Girlfriends & Gifts

After one year of Covid-19 in South Africa…

From 22 – 24 March, Leon and I attended the Campus Crusade for Christ – Southern & Eastern Africa (CCC – SEA) Celebration Staff Conference.  It was three mornings on Zoom listening to the great leaders from different countries share about God’s goodness.  We experienced a sense of gratefulness and joy learning about the wonderful things God had done in the last year during the Hope 2020 initiative. Hope 2020 was a CCC – SEA initiative to “Win, Build and Send” Christ-centered multiplying disciples who launched spiritual movements throughout the SEA region.  It was a beautiful time in the Lord, but I realized that I miss in-person ministry. 

God in his sovereignty organized a special treat for me.  Leon Mack has a special friend in Ohio (yes, a girlfriend).  She sent a birthday gift to our son via her cousin, Dr. Takiyah White-Ndwanya, who returned to South Africa and lives in Cape Town.  Last Monday, I received this gift from her. Takiyah invited me to come to a special outreach at a school that her organization has adopted.  God made a way for me to attend.

Alongside Dr. Takiyah White-Ndwanya and her team, we delivered school clothes and shoes to the beautiful children of Mkhanyiseli Primary School in the Nyanga Township. Through Takiyah’s foundation, Donald Whtie/Mandla A. Ndwanya Memorial Fund, she desires to provide exceptional and targeted educational support and exchange opportunities for students in the United States and South Africa to serve learners in schools and promote cross-cultural learning and understanding.

Numah, the foundation’s coordinator, had special words of encouragement to the learners. She challenged them to work hard despite the current conditions as they attend school on alternate days because of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.  Numah proclaimed, “Friends from all over the world are praying for them and believing God to keep them safe and help them learn this year.”

Oh, what joy filled my heart!  I learned that the foundation provided food parcels to students and their families during the pandemic.  They were actively looking for ways to continue to explore fulfilling the needs at Mkhanyiseli and John Pama primary schools. 

Please join me in praying for these leaders that God will provide funding to hire Numah as a full-time coordinator and find office space in Nyanga area, so they may continue to meet the needs of the community.  

Sincerely,

Melanie Best

Bridges

Throughout this lockdown, Leon and I have created bridges to bring our different strategy teams together.  These collaborative efforts have helped reach people for Christ.  We have shared in our updates over the last year how our ministry has hosted several evangelistic & discipleship online events to engage people to share the gospel and build believers in their faith. 

              Last year, I led a small group of ladies from my church through The Significant Woman, a life-coaching discipleship resource for women.  This year, I wanted to explore more material from The Significance Project (Cru ministry) to help believers take the journey with friends and co-workers, called Soaring.  In January, I attended The Significance Project training Zoom call with leaders from all over the world. 

              A fellow staff member shared this John Maxwell quote as we opened our time together, “I’ve never collaborated with anyone that is good that didn’t make me better.”  This quote gave me the courage to learn a new resource, because I knew a South African team of women were praying and helping me encourage ladies to understand their unique design. 

              On Leon’s birthday, he allowed me to begin the first round of Soaring 2021 with 9 ladies from different South African cities like Johannesburg and Durban. I even had a woman attend from the neighboring country of Namibia.  Co-leading with a volunteer named Jessica, the ladies introduced themselves and agreed to partner together in this journey to help them better understand their unique design. 

              With Soaring we use six principles to guide the journey. The principles are Celebrate Your Uniqueness, Identify Your Core Values, Define Your Life Foundation, Discover Your Life Direction, Integrate Direction into Your Life, and Soaring with Your Life Design. 

