Sangoma Meets Jesus

Missions

Two long weeks had passed in anticipation. The excitement was so thick you could feel it in the air as the interns walked into Kya Sands. Short, quick conversations and prayers were had with many people we came across. Two hours later, we had one more hour on the field and I knew just how to spend it.

After being in the community for a year, you quickly learn the places to avoid and who is where. Just before we left last year someone mentioned to me a sangoma (witch doctor) that lived right off the main street. At the time, a mental note had been made to avoid the house. It was scary at the thought of opening myself up to demonic activity because of what I had been taught years ago.

After leaving South Africa last year, something in my spirit whispered next year would be different. While on break Life Church prophesied over this year for increased flow of the Spirit and if the Lord healed last year, there would be even more healings for 2014! Taking a hold of that prophecy and speaking into 2014, this year began to be declared one of more healings, breakthroughs, and deliverance than last year. I stood in faith for increased faith and deeper relationship with Christ.

 As we began to walk back through the community we stopped at the same house I had run in fear from last year. Determined to not only show the interns what they were up against in the community and minister to this woman, a translator was quickly found once we realized she didn’t speak English. As we made small talk she mentioned she was a “traditional healer”. When we told her (us) the Americans did not know what that was, we asked if she would like to show us. She happily invited us into the corner where she would sit her clients while taking to the ancestors to “discern” what was wrong with them.

Questions were asked to extract information for the interns who were still a little shocked this was real life. She showed us her certificates and told us how and what she exactly did. When most people become sangomas it is usually because they have a dream of an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14b-15) or their family insists. When I asked her why she became a sangoma she told me it was because her grandfather’s spirit appeared to her and told her to become one. Later she told us any messages she “discerned” from the spirits were visions. When the question was asked if she believed in God and she said yes and then we asked if she believed the Bible was true she nodded her head. We shared the verse in (Ecclesiastes 9:4-5) where it explains the dead have no involvement with the present on earth. Nelly resisted a little and defended she did not dabble in those kind of things.

Like a light switch flipped on, God began to reveal the direction of the conversation was all wrong. We began to tell her of the one true spirit and what He did for her. As we told the story of the perfect man that God had sent, she was glued to the speaker, eyes fixed on me even though the translator was the one speaking her language. After the gospel was shared, she still was not entirely convinced. Our overpowering heart cry was for God to open up her eyes to see what was separating her from the Truth!

We told the story of Adam and Eve and how what looked like they weren’t anybody, separated them from God. As she heard about the snake, her eyes widened and her face fell when God told them they had to leave the garden. As I told her the plan God had and how he had sent his perfect son to die for her, she became more excited and drawn into the story.

We asked her questions to ensure she understood the story. She really connected with the story and began to tell us that she could now feel spirits fighting for her. “Pray for me that I would have a deeper desire for Christ and that he would show the True spirit.” As the group huddled around her, people began to come to her store to purchase things. She so passionately wanted prayer she did not stir to respond to the customers waiting at her shack. It was surprising because even the most earnest people we minister to answer their phone or talk to their friends while we talk with them.

What a divine connnection! So thankful for the amazing things God is doing in Africa!!

Advertisements

Team Season – Blasting Past!

Missions

This past week there was a team visiting from North Carolina. They were a blast to work with and because they were only here for a week we quickly jumped into ministry! One of the women from the team, Michelle, and I started talking with two women standing outside of their shacks. Both from Limpopo, we began to share life together. Mary claimed she knew God but as we delved deeper into explaining having a relationship with God she began to become quiet. I learned Elizabeth, the other woman had a son back home in Limpopo. “Elizabeth, how would you feel if a man came and tortured your family, killing them?” I asked. Elizabeth confidently replied, “I would be sad but I would survive.” “How would you feel if the man came back years later and said to you, ‘Elizabeth, I know I brutally hurt your family. Will you forgive me for hurting you? My heart is dying, I need a new one.. will you give your son’s heart to me so I can live?” After Elizabeth expressed the choice words she would share with him I nodded. “Of course we wouldn’t want him near us! He hurt us, why should we help him? Elizabeth, that’s what Jesus did for us. Even though we hurt His son and the bad things we did sent Jesus to die, God forgave us. Our words and decisions were the nails in his hands but God raised Jesus from the dead so we could know him.” Elizabeth gasped and sat back, taken back by what I had just expressed.

