming living stones
Then I also had an impression of our hearts also being like living stones and I was led to read 2 Peter 2:5 (Passion Translation):
5 Come and be his “living stones” who are continually being assembled into a sanctuary for God. For now you serve as holy priests, offering up spiritual sacrifices that he readily accepts through Jesus Christ.”
I almost could imagine these shiny living stones connecting together into a form of protection of the vulnerable – a wall – but not a dividing wall. It showed unity and a purpose of working together in love. But what I love about the idea of us being shiny stones, is that they are noticeable by everyone. They grab people’s attention; especially for those searching for something beyond just trying to get their next meal. May we shine beyond their circumstances and our own!
Here's something to think about:
So when we think of our challenge of building nets – are they strong enough? Are they full of love? Can we connect the nets in some way in prayer and divine connections? How can we repair the nets we have? Is it a heart issue or more?
I hope you were blessed by this message. We had quite a discussion after I shared this! We will be working on our next email update within a week or so. We've been in catch-up mode with lots of things going on!
Laurie-Ann and I wish you and your family a meaningful and merryish Christmas 2017. Our missionary training in Mozambique last year bore fruit - here we are beginning a 3-year mission in Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa. We both just felt a powerful pull to do this, and after my retirement there was no massive reason why not to. After all, look at her, this 13 year old in a township slum here in Worcester. By the way, she is an accomplished simultaneous interpreter (English - Afrikaans). The message screams at you - how could we turn away from it? My life has been smooth sailing so far. I won the lottery by being born a white Anglo-Saxon protestant in UK. I never went hungry in my life. My health is strong. And I am married to my sweetheart Laurie-Ann who loves the Lord - as I do!
Time to give back. Time to give time to people who have nothing but time, and hunger, and little prospect of change. They need hope and they need a friend. Even without speaking their language we can give human touch and show we care for them, each one. And every one is special and deserving. And they want to hear about things we can teach them, and Jesus.
And every couple of weeks, one of their parents gets shot in a gang fight, or killed by a hit man who never met them and had no reason to kill them except he was ordered by the gang leaders, probably in prison at the time, who needed a kill to move up the gang hierarchy.
2017 was the year of planning for this; downsizing (again), finding tenants for our condo, selling cars, selling records after digitizing them and all the other music, digitizing many hundreds of photos, giving talks in hopes of raising support for the mission, passing on responsibilities to others, saying goodbye. L-A had a job for 13 months as social media and administrative assistant to Darren Canning, a prophetic itinerant Christian storyteller. She honed her Internet skills and used them to create our excellent mission web site. I contributed nothing to this, though now I post to our Facebook and Twitter sites. Her health hasn't been too good - still isn't, due to a heavy hitting cold - but that didn't hold her back. She has such courage. Her art has blossomed ever since we went to Africa last year. She likes to draw the places we have stayed and give the result to the owners to bless them. Many end up on Facebook. Her latest project is the Kibbutz El-Shammah, an oasis within the Roodewal township. Will appear on Facebook and the "more art in South Africa" page.
We are spending Christmas with our friends and Afrikaans tutors and if possible, to join the Iris Robertson cluster in feeding the needy. We're not set up yet for that kind of ministry in Worcester, but we can do this kind of outreach next Christmas. Of note that Boxing Day isn't Boxing Day in South Africa - it's the Day of Goodwill. This certainly sounds like an invitation to stop for the one.
To you all: Faith, joy, and prosperity (in that order!)
Love and God Bless
Tony (and Laurie-Ann)
Christmas lights in the central Worcester square
Christmas is coming to the southern hemisphere – somewhat differently than Canada, but still with advent carols, Christmas songs, and preparation for celebration. It only feels like July, and some days are very warm (39-42 C), others windy with variable temperatures. The landscape is incredibly beautiful, and the people are in varying degrees of need in the townships. It truly is first and third world side by side. Other than those who are truly Christian, and are moved to do outreach in the town (we know of some), many are oblivious of the needs of those in the townships, as if they are invisible, or just “doing their own thing.”
