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...