Ashley, Elizabeth, Michelle, Mary

Michelle jumped into the conversation, “Mary, Elizabeth, I know you know about God, do you have a relationship with him? Have you ever said with your mouth that God was Lord over your life?” Both of them shook their heads, still in shock of the realization of all Christ has done for them. They both gave their lives to the Lord and were so excited! We took a Polaroid shot of us all four together, celebrating the day the turned their lives to Christ: August 6th, 2013.

There are many things that make me love living in South Africa but my most favorite is when the teams from America share their faith with those in South Africa and they give their lives to the Lord! Praise God for the hearts He softens and ministers to!

Testimonies From George, South Africa!

Challenge & Revelation, Missions, Photography

Victoria Bay

Sedgefield Community

Photo Credit: Cori Bridgeford

Knysna, South Africa is a beautiful place and I’m privileged to have traveled there. While it has many accommodations much more like America’s it still has squatter camps. These were not just any type of squatter camps. Shacks built on hills overlooking the grand homes closer to the beach, the mist of the ocean waves visible from their very front door. In the three and a half months I’ve been doing ministry in squatter camps I had never seen a community so desperate for God. The very first house we visited that week, God did a miracle. We met three women, sitting outside the door and we told them about the crusade. When we asked if we could pray for them, they led us to their mother who couldn’t walk. A frail old woman, named Sarah, lay curled up in her bed, muttering a few words to her daughter which she would translate to us. It had been thirteen years since she had walked. Sarah was in a lot of pain and had many medications trying to take it away. “I believe in Jesus.” She told us, “I believe He can heal me.” Excitedly we prayed for her, expecting the God of the Impossible to do a great miracle.

When we finished praying we asked if she felt any different and she said some of the pain was gone. She walked from her bedroom to the sitting area – a walk she had not made in 7 years! Two days later we stopped by again and were able to get to know the daughter, Sophie, better. She told us of how she took care of her mother Sarah and her son who was deaf and had a type of autism. With no job, she trusted the Lord for everything she had. Selflessly laying down her own needs for those of others, the stress on her face was evident. We began to pour into her the strength the Lord has for her, sharing scripture after scripture, her countenance had changed from burdened to joyful by the time we left!

The last night I saw Sophie at the crusade with a little girl who had been with us since the crusade had started earlier that week. We all knew her well, seeing her and playing with her so often. “This one is a soup-kitchen child.” Sophie told me, “I gave her a piece of bread.. I have my own problems!” While this woman had compassion she seemed quite irritated, still holding the little girl. When I asked where her parents were she responded saying the father was dead and the mother had disappeared. “Is she staying with you?” I asked. “No!” “Where does she stay then?” I asked. Sophie continued to talk about the soup kitchen and all I could think about was how this four year old girl had no family and was apparently getting food from the soup kitchens.

There are children who have no homes. Who don’t know where their family is or where their next meal is going to come from. This trip not only made me grow into the faith God gave me for his healing but opened my eyes to see the deeper reality that these people live in every day. Please be praying for the seeds sown in our times of ministry and that the Lord would continue  to work on their hearts!

DSC08747_

“God Hears”

Missions

As I walked through the streets, looking for someone to talk to I spot a young man sitting outside, having just come home from school. I stepped out in faith and went to go talk to him. We talked about school, friends, and family, I quickly learned this sixteen year old boy’s father was not in the picture and his mother was often working, leaving him to take care of his younger siblings. I told him of how I had often watched my younger siblings, caring for them as well. We talked about the different churches he had been to and I listened as he expressed his dislike for some of the churches – cult churches unbeknownst to him.

He walked inside his shack, showing me his and his little brother’s room and where his mother and sister slept. I asked if I could help him wash the dishes he was starting on and he agreed. I had learned early on he could read English and was excited to have this unique opportunity of telling this young boy about Jesus, who could understand even more! I contrasted the dish soap to how Jesus cleaned our hearts. He became intrigued and wanted to know more. I began to tell him the gospel story, from Genesis to Jesus laying his life down, we washed and talked, his expression changing throughout. After I had finished telling him about how Jesus had laid his life down he looked at me with tears in his eyes. “How does that make you feel, Ishmael?” I asked. “I just keep thinking of all the bad things I have done.” He replied. To be honest, I had not even respected the response. I looked down at the time, seeing I only had 15 precious minutes left with this young man. “Lord, if you only had fifteen minutes with this one whom you love so much, what you tell him?” I showed Ishmael John 5:24, telling him of how God did not come to make us feel bad, but to save us. “Good things can’t save us,” I tell Ishmael, “It says in Matthew 7:21 that when we die and go to heaven we will see God. Many people will say look at all the good things we did for you! But God will say, get away from me, I never knew you. The only way we get to God is through Jesus.” I flipped over to Romans 10:9-10, and let the truth sink into this young man’s heart. “I want to believe in Jesus.” Ishmael adamantly told me. My heart soared!

