Famine

“He shared he didn’t eat last week!”

Food insecurity is a new term I have learned at the university.  It means a lack of reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food.  A recent report shared 48% of students on US campuses feel food insecure.  When I did ministry in the US our best tool to gather students was pizza.  In South Africa, food insecurity on university campuses is over 50%. 

At the top universities in Cape Town, many come from affluent families, or have family members who live near the campus. However, some of the best and brightest come from rural areas and small towns in the Western Province.  These young adults left home and family to pursue a better education which they hope will give them more opportunity for employment.  Our UWC student Merlin (Best Times: 30 July 2018) came from an old farming town called Beaufort West.  He pursues a degree in education and runs athletics for the university.  Last year, Merlin, a student leader involved with our ministry to sportsmen called Athletes in Action (AIA), decided to dedicate more time to our ministry by becoming an associate staff member.  His hope is to complete his studies and become full-time staff to address the spiritual famine on the campus. 

Recently, a teammate revealed this startling confession about Merlin’s food insecurity.  Studying, competing and discipling can be stressful and now worrying about your next meal can be unbearable.  Our team is now addressing his situation. 

Each year, food has always been one of my top three ministry expenses.  Jesus was a great model, using food as a tool in discipleship.  Thank you for your prayers and financial support because your gifts have allowed me to provide not only spiritual food, but physical food.

Immersion

I had the pleasure of doing ministry with my family last week.  Our Cru Youth group partnered with Student Christian Organization (SCO) to put on the 3 – day Christian camp.  The rustic campground was a converted military base which overlooks beautiful ocean views.  90 high school and primary students from area townships (Khayelitsha, Masiphumelele, Kayamandi) gave life to lifeless barracks.  Xhosa was the dominant attending culture.  I was well versed in the cultural interactions, but this was the first time for our new US team members, Natasha and Naomi. 

The two young women from Ohio and North Dakota joined our team last month.  They had a great attitude desiring to be cultural learners and asked to go to the camp.  As I observed, they did well with immersing themselves in Xhosa through worship, language and food.  It was fun to see them try pap, samp & beans and canned fish; however, tripe (lamb intestines) they were not able to consume.  Natasha and Naomi will minister predominately with university athletes when the South African school year begins in February.  I am glad they were engaged at the camp and led camp activities with the learners.  My children were also participants at the camp. 

Noel and Nala facilitated icebreakers and music during the first evening of the camp.  Mack was a favorite among the Xhosa girls.  Elle also made great friends with some of the SCO staff children present at the event.  My wife was essential in the registration process and learned how to pronounce many Xhosa names.  Your support as a ministry partner allowed me to pay for 30 participants at the camp.  It was great to be able to take the Cru Youth students and volunteers to a beautiful camp to spend time with God and receive training on how to reach their schools with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sincerely,

Leon Best

Fellowship of the Ring

View the Delight Video

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’  In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over when one sinner who repents.”  Luke 15:8 – 10

Have you ever lost something you cherished for 19 years?  This was my situation on a busy evening cleaning our home, completing tasks for my wife and helping kids with homework.  I sat in my chair and touched my finger.  My fingers have slimmed since my wedding, and I established a routine of using my left thumb to turn my band on my left ring finger.  My wedding band was missing!  The untanned ring of skin that encircled my finger was evidence that something was missing.    Now my involuntary motion caused by muscle memory was just touching the bare skin on my hand.  I proceeded to search for my wedding ring the next few days with no success.  I drafted my children to locate the precious metal.  After a week, I resigned to the fact the ring was lost.  Of course, I was still married.  It’s just a small trinket I have possessed for 19 years that’s been with me from the beginning was no more.

