“I know Jesus died, but why?”

Missions

I held a salvation card with a woman’s phone number but no house number. After calling her many times, learning she has a different name than the one noted, and finally finding her shack I was relieved to see someone at home that I could have a conversation with!

I started to talk to her and I learn she is in a completely different profile than I thought. I don’t know how to relate to her and begin to hesitantly share the gospel, praying God will show me an open door. All I was confident in was that God was telling me to push through this rough conversation.

After talking about her family back home I begin to ask what she knows of God. She explains she knows Jesus died for her. I ask, “Do you know why he died?” She shakes her head no.

I began to share the creation story of how Adam and Eve sinned and that’s why God sent His son. She nodded her head and understood. I brought out a Gospel of John and gave one to her. I opened it to John 4 (one of my favorite stories to share). Up until this point I had needed a translator to explain what I was saying but as I told the story she completely understood English – The Gospel Came Alive!

I continued to tell her about how Jesus (a single man from a different tribe) sat down with this single woman from a disliked tribe. He wanted to talk to her and offer her something so special, even though he knew all of the bad things she had done. He didn’t care about the bad things, he still loved her. Porciah was shocked at how much Jesus loved this woman and as I told her how much he loved her, her eyes grew even wider.

As I asked if she wanted to know Jesus more, she grew hesitant. “Give everything to someone I barely know?” I understood where she was thinking because I had thought the same thing just a year and a half ago. I reassured her she could learn more about Jesus in the book of John I gave her, told her where our Bible study was in her area, prayed for her, and left.

God has a plan for Porciah and so many other people in the communities we work in. I am so grateful that I listened to what God was telling me and she now knows why Jesus died for her and that it is not about what she does for him or the bad things she’s done in the past, because all He wants is her.

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Sweet, South Africa

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates, Missions

Ladies and gentlemen, I have arrived and am so excited to be here!

I was unsure of what to expect housing wise but when we arrived at our home for the next 11 months, I was in awe. Nice rooms with their own bathroom and a pool in the backyard. We don’t have everything set up yet (we gather groceries on our own for the first time this Sunday!) but it is coming together really nicely. All the interns are getting along and enjoying the company of everyone. Last night we hit the sack early, about 10:45pm and yet I woke up at four in the morning! The mornings are gorgeous here, though (as is most of the weather because it’s summer currently!) Sitting outside and watching the sunrise while spending time in the Word felt so refreshing.

Maybe it was the peacefulness, maybe it was the early hour of the morning, or maybe it was the full-hearted pursuit of God and completing His will – but I had an amazing devos this morning!! As I opened various devotionals, God began to speak to me about praise. Praising God can move mountains – even city walls! {Joshua 6:1-5; 20-21} “And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants.” {Jeremiah 32:39} Praise creates hope. Psalm 145 (and the last couple of chapters) brags on God and revives your spirit. “But joyful are those who the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord God.” {Psalm 146:5} “The Lord’s delight is in..those who put their hope in His unfailing love!” {Psalm 147:11} Praise generates peace (Psalm 147) and it also reminds us of His goodness things you’ve come through –He brought you out of- (Psalm 103:2). My favorite is one later on: “Violence will disappear in your land; the desolation and destruction of war will end. Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there.” {Isaiah 60:18} Praise opens the gates to the kingdom of God – in church, in your home, in your car, and yes, even in another country. How awesome that we can praise God and exalt and He will open doors and grace us with His mercy every morning. Hallelujah!

Since the trip down here can be so strenuous, Impact Africa is breaking us in slowly with briefing and allowing us to gradually take everything in and adjust to life as an intern in South Africa. They took the interns to the first (of many) malls in South Africa and we purchased our phone with air time as well as participated in the third annual Pick N’ Pay Scavenger hunt! {Pick N’ Pay is the equivalent of our Walmart}. I didn’t win…but it was still rewarding to find a few different things that sound like one thing but are actually completely different! “Baby marrow” isn’t what you think it is…it’s actually zucchini!

Pick N' Pay Scavenger Hunt!