After he accepted Christ we talked about how Jesus killed sin on the cross. It has no power over us! I shared how earlier that day it had been difficult, but I prayed for God to give me strength to come to the community and share. “God gave me strength just so I could talk to you! God gives you strength, too.

I left the shack that day, knowing his life was changed and excited to be able to give him a gospel of John, leaving something for him to read and begin his walk with the Lord. Please be in prayer for this young man. He has the potential to have such an influence over his friends, family, and neighbors. I look forward to catching up with him again soon and am praying the Lord continue to move in His life!

He Brings Hope to the Hopeless

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates, Missions

On a windy, cloudy day in Kya Sands, most people are huddled around fires or in their shacks staying warm. Our team walks in between the alley ways looking for an open shack or anyone for that matter. As we stand in front of a shack, looking to see if anyone is there, we notice they are all locked. While we discuss where we should go next, a woman approaches and greets us. She introduces herself as Marciah and we learn more of her life. Her four daughters are back at home; oldest is 16 and part of a Muslim church. She shares her disappointment and prayers for her daughter. We relate life with her, me sharing of my two younger sisters and family in America, the difficulty of being away. “But I call my mom and I feel better.” Marciah, the thirty-eight year old woman, tells me.

I ask if she lives with her family and she tells me she lives by herself. I was a little surprised because very rarely will you find a woman in a squatter camp living on her own. If she’s not living with a sister or mother, she usually lives with a boyfriend or husband. “My boyfriend died on October 26 last year.” She solemnly states. Once again, my heart is pulled for this woman. So many times you’ll hear of difficult situations occurring in a squatter camp, of death and sickness, unthinkable realities hit you like a tidal wave. These situations, as terrible as they are, have become the norm in hopeless desperation to cope.

She tells of visiting her children for holiday and the joy of being able to spend time with her little ones. We learn of the church she attends and she shares even more about her life. She invites us inside her house, unlocking the door and motioning for us to come closer. She shows us the places her families once lived before they moved back home, leaving her by herself. I ask Marcia if she likes to be by herself or with others. She tells me she likes to be with others but it is difficult because her neighbors come home late, through the emphasis in her eyes I can see the loneliness. As if a wall had come down, she opened up and spoke softly of her deceased boyfriend. “He committed suicide here.” She tells me. Rather than tugging at my heart, it broke right in two hearing this. “I am so sorry, Maricah.” I try to console her in the best way I know, sympathy and a listening ear. She continued, “He hung himself. He didn’t even leave a note.” Trying to still wrap my head about the pain she must be feeling I ask another question. “You found him hanging?”

“We came home and he had locked it from the inside,” she said. “I knocked and knocked but no one would answer the door. We had to break part of the door and crawl through.” As she told the story, I mentally walked through the process, experiencing the stress and exhaustion after a long day’s work, not being able to enter the only place that could be labeled your oasis, crawling through the door to find someone so close to you, had killed themselves. “I couldn’t sleep or stay here.” She tells us. “All I could picture was that was where he died. I would think I saw him when I woke up at night. So many people told me to get counseling. But I told them I could counsel myself.” Marciah continued to tell of getting counseling and how she was okay now. I could still see the oppression over her life, the heaviness that burdened her whether she knew it or not. I began to relate to her, through circumstances I had gone through with friends. I told her of how I felt when I found out the people I was close to told me of how close they had come to suicide and the questions I asked myself. “How could I have noticed? Why was I not there for them?” She agreed with me and I asked if she had a bible.

She took her Bible out, excited to show me. I see her bookmark is in Psalms and I ask if she likes the book. “I must be honest; I did not read my Bible while I was on holiday.” She admits to me. I nod my head and tell her of my new found love for Psalms. As I flip to show her where I have been reading, I read her 55:1-8,9b,11b,16 and ending with v22 “Give your burdens to the Lord and He will take care of you.

She soaked it all in. She agreed to start attending our bible studies and is so excited to be able to see people and talk to them about God! I am so excited to journey with Marcia. Please be praying with me for healing, peace, and deliverance in her life.