But back where we came from in Ottawa, Canada - how many of us think the same of the areas of Ritchie Street in Brittania, or Jasmine Crescent in Gloucester? Those are Ottawa’s “townships.” Most Canadian and American cities have neighbourhoods like this. Laurie-Ann was involved with some outreach to both these neigbhourhoods through Kingdom Culture’s “Holiday Dream” outreach, in 2014, 2015, and 2016. This is the first Christmas where we moved to the South African mission fields, to start another kind of ‘holiday dream’ in a different place. We trust that we will spend Christmas as a reflective time, other than stopping for the one. We’ve been invited to share Christmas with local friends, where we will enjoy a cold lunch on a hot day.
Here’s what we’ve been up to:
Africa is famous for giving lessons in patience. One of L-A’s favourite expressions is TIA – This is Africa. Even if South Africa is a first world country in many ways, it still is a laid-back place – no matter what shade of the rainbow you are with. Farmers are relaxed folk! But then, we aren’t in Cape Town.
We have purchased a used car, and after waiting for the wired funds to arrive, we have the car in our possession – no more rental car. It’s a smart looking 14 year old Mercedes – although we’re now dealing with stone chips that after a repair attempt, have given us a challenge of replacing the windshield. We’ve not even had the car for one week! The A-C also hasn’t been working due to a computer issue, and won’t be looked at for a week, so we’ve no air conditioning on a special overnight trip to Cape Town this weekend. But we will manage. We have wheels, and TIA.
We have been accepted as renters in the Hooggelegen Retirement Village, in the Langerug neighbourhood. It took a detailed application concerning our regular finances, since landlords need extra assurance of reliable tenants. However, we are very thankful to have found a 2-bedroom house that we can live and minister in, with good security. We move from our second guesthouse to our new home with the New Year. We do need to buy simple furnishings, but we are thankful for a safe, lovely little home. What is also exciting is the community is on a hill – and Hooggelegen means “high altitude,” We can’t help thinking that we are moving to a ‘city on a hill’ – like Jesus mentions as an example of being salt and light in the world (Matt 5:14).
Our ministry is turning out differently than we expected. While we may in time have our own kid’s club and radio camp, we need to network and come along side existing ministries. We need to learn from them, partner with them and work side by side. We are successful so far in connecting with various ministries and beginning partnerships. We found the Vice Director of YWAM Worcester base, very helpful in giving us a start of contacts. We hope to be involved in some way with: Father’s House Worcester, MasterPeace Academy, Topsy Turvy Creations and Chip Ross Drop-in Centre (Riverview). We also were led to connect with the local hospice. We have sent application letters there to be volunteers and to Brandvlei prison to also volunteer there.
Tony has met with the Program Director of YWAM Worcester, Daniel Abrams at a perfect time. Through him, Tony connected with a Nigerian pastor who also ministers in Avian Park, and he joined him for a kids’ church evening. After that outreach, Tony got to hold a newborn baby as he stopped for a new mom.
We also connected with the amazing people at a Roodewal township ministry called Kibbutz – El-Shammah. L-A strongly feels led to connect with this community, who was founded in 1993. More than a generation has been impacted by this place, touching the lives of gangsters, drug addicts, children and youth. The first time we visited, we were greeted with smiles (we got lost and kind township people directed us to the ministry, which at present has no sign on their perimeter walls). After a lovely connect time with Irena, we took a picture of a Christian mural on one of the flats’ walls. When Tony did that, there was no sense of danger – people smiled and said hello. I was surprised and was expecting a rough attitude, not a welcome. Perhaps I was “home?”
We followed up that visit in a few days with a group meeting, where we got to know other leaders, than we visited the sewing centre and the screen printing shop. Both were doing amazing outreach, with the training of apprentices, and the beginnings of strong Christian businesses.
