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