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March 2020 – Forging Forward

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February was an interesting month for us here in South Africa.  We had a couple hiccups come our way, and with God’s help we are making our way through them.

On Monday, our executive director Kerry resigned, and with our spring gala rapidly approaching, I was concerned about the impact that might have on us.  Then, within just a few hours God provided his replacement in a gentleman named Marvin Knoot who had traveled to South Africa with us one year ago.  We will soon be sending out Marvin’s photo and bio for all of you to get to know him.  Our board and staff are excited that he will do an excellent job for us and we are looking forward to having many of you meet and work with Marvin.

A much bigger hiccup came our way last week when we learned that our good friend and board member here in SA was killed in a motor vehicle accident. His name is Neil Barnard.  Neil was only 45 years old and full of life. He leaves a beautiful wife and 3 children.  He owned and managed NB Safaris and worked with us to start the program “Hunt Against Hunger” that provided 37,000 pounds of game meat to help us feed our impoverished children.  His sudden death has shaken our ministry and entire farm neighborhood to the core, and again we rely on God’s help to get us through it all.  Please join my family and me in praying for Neil’s family.

On a positive note, we are restructuring our children’s ministry at Lighthouse Church.  We have sustained a relatively good children’s ministry there for the past 10 years with about 130 children coming to church each week.  Ed Corbin is a retired Assembly of God missionary who I have known for about 15 years.  He is now planning to move to our campus at Shikwaru.  Ed is one of the best children’s ministers I have had the blessing to meet in all my years of working with children in Africa.   He did a comprehensive review of what we currently do and was impressed with our results. Ed notes we are tremendously under-staffed. He spoke at our church on Sunday and recruited 24 volunteers who he will spend the next 2 weeks training.  We have also recently been blessed by abundant children’s ministry resources from Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines that we will now be able to put to good use.  I am also planning to restart our donkey cart church transport program. Our goal is to get more that 200 children coming to children’s church each and every week.

Our medical student from the University of Iowa is finishing up his one-month rotation with us and reports that he has learned a lot and enjoyed his  experience with us.  We have 6 more interns coming to work with us in May from ISU, U of I and Evangel University in Springfield, Mo.  We continue to be blessed with outstanding young people who choose to come to Africa and serve with us.

Our Sports 4 Christ and Celebrate Recovery programs that we started in January are both growing and coming along well.

A big thank you to everyone who is praying for us and supporting us financially.