A Quiet Time Series In Honor of Buyi

When La Tascha and I arrived in South Africa on the 14th of December, due to the death of Pastor Jabu’s wife, Buyi, we purposed to be a support and a blessing to Pastor Jabu, his family and also both churches in Nelmapius and Arcadia and to help wherever we could help. Buyi was very instrumental in the lives of all these ladies and had a great ministry to them and so, her loss was a shock to many people and the ladies of both churches were definitely feeling her absence. We wanted to leave the ladies with something eternal and personal. So, we had discussions with Pastor Jabu and decided to teach a six week intensified course on Quiet Time (a series, Latascha has done in Uganda, France and the USA), where we would conclude the course with a certificate, a devotional and a devotional Bible. We believed by faith, this would be the perfect timing for this, as something like this, has never been done been done before in South Africa. We knew God would be glorified and deep, sorrowing hearts would be met in a personal way.

So, we began the course on the 20th of January. Our meeting place was at the church in Nelmapius Township, where we would meet in one of the church containers from 6pm-8pm. From the first night, I was shocked by the attendance. We were pretty much a packed container of women, from all ages, young and old, meeting for the first time and allowing God to teach us, how we can take all our needs and cares to Him. The following week, we also were packed and this continued for the entire duration of the course. There was such an expectation and such desperation, that the women kept coming. Questions were being asked week after week by mother’s, teenagers, single women and young single mom’s on the possibilities that God would actually delight to meet with them, personally, every day and that He not only delights but longs for such an encounter. We saw God move and to give you a small taste of the type of lives that were there, there was a lady called Eunice, who has been in a mental institution from 1989-2017 (she was discharged 2 weeks before the course began), who wrote: “These 6 weeks have taught me to spend precious time with God. It has taught me how to survive 28 years of Weskoppies Mental Institution and to be quiet, like Jesus, who stood before Pontius Pilate. Now I know I can talk to Him.”

We also, received one of our dear teachers, mothers and head Pastor’s wife from Uganda, Millie Muhima, who survived cancer and has been teaching many of the ladies in Uganda, to teach our last session on the 24th of February. The ladies were so blessed that she would come from so far and minister to them and hear and see what a life with God can do and what a ministry one can have who has a personal and deep walk with God. Now, we are anticipating, La Tascha, who taught these classes and who gave us her material to re-teach, who is coming with five other ladies, as a culmination of the end of the course. It will include 3 days of intensified training along with a ceremony of certificates and gifts of devotionals and journals and a dinner celebration for all the ladies. Our intention with the parting gifts are to give these ladies tools to continue to have a Quiet Time long after we depart. We have 40 women total and have calculated that it will cost about $5000 to hold the celebratory dinner and to equip them with the set of devotionals and journals. Please partner with us in giving towards this endeavor by donating on our site and putting “South Africa” in the memo line. We also covet your prayers. We believe this will be the beginning of a deep movement amongst the ladies in a quiet, but powerful way.

Update and praise report: We were able to find a cheaper venue for the dinner, Lifeway Christian Bookstores donated all of the devotional journals, and money came in from Cyprus, and so praise God, we are covered!

Looking Ahead

Because Christmas Cookie outreach was a such a success, we have a lot of seed that was sown that now needs to be cultivated. Locally, as we look ahead to the upcoming months, we have Bible Club in full swing in one of the worst areas in York. We are starting to get to know the families of these children and make a difference, not just in one life, but in the whole family. We are offering free weekly tutoring, we run a weekly local elementary school program where we are allowed to take kids out of school and teach them the Bible for an hour, and we are starting up a program from teen girls in partnership with Teen Haven.

As for special events, we have our Valentine's Day cookie outreach coming up. We are excited that Valentine's Day is celebrated on a Tuesday this year because that means that instead of just one day, for all of Friday through Tuesday, we will be able to give out beautifully decorated cookies that say, "Nobody loves you like God loves you". What a message! Like we did with our Christmas cookies, we will be hitting York and all of the surrounding cities with this much needed message.

In March, we will also be taking a trip to South Africa to visit Pastor Jabu and the ladies' ministry there. Sophie is currently still in South Africa assisting Pastor Jabu and the church, and is teaching the ladies a series of classes on having a quiet time/devotional life. This class will culminate with La Tascha and a few of the other ladies arriving to teach the final classes, and awarding the ladies with certificates and sets of devotionals. Oh, the power God can have in a life that walks with Him! How available He makes himself to us!

As a side note, and we don't mention this often, if ever, but we are beginning to grow beyond our means. The needs are so great, and so diverse, and yet God has seemed to put us in the thick of all of it, and we are a steward of what we have been let into. However, we are really beginning to see the need for a regular support base. Thus far, we have not lacked, and really have run fully off of volunteer help and a very small support base. But, should God prick your heart to want to help support us on a regular basis, we would greatly appreciate it. I know that the lives that we touch on a daily basis will be deeply grateful. Thank you and God bless you.

Thank You For All Your Help!

