Posts

The New Missionary Flat

by Paul Schamberger

New missionary flat at RUC is like a home from home

RUC recently announced the opening of a spacious new flat on the church’s property for visiting missionaries and their families.

Paul Schamberger asked Jenni Kurten, Missions Co-ordinator, and Erin Wiesner, who project-managed the refurbishment and the furnishing of the new accommodation, about the flat and its purpose.

 

P: What is the rationale for this flat? Don’t RUC missionaries have their own homes to go to when they return for breaks or holidays?

J: Almost all have sold their homes and have gone to be missionaries full time. We have one or two missionaries who still own their South African home, but they would invariably have a tenant living in it.

The flat can be used by RUC’s 23 missionaries who work in SA, elsewhere in Africa and around the world. But there are others who work in the missionary field who are attached to different missionary organisations, and they can also be put up here.

We moved the previous missions flat to this part of the building as it’s larger and has an extra bedroom and bathroom. Whereas the old flat had only one bedroom, accommodating families with kids was awkward. Now we can even accommodate short-term teams, who might come from overseas to serve with Rays of Hope.

E: Sometimes we have missionaries coming from countries such as Malawi or Zambia because they need medical treatment either for themselves or for a sick child, and need affordable accommodation. Often they can’t afford to stay in a b&b or to rent rooms. We can lend a helping hand.

Most visiting missionaries are faced with financial constraints because missionary organisations don’t pay salaries; the missionaries have to raise their own support. RUC supports its own missionaries up to 30% of their support needs, depending into which category they fall, so they have to raise the balance of 70%+ themselves. Fortunately, generous support tends to come from RUC members, but also from other churches and related organisations.

 

P: How many couples can stay here at the same time?

J: We accommodate one family at a time. When people come back with a crisis to cope with, such as a medical emergency, or a planned furlough, you don’t want anyone else living in your space. For groups, the flat can sleep up to nine people, dormitory-style. This would be ideal for a team of young adults on a short-term missionary trip. There would be room for all of them around the dining room table.

We are fully booked until June 2019, and therefore might still call on members to put up visiting missionaries in their homes.

 

P: What kind of work had to be done to the new flat?

J: No extra building was required, but it did need more than a lick of paint! Except for some furniture from the old flat, everything was donated. You cannot believe the generosity of our church member when the call went out to help furnish the flat. For some items we had to arrange transport, but people mostly dropped off their items right here – anything from cushions, carpets and pictures to a dishwasher! Amazingly, we didn’t get a single duplicate item except for a double bed! This item we could give away. We also received a donation of R5,000 which was perfect as we could buy linen for the children’s room and other small necessities.

 

P: Who does the cleaning?

The church’s cleaning staff is fully occupied, so we outsource that function. While people are staying here they are responsible for their own cleaning, washing, ironing, whatever. And they cook their own meals.

 


 

Erin Wiesner, who is an administrator at the church, was seconded as the project manager for the renovation and refurbishing of the new flat.

 

She has intensive boots-on-the ground experience in construction and maintenance work, including issuing tenders, getting quotes, writing contracts and conducting the ensuing negotiations; liaising with the Church Council, which has to approve all expenditures; tracking down reliable suppliers; building-site co-ordination; knowing and complying with all relevant municipal regulations; selecting and employing a trustworthy handyman, and so on.

She has the perfect recipe for ensuring that all work get done properly, on budget and on time: “I am very good at nagging,” she smiles. “It’s a gift.”

Erin estimates that the total cost came in “under ten grand”.

 

Erin says the actual work on the flat took about six weeks to complete. It entailed a thorough clean-up of the premises, the installation of plumbing and electricity, and having all the walls repainted. The refurbishing took another month.

 


 

Wendy Lock of RUC, who is linked to Wycliffe Bible Translators, has been teaching missionary children at Faith Academy in Manila, Philippines, for 15 years. She was the first tenant to move into the new flat recently.

 

Wendy has stayed in the previous flat numerous times, and expected to do so again this time round.

“I thought I would get a mattress to put on the floor. Instead, I was told I could move into the new flat. The last one was a blessing, but this one is amazing!

 

“We don’t have dishwashers in the Philippines, or hot water that comes out of a tap.

 

“It’s lovely and it’s so quiet. In the mornings I make some tea and just sit and have time with the Lord while the beautiful sun comes streaming in. It’s like a haven to me. I have been staying here for six weeks, but have been away for some of the time.

