Sometimes the most challenging part of life is waiting…
We are at the end of the first month of 2017. Instead of being in South Africa, we are in Hampton, Virginia waiting for a document from South Africa. When we returned to the U.S., we were excited about seeing family, friends and catching up with ministry partners. It seems we have been side tracked by a visa process that feels consuming, unpredictable and uncertain. Are we frustrated, yes…Disappointed, yes…, Sad, yes… Anxious, yes… Determined to trust God, yes.
What is God doing? He is guiding us and reminding us of His faithfulness. Saturday we saw a family from a Middle Eastern country on the news stranded at JFK airport. I thought that could have been our family. God has allowed us to enjoy fellowship with friends that we have known for varying lengths of time. Man, God is good! On Sunday, we had a chance to visit friend and mentor in Cary, North Carolina at his church. His sermon was on the David and Goliath story. As he shared, he reminded us that David is an archetype of Jesus who is our defender and has obtained victory over an enemy who wanted to destroy us. Just as David cut off the head of Goliath, Jesus has crushed Satan’s head by dying on the cross. We have the victory in His name. God is fighting for us. Also, in my devotional reading about Moses and the time he spent in the desert, God was at work preparing him for his next assignment. I realize that is where I am today. Waiting…God is working on my character, teaching me about who I am and giving me time to reflect. God is good.
Beloved, we are trusting God for our return to South Africa. We want to finish the opportunity of trusting God to see five new staff complete their interview process, four new staff complete their financial support goals, and three Batho Pele student leaders complete their 2nd year in the program and encourage our seven student leaders reaching the universities in our province. Leon is also excited to begin his first year of giving encouragement and leadership to all the Campus Crusade for Christ ministries in the province. Please be praying that God will give us wisdom and encouragement to keep fighting the good fight as we wait.
“Mrs. Best you have to relax. Don’t try to sit up!”
When those words were uttered I felt pain and remembered that I just had surgery. One of the side effects of being under anesthesia is feeling disoriented. I usually wake up ready to walk a lap; however, six weeks ago nurses were telling me to relax. Thanks again for praying for me and my family during this time period. The morning I went into the hospital I remember receiving messages and phone calls from friends who were praying for me. God used your prayers to bring peace to my heart and expedite my recovery; although I was really nervous about my routine procedure. When you have a newborn who relies on you for food, husband whose a ministry team leader and three kids in school, it is no wonder that God’s words become your anchor, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). The Lord has been my deliver, healer and provider during this season.
My mom came back to Cape Town for a shorter 3 week stay to help me again, since I needed someone around to help lift Elle. The weeks following my surgery were extremely busy for Leon and the kids. My family was so grateful to have Mom return.
At the end of October, we had our last monthly outreach. Our Global Church staff showed the Jesus film in the Mfuleni township. They partnered with a local church in the area, and went door to door inviting the community to join. The evening included children’s activities and showing the Jesus Film in the Xhosa language. Mom had the opportunity to participate and see God minister to people in this area. It was a windy evening but a beautiful time exposing people to Jesus.
As 2016 begins to wrap up, our family will make preparations to return to America to visit family, friends and renew our visas on 6 December. Our visit will be very short but we hope to see many of you or at least call you during the holidays. Please be praying for our safety as we travel. Also pray that our visas will be renewed without any complications. Leon will have to go to Washington D.C. to submit our documents. Pray that we will get new visas before the 4 January.
May God Bless you this Christmas season and fill your hearts with His joy, love and peace in the New Year.
The year-old embers of the #FeesMustFall protest burst into flames recently on South African campuses. Young people’s distress of annual tuition fee increases evolved to demands of free higher education. For the past two weeks, violence and vandalism caused by protesters has shut down major universities. Students frustrated by government officials’ unwillingness to come to the negotiation table. While shocked officials demand property destruction from protesters must cease. Yet again, the country is at a crossroads for the future of its young leaders.
In May, Leon was asked to assume a leadership role of overseeing all Western Cape Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) ministries in addition to his National Catalytic SLM role. As we looked at the direction of this ministry, we realized the need for him to step into this position to give direction and leadership to the team. One of the responsibilities for Leon has been to be a spokesperson for CCC in our province. This month Leon spoke on a Cape Town Christian radio station to share about CCC and #FeeMustFall protests. Leon was asked to share his thoughts on the crisis at the universities and what Christian leaders must do.
Leon expressed to the radio listeners to allow prayer to guide their actions, so they can be part of the solution to this crisis on campuses. He is convinced more than ever that sharing the Gospel of Christ and making disciples of young believers is the only solution to this crisis at the universities. Leon asked pastors listening to mentor two young men in their congregation. My wife and I are continuing to engage our student leaders by giving them direction in the midst of this conflict.
