As we look back at 2017, we are reminded that God’s ultimate goal with us isn’t comfort, it is character development. We are to be transformed into Christ’s image. He is always more interested in what we become, rather than what we do. I don’t know about you, but this is not always easy to grasp!
Christmas 2016 we had no idea that it will be our last Christmas as a family in Mwinikaland. In January 2017, Leanna, the kids and I flew to Cape Town where we waited for Francois to catch up with us later for a 3 month visitation to supporting churches in the Western Cape. It was there in Cape Town, while staying in the “Ark” of Logos Church, that the Lord started to move our hearts and minds to the changes He has for us as a family.
Fast forward one year, and here we are in South Africa after 20 years in (mostly) Mozambique, with the same mandate: to make disciples of all nations and specifically under the unreached peoples of the world; the same dreams to see a maturing church under the Mwinika people and the same willingness to be used by Him in whichever way He sees fit. We still want to do His will and follow His lead, no matter the cost or where it leads us.
Still not our comfort, Lord….
The place and our everyday doing have changed radically in the last year! In fact, to move from the isolation of the African bush, to one of the biggest, bustling cities on the continent, has been one of the most profound changes we have ever faced. We have been willing to follow the Lord where there is no electricity or running water, shops or doctors, deep into the bush where we have been (to many people there), the first white faces they have ever seen, but the most of all: where there was no church whatsoever. Living in tents and later in a tiny mud hut, we became learners of a new culture and language, babes in the community, starting life in many ways from scratch. We made deep and lasting relationships, and became part of the community of our little village in the bush.
During our 13 year stay in that community, we saw an unreached people group transformed… We saw 6 churches planted and two more communities being taught the Word. We saw an unwritten language written, and literacy classes being taught by the Mwinika to the Mwinika. We even saw the first Mwinika missionaries move out to plant a church under a neighbouring people group! We saw God at work in remarkable and miraculous ways! To see a new church born under an unreached people group is and will always be one of the greatest privileges of our lives!
To be continued…
The Lord has now come and lifted us out of our (by now!) comfort zone and placed us in a new space to continue with the same mission He’s had for us since the beginning: to make disciples and bring the Gospel to all nations. He has broadened our horizon to include more people and places than just the Mwinika in Mwinikaland. From Cape Town we are involved in training missionaries and cross-cultural workers to be able to reach more people that haven’t yet heard the Gospel in a way they can understand. Although we see ourselves still as very much part of the Mwinika team and what is happening there, we are now also part of the new training team working from South Africa. We are four families on this team that will start the first Integral Vision (NTM in Africa) training program in this part of the world that will not only prepare the missionary, but also the church family that will sent him/her out. We hope to see the first class launched in May 2018!
Training others for cross-cultural work
What this involves:
It is a modular course: the 1st 9 modules to prepare ANY cross-cultural worker to minister in a relevant way, and the last module to prepare those that will specifically go out with Integral Vision or the Global Partners of NTM. This last module also include a practicum in a village situation.
Each module will be taught by missionaries who have first-hand experience with the content they are teaching. This course will therefore not only give the theory behind what we are doing, but also be very practical and relevant to what is happening on the field.
Three times a year all the students will come together for a week intensive, where they can meet the other students doing the course, as well as receive the benefit of face to face discussions and teaching of the content already covered.
Between intensives, the students will cover the necessary modules and be in contact with his/her facilitator through email, Skype and visits. The student will complete the assignments and send it to the facilitator for feed-back.
The course can be done in a year (fast track) or more preferably: 3 years part time.
We do not only train the future missionary, but also facilitate the church to understand their role and how to best support those they send out. We believe it is vital that there be no disconnect between the missionary and their church during the training period, but that the church will fully take the responsibility on to send their missionaries out. The mandate to go and make disciples has been given to the church, but often some churches have no idea how to go about it! We want to be in partnership with the church in order for them to fulfil the Great Commission in the most effective and fruitful way.
That, in a nut-shell what the training involves! If you want to know more, or want to be trained, please contact us! Francois: email@example.com/ tel. +27 713042392 Nadia: firstname.lastname@example.org
or Tony Verlaan: SouthAfrica@ntm.org
Francois already went for his first visit back to Mwinikaland! Our involvement now is more that of consultants as we return to encourage, give advice and catch up with our friends.
The Bible Curriculum team has continued to develop Bible lessons and Francois is very encouraged by their work. The three men who have been chosen as leaders among the two groups of believers that we were mainly involved in, are doing well despite many challenges. Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters as they learn to live life for Him in a hostile-to-Christ community! Francois plan three more visits in 2018 and we as a family hope to also visit there in mid-2018.
Community and Care: practical opportunities
Many of you may remember that we started out mainly in ministries involved with community development work. We see the Lord bringing us back full circle as the Mwinika church is growing more in this area and Francois is preparing to help write the Community and Care module for the training course.
The Biblical basis for community based projects is the very model God Himself left us by sending Jesus to become a belonger in this world, selflessly focused on people and their integral well-being. He not only set their knowledge of God straight, but also Cared for those that could not care for themselves and empowered others to serve in Community. In Him we see that ministry is not only focussed on the spiritual side of man’s being, but is rather a continuum of life being lived. In other words, discipleship in its most basic form: Life on Life.
For the work amongst the Mwinika believers this means that we are praying on how we can empower some believers to serve in the community. We want to do this by using platforms that will position the believer to become the go-to (influential) people of the next generations. We are already sponsoring four young men to further their education outside of Mwinikaland. We would like to see believers coming together with a variety of skills to form a Kingdome Company that can serve the local community, but also be a vehicle for the young Mwinika to take the Gospel to other communities beyond Mwinikaland. Please contact us if you would like to know more about these practical opportunities!
2018 at a glance
Please be praying for travel mercies and resources for the following services we will be involved with during the next year.
Nadia: Literacy Consultancy training in Asia-Pacific, January – February
Francois: Missions conference in Charlotteville, February
Francois and Nadia: Missions Conference in Mozambique, April
Francois: 3 trips to Support the Mwinika church planned for March, July (the whole family) and November.
3 Missionary training intensives: May, July, October
3 Team meetings in Jo’Burg: dates to be confirmed
All of above and more! Our three children are continuing with their schooling and extracurricular activities and we are also still involved with our local church. Nadia is going to tutor Afrikaans classes at thriveschool for the first term (after returning from the Asia-Pacific). I also am still working on getting Literacy material ready and printed for the Mwinika church plant. Francois’ time in between will mostly be taken up with developing a curriculum for Community and Care, as well as visiting various churches and leaders interested in the training course.
As you can see, we indeed need your prayers and support as we to continue to serve!
Francois, Nadia, Franco, Heide-Mari and Waldo
Church Planters in South East Africa