Laurie-Ann is currently working on a prophetic drawing of the Kibbutz, after she had an impression of the place being an oasis in the midst of a desert. In the vision, living water was streaming into the Kibbutz as a waterfall, and the place was blooming with greenery. A living stream and another waterfall poured from the place, with children playing by the stream. It’s currently in process and will be added to the art page as soon as it’s done.
We are also most impressed with My Father’s House Worcester, who have a heart to empower locals in ministry. The organization is headed by Jan Buchanan, a lovely Australian woman who is foster mom to a little girl named Joy. Under Jan is a wonderful couple Marco and Rens Ruiters, who live and minister in the coloured township of Avian Park. This is one of the neighbourhoods that we also feel drawn toward. Marco used to be a member of the notorious JCY gang, and served prison time. He and Rens came to faith in a nearby tent meeting, and grew in the local YWAM base, where they took the discipleship training school. Both work with vulnerable teens, outreach to gangs and Marco goes out on the streets ministering the gospel, and prayer for many needs. His group is called “Disciple the Streets.” We really feel led to pray for, love on and work with this couple (we have a bit about them on the #WeHeartWorcester page). We will in time add other Worcester ministries that we've become family with on that page.
There is also another My Fathers House Worcester outreach that involves art, where Laurie-Ann could work with a Brazilian YWAM couple, and Laurie-Ann has offered to help with launching the Father’s House Worcester website.
Tony feels called to teach with MasterPeace Academy (science, music) and L-A is considering helping in art and social studies. We also need to consider outreach with our Iris Western Cape family – even though they are 40 minutes away. While we are the Worcester cluster, we are still family and we look forward to future outreach and time together.
Christmas is coming – in the hot weather
We have been trying to get used to the idea of Christmas in the hot. The closest we’ve come to it was when we were on holiday in the Caribbean over Christmas in 2001, but this is entirely different. Since Christmas is combined with summer holidays, the ‘Christmas rush’ has an entirely different – almost laid-back feel. Winter Christmas songs don’t fit here, but we still hear Christmas songs everywhere – usually the Boney M Christmas songs.
We move from our first Worcester guest house, 19th Hole Golf Villa tomorrow – into our second guest house in the city centre. We’ll enjoy 20 more nights in a self-catering suite, one block over from the church that we will likely choose to be our church family (Worcester Christian Church). We’re thankful. Laurie-Ann decided to bless our first hosts Ruan and Angelique with a drawing of their unusual brick guest house with a thatched roof.
During this time of building a foundation for our South Africa ministry, we’re learning that this is a land of surprises. Life happens differently here, even if there are some first world amenities. Because we are open to all the new, we don’t want to miss the unexpected that comes our way – from stopping from a lady named Amanda in Rawsonville, to holding babies in Avian Park, to encountering both those with smiles and those with sad, empty eyes in Roodewal. God is in control, and helping us meet all the right people, to love on them and learn from them. We hope to write again during Christmas week to share a little more. In the meantime, have a wonderful Advent and preparation to Christmas day.
If you are praying for us, please ask for the Holy Spirit to continue to give us clear direction – we are seeing clear links and Laurie-Ann was given a dream of a tornado travelling past the guest house (with no sense of danger). We believe this is acceleration – but we want to make sure we stay on the right path as we build foundations. If you get any words of knowledge, please share them with us.
Have a blessed Advent.
Love, Laurie-Ann and Tony
#WeHeartWorcester! These are the Worcester neighbourhoods and townships we love on.
Father's House Discipleship School Eight, located near Robertson, Western Cape.
We were mightily blessed on our very late arrival during November 10th in Cape Town. We were met at the airport by Pastor Patient Mukubu and seven of his elders from the Source of Life Church. They then drove us in a motorcade of three cars through neighbourhoods and townships to our guest house! This was facilitated by Pastor Godfrey Msimango, now in Ottawa, who founded the Source of Life church.
