“Let go and let God.” That was my answer when asked what I anticipated during an upcoming trip to South Africa with Blessman International. With all of the unknowns related to a pandemic, hours of travel, and distance from family and responsibility, to “let go” seemed more of a daunting prerequisite than an option. And to “let God” was simply, well…an unknown.
Early in our time with new friends in South Africa, I found myself searching their eyes for how they must view these strangers from America. Privileged? Gawking? Out of place? But for every difference I expected to see, our similarities are what became strikingly profound: the twinkle in the eyes of an hornery little boy chewing bubblegum in church; tears in the eyes of a beautiful young girl who was orphaned and desperately needing to belong; the cloudy eyes of an elderly man seeking out our eyeglasses ministry but ultimately asking for prayers of healing where glasses failed. To “let God” was allowing Him to show me how much we are alike in this human experience we call life. The need to be listened to, cared for and loved, the need for laughter and play, to hold a hand in prayer or a loving arm that leads the way – all of these are universal gifts that God “let” us experience by bringing us together in South Africa.
Thank you to everyone who was part of and who made this extraordinary experience a reality, to the people of South Africa for showing us what it is to love and be loved, and to the One who makes it all possible.
It was an honor to have Jeff, the CEO of Musco Lighting, with us in South Africa at our Sports 4 Christ stadium.
Today’s Mission Moment comes to us from Korbi who did a medical internship at Mokopane Hospital.
This is his second trip to South Africa and he is excited to share the project he is working on.
What is your church home?
Methodist Church of South Africa
When did you first join Blessman International?
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
What inspired you to work at Blessman International?
Working with kids and feeding them. Nothing feels better than knowing I have made a change in someone’s life. Someone did not go to bed hungry.
What do you hope Blessman International accomplishes in the next 12 months?
With all they are doing for the community I wish they could extend that to other provinces, I know with our feeding program we are already in 5 provinces. Making sanitation available to other provinces will stop one child at a time from drowning.
What do you wish people knew about Blessman International?
That they go out of their way to get help and assist the needy.
Tell us one fact that most people don’t know about you.
I am one with nature
Tell us anything else we should know about you that we haven’t already asked?
I love documentaries
“I just got back from South Africa. South Africa!” was all I could think about the day after our team returned. While I was there, the experience was so incredibly surreal, that it didn’t quite register until we got home that I had just returned from a mission trip, serving the people of South Africa.
A few years ago, I had seen our mission leader’s journey in South Africa as he’d gone with another team. A couple of Blessman galas, conversations and COVID years later, we made it. As I prepared for the journey, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had an odd calm over me. I’m typically the over-packing traveler for all of those “just-in-case” scenarios. I worry about getting sick on the flights, about not being able to go for some reason, and the list continues – but this time, I knew it was in God’s hands. If the trip didn’t work out for me, it’s because it wasn’t my time. Fortunately, it was my time, and I was so ready for it.
When I’d thought about what I wanted to get out of the trip, it was really to just understand myself as a Christian. I’ve known that I needed to continue working on my relationship with God and work on keeping God and my faith a priority in my life, something I’d failed to do over the last several years. I put a lot of pressure on myself to have some sort of “epiphany” on my journey, and while that didn’t necessarily happen, there were incredible incremental things that have changed my life since my experience.
The first event our group attended was a Sunday morning church service. Most of our team sat together as a group in the front of the church, not really knowing what to say or do. I was nervous, and this was out of my comfort zone. However, as the church service began, my fear melted away as I watched how truly genuinely the church worshipped God – the same God, but in a different way. It wasn’t out of obligation, peer pressure or because it’s “what you’re supposed to do.” It was complete joy and thankfulness of God’s word and things he’s done in their lives that led them there.
Towards the end of the service, the pastor asked for a final song, and two rows behind me, a young woman in a beautiful striped dress began to sing. It was one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard in my life. Her one voice got the entire church to sing with her: a completely powerful moment for many members of our team. After the church service, I let her know how much I loved her voice, and she asked if she could sing for me. She took my hand and sang me an entire song in the schoolyard near the church. I couldn’t understand the words she sang, but I’ve never been so moved by a single act of courage, faith or love in my entire life. God was fiercely working in both of us. I will never forget her or that moment.
As I return to my life back home, I’ve begun to focus more on loving God, life and all those around me. It had been so easy to get caught up in this world and all the things that need to be done, but there are so many simple pleasures in Africa. I saw individuals that appeared to have so few objects in life, including things we could consider a necessity, but they had true faith in God and that was all they needed. God continues to work through me, and I hope to be more like the people of Africa as I continue in my faith journey, and I hope that each of you can find your hope and peace in life as well.
We just celebrated our 10th annual gala. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended and to thank our partners, old and new, who faithfully support our work in Africa.
Nearly 300 people attended the gala, more than half of whom have been to South Africa with us. It felt like a big family reunion. I was particularly blessed that six of my high school classmates attended our gala. We were able to again raise a lot of financial support. Our annual budget has increased every year for the past 21 years. God continues to bless us in so many ways.
There are many wonderful things that our ministry is doing in Africa, but I always enjoy hosting my American friends and getting them involved. It is exciting that people are ready to travel again. Our mission teams for the rest of the year are filling up, and we have several teams booked for 2023.
This last month, we were able to respond to the tragic flooding in the Durban area where more than 400 people lost their lives many of whom were children. The people there are struggling with lack of food and drinking water. In partnership with Convoy of Hope we were able to respond immediately with a large truckload of food and water and will be sending additional trucks each week for the next 4 weeks. In addition to these 4 truckloads of supplies, COH will be sending a 40-foot shipping container of the rice packets from Meals from the Heartland. Our partners in Durban who are assisting us with distribution of this relief are Focus on the Family and a group of 40 Methodist churches all up and down the east coast of South Africa. The financial value of this disaster relief is just over $150,000. We will be collecting photos, videos, and stories to let them properly thank those of you assisting in this effort.
Last month 10 African ladies spent a week at Mountain View farm studying agronomy and assisting us on our vegetable farm. Later this month, Johanney and some of our other staff will assist them in planting a large garden at Mokopane Hospital. We are currently seeking funding in Africa to do additional trainings like this one every 6 weeks. We will be starting many more gardens in schools, other hospitals and homes.
I am looking forward to spending the first week of May in Springfield, MO at the Convoy of Hope summit where all the partners of COH worldwide will be gathering to support each other and make plans for the next year. We at Blessman International are excited that in October, we will be hosting all their African partners on our campus in South Africa.
Our prayer request for this month is again for our son Dustin. He had a cervical fusion a couple of weeks ago and is still quite uncomfortable. His surgeon has asked him to stay near the hospital in Pretoria for the first 2 to 3 weeks post op, so he should be headed back to our farm early this month.