              Please pray for the ladies that God will meet them wherever they are in their journeys. Pray for Jessica and myself that we will be sensitive to God’s leading and facilitate well. If you would like to learn more about The Significance Project, you can find them online at thesignificantwoman.com

                                                                                                                                                Sincerely,

                                                                                                                                                Melanie Best

Variant

Doing some research, I discovered all viruses mutate and this includes Covid-19.  Viruses replicate themselves to spread and thrive in its human host’s environment. Sometimes during the process, small genetic changes occur creating a more infectious and harmful variant virus to humans.  In recent weeks, South African and United Kingdom (UK) variants have received more attention in the news. I have listened to medical research doctors from South Africa and UK share about these mutated Covid-19 viruses and its ability to spread around the globe. The South African variant is in the UK and the UK variant is in the US.

            The virus of mankind is sin. A lie was conveyed to humanity (Gen. 3:5-6). Whether the appeal was to be like God, obtain a desirous object to the eye, or ability to gain wisdom this lie caused man to sin. As a missionary I see many variants of the lie that spread. Some are far more contagious than others and caused more damage. I can relate to Covid-19 researchers who are discovering new variants; however, I know the cure for sin.

            “Repent, for the kingdom of God has come near,” (Matt. 4:17) Jesus’ first preached message. The gospel of repentance brings joy, because of his love he pardons our sins, and we received forgiveness through him.  Please pray for my Zoom sessions, phone calls and meetings with disciples to go well in 2021.

            When teaching I have noticed there are two ways people react when confronted with a lie they have believed. They either repent and humble themselves causing a change of mind and actions moving them closer to God. Or a hardening of the heart, holding tighter to the lie and hoping they can be saved by their own self-righteousness.  Continue to ask the Lord to give me wisdom. Unfortunately, I have seen some US variants in South Africa, but praise God I know the cure.

                                                                                                                                                Sincerely,

Leon Best

Merry Christmas!

Left to Right: Nala(14), Noel(16), Mack(17), Melanie, Elle(4) and Leon Best
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Isaiah 9:6
May the Prince of Peace fill your hearts with His joy and love. Immanuel is with us and will help us in these difficult days. Our family is praying for you and we are so grateful for your partnership.
Give

Indaba

Campus Crusade for Christ Western Cape 2020 Team

IndabaXhosa and Zulu word meaning discussion or conference.”

            National SLMSA Meetings (9 – 12 Nov) in Cape Town, National Leadership Team Meetings (16 – 20 Nov) in Pretoria and Western Cape Regional Team Meetings (24 – 25 Nov) in Cape Town dominated my November work schedule.  As a leader in this mission’s group, ministry heads came together and had an indaba.  We prayed, discussed, and came to agreements. 

Campus Crusade for Christ – South Africa evaluated our resilience as a faith-based organization.  Like many corporate and church entities, our year end discussions revolved around the pandemic’s effects on our movements and what must we do to move forward:  What do we start? What do we stop? What do we “double down” on?

            Now that the indabas concluded, I will focus my efforts to developing South African staff to now fill leadership positions. I will shut down our Western Cape regional store which sold CCCSA materials.  Our CCCSA ministry will now produce more social media content to expand our outreach on all our social media platforms.  I am excited about this upcoming year of ministry please pray our ministry will bring more people to relationship with Jesus Christ.

            Although I am excited for the new year, my son is ecstatic for 2021.  Leon Mack Best will be a senior.  I will have a 12th grader.  In South Africa they call it the matric year of high school.  Mack will represent his school’s leadership as a prefect, his hostel as the head boy and rugby team on the field with the number 4 jersey.  We thank God that Mack has done so well in South Africa.

Sincerely,

Leon Best

Mentoring

Eugene sharing with Kuyasa volunteer

On March 17, Cru Youth ministered at Kuyasa Library in Khayelitsha.  This would be the last time our volunteers would share God’s Word, worship together in song and have fun competitions with the children at Kuyasa.  The pandemic’s repercussions slowed the economy making it difficult for some volunteers to make ends meet.  Our family provided financial support to sustain some during these difficult times.  Cru Youth volunteers have also received God’s blessing during this time.  One received a new home for his family that was gifted to him by a friend! Another blessing received by the volunteers was from my friend Eugene.