Wouldn’t be a trip to South Africa without chicken feet! Notice my grossed out grimace.. and yes this color is just from being in the sun during the morning. It’s so intense!!

Yesterday was our first full day of training which included going to the communities walking through the creshes (daycare) and learning more about the Baby Safe (which I was SO excited about from the beginning!) The more I learn about the programs Impact Africa has, the more I partner with them. Impact Kids is set up so strategically by Michelle Franzen. Based on the statistics in South Africa, she has orchestrated a very effective system. South Africa estimates that 4.7 million of its people are totally illiterate and another 4.9 are functionally illitierate (meaning adults who left school before grade seven.) Three million households, almost eighteen million people live below the poverty line (set at an income of only $35 a month!) Research shows that up to half of an individuals capacity to learn has been established by the age of four. With that mindset, Impact Africa opened up a preschool from ages 2-6. Most African parents send their children off to first grade without any training beforehand. They don’t know how to sit still, their attention span is short, and they lack the motor skills to excel. Impact Kids is well rounded with separate classrooms for the 2-3 year olds, 4-5, and 6 (sometimes 7 depending upon their educational development.) From 8-1 they are being taught with play breaks and gym in between lessons, after 1 they have free time and the cresh turns into more of an afterschool care, making the most of their attention span. Every lesson incorporates Christian values, scripture memorization, bible stories, songs, etc. They go above and beyond the requirements of the Gauteng (how-tang) school system. The school has really taken off and even in the beginning of the year (most of the parents wait to send their children to school till the beginning of February) the creshes are almost at capacity!

Some of the gals and I have shared stories and already encouraged and challenged each other in our faith. We’re enjoying each other’s company. The second evening before dinner we all stood in a circle hitting the volleyball back and forth. There is such peace in the household and we all are meshing so well. After dinner my roommate and I spent some time together and prayed for each other as we begin to settle into our new home here in South Africa. Last night we went to a braai (barbeque) with the Impact Africa founders, Rich and Michelle Franzen. We played games, swam, and at the very end were able to Skype with our families! It was so nice to be able to talk to everyone! Once we arrived back at our home all the interns gathered to pray together for our ministry and unity as a team. All in all, I’m enjoying my time here (you know, in the two days that I’ve been living in South Africa.) I will update you soon on more things that we are doing and how we all grow, as well as stories of ministry (which are in the weeks to come!!) Thank you all for your support and prayers, they are much appreciated and they have (and continue to) made a difference!

Almost There!

Life updates, Uncategorized

Just a couple of weeks till I leave for the internship in South Africa!

I am so excited to begin this next chapter of awesome ministry and growth!!

In the past two months, I’ve already raised 4,805 dollars. WOW –  thank you to all my awesome supporters!

(if you have not sent your pledges yet, please send them so that I may effectively calculate how much more support I need)

However, I still need $11,195!!!

Some of you may not know about the internship, so here are the most commonly asked questions I receive:

What exactly will you be doing down there?

So many things!! The purpose of the internship is to learn how to more effectively minister and spread the gospel cross-culturally. Just as I did on my last missions trip, I will be going to the communities and sharing God’s love with them. So many churches and ministries have a script that you read to people and at the end, they receive the Lord. It’s not very effective, and while it may push you out of your comfort zone, it’s not equipping them for the journey of a lifetime.

With Impact Africa we create relationships. Instead of preaching at someone telling them they’re going to hell, we sit down and take the time to get to know them. The purpose is to create disciples and world changers instead of “converting” someone and leaving them to figure out their faith alone. As interns we will also train other groups (like they did with me last time) to effectively share the Word of God. Impact Africa also has daycare centers in the communities (both Kya Sands and Diepsloot) that I will also be helping with. They have a kids outreach in each community once a week where we get to share the Love of God and love on the kids.

Where will you be staying?

All of the interns will have houses to stay in 11 girl interns in one and between 5-6 (i can’t remember how many) guys in another house.

What do all of the finances cover?

