Exciting Updates in the Ministry

May 30, 2024

Last year, Beth and I spent June, July, and August in America. We enjoyed our beautiful bike trails and many of Iowa's normal summer fun activities. We have chosen to follow the same path again this summer. My favorite pastime in Iowa in the summer is riding my e-assist trike. It is just over one year old and has over 10,000 miles on the odometer. Early in May, I developed stiffness and pain in my right knee and had to stop riding for just over 1 week. I tend to get a bit cranky when I am unable to ride, so  I got an x-ray of my knee, and it showed relatively advanced arthritis. My orthopedic surgeon suggested a cortisone shot, which I agreed to. Within just a couple of days, I was back on my bike. I did order some shorter pedal cranks that will decrease the flexion of my knees when I ride, and I hope that will put less stress on my knees. I will do just about anything to be able to continue riding. Still, I was definitely hoping to avoid a knee replacement. So far, three weeks into the injection, I can ride 50 miles/day without discomfort. Praise the Lord!


My main job while I am back in the States is to raise funds for our ministry's work in South Africa. This year's spring gala was lots of fun and an amazing success, raising well over $400,000. We also were just notified that we have been awarded a grant to purchase eggs for our feeding program and a new hay baler for our farm. This year, I have been focusing on expanding and improving our farm operation at Mountain View Farm. We will soon send Johanney and a couple of his workers to a Foundations for Farming training program that will hopefully certify our own farm as a training center to train primarily women in agriculture and gardening skills. I have also submitted an application to a couple of universities to recruit graduate students in agriculture to come and live on our farm for several months to help us with some research projects and our agricultural teaching program.


We just purchased 40 meat goats, and they are thriving. We must bring them into a shelter overnight to protect them from theft and predators such as jackals and leopards. We are applying to Hy-Line International to provide us with 3,000 to 4,000 layers to provide eggs for our child feeding program and egg research program that we hope to do with Mokopane Hospital over the next year.


Brett Hendrickson has been having great success connecting Blessman International with many new churches. He, Wendi, and I will all be busy traveling all over the US for the next couple of months to attend church district conferences and try to secure new church partnerships for mission trips and general support.


The most exciting project I am working on is raising funds for a new church building for Johanney's Mountain View Church. That church has outgrown the school hall we have been meeting in for the last 8 years. We started with 35 parishioners, and now we have over 300 coming almost every week. We plan to construct a 450-seat church with an office for Pastor Johanney. The school where this church meets has plans to grow from 350 students to 500 students over the next couple of years, so I am pretty sure that we will soon be filling our new church as well. The American dollar goes a long way in Africa, and we can construct this beautiful new church building for just $325,000. It would cost well over one million dollars to build in the US. We plan to break ground on August 2nd and celebrate opening the new church by my 80th birthday, February 4th. We already have pledges of $120,000. If you would like to be a part of the amazing project that will bless these African high school students for many years to come, please get your pledge to us soon. Pledges are payable on August 1st when we will be purchasing materials.


Prayer requests:


Please pray for Alex, Dustin's wife, who is continuing to recover from her back surgery. She is back at work part-time and improving weekly, but your prayers are much appreciated.


Please also pray for Alex's sister, who is in the hospital in Pretoria with a blood disorder. Her blood is not clotting, and she has a very low platelet count. We are still waiting for a definitive diagnosis after several days in the hospital. In addition, their mother just fell and fractured her shoulder and had to have surgery on that; she is in a different hospital in Pretoria. 


The final thing that I would like to pray for is for all of the people affected by the tragic tornado that just went through the community of Greenfield, Iowa, a community of just 2,000 people. One of our newest employees, Wendi, head of development and fundraising for our ministry, lives in Greenfield with her mother. Their home is still standing but sustained considerable damage. Her mom was home at the time of the tornado and prayed over each room of their home as the storm sirens went off before heading to the basement. Four people died in this storm, and many more were injured. At least a third of the homes in this small town have been destroyed. I called our good friends at Convoy of Hope, and they were among the first of many to respond to this enormous need. Please especially pray for our good friend and employee Wendi and her entire community. If you feel called to financially help our friends in Greenfield, donating to Convoy of Hope, directly or through your church, would be a trustworthy way for you to help them.


When multiple struggles happen to our staff and family, I often sense that it is an attack from Satan, and the best cure for that is always prayer and lots of prayer. "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:11-12