Recently, I’ve had to rely on the Lord for his provision. I am still fundraising while in South Africa to fully fund the year. Trusting in His timing is not easy, especially when deadlines fly by as you’re out in the shacks and in the office, day by day. Just as I encouraged Marciah with Psalms, it has been encouraging me especially in this season of life.

 “But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. (v20-22) We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name..Lord, our hope is in you alone.”

Psalm 33:18

If you would like to donate follow this link. The donation information is towards the bottom of the page. Thank you for your prayers and partnership in reaching those who are hopeless and broken in South Africa!

Salvation in the Shacks!

Missions

We crossed the river in Kya and as we passed through a small walkway I met eyes with a woman. When she greeted me, I felt in my heart it was a divine appointment. She was an older woman from Limpopo, with her two granddaughters, listening to the radio to pass the time. I sat down and began to exchange life with her, learning her name was Katie and she had been here for three years. She turned off her radio and shared with me she used to attend a cult church back at home. “Do they give you Jocco tea?” I ask. {Many of the cult churches will pray over a tea and have you drink it – to heal what they said you were sick with. They also give bracelets, prayed-over Vaseline, and holy water to scare away evil spirits} She nods her head and I continue, “Does it make you better?” She contemplates for a moment and then shrugs her shoulders, “It makes you better from what they say you’re sick with.” I point out some people lie. “How do you know the “prophets” are telling the truth?”  “Some people make things up,” She tells me, “But others tell the truth.” I ask how she knows what is true and what is a lie. “Sometimes they tell me something will happen and when it doesn’t I know it is a lie.

Did Jesus ever use tea or bracelets to make people better?” I continued after a moment of letting her think, “Jesus prayed to God, right? He didn’t need any of those things because He knew God and His power.” I flipped over to a passage in Matthew, showing her how Jesus prayed with people, and because they believed in him, they were healed.

“Katie, do you know why Jesus died?” She responded, “For us.”

He saw Katie’s face when they beat him, he saw Katie’s face when they hit him with whips, he saw Katie when he hung on the cross. He did it for you, Katie.”

She looked at me with an expression of hurt, compassion, and slight confusion. Her face seemed to say, “For me?” I continued, “He died so that you could know him. He wants to talk to you and be your friend. When we sin, it makes a wall in front of our heart and keeps us from talking to God. God sent his only son, to die, so that he could talk to us. When Jesus died, he broke the wall that kept us from talking to God. He killed our sin!” A look of relief overtook her face as she sat back in astonishment. I waited a moment and then asked again, “Katie, do you know Jesus?”

“I’ve never seen him!” she replied. “I’ve never seen him like I can see you,” I touched her hand, “but if I called you on the phone, would you say, ‘You’re not real!’ because I wasn’t right in front of you?” She shook her head and laughed. “Because you can hear me, right?” I ask and she (still chuckling) agrees with me. “I’m real but you can’t see me. If I called you on the phone would you not talk to me because you couldn’t see me?” “No!” “Jesus is real even though we can’t see him. He wants to talk to you! But when we hear the phone ring we say, no, I don’t want to answer, it’s not real. It hurts him. We’re saying I don’t believe you.” “Mh, I understand.” She replied.

Katie, do you want to know Jesus? I opened to Romans 10:9-10 and read it, “That’s how we get to know, Jesus, Katie. We ask him into our hearts, we give our lives to him. Without God we would not be breathing right now, he is our life.” She nods her head and says, “Yes, I want to know him.” We were so ecstatic! As I prayed with her, introducing her to Jesus, her new life-long friend, she smiled.

Please be praying for Katie and the others that have accepted Christ this week. Pray that they are constantly being drawn closer to His heart and the lies of the enemy would not sway them in their faith of our amazing creator!

First Day of Ministry and God is moving!!

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates, Missions

Monday was the first day in the squatter camp, Msawawa. I was so excited to enter the squatter camp and minster to the people. As we began to have conversations with those who resided in the community, one of the interns quickly made connections and seemed to easily have conversations with them. I stood in the background snapping photos, feeling defeated. I wanted to interject in the conversation and share His love. That was all, I simply wanted to break mindsets and spread his peace and wisdom. All the courage it takes to live one day here drains me. I’m not homesick. I’m getting along with the girls in my house. The Lord has been giving revelation after revelation in my quiet times in the Word with Him. Why was I feeling bound by a spiritual rope?