In the last few months, I have said this phrase numerous times. From the arrival of our newest addition and Leon taking on a new role overseeing all Campus Crusade for Christ – SA (CCCSA) ministries in the Western Cape Province. Most recently, Leon received an email titled “Thank You” that absolutely took my breath away. The message below reminded me of God’s faithfulness. He is mighty to save!
“I am a student at UWC (The University of the Western Cape) and the purpose of this email as you saw in the description box is just to say thank you.
I am pretty sure that you probably forgot who I am but about 2 years ago you approached my friend and I at the library steps. You asked us about having a relationship with Christ. At that moment I was still Muslim and didn’t really fully understand the terminology and true meaning of having a relationship with God through Christ. That same day you asked if I’d like to say the prayer to invite Christ into my life, I did and didn’t take it seriously because I was still very conflicted and scared to make any drastic changes in my life. Two years passed and I finally accepted Christ into my life and the experience is so overwhelming but overwhelming in a good way. I am now a member at a church close to home and also joined the youth group.
The Holy Spirit truly guided me from that day until now, therefore I thank you for your love for Christ and spreading the word. I came across this booklet you gave me today and realized how my life is now truly Christ directed.”
I planted, Apollos watered but it is God that gives the increase. We celebrate this brother’s new life in Christ. It has been our privilege to share the Gospel with students.
May, June and July have been incredibly eventful for the Best family. Blankets, a gas heater and my mother comforted me during my last weeks of pregnancy. Mom arrived in May to assist me. My husband and children appreciated the warm meals she prepared in my absence in the kitchen. My mother experienced the beauty of Cape Town, and the wonderful community the Lord has provided for us in South Africa. Mom who has mastered her smart phone flooded Facebook profiles with many photos of her adventures and grandchildren; especially her newest granddaughter Elle Jaye Best. Mom was able to stay until mid-July and enjoyed all the exploits of her South African grandchildren.
Leon Mack, her eldest grandchild, fulfilled his New Year’s resolution by making the Western Province U-13 rugby team. By God’s grace, he was selected from over 3000 young athletes who contended for the coveted 23 spots. Mom was able to attend the ‘capping’ ceremony, and was mentioned in an article about Mack in the local newspaper. Mack’s U-13 Western Province team went on to win the national championship. Mack has remained humble and is also a leader and mentor at his school’s Bible club that both Noel and Nala attend.
Noel has worked very hard to maintain very high grades while enjoying sports and dance. The school encourages every learner to participate in a winter sport. This year she started playing netball. Her heart for competition earned her a spot on the first team and she was selected ‘Player of the Match’ in her first game. For dance, she received recognition as the best dancer overall for girls 12 and under. She was featured in the local paper for this accomplishment. Also, Nala dances in the same dance company as her sister.
Nala has seen great success in school, art, modern dance and gymnastics. Nala enjoys academics and received all A’s on her report card. Her passion for drawing & creating continues to grow, and one of her drawings was selected for an art competition. Nala placed third for her age group in modern dance and qualified for provincial competition in gymnastics. We celebrated Nala’s 10th birthday during this time. She was my “baby girl” for a decade, and she will keep that title. Now, Leon and I have three kids in the double digits, and a new “little girl.”
As Leon and I have welcomed Elle into our home, we have realized and been reminded how much work and how exhausting a new born makes you. It was a blessing to have Mom here, and when she left in July, Leon’s parents arrived to see their newest granddaughter. Elle is their 7th grandbaby, and it was great to see their joy while holding and caring for Elle like it was their first.
Elle is now 2 months old. Mack, Noel and Nala give her a kiss before they leave for school in the mornings. Our hearts are overjoyed every time she smiles and tries to communicate with her ooohs and gurgles; so cute! We are so grateful to God for this bundle of joy.
Establishing Catalytic Week, an annual national outreach which aids in launching new movements in South Africa, last year continued to produce encouraging results in 2016. Last month’s update shared about following up campuses in the Eastern Cape. Walter Sisulu University movement began through the Catalytic Week initiative. Along with setting foot on 40 campuses in the Western Cape, another highlight was establishing a joint outreach with Cape Town Baptist Seminary.
For the second year, my team hosted seminary students from Cape Town Baptist Seminary (CTBS). Six seminary students spent one week aiding us on the university campuses. The young seminarians learned how to share their faith with individuals and small groups. They encountered diverse experiences communicating the Gospel to atheists, Muslims and the uninterested.
Usually during this outreach, I model initiative evangelism by partnering with a CTBS student. Bevin from CTBS walked with me on the campus of UWC. On this occasion, I started a conversation with a young student named Liandre. The university student explained he grew up in church, but did not believe church was for him. Bevin desiring to know more began to communicate with him in his mother tongue. Liandre shared his reasons to Bevin in the Afrikaans language. Liandre expressed his struggles with his sexuality, and found the church not a welcoming place. Bevin appreciated his candor and asked Liandre if he could continue to encourage him and answer his questions about God.