Ministry has been a pleasure helping the young men I disciple grow in their faith.  The men have been inviting others to help with Cru Youth.  It has been great to see them involve others to help teach these 90+ learners every week.  Along with discipling these volunteers, I also mentor staff.  I had the opportunity to witness with one of the young staff women (Nyameka) on our team.  We were at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) during a special day of outreach.  It was inspiring to see her display our new digital evangelism tools from her smartphone.  She opened the Jesus Film mobile app and showed a one-minute film called, “Delight.”  The UWC student enjoyed the engaging questions after the presentation.  Nyameka then utilized the digital Four Spiritual Laws from the God Tools mobile application.  The young student then received Christ in her life. This witnessing experience continues to remind me there is rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents. 

When I returned home from the outreach, Melanie declared, “I found it.”  The white gold band with the ribbed edges hid the untanned section of my finger again.  My family and everyone I told about the missing wedding ring rejoiced with me.

Personal Update 2019

Winter has arrived in Cape Town. Unbelievable, it was one year ago that our city averted Day Zero and 10 years ago, 24 June, the Best Family arrived in Cape Town.  What a journey this has been?  It reminds me of the old hymn, ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus’.   Our family has had a lot exciting activity this month and we just wanted to share it with you.

Our son, Mack, had an incredible opportunity to play for his provincial team in the under-16 Grant Khomo week.  This is so exciting for him because three years ago he played for the under-13 team.  Leon and I are encouraged that God has allowed him to accomplish his rugby goals.   It was our prayer that he would glorify God as he interacted with his teammates and opponents.  We are happy to share his Western Province team won the championship game and he scored a try in their 34-10 win. 

Noel is very focused. She made top 10 academically in her class.  It is such a blessing to see how God uses her to encourage her peers.  One of her dance friends received some disappointing news. With intentional listening and careful words, she encouraged reconciliation and peace amongst disagreeing friends.  They were able to move forward together, “…forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead… (Philippians 3:13)” July will be busy for Noel, because she will be performing in her school’s musical. 

Nala was selected by her classmates to be finalist in the school pageant.  The pageant’s purpose is fun and promotes school spirit and community service.  At the end of this pageant, one girl is named Miss Blessie, the nickname for the school’s mascot; a red-billed coot.  After dance routines, a sports routine and an interview, Nala was named Miss Blessie 2019.  I learned so much about my teenager during this process. I told her to file this in her memory as God’s grace on her life.  She is a foreigner who has been given such a sweet platform to love, care and share Christ with her peers.

Little Miss Elle turned three years old on 12 June.  She regularly makes up new songs to practice her colors.  She loves to pretend being a teacher, princess and superhero.  Her prayers to God have grown. She prays for Daddy and Mommy regularly and occasionally she will pray for her siblings when she thinks they are listening.

Leon and I have celebrated our 19th year of marriage.  We both agree that our desire is to obey God in everything we do.  Our hearts are full and grateful for all that He has done.

Yours in Christ,

Melanie Best

Nicest Face

6 – 10 May, Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) hosted Cape Town Baptist College students again. CTBC Mission Week sends the novice theologians to apply their biblical knowledge into their local communities.  I’ll admit it’s a highlight for me during the year.  If you remember from past updates, I’ve had some interesting experiences with the CTBC crew.  In general, I have witnessed fear turn to confidence in Christ, and arrogance to humility in God’s grace.  This partnership continues to benefit all who participate, and this year 15 students were assigned to our organization.  Diverse spiritual backgrounds represented this year’s CTBC team.  Current pastors, an evangelist and a pastor’s wife were included instead of the usual group of future pulpit ministers.

Mission week activities have evolved for CCC as well.  In the past, we would only send CTBC to universities to share the gospel to students.  Now they experience outreaches in the university, local community and marketplace during the week.