As we left the squatter camp for lunch (our house is between five and ten miles away, making it easier to drive home for lunch and rest up) we began to talk about our favorite and worst parts of ministry so far. I didn’t feel the need to interject since I felt that I had barely made an impact on the day so far. It was slightly discouraging, being the fact that I have been here before and yet was left unsure of what to say, how to continue conversations, and effectively witness. I had the head knowledge, but I didn’t have the experience. We were all sitting around the table eating lunch together when suddenly the Lord pulled at my heart, “Seek me for the words to say. I will tell you what makes the biggest impact.” I sat there in the middle of eating my ham and cheese sandwich, heart’s jaw on the ground at this awesome word. “God, you are so right! I have been so focused on seeking you and forgot to ask you be a part of the biggest reason why I’m here!” We prayed before heading out for another 2 and a half hours of ministry and I encouraged my fellow interns. “Listen to what they have to say. They can be talking and go on so many rabbit trails but the important thing is to remember the big picture and bring it full circle. Let them be heard out. They’ll hear you out in return.” With that we locked up and loaded in the car.

I climbed out of the van with a fresh perspective and as we walked through Msawawa and joyfully greeted everyone I came in sight with, ready for God to move through me. The first man we talked to was restoring an old wicker table. With one eye gone from a fence post falling and removing it, old raggedy clothes, and many missing teeth, he was a sight.

But God had intention for us to talk to Him.

Sixty-three and very much present for apartheid, Cori (one of the second year interns) began to strike a conversation with him. As we find out he restores furniture for a living, a skill his father taught him while growing up, Cori and I immediately saw a connection to the gospel. Unsure if I should jump into telling Him God’s Word or continue to relationship build with the man, I left Cori continue to get to know him better. She then began to share the similarities of how God fixes our hearts, just as he fixes furniture – that when He fixes us, we come back a few years later with scratches and dents, asking Him to restore us.

Cori & the man

We then prayed for him for healing and a deep revelation and relationship with God, that He would spread the Word of God, as well as turn a deaf ear to false teaching. When we finished, another man called out to us at a shop next door. He asked us to pray for him and as we began to ask him questions he told of us how his back was in pain. The many children that surround in a squatter camp can be overwhelming. Another girl, about the age of 10 turns the corner with a pile of corn on top of her head and makes eye contact with me. She approaches me, asking what we are doing here. I tell her a little and the group calls me over to pray for the man with pain in his back. After we finish I turn to talk to the girl, {I later learn her name is Beautiful}. In my heart I feel she is supposed to take us to her mother, but I feel a hesitation. Am I being silly? I don’t want the rest of the group to think I’m being weird… Alexa (another intern!) speaks up and asks Beautiful to take us to her house. She quickly winds through the streets and alleyways, each house we pass we wonder if it could be this girl’s mother. When we finally arrive we see an exhausted, frail mother standing with a tiny baby in her arms. Her name is Edith and her two month old baby, Noise.

We learn more of each other, exchanging life and laughter we began to get into the deeper things of life. Edith shares she is trying to start her own business because her husband does not have a job. Families not having jobs are a common thing in the squatter camps so we elaborate on that for a moment. She wants to send her daughter to school but does not have enough money. We learn she is originally from Zimbabwe, where she married her first husband and gave birth to Beautiful. She then explains that when she moved here three years ago she remarried and now has another daughter. We ask why she moved from Zim and she tells that her husband was brutally murdered – six stab wounds by a screw driver in his skull and several kicks to the jaw, knocking most teeth out. “He lived ten days after”, she tells us. Edith continues to share that her first husband’s killer lives in a squatter camp not even 15 minutes’ drive from Msawawa. “Do you see him sometimes?” Cori asks. Edith nods and we’re all in shock as she begins to weep. We begin to comfort and pour God’s love on her and one by one, we start to pull out verses to edify her. Alexa, who has been missing her family and clinging to this verse personally, flips to Psalms 91. V2

“He alone is my refuge, my place of safety, he is my God, and I trust him. 4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 9 If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, 10 no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. 11 For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.”

Cori jumped in and shared (my personal favorite to hear her share) the story from EZ 16. It is the story of a woman who was left in a field to die as newborn. A man discovers her and sees how dirty and disgusting she is, yet believes in her potential. He takes her, nurses her back to health. Adopting her and giving her every desire of her heart, treating her like the princess she is.  She became vain in her beauty and began to give her body to men, prostituting herself to anyone who came along. 16:16 “You used the lovely things I gave you to make shrines for idols..” She went to sangomas and gambled, sacrificing to idols. Her father was so hurt that she did those things when her created her to be so much more. Yet he still loved her and wanted her to return to him, repent of what she had done.