              Founder of a small consulting agency, Eugene mentored others to achieve their life goals and desired to provide his services for free to Cru Youth volunteers.  Casta, Sonwabile, Akhona, Kelli, Phumlani and Zuks all enjoyed the coaching sessions.  The men shared some of their dreams.  One desires to become a soccer coach in a professional league.  Another to establish an electrical engineering firm in his Eastern Cape homelands.  Eugene provided them with online tools and challenged them to come up with business plans to move them closer to their goals.  Eugene will complete his final session this Friday, please pray this training will be a blessing in their lives and ministries.

              Continue to pray for Melanie and me as we host our campus ministry’s national meetings next month (Nov 9 -12) in Cape Town.  New Covid-19 safety protocols will have to be put in place.  Pray for us, as this will be our first face-to-face meeting since last year. 

                                                                                                                                                Sincerely,

Leon Best

Earthquake

cracked road after earthquake(*stock picture)


Low rolling thunder on a Saturday evening?  My wife rushes to the bedroom window and asks, “What was that?”  My daughter and I were on the bed online viewing.  I heard the sound, but assumed it was rare thunder from the Cape Town sky.  Two hours later cellphone notifications revealed an earthquake.  The next morning as we prepared to attend our first church service since March, another sound of rolling thunder.  It was confirmed these were two small tremors measuring 2.5 and 2.3 in magnitude over the weekend.  Their epicenters were about 70 km north of my city.  No damage was reported, but anxiety was sending more shockwaves through distressed individuals.

              For most people 2020 can’t end soon enough, with discussions I have had with disciples, ministry colleagues and friends about unemployment, murder of women in South Africa (SA), divorce rates, Covid-19, United States (US) fires, US hurricanes, US elections, death of Blacks at the hands of police officers, SA corruption, churches closed, end times and now earthquakes in Cape Town can be a lot.  However, God is still at work.  Melanie has discipled a young woman through the ups and downs of relationships.  Now this young woman is about to be married.  I have discipled a Christian worker of another organization and taught him to trust God to raise his financial support.  God moved on his supporter’s heart and they bought my friend a home in Cape Town! God is at work and I am excited to share with my wife our best years of ministry are ahead of us. 

              As our ministry year in Cape Town comes to a close, I am preparing for end of the year meetings and explaining to teammates how we will navigate ministry in this current reality.  We had another successful online outreach we called Activate.  Please view our Heritage Day Activate special.  We will continue to provide Christian content online and on the mission field.  Pray the Lord gives me wisdom.  God is doing great things amid this pandemic and we cannot be indifferent to these divine opportunities.

                                                                                                                                                Sincerely,

Leon Best

Wakanda Forever

LOS ANGELES – MAR 3: Chadwick Boseman at the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards at the Beach on March 3, 2018 in Santa Monica, CA

My wife’s purposeful steps aroused my slumber, dimmed light from a cloudy sky brightened our bedroom, my thoughts turned to a small warm 4-year-old body lying next to me, “When did she climb into my bed?”  I opened my eyes and saw my beautiful wife.  Dressed for her Saturday morning women’s Bible study, I sat up to enjoy her presence and then she asked me to brace myself for difficult news.

“Chadwick Boseman was dead! He died of colon cancer. He was your age.”  Each of these statements moved me uncomfortably.  Boseman was Black Panther, the Black superhero!  I viewed the film with my wife and teenagers.  We were that family that posted a photo online with our African print clothing before entering the cinema.  Mack, my son, loves superheroes, but this fictional character was extraordinary for him.  A Black man, representing the African continent, was a superhero he could identify with.  The live action star, Boseman, kept his four-year-old diagnosis hidden from the media and succumbed to colon cancer.

I still remember those words from my doctor over 20 years ago.  “You will develop colon cancer in 10 years,” can you imagine a 20-year-old Rice University student receiving those words.  After hospital visits and experimental drugs failed to give me relief from the pain, I made a vow.  I recall pleading to the Lord saying, “If you want me to enter the mission field you must heal me from this affliction.” Because of his mercy 20 years ago, he gave me this testimony. I am ministering in South Africa today, healed with no symptoms. Boseman was 43, my age.