The first Sunday after we arrived in the Western Cape, we visited the Southern Suburbs campus of Hillsong South Africa. We loved it – they are a mobile church in a high school, set between the Constantia and Kenilworth neighbourhoods. Our guesthouse was a lovely Victorian home that felt like a place for a second honeymoon. After we were royally greeted by Hillsong pastoral staff and volunteers, Laurie-Ann was prayed for, and we listened to an excellent sermon by Pastor Phil Dooley by video-linkup. He shared about the Jewish people rebuilding (after the Babylonian exile), and that we are called to build as well – to build and not tear down. We need to spend considerable time reworking or building new foundations. We through this message was timely for us – since we are building a new ministry – the Worcester satellite of the IRIS Western Cape family.
We rented a ‘bakkie’ to transport our trunks and suitcases to Worcester, an hour’s journey from Cape Town through gorgeous country and mountains. Right now we are in a guest house in a suburb, a quiet place for beginnings. We are in the research stage of the neighbourhoods where we are to minister (plus the local prison). We are setting appointments with local Christian and social leaders, to learn where they feel the needs are greatest. Some of our hopes may turn out entirely differently than we expect – and this is okay – as long as we are led in the right direction. What works in Robertson (35 Km away) may not work as well in Worcester. We are trusting God with every step in this new season.
We are also looking for the right place to live, so we don’t feel like tourists, but rather long-term residents. Foundation building also requires that the ground is prepared for the dig. This area has been under severe drought for some time. Cape Town is still under a water restriction. Worcester’s restrictions have been lifted, but until Tuesday, the land here was also dry and parched. When we arrived it rained for two days! The farmers are rejoicing that their prayers are being answered. We aren’t taking the credit!
We also pray for spiritual rain upon Worcester and the whole Breede River valley. May this wine-growing region come to know deeply the new wine of the Holy Spirit, the love of the Father, and salvation through Jesus Christ.
During the next month or so, we are working to establish connections, networks and relationships. We are building family with Jesus at the centre, as we are also connected with the Fouries at the IRIS Robertson base.
We are about to attempt to learn some Afrikaans, and the town – neighbourhood by neighbourhood. While we have huge plans, we also are not twenty. This also is Africa – not everything moves forward like we would want it to. Yet we are confident that we are here and being led by God, who is faithful to complete what He has started. That means He’ll complete His work IN us and through us. We need to keep our eyes on Him. He will help us not only build, but also keep us in safety. Security is an issue in South Africa, but apart from being careful, we know we will be protected. He is in control.
On Sunday November 19th, we joined in the graduation ceremony of the 8th Father’s House Discipleship School. Eighteen would-be missionaries from world-wide received their certificates and shared their joy after the seven-week school, all eager to go forward to mission fields of various types; some abroad, and some in their home areas. Some of them took the opportunity of asking us about our situation and plans. All of them were salt of the earth good people loving the Lord – and having fun!
Love, Laurie-Ann and Tony
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.” (Ps. 127:1 NLT)
Our email updates are NOT repeats of our blog, although there may be a little bit of cross-over
It’s been a mad dash lately between preparing for South Africa, transitioning out of Ottawa jobs/volunteer commitments and the like. To add to the list, we now have to downsize even further with our furniture, belongings and L-A’s art – since our renter (mind you we HAVE a renter for 12-15 months, thank God!!) wants our place mostly unfurnished. This means extra expense of storage, and we still need people to take in kitchen things and packed china in boxes.
Even though it’s been an intensely busy time, with small ministry events (small because many of the invited guests are as busy as we are), we took two nights/three days out to go to Penn Yan, NY in the beautiful Finger Lake region. L-A had good memories there with her mother in April 2014, and it was time to introduce Tony to some of the delights of the region. We could have easily stayed longer, but we enjoyed what we could. Tony got to read a book called “The God Ask” by Steve Shadrach, which was recommended TWICE by completely different friends – one, missionary that L-A met in Virginia, who is now in Guatemala. The second, a friend who is admin at Ottawa’s OneWayMinistries. We thank both ladies for the leading to tell us about this important book. It’s about partnerships.
