A Productive, Enjoyable, and Incredible February in South Africa

February 29, 2024

We had a productive and enjoyable time here in South Africa in February.  We hosted our media team, Rick Burger and Wendi Lane, who have been busy creating fresh new video footage we plan to show at our gala on May 2nd. They have done an incredible job of helping us tell the story of the amazing work that God is doing here in Africa. I am anxious for many of you to view these videos on social media and at our gala. I was so impressed with the work Wendi has been doing, we have hired her to be our new director of development. Please help me welcome her to our team in America and South Africa.   


In January we celebrated constructing a new Catholic Church building in a rural community near our main campus in Mokopane.  This project was such a success and so exciting to be a part of that we immediately began working on plans for another church building. Our new plan is to build a church building at the Sterkrivier High School. This new worship space will replace the school hall we currently use and have now outgrown. Eight years ago, this church started with just 35 people. Today, services on Friday evening and Sunday morning are filled with more than 300 people. In fact, latecomers must stand at the back of the sanctuary because there is no room for more chairs. Sterkrivier High School is primarily a boarding school, where 90% of the students live at the school all semester long without the chance to visit parents or care givers.  The school has plans to expand to 500 students over the next 2 years.   


Architect plans have been drawn up to construct a beautiful, cross-shaped, brick building that will seat 450 people.  We are ready to start construction as soon as funds are available. It took us just over 2 weeks to raise the $180,000 for the recent Catholic Church project. This one is considerably larger and will cost approximately $300,000. We pray that God will provide the resources needed so we can get started on this soon. This congregation was recently approved to be a Global Methodist Church, making it one of the very first GMC (Global Methodist Church) churches in all South Africa. The Catholic Church project was built to honor the legacy of Fr. Ray McHenry and his heart to serve both in the US and in South Africa. Fr. Ray has led short-term mission teams to South Africa for 9 years running and we appreciate his leadership and service to this community. We have plans for this new church project to be dedicated to the memory of our good friend, Neil Barnard. Neil was tragically killed in an auto accident close to his home and the church location. It was Neil who had the vision to start our Hunt Against Hunger program, allowing big game hunters to help us feed malnourished African children with donated meat from the animals they harvest. This program has been very successful for NB Safaris and for Blessman International. Thousands of children have benefited from the high-quality protein this meat has added to the food they receive. It is also significant that Neil and his father, Danie Barnard, both attended this same high school. Neil and his widow, Debbie, have three children; twin daughters, Nicola and Kara, and a seven year old son, Daniel. We pray that this project will be completed in about a year and that Daniel will be able to participate in the church dedication by cutting the ceremonial ribbon. 


We are busy improving our Mountain View Farm in multiple ways. Our goal is to make the farm more productive as a training and research center, where locals can learn agricultural skills to better provide for themselves and their families. Working toward this goal, we are sending 3 farm staff members to obtain additional agricultural training and certification. This will qualify our farm to certify those who complete the courses we provide. We think the training certificate our future students receive will help them find agricultural jobs or even acquire a small parcel of land of their own to work. A couple of months ago, we sold off the Sable herd at the farm and decided to make the change from raising game animals to raising goats and cattle. As we prepare to provide eggs for the upcoming egg research study, we plan to double the number of chicken layers from 1200 birds to 2400 birds.  


In addition, we will be busy this month applying for 2 new global Rotary grants. If received, the first Rotary grant should cover the agriculture training described above. The second Rotary grant will provide additional reusable, washable, menstrual hygiene kits for our girl’s empowerment program. 


Prayer Request:  Please pray that we continue to hear from the Holy Spirit. We want to be about the Lord’s business here in Africa. Pray that He gives us the courage to immediately obey what He calls us to do.