My wife hurried off to her morning women’s Bible study and left breakfast for me and the kids.  I walked in the family room and revealed to Mack, Black Panther died of colon cancer.  Dejected, he sat on the couch in solemn reflection.  My two teenage daughters were also shocked to discover Chadwick Boseman’s passing but knowing my testimony they asked if I would get a colonoscopy. I hesitated to answer, but my 17-year-old son nodded in agreement with his sisters.  He stared at me and shared, “I don’t want to lose another superhero.”

February 18, 2018 - Nala, Mack and Noel excited to watch "The Black Panther"
February 18, 2018 – Nala, Mack and Noel excited to watch “The Black Panther”

Activate

22 July highlighted my ministry calendar after our team meeting in February.  Activate was an ambitious plan to have our entire provincial team to minister on the campus of the University of the Western Cape (UWC). We hoped to expose students and lecturers to all our ministry strategies by reaching rising athletes, influencing idealistic educators, engaging enterprising entrepreneurs, and sharing to studious undergraduates.  Covid-19 occurred, and a hard-countrywide lockdown ensued, but my team did not allow this pandemic to cancel our ministry event. 

              Activate was reimagined into an online event.  The online outreach transformed to help train our online audience to reach others with the gospel by highlighting our creative mobile applications.  The one-hour Facebook Live event spotlighted Soularium, Jesus Film and Thrive mobile apps.  We were encouraged by the hundreds of views to our event, but what encouraged me the most was an email message I received after the outreach from a former disciple.  Grayson, a former UWC student, was one of the first men I had the pleasure to disciple. 

              When I reconnected with him, Grayson shared he was married with kids.  He desired helped with a mobile app.  Grayson is leading a small online men’s group from his church.  I connected him to the Thrive mobile app, and even sent him articles from the app.  He appreciated the help and was excited about Thrive.  I am glad to see the immediate effects from our Activate outreach.  Continue to pray for my team to thrive during this pandemic.  We are committed to win people to Christ, build them in their faith and send them out to do the same even during this pandemic.

                                                                                                                                                Sincerely,

Leon Best

Views

Leon reading along as our final reader, Bianca Groats, reads Revelation 22.

Leon and I were chatting on the patio. He shared an idea with me, and I encouraged him to move this idea forward. What started as an idea became a reality in the New Testament Relay. In the New Testament, Paul shares with Timothy to give time and effort to the public reading of Scripture.  In 2020, what would this action look like during a nationwide lockdown? How about reading the entire New Testament over a social media platform LIVE! We mobilized over 60 different readers from South Africa, Kenya, and USA. Even our teenagers, Mack, Noel, Nala and my mother had the privilege of reading. Over five consecutive days, we read through the New Testament from noon until evening. We were trusting, “…my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:11

It was an amazing experience; 8000 views and 500 phone calls later! One of the young ladies I am discipling also read a section of the New Testament.  She shared a special message to our ministry sharing what God had done in her life after the reading.

The third-year medical student wrote:

“Thank you for the [New Testament] Relay week. It was a challenge especially considering that I was writing my block tests online on 3 of the 5 days of this relay, but I was able to get bits and pieces of the live readings. I am a full-time medical student; therefore, since everything is online, there are bitter and sweet moments like these where you want to partake of something you know will benefit you spiritually but have academics hanging over your head however the Lord was very gracious to me and allowed me those moments. 

I have really been blessed by this relay such that it spilled over to my conversations with my friends who also joined in watching the live readings. We have now started to prayerfully plan our own relay as practical as we can make it. If it weren’t for your idea, we would not even have thought of it and it would have even seemed impractical but now we see it is very achievable.” 

              Please pray for this group of women and all who heard God’s Word to use the public reading of His Word to continue impacting lives. 

                                                                                                                                                Sincerely,                                                                                                                   Melanie Best

Our teenagers passionately reading God’s Word.