Have you shared your faith to business people?  John*, current pastor, stated he didn’t even know it was possible to share the gospel in the corporate setting.  During our debrief time, John expressed he realized he had prejudice to Muslims.  He recalled a past bad business deal with a Muslim that made him avoid people of the Islamic faith.  On the first day of mission week, the CTBC students were paired together to begin spiritual conversations at a financial institution’s corporate headquarters.  John and his partner were afraid to do evangelism and desired to talk with someone with the “nicest face they could find.”  The duo located someone who fit this description.  They had a great conversation with the financial analyst and to John’s surprise the gentleman was Muslim.  God allowed John to share with someone of a different faith.  This lesson God used to encourage John to speak with more Muslims and not to avoid individuals created in the image of God.

You can see why I enjoy equipping future Christian workers to be a part of the Great Commission.  Pray these students will continued to be challenged to move out of their comfort zones to love their neighbor.

Sincerely,

Leon Best, Jr.

Where do we begin?

Last October, we said farewell to our only female campus staff member, Bianca.  I mentored her during 2018 and completed her training.  Then God did something new in her life.  Bianca was appointed to our Leadership Development/Human Resource department at our head office in Pretoria.  This native Capetonian was moving.  In any time of transition, I ask the Lord who will He raise up and how will we go forward.  He answered this question quickly.  One of the young ladies Bianca was disciplining decided to join our ministry. Vendji, a graduate student from Namibia, applied for our internship program and recently was accepted as a Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) intern.

Now CCC has an extensive 2-year training program for interns and new staff.  When I train team members, I always think ask myself, “Where do we begin? What should we cover in each week?”  Fortunately, my teammate Nyameka, Crossroads staff member, agreed to join me in the journey of helping Vendji trust God more by building into her life.  For our first training time at the University of the Western Cape, I prayed about the best way to begin our training.  “Must we go over this new staff curriculum, ministry partner development,” I prayed.  Then God brought to my mind, take her out to share her faith using the Four Spiritual Laws.  I told the Lord this is a great idea. What better way to help her see the need and infuse her with the passion to reach those who don’t know the Lord.  Our first training and evangelistic time, Vendji saw two young ladies pray to receive Christ.  Wow! Since Vendji lives on campus, she can follow up with them and possibly help them get established in their faith.  When we ask God for wisdom, He truly gives it freely and in it He is glorified.

As I look back on the month of April, there have been lots of training moments. Leon and I began potty training our fourth child Elle. Let’s just say we have had our ups and downs.  Midway through the first week I experienced a breakdown, Elle had another messy mishap and I shouted in utter frustration in front of Elle.  Later in the day, I chatted with Elle and in her sweetest little voice she asked me, “Are you mad at me?”  I told her that mommy was just a little frustrated because we had an accident on the floor earlier.  My two-year-old said, “I’m sorry.” I apologized as well because I did not mean to discourage her. Breakthrough! From that day, she has had successful days and nights. I am so glad I did not give up.

I am excited that God has given me the opportunity to share in this process again of training new staff like Vendji and potty training another daughter, Elle.  I have always told young moms that toilet training is spiritual warfare, as is anything we do to build the kingdom of God. I can look forward to God teaching me how to be patient, full of grace, faith, hope and vision.  Please pray for me.

Sincerely,

Melanie Best

Overheated

This March I had an overheated schedule with hosting three US mission team, organizing a cycling charity group, rescuing my wife from an overheated car three hours away in a small town and did I forget to mention we are fully engaged in toilet training our youngest daughter, Elle.  Reflecting over this ministry and life-filled month, I praised God for my family, teammates and ministry partners.  I endeavor to keep these updates short but meaningful in order to capture what God is doing in and through our ministry in Cape Town.

Above I expressed three US missions team serving our university communities.  I helped oversee the largest group which consisted of students from a prestigious university in Michigan.  This US team student athletes with diverse backgrounds.  One young man named Elijah was a redshirt freshman on the university’s American football.  He recently became a believer two months prior and took the initiative to go on a foreign mission trip.  Our South African student leaders and volunteers were impressed by Elijah’s faith in Jesus Christ. This encouraged Sonwabile, SA volunteer, to step up in his faith.  Elijah also had the opportunity to share his testimony at my home church in Cape Town.  My church worship leader was overwhelmed when he returned to the stage and expressed how Campus Crusade for Christ® impacted his life when he was a university student.  I thanked Elijah for speaking in front of the church to tell about his life before he accepted Christ, when he prayed and received Christ into his life and how he is living for Christ now.