 

“I have a small one-bedroom apartment below someone’s house in the Philippines, but don’t have a place I can call my own here. I have been staying here for six weeks. So it’s great to be able to stay in the mission flat when I’m here on furlough.

 

“I feel so blessed by the church that cares for us missionaries in such a beautiful way.”

 


Q&A with MAF International Board Member, Ndaba Mazabane

Picking the brain of Ndaba Mazabane, Board Member of MAF International

Ndaba joined the MAFI Board in September 2016. He serves as an associate pastor at Rosebank Union Church in Johannesburg, South Africa, and has also served as the fourth President of the International College of Bible and Missions (ICBM) based in Roodepoort, South Africa.

 

Ndaba recently returned from a MAF International board meeting and visit to MAF programmes, South Sudan and Kenya. We took the opportunity to pick his brain from his first-hand experience of the MAF field and of his thoughts on modern day mission work.

 

What stood out for you on your visit to Kenya and South Sudan?

I was delighted to see how MAF supported and enabled so many different kinds of outreaches to function in the middle of nowhere.

Although we live in a globalised world, isolation is still a harsh reality. We flew to one of MAF’s mission partners, RedTribe. It was an hour’s flight, but it would have taken days to drive in good weather. The short distance from the landing strip to the community we were visiting was only 8km, but it took an hour or so to drive because of the quality of the road infrastructure.

It was a privilege to see the missionaries’ tenacity. Before visiting South Sudan, we had to undergo an hour of security briefing about health, curfews, kidnapping and ransoms. We were only entering for a short period of time. Missionaries choose to live there with their children long-term. Their sheer commitment to spreading the gospel, their life of sacrifice and their joy of serving God in spite of challenging conditions in the face of danger really ministered to me.

 

What were some of the “take home” messages for you?

I came back grateful for those supporting MAF financially and prayerfully, for the volunteers giving their time and skills and the churches who are partnering with MAF. We are able to bridge the gap between the gospel and the isolated because of our supporters. Thank you.

Another take home for me was that often when we think of Mission Aviation Fellowship, we emphasise aviation. People think of pilots when they think of MAF. But without the other staff roles, the pilots cannot function. On the field there is a need for administrators, for engineers, for teachers.

MAF is doing their best to change the mind-set that we just need pilots. The fact that there is a Maasai Academy in the middle of nowhere means that there will be a need for teachers.

The needs on the mission field are many and diverse. When I visited Kenya, I met a Stock Control Manager, Engineers and Administrators and when visiting the Juba Christian Academy in South Sudan I found out that they are constantly looking for Teachers. What a joy to see how MAF comes alongside the church where there is a pool of skills, to be tapped into for Kingdom work. I am mindful of the the difficulty of raising support as an Administrator or Engineer on the mission field. But if those positions aren’t filled, how else are we to reach the isolated? The face of missions has changed. But the mission field still relies on the support of the church.

I encourage those who have a sense of God’s call on their lives to use their skill on the mission field. Ask the advice of your church and your trusted friends. You are going to need your church and friends and family behind you when you are on the field. Then get in touch with MAF.

I am a strong believer of when God calls us – He employs every area of our lives – your spiritual gifting, your personality and your passion. Those three things work together to make a unique person with a unique purpose.

Proverbs 22:29 says, if you are skilled then be prepared to serve. God took an educated man like Moses and used him in His service. He took David as a shepherd boy and made him a king. From a variety of skills God can use us.

The appeal is out there – if you feel the sense of call of God on your life to work in the mission field, come. Discuss with MAF whether this is the platform for you to help reach those who are physically and spiritually isolated. The field is ready for harvesting. God is seeking both your ability and availability.

 

What is your view of the modern-day missionary?

Missionaries are not only white. (Ndaba laughs.) The paradigm has shifted. The countries that used to send missionaries in large numbers have now become the mission field. Europe used to send missionaries and today they are receiving them. The centre for Christianity has shifted from the West to the rest of the world. America might still be sending missionaries in large numbers, but South Korea is not dissimilar, as the second largest sending force.

The stereotypical understanding of the missionary needs to break. God calls anyone. They say in London the largest church is Nigerian.

My prayer is that God would raise up the willing and the dedicated disciples who are ready to help fulfil the Great Commission in our generation.

Thanksgiving 2017

S.E. Asia Mission Trip

S.E. Mission Trip

Over 2 weeks in April, a team of three Young Adults from RUC, partnered with OMF Southern Africa and Nick & Trish Bekker , on a short term mission trip to a closed country in South East Asia.

