Category Archives: Pastors

Washing Feet

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Two weeks ago, in Letsitele in the Limpopo (more stories on this outreach later), we were privileged to be able to do a missions/HIV presentation in a village church. About 20 people from the community came along, and we were able to share about God’s heart for the nations, the Great Commission, and also the need to be involved locally in HIV/AIDS care.

I am always amazed at what God does at these meetings. We can present information until we are blue in the face. People can agree with what we are saying, but then not choose to do something about it. Only when God steps in, and changes hearts, do we really see life change. I guess it is a bit like in 1 Corinthian 13, where Paul explains that you can do all these amazing things; but if you don’t have love, it will amount to nothing. In the same way, we can talk all day, but without the God of love being behind it all, it is a waste of time.

Alma, a South African lady on the team here, asked permission at the end of the meeting for us to wash the feet of those who had attended. We didn’t realise the significant impact that this action would have. I don’t know how much you all know about South Africa history, all though I guess most people will have a bit of an idea about the system of Apartheid that literally kept the “black” and “white” South Africans separate for many years. The laws have changed, but for many, the wounds still remain.

As we knelt at the feet of each of these people, carefully washed their feet, and stood to pray over them, many of them began to weep loudly. Maybe this was the first time that a group of outsiders (we were not all “white”) had ever humbled themselves to serve in this manner. We would need to stop quite regularly so that we could stand and embrace them , and they would continue to cry as we held them. I think God did a lot healing that day.

In the end, I think that this testimony of love, humility, repentance and respect did a lot to impress the words we had spoken upon their hearts. The churches invited us back for a youth meeting, and have asked for our help in not only becoming involved in the HIV pandemic, but also in sending some of their young people out to become involved in missions. Awesome stuff! And all because of the work God did in their hearts.

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet…A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:14, 34 – 35
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Pastor’s training

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I am slack. No doubt about it. However, I now also have a lot to report from the last three weeks, so there will be plenty of new posts to add here in the next couple of days.

First things first – three weeks ago we had three days of Pastor’s/Church Leader’s training on HIV/AIDS at a campsite just outside of Pretoria. Glen, another OMer, and I did the line-up, and then the teaching during the three days. As usual, things didn’t exactly go to plan…

I’ve gotten used to people in Africa saying “Yes” when they really mean “No”. So, two days before the Pastor’s training, I made a point of telephoning all 12 of them who had expressed an interest to check that they were still coming. Everyone was in agreement; they would be there. I knew it wouldn’t work that way, but never mind. It was when people were still telling me over the phone on the actual day the training started that they would be there, and yet didn’t end up turning up, that I started to get a bit frustrated….

But, as usual, God is sovereign. Not one of those 12 who I though were coming actually ended up attending. Instead, we had three people we didn’t expect, but really enjoyed getting to know – A elderly Roman Catholic man, who understood very little English, an outspoken, honest middle-aged lady, and another sweet, young lady. It’s amazing what God did with those three people. Their views about HIV/AIDS have been challenged by the teaching sessions, but I think the most “heart change” happened over the meal tables. With only 5 of us, including us two OMers, we were able to have some really deep conversations, not just about HIV/AIDS, but also faith.

My favourite discussion occurred when we were chatting about treatments for HIV. Thomas, the Roman Catholic, commented that he had heard of a medicine that could cure people completely of HIV/AIDS. In fact, these scientists were also in the process of creating a treatment to help people live forever (Africa is full of claims about these “cure alls” for different illnesses, especially HIV. So many poor, uneducated people, are duped of whatever little money they have)!

“Imagine that!” he cried. “We can live forever!”

We weren’t able to convince him that such a medicine was impossible, until I asked him what the Bible said about living forever. He gave me a blank look. I explained that because of sin, the Bible is clear that “man is destined to die once, and then to face judgement,” (Hebrews 9:27). The only way to live forever is in eternity with Jesus Christ.

He was shattered at first; I think, old as he was, he had been hanging onto some vain hope of living forever. But he became especially interested in whenever we looked at what the Bible had to say about different things over the next couple of days. Maybe this was the first time he had been really challenged to look for answers in the Bible.

All three of those people we spent time with have gone home encouraged to be more involved in HIV/AIDS work in their own communities. We will be visiting them soon to help them begin to initiate the practical responses to the needs in their communities that they have begun to plan. But I pray mostly that God will continue to impress His Truth in their hearts, and that they would be able to experience Him in a meaningful way. Please pray wth us!

What’s up next?

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It’s been a pretty hectic last few days. Apart from a certain other incidence of note, which has already gotten a fair bit of attention (if you have no idea what I am talking about, check out the post below this one!), I have for the last few days been away on the yearly OM South Africa retreat. This was a really great time of fellowship and reflection; however, it now means I am hectically busy trying to prepare for what is up next (in four days, to be precise): A Church Leader’s HIV/AIDS training.

We have been trying for a while to mobilise township churches to be more active and involved in addressing HIV/AIDS not only in their own congregation, but also in their communities. To try and facilitate this, I am organising three days of workshops, addressing stigma and a practical response to HIV/AIDS in particular. We want to follow this up with regular contact with attending pastors, and assistance with any plans they put into action.

I am excited about this, but also a bit overwhelmed. We start on Monday, and I have been trying to prepare, but for the last few weeks I have been so rarely even in Pretoria that I do not really feel ready yet, to say the least. I also can’t help but remind myself regularly that I am a 23 year old girl, who will be attempting to impart something into the lives of much older, much more experienced, gentlemen pastors…. Praise the Lord that it is in our weaknesses that He is made strong!

….I would still appreciate prayer though…..