I was also able to minister to Elijah.  Many times, I heard his US teammates call him Eli, and I asked him if that was his name.  Elijah stated Eli was not his name.  I communicated Eli was a priest of God who didn’t finish well in life. I told him Elijah was a good name and to read his story in the Bible about how he finished his race.

Continue to pray for the follow-up my team will do and pray we have many Elishas who will continue to reach the universities in Cape Town.

 

Sincerely,

Leon Best

Sprout

My wife received her degree in Biology. When I perused through her lab during our dating years, the scientific space was filled with numerous plants in different phases of germination, the process of a seed growing to a seedling.  She enjoyed seeing her seeds sprout.

A few years ago, during Catalytic outreach week (read Best Times March 2015), I scouted False Bay College – Fish Hoek.  Although the administrators were receptive, they would not allow us to begin a Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) movement at the college.  The seed planted.

After years of prayer, a False Bay College coordinator recently contacted a CCC staff member and explained the college desired a group that would “support Christian work among students.” The seed germinated.

In January, new CCC staff member Gail and I arrived on the Fish Hoek campus with our banner and materials to advertise for the CCC movement.  We completed setting up our CCC table before the college students entered the cafeteria area.  I decided to begin a spiritual conversation with a young man outside the cafeteria.  He shared his name was Jedidiah. Because of his biblical name, I asked if his parents were religious, “Very.”  He expressed he feared God, but did not trust the Bible, because others used it to deceive his people and take his ancestors’ land.  Then he discussed how he loved his culture, but he felt Christians demonized his culture therefore he sees the bible as counterproductive for his life.  Being familiar with his culture, I encouraged him by sharing that I see expressions of God in his culture.  I challenged him to read the Bible again, and to come learn more at our CCC group on campus.  Please pray Jedidiah will attend the new CCC group at False Bay College in Fish Hoek.

Gail led the first group on Monday, 18 February, and 4 students with diverse spiritual backgrounds enjoyed their experience.  Pray for this new CCC movement which meets on Mondays.  The seed spouted!

Sincerely,

Leon Best

 

Now He Sees

Best Family(pictured from L to R: Willie, Jeanine, Zaundra, Leon Sr. and Yvonne)

R.I.P. Willie Dee Best…

My wife and I have sojourned for 10 years in South Africa.  I reflect on a missionary’s life, and how we sacrifice time and proximity to family when in a foreign nation. Distance from family means missing family events: birthdays, graduations and marriages.  The most difficult family event to miss is a relative’s death.  Yesterday, my father’s younger brother died, my Uncle Willie.  There are many humorous memories I will always share about him, but what I will remember most was his gift to sing.  He was the Best’s family soundtrack.  When I hear songs, he covered; “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” I hear his voice and a fun memory is recalled.  Willie blessed my marriage singing the “Lord’s Prayer” at my wedding.  Missions work is a calling that I never regret answering but being the eldest grandchild, I have the blessing and burden of knowing, loving many family members.  Because of this I will know great loss, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Technology allowed me to video call from Cape Town to console my grandmother who lost her baby son.  She was the primary care-giver to her blind son, through her tears she shared how he went peacefully.  She really wanted to know how her talented grandkids in South Africa were doing.  This holiday season she loved seeing Noel playing the piano and singing during our family Sunday service when we were in the States this year.  During our overseas phone conversation, my grandmother expressed waiting for her three children to arrive to help with funeral arrangements.  She understood I would not be able to come to Willie’s home going service and praised our missions work in South Africa.

I know where Uncle Willie is and who he is with, and he who once was blind now can see.

Sincerely,

Leon Best