The funds will go toward housing, air fare, visa, food and living expenses, as well as international health insurance and any unplanned needs that may occur.

How can I help?

Please prayerfully consider partnering with the Lord’s vision by enabling me to carry out His work. You can do a one time gift (if writing a check please write it to Impact Africa) or even sponsor monthly (by clicking here , reoccurring donation, using paypal and typing my name in the notes). If you have any other questions I would love to answer!! Email me: ashleybbridges(at)gmail.com

You guys have seen the change and growth that was implemented in the last trip and I would love to partner with you in this awesome ministry opportunity!

God bless and happy New Year!

Blessed Mouths, Mighty Works.

Challenge & Revelation, Missions

Today was another awesome day! I just wanted to take a moment though and thank all my supporters who helped send me here. Words cannot express my gratitude and I am so excited to see all the blessings God does in your life because of the great seed you sowed!

Once again in Diepsloot, we headed out early this morning, around 10ish. (This would be 3 a.m. your time.) Our group leader, Lynae informed me I would be the one choosing who to talk to and have most of the conversation time. After a day like yesterday, I was so fired up, I became even more excited! God was going to give me an awesome opportunity to lead someone to the Lord today and sow into their life. After walking for a minute we saw a shack where a woman was strumming the guitar. Intrigued by the music drifting through the air, we approached the shack to say hello. We asked if they were busy and they invited us in their one room shack, welcoming us into their small home. As we exchanged names we discovered there were three brother and three sisters all living in this one room shack. They came from Zimbabwe to find work and talked about how the conditions in Diepsloot highly contrasted the conditions in homeland. “The shack we live in would be for chickens,” They tell us, “It’s much cleaner in Zimbab, here people walk outside and throw sh*** in the streets.” We listen, intrigued to hear someone tell the truth so vividly. We exchange more, them asking us how America is different (most conversation include this question), what do we like here, etc. As the conversation lulled, I asked them if I could tell them a story. They nod their heads and even the brother, who seems to be somewhat of a jokester, turns and begins to pay attention. I tell them of the story of Joseph and the trials he faced.

As I open the story, I tell them of how this man had eleven older brothers. He was his father’s favorite, and his brother despised him because of that. Joseph had a dream that he told his brothers, telling them, “I dreamed that you will bow down to me!” They began to hate him even more saying, “Are you going to reign over us or are you going to have us as slaves and work us hard?” But Joseph told them another dream later, jealous and envy began to build inside of them. Joseph’s father sent him to take care of his brothers one day and when they saw him coming from far off they came together and created a plan. “Let’s kill him and throw him in the well, tell Father a wild ferocious animal devoured him, how then will his dreams come true?” An older brother stopped them and pleaded for his life. As he explained that they should not touch him, he secretly wanted to save his brother. Once Joseph approached the group, they stripped him of his coat and threw him into the well, sitting down to lunch. A caravan of sellers passed as they were eating and they decided to sell Joseph because there was no gain in killing him, but it would be more profitable to sell him. They took Joseph’s long coat after he was gone and killed a young goat, spilling it’s blood on it. Sending it back to their father they said, “Is this not your son’s coat?” The caravaners sold Joseph to Potiphar, the man in charge of overseeing executions for Pharoah.

Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph and put him in charge of everything over his own house, even though Joseph was just a slave. His wife began to long for Joseph and would call after him to be with her. But Joseph fled and refused to listen. When he ran, she grabbed his coat and lied to husband, telling him, “He tried to be with me!” Potiphar was furious and threw him into prison. But God was continually with him and gave him favor, the prison guard promoted Joseph to be in charge of the prison and all that was done there. Two men were in the prison with dreams, but they were sad because they had no one to interpret it. As Joseph saw their long faces, he asked what was wrong and they told him their situation. One man told Joseph his dream and he interpreted it saying, “In three days you will be restored to your position with Pharoah, but do not forget me when you do.” The next man’s dream interpreted that he too would be reinstated with the Pharoah, but would die after three days. Even after interpreting the dreams, these men did not remember Joseph. Two years passed and Pharoah had a dream with no one to interpret. The man remembered him and they sent word to bring him out of the dungeon, and as Pharoah requested an interpretation Joseph replied, “It’s not in me but God will give you a favorable answer of peace.”

