It is good to be back in Kansas City. Our team was an exceptional team of fifteen people from Grace Point. Debbie and I really enjoyed sharing the beauty and culture with our family from Grace Point.
The schedule was demanding, and the team was exhausted, but they approached every day with zeal and optimism. Even as we struggled with sickness and cold early mornings, there was no complaining.
I got regular text messages from our ministry partners asking for the team to return and pray for more people because the Lord was moving so powerfully wherever they went.
There was so much that God did, and still doing in the lives of the people we encountered. Lives were eternally changed, simply because we brought the Gospel message, prayed, and invited the Holy Spirit to do his work.
We served a wonderful ministry called Living Hope in Fishoek, South Africa, near Cape Town. Founded by John and Avril Thomas almost 24 years ago, they serve thousands of people annually. The entire Living Hope team are heroes and some of the most selfless people you could meet.
During our time in Fishoek, we served in many different capacities; we served with after school programs, helped with the sustainable farming, sorted donations, rebuilt and stained a deck, prayer walked, taught and served at a drug and alcohol recovery center, led staff devotions daily, served and prayed for people in their in-patient medical facility and served with their disabled and home health care teams. We prayed for people, served food, shared the Gospel, washed feet, and taught the Bible; it was such a powerful experience for our whole team.
One of the questions often asked about short term missions is, what is the fruit? Can we quantify the “return on investment”?
A lot of money was raised, and many people sacrificed in order to go to South Africa, how can we know if it was worthwhile?
Short team missions is a double edged sword; lives are impacted as we pray and share the Gospel, ministries are encouraged, churches are built up, people are healed and souls are won for the kingdom of Heaven.
But missions is also a tremendous discipleship tool for those who go. They grow in their faith as they rely on the Lord. Being stretched to speak in front of people and lead when they never thought they could. Seeing the faith of others around the world who have little or nothing in the way of material goods, yet they joyfully praise God. Seeing people with absolute faith that God will come through and heal or provide daily bread. This mission team are changed people and they will continue to grow as God leads them to serve and share what they have learned.
I love to invite people into a relationship with Jesus, and I had the opportunity to do that on several occasions.
During the after-school ministry, Bob Strawn had just taught the children the parable of the Good Samaritan. As we closed, we impressed on the children that without Jesus Christ they would not be able to love their neighbor. Many of the children have been abused by their neighbors, how could they love them?
As we spoke about the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them to love like Jesus does, we invited them to make Jesus lord of their lives, about twenty of the children responded to the Gospel that day.
A few days later, at the recovery center, we were asked to come and pray with Samuel. Samuel was writhing in pain as he was going through heroin withdrawal. Tim Bardy and I prayed with him to be set free from pain and he prayed to make Jesus Christ lord of his life. A temporal and an eternal miracle. Two days later we saw Samuel again and he was a visibly different person as the Lord had begun to transform his life.
A number of our team spoke at the recovery center, and I was scheduled to close with a Gospel invitation. I took them to Romans 6:1-6 and specifically verse 6, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”
The clients could all identify with being a slave to sin, and six of them responded to the Gospel invitation. It was a great day, we were seeing a harvest of souls.
Throughout the trip, the Lord would wake me up early, each morning I would look at my watch and it was 4:38am. This happened day after day, each day the exact time I looked at my watch was 4:38am.
As we spoke about it, I wondered if it was maybe a scripture reference that the Lord was calling me to meditate on. I began looking and immediately came across John 4:38, Jesus speaking to his disciples said, “For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” The Lord impressed on me that we are simply experiencing the harvesting of the fruit of other peoples’ faithful labors.
There are seasons of sowing, nurturing, and reaping. God moves his servants around and we must always be aware of the season that we are in. The people at Living Hope have sown for years with incredible sacrifice, then God sent a small team from Kansas City to reap the harvest that they had been praying for. What a joy to be used by the Lord to partner with these incredible people thousands of miles away from home.
Kansas City is our mission field, it is the primary area of our sowing and nurturing. There are thousands of people in our community that do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Are we faithfully sowing and praying to the Lord of the harvest?
Thank you to all who sacrificially gave and blessed the people of South Africa.
kuThixo makube luzuko (Xhosa)
Aan God die eer (Afrikaans)
To God be the glory.