During our preparations, L-A has been nudged more than a few times about the importance of regular partners to walk alongside of us. Patricia King was shown this when she was building up Extreme Prophetic and we were “breaker team” partners for ten years. L-A doesn’t regret sowing into this ministry. Then L-A was reading Mattheus Van Der Steen’s “Dare to Dream,” which mentions how the Holy Spirit drew two people to Mattheus who sponsored him exactly what he needed to minister full time and leave a bed store that he worked in. L-A took that as a cue that we needed to find sponsors – not by begging to everyone, but a strategic, prayerful ask of specific people. Iris doesn't believe in begging - we're just sharing our journey, and we're thankful for what God is showing us. He brings people alongside us, so we don't walk alone.
Not all people are meant to be sponsors – some are called to sow smaller amounts, others to encourage, offer practical help and there are the prayer people. All are needed. So for us, apart from preparing to leave Canada (a huge job), leaving jobs and placements, and moving from the condo, we are reaching out to people as well. But this isn’t about money – it’s about relationship. We will genuinely miss seeing these people and care about each of them. We thoroughly enjoy connecting, whether it’s about a cup of tea and share, a latte and a hug, or at one of our ministry events.
L-A learned back in 1993 the importance of relationship while she was in Nairobi, Kenya – on her first mission trip. Relationship and interdependence is very healing. We were created to be in relationship. This doesn’t mean that we look to people to fill our needs. Only God can do that. But God uses people to bless each other. He uses us. He uses you. He uses our friends and family.
Don’t be afraid to accept love through others. Don’t be afraid to step out and bless someone, even if it’s a smile. L-A has been told many times that her smile really touches hearts and makes people feel noticed. We’re not meant to be invisible. We need each other, especially in this social media connected culture, but face-to-face starved world. While we do need to be alone at times, it’s important to not be isolated. We were not created to be lonely, but to be in community.
So while we connect with people, we always remember Iris Core Value #2: We depend on God, and believe in his miracles. Sometimes the extreme grace miracles happen by stretching the resources like a little boy’s lunch to feed five thousand, or the widow whose oil multiplied to fill many, many jars. We’re just putting out the jars and seeing what God will do. Mama Heidi Baker always says that love looks like something. It's true. Love is intentional and stops to say "I see you," without just rushing on in busyness. We've been on both sides, so we know.
Thanks for reading. If you’d like to join our newsletter list please contact us via the general contact form on Copplewesterncape.ca via the contact page. To join our prayer people, just let us know that you’d like to be on that list instead.
We also have 24 pieces of art that we need to sell before we leave Ottawa, so please consider buying a piece so we don't have to store them, and the funds will help us set up house in South Africa. We've added a few images at the bottom of this article, so please scroll on!
Laurie-Ann and Tony
If you give online, please make sure to scroll down to South Africa-Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple. God bless you!
Here's just a taste of some of the available pieces
Our three year adventure almost feels more concrete now with the arrival of the missionary cards. We're still working on our extreme down-size of the condo; which is about to be put on the Ottawa market for furnished long-term rental (with availability from November 7th, 2017). It would be lovely if someone who is responsible could take the whole time, but it's more likely it would be people who would be there for months, not years. Please pray in the right person and for our preparation to go smoothly.
One of the benefits of digitizing photos, cards, letters, and a vast music collection is rediscovering gems. One such gem was a birthday card with my favourite flower - irises. The sender was my mother-in-law - Tony's dear Mum. She wrote me a note about looking forward to seeing me the next time she would see me - that day was September 11, 2001. While it was a horrific day in the US, the two of us bonded deeply during that visit.
I trust we will have many such special moments during our time to come. Thank you for your love, encouragement and support!
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Here's the back of our postcard. We don't have a 'permanent' address at this point, so online is best. Bless you!
If you've been through any kind of transition - from a new relationship, having a baby, or starting a new ministry, you know that there are phenomenal amounts of changes in a short time. Instead of feeling like a super highway carved out into a straight line, it's more like a crazy switchback road in the mountains, like this wind-around road leading into Osoyoos from Anarchist Mountain into the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.