Joseph gives Pharoah the things he needs to do to prayer for a famine, exactly what his dreams call for. He tells him to find a man wise and proficient, even describing the containers needed and portions. Pharoah asks his advisers, “Is there anyone like him that we could find that match his character?” To Joseph he says, “Your God has shown you all this, there is nobody as intelligent and discreet and understanding and wise as you are. You will be in charge of my house and you will govern everyone.” Joseph prepared for the famine and once it hit, he distributed the food to everyone. Joseph’s father sent his brother to find the food in Egypt –The sister cut me off and finished the story with a smile, explaining she had forgotten the story but remembered it from 1st grade. (If you want to finish the story it goes all the way to chapter: link) They told us how they went to Salvation Army church in Zimbabwe. As we continued to share, the brother (who once had been a little smart-mouthed with us earlier) began to pour questions.

“It says in John 3 we are to be born again of water and spirit to enter the kingdom of God. Does that mean I have to get baptized in order to go to heaven?” We explained to him that “of water” is of physical birth, spiritual birth the second. Baptism is a public declaration of your relationship with God and laying your old self dead to sin, waking up a new person in Christ. It was such a divine appointment, God destined us to be there today, I know it. Sorry, no pictures for you guys today! Hope you enjoyed the update, “see” you guys tomorrow! Have a blessed rest of your day!

Don’t Give Up.

Challenge & Revelation, Missions

Today we visited a squatter camp called Diepsloot. There are over 200,000 people that live in the length of just three miles. Although the shacks are nicer, it’s also more expensive than Kya Sands.

As we started out our morning, we were full of hope. The first two groups of people we talked to didn’t really connect with us. I left feeling so discouraged and disappointed, I wanted to leave right then and go home. –But that would have been just what the enemy would have wanted, wouldn’t you say?

We took a lunch break and hung out with the rest of the group, sharing our own testimonies and encouraging one another. Having the personal time helped. As our team headed back out to talk to more people, I was a little more hopeful. We met up with a large group of people from Zimbabwe and began to learn more about them. They were all brother and sisters, coming from a family of 16 children. The brother moved to this camp in ’99, the others later followed in order to find work. One of the sisters we met was the eldest and I related to her that I was, too. We continued conversation and the brother, Thunga, recognized our Bibles and asked why we had them. We began to share why and he continued asking questions. “Why does it cost money to buy a Bible when God gave it to us?”, “Why are there people who read the Bible and still commit crimes?”, “Do soldiers kill because it is their job or because they believe in God?” I jumped right in without hesitation. “Does food cost money?” I ask him. “Yes.” He replies. “But you need that food to eat, right?” He nods. “The Bible is the same way. It feeds our spirit, and we need it to grow and stay healthy. But it’s a sacrifice, it cost something.” He nods excitedly, he understands. Then he asks the next question, in response I say, “People are born with evil in their hearts. Some go to church for the wrong reasons and don’t have a relationship with God. They do the actions but don’t talk to Him. Without a relationship with God, He can’t keep cleaning our hearts when we mess up. People are like that in America, too.” I explain, “They think if they do good then they will go to heaven, but God says in His word that people will come to Him declaring all the good things they did for Him but He will say “go away, I don’t know you.” That is why it is so important to have a relationship with God and talk to Him. That is key.” Thunga nods his head and proceeds to the next question. Neil speaks up and explains, it’s their job, it’s not right to kill others unless we’re defending our country. We continue our conversation and feed Him verse after verse, at one point Thunga jumps from his seat and runs to go get his Bible. He was welcomed into the kingdom of God today and I am so excited for him! Our interpreters will continue to follow up on them and minister to him.

Don’t despise the little things and don’t get discouraged when things look rough!!! Persist and push through opposition, God has a plan for your day today and an amazing destiny set before you!

 

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