Here are some of their insights:

Brett

The Lord did many things in me while in a closed country in South East Asia, but the thing that left the biggest impact on my life was seeing how the family we stayed with lived out their calling. It is a closed country and you are not allowed to be a mission ary there. Yet the family was so clearly in love with Jesus and did everything to the glory of God that faith conversations couldn’t but happen with the locals. God challenged me on this point in the way that I live in an open country, yet I live in more fear of sharing my faith than this family who lives in a closed country. God really challenged me on this!
It was an amazing time and I really felt God’s presence with us – I can’t wait to see what he has in stall for this unreached people group!

Thembi

The mission trip in BN was incredible. It never met any of my expectations. I imagined it would be something like the trips I’ve had before but it wasn’t. I thought I was relatively fit but trail building and mountain biking is not for the faint hearted. On top of that, as the only girl in the team, I was completely out of my comfort zone. But God kept up my strength and I persevered. I’ve never sweated so much in my life! The most important thing I learnt was that missional living is an act of intentionally looking for a way to share the gospel every day. We don’t have to be in another country to witness when our neighbours are also our mission field. I learned to let go of my misconceptions about how God works. I had to rely on Him in every way to be my joy through the heat, my tired body and in the midst of the unfamiliar. God showed Himself to be trustworthy. It was my favourite trip of all.

Myles

I went in to South East Asia to work hard, to work the land that will hopefully one day produce an abundant crop. However I did not expect to meet Christ followers whose whole lives are lived being intentional in creating relationships for the proclamation and sharing of the good news in Christ. Their intentionality has really got me asking the question “How intentional am I?” There was a glimmer of how plentiful the harvest is both afar and back at home.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2

The trip really was too short but has left an imprint in me, of prayer that all of us may be workers in the field and that we be intentional for Gods glory.

,

2017 Youth Mission to Mozambique

Mozambique Team

The month of April was an exciting one as we sent a team to Xai Xai, Mozambique to visit Mark and Les Harper. We were excited at the prospect visiting a new place and being exposed to a new culture and completely different way of life. Our team had the opportunity to buy local food in the market, build a storeroom for bibles, build furniture for a local church, build beds for orphans, run a 3 day holiday club and pray and minister to residents at an old age home. We are so grateful to all who supported us financially and through prayer and we praise God for doing a deep work in the hearts of our team members through the experience. We trust that seeds were sown in Xai Xai and that God will cause them to grow in His time. Here are what some of our team members had to say about their experience:

Jeannie and Anthony Gebhardt

“Before we left for Mozambique, we were keen to get involved in “mission-in-action”; and we were concerned about (a) travelling safety for the team, (b) dealing with border-crossing procedures and cops, and (c) mozzies. Now that we’re back, our perspective has shifted; and we thank God for a safe and successful trip minus malaria; but more importantly, we have seen God’s grace through:

Exposure to the work of Les and Mark Harper

Their determination to make a difference in the lives of the folk whom they serve was truly astounding. They are really driven to “be Jesus” to each person, and it shows in every move that God makes through them; and

The RUC team

We learned that we have underestimated the sheer joy, capability and leadership skill of each member of the team that God has blessed us with at RUC. As a Church, we need to work at being as diligent as the Harpers in applying the spectacular skills that God has made available to us at Rosebank to the field of needy people that we serve.”

Khensani Khoza

“The highlights of the trip for me were embracing the beautiful environment around me, sharing the Gospel with elderly and seeing their immense gratitude, and bonding with members of the team through various activities like car rides and construction. The worship night was a also a highlight for me.”

My Tale of Two Cities

I have just returned from a ten-day tour of the Seven Churches of the Revelation in Turkey. Our excursion in Turkey was bracketed by time spent in the city of Istanbul. Straddling the Bosphorus Channel, the splendid waterway that divides Europe and Asia, connecting the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea, Istanbul is to me the most magnificent city in the world. Each time I visit it, I enjoy it more. It is an ancient city and a thoroughly modern city at the same time. Its history, both bloody and beautiful, spans millennia; its architecture is fascinating; the hidden treasures beneath its soil defy imagination; its hundreds of museums contain items and artefacts too many to count; its palaces are breathtaking; its global influence cannot be underestimated; and the minarets of its mosques pierce the skyline like a thousand needles. From them the Muslim call to prayer resounds across the city five times a day, calling its fifteen million inhabitants to prayer. Ninety-eight percent of Turkey’s population of seventy-eight million is Muslim. The light of the gospel is very dim there. How will Turkey be won to Christ? How will Istanbul be won?