Bevin’s heart to follow-up with Liandre demonstrated his pastoral heart. A few days afterwards, Liandre called Bevin to find community. Liandre wanted to visit the CCCSA movement on his campus to learn more about God with other Christian university students. I was excited to have Liandre meet the CCCSA student leader on his campus, Dale. Please continue to pray for Liandre that he will know God’s love and see God’s love demonstrated by the students involved in our movement.
The seminarians were amazed by the varied beliefs of the university students, and effectiveness of our ministry tools to reach students with the Gospel. Continue to pray for these future pastors who will take these evangelistic experiences and apply their new ministry skills to deal with the current realities people contend with in South Africa.
April saw the birth of a new outreach in South Africa. Leon gathered the three new staff out of the comforts of their home, Western Cape Province, and journeyed to the unfamiliar Eastern Cape Province for a ministry road trip. This endeavor brought our young ministry team to different universities with the purpose of training in movement building by spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe Leon has finally recovered from his weeklong excursion.
Leon along with the young staff team of Dominic, Bianca and Renier drove over 12 hours to the Eastern Cape to visit movements he distance coaches. They saw three campus movements in three cities in five days. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) located in the city of Port Elizabeth was their initial destination. The staff team was able to model evangelism to the students and encouraged them to continue to make disciples. It was great for Leon to meet these students for the first time face to face. He talks with these students weekly on the phone, and his first scheduled visit uplifted the students to move forward to reach their campus for Christ. The next campus had a surprise for him and his team.
Protests welcomed them at the next campus they visited. In Grahamstown, Rhodes University students were inflamed by the administration’s inaction towards accused rapists. Our Campus Crusade for Christ students shared their faith on campus during these demonstrations. They were confronted with emotionally charged questions of “Where was God during these sexual abuses?”
This rape culture sentiment was also being addressed at their final campus in the town of Butterworth. Walter Sisulu University (WSU) campus movement was birthed last year because of Catalytic Week outreach in 2015. Leon met with the student leader Onga. The young man desired for him and his team to teach about the Spirit-filled life. Leon’s young team taught on the Holy Spirit to Onga and other men present at the meeting during their time at WSU. The problem is not God’s absence, but the presence of evil. The power of the Gospel of Christ is the only way to break the chains of those bound by sin. Leon expressed individuals who are slaves to sin need to hear and receive the Gospel. Also, worldly Christians should no longer be driven by their selfish sexual desires, but be filled with the Spirit. Only when they are directed and empowered by the Spirit, will they see lasting change in their lives and their campus community. Sharing this message to the Campus Crusade men at WSU was challenging. However, to realize that if they see “one “of their associates set free from this bondage would mean one less incident of rape at their university.
Our young team had an eye opening experience of the urgency of the Gospel. They are new staff who are equipped to reach these South African universities. Travelling to another province helped them to grow closer to one another as well. This ministry adventure encouraged Leon to further recruit and train SA staff to do full-time missions. Continue to pray for these CCC staff and students as they boldly take Jesus to the campus.
Praising God for your partnership,
The 6th week of the university calendar marks an important milestone each year. During this time our engaged students conclude their 1st terms. This pause allows everyone to evaluate their six weeks of ministry planning to see what God is doing, and we saw movements develop. God used their faithfulness and time to reach out to their peers. I would like to thank you so much for your prayers, although our campuses experienced some protesting, classes were not severely impacted.
University of Cape Town (UCT) student leaders met and prayed about the ways they could trust God to reach their school. Every Wednesday, the leaders met to cover basic topics like God’s love, forgiveness, assurance of salvation and fruit of the Spirit. The student leaders took turns in facilitating and teaching these talks. In addition to their weekly meetings, the students sought to engage their peers with the Gospel weekly. Jessie, a US stinter on this team, built a relationship with a student on study abroad at UCT who had questions about Christianity. Through Jessie’s life and words, God gave her an opportunity to point the young lady to Christ and she decided to give her life to the Lord. Pray for Jessie as she helps this student grow in her faith.
On the last week of the UCT six week’s plan, the student leaders used their spring breaks to do an outreach on another campus in the city in order to launch a new movement. They travelled to Stellenbosch University (SU) to learn about the campus and begin to reach out to the students. My daughters, Noel and Nala, accompanied Leon to SU for the outreach. God gave them a very special assignment.
Standing near the student center at SU, Leon motioned for a young man to come and chat with him and the girls. To Leon’s surprise, the young man revealed he met Leon six years ago on campus, and recently returned to SU to complete his studies. The young man name Divhani, remembered Leon sharing the gospel to him. Astounded Leon asked how his journey with God was going. Divhani divulged the lingering doubts about his salvation and lack of growth. Noel shared of her assurance of salvation, explaining not because of what she has done, but what Christ had done by dying for our sins and she believes – from the mouths of babes! At that point, Leon shared about the ministry of the Holy Spirit which encouraged Divhani to live the Spirit-filled life.
Thanks for praying and being a part of building movements in South Africa.