Today’s Mission Moment comes to us from Braylen and Katie. The two friends had a great time in South Africa meeting new people, learning about a different culture, and trying new food. They found the most joy distributing the menstrual health kits they made.

 

 

Today I completed my 77th trip around the sun, this journey like all the others has been eventful, interesting, and successful.  I am incredibly blessed with the life that I get to live.  I have a wife who loves me and treats me like royalty, children who love me unconditionally and most of whom communicate with me almost daily even when I am half a world away.

 

This last month has been especially an interesting one.  During all of Covid we only hosted one short term mission team, so we had gotten a bit rusty.  It felt wonderful this month to finally have mission teams coming back to Africa to serve with us.  Our first team was from St. Francis Church in West Des Moines, and because of Covid anxiety it was quite small at only three individuals.  This gave us an opportunity to re-establish relationships with churches and schools where we do community outreaches.  We opened up our Lodge of Dreams and got it cleaned and working well.  We also got some of the fun activities up and running again with the photo safaris and elephant experience.

 

The president of Musco Lighting stopped by our campus for a visit this week, so we showed off with a big celebration to thank him properly for lighting up our new soccer complex for our Sports 4 Christ program.  We had three exciting games going on under the lights: a friendly soccer competition on the mini pitch soccer court, a netball game, and of course the main event on our regulation size grass soccer field.  We were amazed and blessed that a company as large and busy as Musco would take time during the winter Olympics, currently going on in China, and make the huge effort of coming to our small African village to celebrate with us.  They are indeed an amazing company and make us so proud that we also come from Iowa.

 

To survive and thrive in Africa we must learn new things all of the time.  This last week we learned how to get a mission team from Iowa back through the airport and on the plane even though three of them tested positive for Covid on the departure lab test. It took lots of patience, several days, persistence and most importantly lots of prayer, but as I write this all three of them are healthy and safely on their way back to America.

 

I felt the hand of God protecting me as both Beth and I also came down ill with Covid, and I had the complication of a TIA of the cerebellum portion of my brain that controls vision and balance.  For a few hours, I had difficulty seeing and walking about.  Our son Dustin rushed us to the hospital in Pretoria where an MRI showed complete healing in my brain and all of my brain functions returned back to normal.  I was able to walk 5 Km the next day and get back to the work that God has called me to do. God is not finished with me just yet.

 

We know for sure that many churches and individuals in America and all over the world are praying for us all of the time.   I promise you that your prayers are working and we appreciate them so much.

 

May God richly bless each and every one of you.

Doc

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?

New Year Blog Post

New Year’s  2022

2021. It was the worst of times; it was the best of times. All around the world many of us suffered losses. So many people have dealt with severe illness and even the death of loved ones. The economic impact of covid and fear of covid has been devastating in the US and in Africa. In Africa, many more children were going to bed hungry. One of our pastors in Africa died from the virus, and two ladies on staff lost children. Christelle, my longest living hospice patient died from cancer leaving her husband and 3 beautiful children behind. Covid kicked our butts making it difficult for Americans to travel to Africa on mission teams. Thankfully we were able to have one strong team in June with Joshua Christian Academy and enjoyed a great time with their students and chaperones.

Periodically I like to stop and count my blessings and give God all the glory. As we close the books on 2021, it is a good time to do that:

  • Financially, this has been the best year our ministry has ever had. With the assistance of Convoy of Hope, Meals from the Heartland, and many generous donors, we have been able to quadruple the number of children that we are helping feed with our nutritional programs. This year we were able to feed 60,000 children a meal 3 to 5 days per week. We have a goal for next year of feeding 100,000 children throughout most of South Africa and Swaziland.
  • We were able to keep our Celebrate Recovery program running strong with 70 high school youth showing up every Friday evening to participate in this healing ministry. This year we have a goal of opening up an additional CR group in a nearby high school and also opening an adult group in the Limpopo provincial prison for men and women. Staff from Saddleback Church in California and Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines have been of tremendous assistance to us with this program.
  • The expansion of our Sports 4 Christ sports league and the completion of our new sports complex was the most exciting program of 2021. Musco Lighting blessed us by installing LED lights for our Warrior Stadium Sports Complex. The entire village and surrounding area have been buzzing with excitement over this sports program.
  • We had some amazing unexpected gifts come into our ministry this year. Several months ago, in a small rural church in Iowa, a widow put a check in the collection plate directing it all to go to missions. The church blessed us with half of those funds. Another gentleman, who we did not even know, left us a substantial amount of money in his will.
  • We also have had several new churches make a decision to partner with us for financial support and explore plans to send mission teams to Africa with us.
  • The biggest blessing to our family personally, and to our ministry, was the engagement of Alexandra and Dustin. Alex has been working with our ministry for the past year, and she and Dustin plan to be married soon.

Please thank God with us for these blessings that enable us to continue feeding children and operating the programs that draw them towards Christ. Please pray with me that our staff in America and Africa stay healthy and passionate doing the work that our Lord has called us to do.
Please also pray with me that more people will remember our ministry as they do their estate and legacy planning so that the work in South Africa will continue long into the future.