Edith, Beautiful, & Cori

At the end of this story Edith began to sob again and began to tell of how she often felt God did not hear her prayers. “We are an answer to your prayers. We are here to tell you God hears you. He’s listening to everything you say.” Cori confirms.  I began to feel a pull to share this: “If Beautiful wanted a piece of bread, would you give her the bread she asked for?” Edith nodded and I continued, “Because she is your daughter, right? God is the same! You are His loved daughter, He wants to give everything He has to you! He hears what you say and has a perfect and great plan for you.” We embrace and all the team comes in to pray for her and her family. She repeatedly thanks us and asks us to visit next time we are there. We promise and take a deep breath as we walk onto the streets of Msawawa. God is so good. Never underestimate the little things.

If that little girl had not stayed to watch what was going on, we may not have been able to minister to Edith and her family and certainly change her life for eternity.

Jeremiah 9:12 “…Why has the land been so ruined that no one dares to travel through it?”

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates, Missions

Hi partners, family, and friends! Hope you are all doing well and God is moving in your lives!

This past week has been the last bit of training sessions, and we finished the week off with a trip to Diepsloot and Kya Sands for kids ministry! It was an awesome time of loving on kids and teaching them about their wonderful Creator. Earlier that week we also went on a trip to Soweto where Nelson Mandela grew up as well as Reverend Desmond Tutu. We learned a lot about the uprising that influenced the end of apartheid and visited many historical spots. It was mindboggling to think it was only 25 years ago when everything changed. Nelson Mandela is still alive today. Most of the time in America, monuments are not resurrected until the death of someone who did something. It did open my eyes that the violence, drinking, and drug addiction that is prevalent here, is not the only idol.

As I was seeking the Lord on verses to pray over the nation, He opened my eyes to so many other things and I would love to share them with you!

{Just as a preface: Monday we went out into the squatter camps to share the gospel with the people who live in the shacks, for many of the interns first time. I was so excited to read these verses that I pray they opened eyes to see all the Lord has promised them and the lies that have been told – and see the real truth!!}

Malachi 3:2

“But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes.”

One of the ways we relate to the people is while they’re doing laundry. So commonly you can strike a conversation up with a woman cleaning laundry, learn more about her and her family and begin to make connections. One of the ways you can bring the Lord into the conversation is by contrasting how the soap that cleans the laundry is just like how God cleans our hearts. This verse is so true – no one can endure till the rapture occurs and certainly face God with a clear conscience.

V13-15

“You have said terrible things about me”, says the Lord. But you say, “What do you mean? What have we said against you?” You have said, “What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.”

Many of the African people seek a tangible God. They want something to show up right now, they want to hear, see, and hold God. So many cult churches offer a tangible power, but it’s not the truth. I have encountered people who question Christians and the church. “Some men create churches just for the tithes and offerings, preach and drive from church to church all day Sunday, and collect tithes and offerings for themselves.” We have learned from the Africans and many are upset by that. “Does God allow that? And if so, why? Wouldn’t it just be better to do our own thing than sacrifice our hard earned money for something fake?”

This is where I find my answer:

Deuteronomy 7:5b-6

“…You must break down their pagan altars..burn their idols. For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on the earth; The Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure!”

His own special treasure…wow. I am called to tear down those strongholds that hold the people of God back from Him.

For that reason I find this scripture so special:

Jeremiah 9:12

“Who is wise enough to understand all this? Who has been instructed by the Lord and can explain it to others? Why has the land been so ruined that no one dares to travel through it?”

Psalm 49:6-9

“Let the praises of Go be int heir mouths and a sharo sword in their hands. To execute vengeance on the nations,.bind their legs with shackles…this is the glorious priviledge of his faithful ones.”

Psalm 21:6

“You will capture all your enemies. Your strong right hand will seize all who hate you…”Although they plot against you, their evil schemes will never 12 For they will turn and run when they see your arrows aimed at them.”

What a verse of edification! {encouragement, declaration} I just felt God pouring into me that nothing was impossible through Him. He can do anything through me – I am a vessel in His hands. While the enemy may try to attack me with physical, emotional, and mental pain or scramble my WiFi so that I am unable to communicate with my family for a week, he can’t knock me down because God is my comforter. God’s word and blessing on my life gives me power to resist the enemy in all of his attacks – be it having communication problems with my roommate or a discouraging day on the mission field. Being a missionary is not just when I am out in the shacks talking to people – I am just as much, if not more, of a missionary in my own home.

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!