We left Istanbul on Tuesday night for Cairo in Egypt to catch our connecting flight to Johannesburg. We were flying over the Mediterranean when our Egypt Air Boeing began its descent into Cairo. Within minutes the lights of the sprawling city came into view. I had a window seat, and for the next thirty minutes, until we landed at Cairo airport on the south east side of the city, I kept my eyes focused on what was below me as we flew lower and lower over the city. At eight o’clock it was still rush hour in Cairo and the highways, roads and lanes were clogged with slow moving traffic. From the air the lights of the vehicles made the city look like a living thing with light coursing through its arteries and veins. The famous River Nile snaked its way through the city, crossed by dozens of bridges. As I gazed at that vast city with its nineteen million inhabitants, I felt a growing sense of despair. Egypt is eighty-seven percent Muslim. The light of the gospel shines a little brighter in Egypt than in Turkey. But it is still very dim. How will Egypt be won to Christ? How will Cairo be won? I don’t know!

I cannot tell how He will win the nations,
How He will claim His earthly heritage,
How satisfy the needs and aspirations
Of East and West, of sinner and of sage.
But this I know, all flesh shall see His glory
And He shall reap the harvest He has sown,
And some glad day His sun shall shine in splendor
When He, the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is known.

Thailand Mission

Thailand was a lot of things and exciting was certainly among those.

One thing that certainly comes straight to mind when I reflect on the journey is certainly our time with Iven and Kashmira (Missionaries with YWAM). Their life challenged me in the area of letting Go for Christ’s sake. Looking at their living situation and the intensity of their area of ministry totally challenged me to look at my own life and review how much letting go I had done and what other things I am still holding on to and not willing to let go of, even for the sake of Christ. When Iven shared or rather reminded us of how the Gospel is such a treasure that a man found on a eld and went and sold everything to acquire that treasure, I saw the verse in a different light, in a way that actually meant LET GO.

Being in a country that was dominantly Buddhist, God opened my eyes to the reality of idol worship and how for the Thai people, that’s the only hope they have. It certainly broke my heart to learn about their belief on incarnation and how they settle for a life of hopelessness because that’s all they know.

Prior to leaving I asked God to show me that he was the same God even in Thailand. Partnering with the church in Thailand and seeing how they were a family was a reminder of how God really calls us to a new family once we come to him, that reminded me of my own community back home and how much of a family we have been. Seeing Sylvio and Marcia still labouring for Christ in their small congregation today,even after the many years they have been with the church was a reminder that the very Gospel that we so believed to even decide on going to Thailand is the very Gospel that has kept them and the very one they’re sharing with the Thai people.

Learning about the Thai culture was also very exciting. One highlight was learning about how much of a big deal their king is to them for having been such a great king to them for such a long time. The food was delicious as well, it really isn’t over rated. Thai people really are calm and welcoming people, that really made the stay very pleasant. It was quite an encouragement to hear that our presence and all that we did meant a lot to the local pastor Changchai. He saw God move among their communities through all that we did and that in itself was enough to say the trip was worthwhile. Spending time with Mandisa was really sweet, really also encouraging to get to see where she works and lives and seeing how much of an impact her work has made within OMF.

Lastly I haven’t spoken until I say how much of a joy the team has been, learning about our different life stories and seeing how God brought all of us together was really great.

A thought about the nations

“Go and make disciples of all nations…”

A command (Great Commission nogal!) well-known, well-quoted, well-memorized and… well… missed (= well-missed!) by most of us!

I grew up in a home where my dad prayed for, supported and spoke regularly about missions and missionaries, still today at the age of 90! This influence and example have never been far away from me. Therefore, throughout my ministry as a pastor and theological educator I have had some involvement in and passion for reaching the nations, although I personally never felt a calling to go to a foreign nation to learn the language and preach the Gospel as a “foreign missionary”. Being a pastor at Rosebank Union Church gave me the opportunity of going on several short-term mission trips, adding to my understanding of what it will take to “make disciples of all nations”.

As the desire to preach more and lead a church again increased over the past few years, I prayed for the Lord’s to clearly lead me where He sees fit. Since several doors in South Africa closed, I naturally started to look abroad. The International Baptist Church of Bratislava, Slovakia caught my attention – a small church of 40-50 members, representing 17+ nations or nationalities, many of them on short-term contracts in the city. The Lord spoke to me through Abraham’s calling to be a blessing to “all peoples on earth” (Gen 12:3), as well as reminding me of Luke’s reference to the “God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5) gathered in the city of Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. I started thinking about pastoring a church where “the nations” come and go, and the influence such a small congregation could have in reaching the nations!