We had a record breaking year for our Christmas Cookie outreach, and we wanted to extend the warmest thanks for how you played a part! Just to fill you in, we baked 21,134 Christmas cookies this year (our sixth year) and reached all over the world, including: Silver Spring, MD, Baltimore, MD, Gettysburg, PA, Harrisburg, PA, York, Pa and Pretoria, South Africa (midway through our cookie baking this year, precious team members had to take an emergency flight to South Africa to be with Pastor Jabu and his three young children because of his wife’s sudden passing. The cookies were a great diversion and brought moments of Christmas cheer during a very difficult time).

The emphasis was slightly different this year. About 10,000 of the cookies went to areas of Baltimore and beyond as they have done in previous years and we received amazing testimonies from that. However, this year, about 10,000 cookies also reached the people of York, PA and the surrounding cities of Harrisburg and Gettysburg. We have been church planting in York for the past 10 months or so and the cookies were a tremendous opportunity to get to know the people of Pennsylvania.

We visited four nursing homes and witnessed these elderly people learning how to receive eternal salvation (because of the cookie tags) for the first time in their life! Imagine passing into eternity never knowing the free gift of God’s love! We hit one neighborhood around our Bible College for three days straight, door to door. We had the emphasis of signing kids up for a Bible Club and had over 40 sign ups as a result, but we also had the amazing opportunity of ministering to people on the streets in the middle of some very intense situations. One man was sitting in his wheel chair in front of the train tracks weeping as if he was going to commit suicide when we stopped him and just let him know that God cares.

The stories are endless of people at the end of themselves from being overwhelmed with Christmas responsibilities, loneliness, or sorrow from loved ones passing, but we are confident, that we placed these cookies in the right hands at the right time to let people know that they were loved and not forgotten. What can a cookie do? We will not know the full impact of each one of these handmade cookies, we do know that our Bible Club program continues today, their families are being impacted, the destiny of the elderly in the nursing home has forever changed, and thousands of people received hope for the future. We also know that we gave it everything we had, with no regrets, and we couldn’t have done it without your help. So with our deepest sincerity, thank you. May you have an amazing 2017.

Buyiswa Zwane (1978-2016)

View more photos of Buyi's life

Our dear friend Buyi passed into eternity last week and is survived by her husband and three young children. La Tascha and Sophie flew out on an emergency flight to South Africa to be with P. Jabu (husband) and the children during this difficult time of mourning and transition. Buyi truly was a Proverbs 31 woman. The family's needs are great during this very difficult time. If you are able to help financially in any way, please send donations with P. Jabu in the memo and we will get them to him as soon as possible.

Below is a tribute from P. Jabu (her husband):

It's hard to fathom that 2016 has been both the climax and deepest, lowest year of our lives together. I feel like God Who makes All things beautiful in His time and His own way, knows what He is doing much more now than I have been willing to acknowledge. Having been with you as a husband, friend, pastor, brother and more, feels to me like a fairy tale, a dream that exceeded my highest expectations in life. I don't think that anyone could have ever been so perfect with and for me for the season we've been together. To me only God could have put us together and orchestrated what feels like an abrupt end to a beautiful life that was only beginning. And yet it feels like with all the sadness and pain, your passing brought to me, God was still setting us up for a life with more of you in your absence than we could have salvaged had we known you'd leave so soon.

I see, hear, sense and experience more of you through the people you lived your life for, our children, The Body of Christ, our family and friends. It's a mystery to me that so much of you is still so alive, continuing and getting better even though I don't hear your voice anymore, I cannot hear your infectious and inviting laughter, feel you beautiful warm hand in mine or get lost in your beautiful eyes like I used to. The hope and peace I feel at the thought of you, I can only describe as Divine. It is without a doubt beyond my comprehension but well within my most welcome comfort. I wish there was something more that I could use, other than words, to express these contradictions I have been feeling in the last year. Somehow all this seems to have prepared me, us, the children, family and friends for a life without you and yet with more of you in your absence. All this, inspite of this having being the least prepared for your sudden departure.

I love you, I miss you terribly but what God's Grace enabled us to build together won't let me be buried in grief and sadness. There are so many things I wanted to say to you, I wanted to do for you and with you. With all that, I sense a new life being born in so many areas of the life we built together and I know it was God, It has always been God and it will always be God working. This very life has been the greatest source of healing and restoration, the same life where I have experienced pain that I could never wish on anyone, has been the same that shines the light in all the dark corners and lifts me out of the deepest and lowest places in this time. And I know, it is well, it is well because none of it is in vain. Pain has found her restoration, confusion her defintion and desperation, Hope.

As I have so many times heard in recent deep and casual talks with Pastor Renaldo, "God has prepared us, for what He has prepared us for". Even though I feel ill prepared, ill equipped, disdained and fearful, hope seems to be the only triumphant certainty. I feel an inexplicable calm, realising that I never needed to be prepared because God has been preparing, all of it. Hope is always finding herself to be the only place I make my bed at night. Even in confusion, in unbearable pain and uncontrollable sobbing, Hope secures my sanity. Hope is the only song that soothes my aching soul and makes joy in my heart the only familiar and welcome emotion I am desperately willing to embrace and hold on to longer. I know I can live today, raise our kids today, enjoy what God has graciously built through our lives today with friends and family, through the faith that held us and helped us grow together. I am better man of The Faith today, I am better father today and a better husband today. The Lord gave, The Lord took, To His Name and Only His, Yahweh be all Glory, Honour and Praise forever. Amen

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