Fr Ray McHenry

Fr. Ray McHenry from St. Francis of Assisi in West Des Moines, Iowa shares the Word with us from his mission trip to South Africa.

John Miller

Sometimes God has other plans. As a pastor, I was exploring the potential for a ministry partnership in West Africa or maybe Eastern Europe when God directed us to… South Africa and Blessman International! I was drawn by Dr. Jim Blessman’s vision and passion for the people of South Africa. So, in May of 2021, three of us from my church visited the Blessman International work in South Africa to see if we might be able to partner with them. We worked at a children’s feeding center and were overwhelmed by the affection of the children. We sent a team to serve and teach young women at a local high school and participated in a well-attended Celebrate Recovery meeting. We helped a young believer build an addition to his overcrowded home. We made visits to a day-care center and to a young man who Blessman is helping in the establishment of a self-sustaining business. We prayed with families facing life-changing health issues. We worshiped in local churches alongside passionate fellow believers from South Africa.

Our time was well organized. Housing and transportation were excellent. Relationships with the Blessman staff and others we worked with were gratifying and inspiring. Our memories will certainly be long-lasting. But what we most came away with was a first-hand picture not just of what life looks like today in South Africa for many, but also a picture of what life could look like if churches and individuals would be willing to bow before Jesus and offer themselves in His service on behalf of others. The challenge of this vision is this: God’s plans are not always the same as ours.

So we all have to ask this question:

Am I willing to follow Jesus, no matter where He leads?

South African Mission Trip Members

South African Mission Trip Members

July 2021

It brought tears of joy to my eyes as we were able to welcome our first American mission team back to South Africa after a 15-month dry spell! This team was made up of 3 members from Trinity Bible Church in Cedar Falls and 9 representatives from Joshua Christian Academy in Des Moines.  This was a perfect group to kick off our new mission year.  We were also blessed to have 2 of our own staff members from Urbandale here for their first South African trip: Heidi Kramer and Bethany Kester along with Bethany’s husband Jack. 

Our time and efforts were very productive, and our South African friends were so happy to welcome all of us back.  The weather here in South Africa this time of year is quite cold but that did not put a damper on the spirit of our team. 

We were blessed to be able to launch our Sports 4 Christ season with soccer and netball tournaments on our new sports complex.  The US team did an excellent job of helping us assemble the pavilion seating for both the soccer field and netball court.  We even got some of the Del Cramer children involved in this construction project. The girls from South Africa were especially excited to be able to play netball on the new court! 

This team also did an excellent job with a construction project.  They added a much-needed room onto the home of a family who attend Lighthouse Church in the tribal village.   

This was the first visit for Pastor John Miller, his wife Karen and mission director Jean Nies from Trinity Bible Church, and all had a good experience. They are planning on bringing a full team to serve with us in 2022.  I love it when we are able to partner with new churches and expand our network. 

Chuck Hurley, a representative of the Family Leader, was on the team along with his wife Chris who is president of the board at Joshua Christian Academy.  Chuck had a desire to connect with some of the political leaders in South Africa.  We were successful in getting a meeting for him with our tribal village chief and he enjoyed learning about how the tribal culture and political structure works.  We were also able to connect with the Honorable Reverend Kenneth Mishoe who is a member of the national parliament as head of the African Democratic Christian Party.  They had a nice discussion about how the Family Leader works to connect pastors and churches with Government leaders in the US and in a few other countries.   

Heidi, Bethany, and Jack had a good experience learning how Blessman International functions in South Africa.  Heidi helped us fine-tune our child sponsorship program and collect additional information and photos of the children in our sponsorship program.  We have all 135 children at Del Cramer sponsored and hope to expand this to a second feeding center for an additional 160 children later this fall.  Bethany and Jack specifically helped us get School in a Box set up and train Del Cramer staff how to use it with the children in the after-school program.  School in a Box is a tablet-based digital educational program that helps motivate, educate, and track the children’s progress in math, English and science. 

 As Beth and I were leaving South Africa the number of Covid cases were again increasing.  Please pray with us that this situation will stabilize soon and that our 4 teams planned for September and October will be able to travel with us.