Recovery

Travel Advisory – South Africa

Do not travel to South Africa due to COVID-19 and related restrictions and conditions.

U.S. State Department (July 6, 2021).

            Melanie and I waited. My headache, low energy and just feeling bad were my symptoms. I hoped this was just the flu. Winter was here. Noel and Melanie were feverish and tired, and now the feeling spread to me. I volunteered to take the “test.” Melanie and I were in our vehicle waiting to receive the results from my Covid-19 test. The nurse arrived to share my test was positive for Covid-19. On 10th of June, our 21st wedding anniversary, I jokingly thanked my wife for a wonderful anniversary gift.

            Ten days the illness presented itself in me as something that took away my drive. My low energy kept me from my passions and hobbies. My asthma caused my family concern, so my blood oxygen saturation levels were measured daily by Melanie.

            Melanie and Noel felt Covid-19 effects before my diagnosis. I praise God they only dealt with fever and muscle soreness. Nala, had no Covid-19, doubled masked and stayed in a tent most of the day to avoid contact with the infected. Elle suffered one day with symptoms, afterwards she was her energized self. My South African community served my family well. Many called to check on us each day. They delivered food, medicine, and prayer. Mack isolated at his hostel.  He continued to study for exams and attended his physio sessions.

            We are excited to share Mack has been able to take off his shoulder sling. It has been seven weeks since his surgery. He will have his second doctor’s follow-up appointment this week. After this appointment, he will know when he can lift weights to build muscle and prepare for rugby. His sisters are happy he will be able to help wash dishes again. Thank you for your financial gifts and prayers. Mack’s medical bills for his shoulder surgery have been paid!

Sincerely,

Leon Best

                                                                                                                                 Sincerely,

Meet Mr. Mayor

From Left to Right, Phumlani, Akhona and Leon

“Akhona, will you be able to lead Cru Youth if I am not around?”

              Most missionaries wrestled with this question. Is an individual you mentored able to sustain an outreach if missionary is absent? Three years ago Akhona, aka Mr. Mayor, expressed his desire to do ministry at the local library in Khayelitsha and Cru Youth was born. Generally, primary and secondary school students frequent the library, which is different from the university undergraduates I usually support. Learners from surrounding schools come to this community space to have access to the internet, find a good book or utilize this quiet place to study. Librarians gladly allowed Akhona to begin the outreach, and he ask me for training and resources.

              I took on this challenge not so much for the children, but aid men like Akhona to help them fulfill God’s purpose in their lives. God allowed me to disciple several male volunteers that have participated in the Kuyasa library outreach. Young leaders like Phumlani, whom I challenged to come with me to help with the children’s program. He also went on campuses to share his faith, and recently through our interactions decided to join Campus Crusade for Christ – South Africa (CCCSA) as an intern.  Another Christian worker, Casta, partnered with Cru Youth. He enquired if I could aid him to raise personal ministry funds, so he could better support his family. I shared with him a few suggestions on how to communicate the vision God gave him for serving the kingdom, and one generous donor inspired by his ask bought a home for Casta’s family. Cru Youth volunteer Sonwabile had actively engaged kids with worship and playing games at Cru Youth. He participated in many CCCSA events and trainings. God blessed Sonwabile with a much-needed job and was promoted as an associate pastor with his church.  These volunteers have been a blessing to work with, and it has been great to see God doing some wonderful things in their lives during the pandemic!

              Akhona planted the seed of Cru Youth. This ministry has been fertile ground for discipling and encouraging men in their relationships with God. Mr. Mayor answered, “Yes, I will be able to lead Cru Youth without you.” Continue to pray for Akhona as we work together to restart Cru Youth as South Africa lowers Covid restriction levels. Also, pray for Akhona to obtain a full-time job during this pandemic.

                                                                                                                   Sincerely,

Leon Best, Jr.

Pace Yourself

“What matters is that you’re trying, and you’re learning to seek grace as you learn to pace yourself,” Morgan Harper Nichols

Nyameka interviewing our teammate, Caroline Shave, for Episode 7.

              April is the most notorious month in South Africa for ministry. The public holidays, observance of Easter and school holidays bring many interruptions to routines. This year we add the continuance of the pandemic that plagues our lives.  As my colleague and I planned out our content for social media, we came up with a project that intersects her passions for God and engaging people – Race, Politics and Music with Nyameka, RPM for short.

              During the month of April, we recorded the content and edited the podcast.  The first season launched on a special holiday in South Africa, Freedom Day (27 April).  Freedom Day marks the first democratic election for the Republic of South Africa.  It has been 27 years since these elections took place.  As the years move ever so quickly, we thought it would be a great idea for us to reflect on the progress our ministry. We desired thoughtful conversation that ponders our present reality and how it affects the way we love each other, care for the widows, orphans, and the poor in South Africa.  These conversations will be helpful as we move forward with one heart and spirit.  This pandemic has highlighted the harvest that needs the gospel in a wholistic way.   

              Season 1 is available on Spotify and YouTube.  Leon was the first guest.  You can listen here.  He has worked tirelessly behind the scenes of this effort.  We recorded eight episodes for a podcast and our CCCSA YouTube channel. Our goal is to use these conversations to engage those who email and make contact.  We can also share the content with friends we have made throughout the year.  Pray that God would give us fruitful conversations with non-believers and believers resulting in multiplying disciples.

Sincerely,

Melanie Best

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