Or perhaps your transition is like unnavigated stairs, and you feel you're not landing on the steps, but rather the vertical part. These basement stairs were captured here in a damaged black and white film photograph. Perhaps you feel as battered as these stairs - just slowly navigating each step, but making it. You're a survivor.
Then there are the moves. Tony grew up in a military family and was in the Royal Navy himself, so he knows frequent moves. He's lived in four homes in Ottawa alone. For me, it's been fewer. I first moved at age ten from one Etobicoke neighbourhood to another. Then I moved into residence at Tyndale Seminary - but that was different - most of my things were still at my parents' home. Next was my move to Ottawa, when I accepted Tony's proposal. My next move was something that I thought would last longer: six months in the BC Kootenays, working as a creative writer and producer for a radio station group. That was when I came to love the mountains! When it didn't work out, Tony flew out to help me move back to Ontario.
In 2016, we downsized from a semi-detached house into a condo apartment, while also preparing for an Iris Global Harvest Mission School. We cut down our belongings in record time - although I kept less than half my books, my art, and most of our huge music collection. Now in 2017, that downsize is even more severe. I've been digitizing huge boxes of printed photos for nearly a year, as well as buying digital versions of books I still want. Others are being either given away or placed in boxes with different friends in lieu of storage. We are to rent our lovely two bedroom condo (any long-term renters need furnished accomodation?) while we head to South Africa, and the race is on to continue sorting, throwing out, and storing less than we had.
We're also phasing out of many of our Ottawa ministries and involvements, although we will be connected in some way with a few of them, such as LIFT TV, IPLF, Good News Christian Ministries, Alpha Canada, and our churches (St Paul's Anglican Kanata, Kingdom Culture, Catch the Fire Ottawa and Blackburn Hamlet Community Church). We've said goodbye to our CKCU 93.1 FM show "Window of Opportunity" (on July 28th) and plan to be on sabbatical from "Over My Head" after mid October. We will be on sabbatical from Ottawa prison ministry, and more. Transition is difficult, but change is part of life.
On the good side, we're thankful for the friends who have agreed to take a couple of boxes, and of our especially good friend Lynn, who has a lot of my art work. Even my family weren't able to take in anything, apart from family photos that I can no longer keep.
So why are we doing this? While we are sorting the past and present, we look towards the future. We are heading to Worcester, Western Cape in South Africa. We'll work with the Iris Western Cape base between Worcester and Robertson in the beautiful wine-growing Breede River Valley. We have so many good tasks to do, as well as difficult ones, but we're excited.
While the downsize has been a challenge (although easier than it was in 2016), we were accepted by Iris Ministries Canada with open arms. We had road bumps gathering our needed documents to apply for our visas - but we persevered. Then we applied for our visitor visas at the South African High Commission, and were given favour. We were treated kindly, with respect and were honoured with our visas within 24 hours! This is extreme grace, since normally it can take eight weeks to receive a visa!
We have our tickets, and leave Ottawa on November 8th.... And even though we see an end in sight - it's a new beginning. Some of what's to come is known, some completely new. And that's how a journey of faith is. When we are willing to trust Jesus and follow his lead, we can go anywhere he leads us. In our case, it's South Africa.
Still, like preparing for a baby (see our dreams page for the baby dream), it takes preparation. If you are a prayer person, please pray for us as we finalize details and finish the downsize and our fundraising all at the same time. God's got this. He'll get us there. Thanks for reading (and praying). If you'd like to pray for us, please drop us a note on the contact page. If you'd like to financially support us, please go to the giving page - the tabs are right up on the top of the website.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)
From the heart of Ottawa - to the heart of Western Cape -
Our steamer trunks! We'll meet them in Cape Town. They're not long enough to hold Tony's keyboard, so he'll just play guitar for three years...
Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
L-A's devotional blog
TONY'S DEVOTIONAL BLOG
Tony's south african journal