Throw into the mix the fact that Joan and I love travelling, that we are at a life-stage where our kids are ready to leave home (or are we leaving home?!!), as well as the fact that this could be the last “full-blown” ministry innings I may have, then the initial prompting of the Lord was confirmed. Furthermore, the church leadership was unanimous in their decision to ask the members to call me and Joan to come to Bratislava, even after they heard me preach!

And so, off we go to “make disciples of all nations”. Please pray for us as we go!

Get Involved!

You don’t have to go to Outer Mongolia to be involved in missions!

Anyone who has been on life’s journey for any length of time will know that any effective endeavour is dependent on both front-line and back-office resources. For example, front-line people such as salespeople, doctors, judges and airline pilots cannot do their work with confidence and effectively without the necessary research, administrative and other support services.

I have become aware in recent years how many valuable, not-for-profit NGOs, established and operated by wonderful, committed and capable people are in need of improved back-office functions – e.g. assistance with human resources, better financial systems and processes, using modern communications methods and more effective planning. Simply, many of them need access to people with business experience and skills to help them to be more effective as an organisation through better back-office functions.

At the same time, we are living at a world when many of us ‘baby-boomers’ – those born immediately after the 2nd world war – are retiring and leaving the careers we have been in with significant experience and with deep ‘back-office’ and leadership skills. Isn’t there a match here?
If you are in this situation, give some thought to seeking out opportunities to serve and put back into the Kingdom or the local community, this expertise, either on a paid or unpaid basis. You have no idea how many opportunities exist – just think about examples such as:

  • Mission organisations – speak to Jenni Kurten about needs that she is aware of for board members, people to serve as financial managers, etc in mission organisations.
  • Charities – many have specific needs that they are not able to meet. There are opportunities to give some time and your skills to such organisations in the ‘back-office’ functions.
  • Our own or other churches who often need resources in the administrative support areas – such as treasurers, communicators, etc.

If you have expertise, a heart to serve the Kingdom and some time on your hands, my experience is that there are many opportunities to serve. Use your talents – God expects it from you!

Take a look again at the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30.

‘Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

‘After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.”

‘His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

‘The man with two bags of gold also came. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with two bags of gold: see, I have gained two more.”

‘His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

‘Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. “Master,” he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.”

‘His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

‘“So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”


In his retirement, Roger Keyte has recently taken up a post as a member of the OM Global Finance Committee the Manager of the International Clearing House for Operation Mobilisation in the UK.

Come!

Last Thursday (29 May) was ‘Ascension Day’ and this coming Sunday (8 June) is ‘Pentecost Sunday’ – two very significant days in our church calendar commemorating two landmark events in redemptive history. In his farewell discourse Jesus told his disciples that he would be “going away” (ascension) and that he would thereafter send the Holy Spirit to them. This he did as promised on the ‘Day of Pentecost’.

During his earthly ministry Jesus again and again called people to follow him in a life of discipleship. The invitation word he repeatedly used was “Come!” Perhaps the most well-known of his invitations is found in Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Since his ascension Jesus has continued to invite sinners to come to him. He does so by the Holy Spirit through his church as we faithfully proclaim his gospel. Over the past few days while on holiday at the coast I have been mulling over the final invitation in the Bible: Revelation 22:17

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”

Since our Lord’s ascension to heaven who is it that extends the invitation to come to Jesus? It is the Spirit and the bride. The bride, of course, is the church of Jesus Christ. The Spirit extends Jesus’ invitation through Jesus’ bride as she offers “the free gift of the water of life”—salvation and satisfaction through the finished work of Jesus. Those who come in response to this invitation (those who ‘hear’) in turn become part of the bride of Christ; and they in turn say, ‘Come!’ to others.
This essentially is what missions is about. It is those who have come and taken “the free gift of the water of life” calling others to “Come!” As members of Jesus’ bride we call others to “Come!” but it is the Holy Spirit who makes that call effective. It is he who makes them feel their thirst and come.

Our missionaries serving all over the world are inviting people to come. Remember to pray for our missionaries as they invite people to “Come!”

Here in South Africa, where we live, work and play, our privilege as the bride of Christ together with the Holy Spirit is to say “Come!” Our lives should say, “Come!” Our church should say, “Come!” You and I should say, “Come!”

When last did you speak to someone about Jesus and invite them to “Come!”?