Kick Off 2016

UCT and UWC orientation outreach 2016
UCT and UWC orientation outreach 2016

Place your hand here…Did you feel it?

The baby kicks, punches and does complete exercise routines inside my belly. It is fun to have my husband feel Baby Best’s movements. Our anticipation continues to increase as we wait patiently for the child. We are around 23 weeks, and another university school year is upon us. The students began this week with orientation and registration. Student leaders at University of Western Cape, University of Cape Town and two young ladies from Cru’s study abroad program welcomed the first years.

At this time of the year, I am always so excited. I love new beginnings. Before the orientation week outreaches, we gathered with our staff & students to pray and plan for how we will use our resources to share the gospel with 2,000 students this year. In our Epicenter staff kick off, Jerrah shared a brief teaser video. During the video we got to look back and see what God has begun in the Western Cape. He made a very poignant remark, last year we did ministry – laying the foundation and preparing the ground – but this year we are trusting God for movements. This resonated with our team the idea that we can believe God to raise up Godly men and women who are ready to be lights on their campuses. Gives me chills!

Not only are we trusting God for movements in the Western Cape, Leon has connected with student leaders from Eastern Cape province who learned about our ministry through Cru stinters and a U.S. missions team in 2015. These students were so excited to hear from him. They can’t wait to receive encouragement and coaching to continue their personal journeys with God and reaching their campuses for Christ. Leon and teammates will head to the Eastern Cape in April to visit these new ministries at Rhodes University, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Walter Sisulu University.

We serve a God who restores, rebuilds and revives. Please join with us and pray for this year. The harvest is very ripe. I am excited, Baby Best is excited, and we all can’t wait to see what God births.

Thank you for your commitment to Christ and building God’s Kingdom.

Yours in Christ,
Melanie Best

Couch Time Reflections

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Couch time, an evening ritual Leon and I instituted after dinner to share our day’s experiences with one another. Our children do their compulsory chores cleaning the kitchen, giving my husband and me uninterrupted time on the couch to reflect.

We began 2015 celebrating a milestone of 15 years working with Campus Crusade. As I hear the clanking of dishes, I am reminded I have a pre-teen starting grade seven, a blossoming girl in grade 6, and a baby-no-more girl in grade four. Leon rubs my belly and smiles. We are excited about our newest family member ‘Baby Best’ who will arrive in June. The end of 2015 brought happiness of the new arrival, but also brought sad farewells with the departures of the Tompkins and Charlotte Crabbe, our 2015 stinters.

December began with travel for Leon, Noel’s birthday, my birthday and seeing God mobilize individuals to share the Gospel on the train and the beaches of Cape Town. South African new staff member Renier van Onselen took some student leaders of our movements and did beach outreaches. The group saw people make decisions for Christ and discover potential student leaders. Leon and I also received very encouraging news from our dear friend from church, Eric.

Eric attended a marriage retreat led by a Campus Crusade teammate in November. Leon received a message late one Saturday night requesting 10 Four Spiritual Laws and 10 Spirit-Filled Life booklets. Eric was really encouraged to share his faith daily as he took the train to work. Then the following week, we received the same request again. Eric shared this amazing report:

“.. With your help and with God’s grace we have reached out to about 10 people. It is amazing to see people respond to the content of the booklet. I wish to have first time believers but God is only bringing those who need to recommit their lives to the Lord. Nevertheless, I thank God for being a voice to bring them back to Him…Day to day I saw God at work. Please pray as I look for souls to reach.” Eric is sharing his faith. With the end of the year, there is time for reflection and resting and looking forward to 2016.

As we enter this new year, Leon and I are trusting God to surface 5 men and 5 women who are committed to Christ and ready to share the Gospel and make disciples to build God’s kingdom. We need God’s wisdom, Godly discernment and time management. Please pray with us and let us know if you have any prayer request.

Yours in Christ,
Melanie Best

Personal Update

Everything is the same as the year before; silent. The doctor vertical blinds. My wife lies on the sterile mattress, like before. The doctor prepares her medical device, and pushes the button. A low hum crescendos, and a visual appears on the monitor. Kaleidoscope of white, black and gray images saturate the screen as the instrument probes my wife. I am hushed viewing the movements of our doctor. She searches and locates a precious sphere. My breathing stilled, and I am affixed to the monitor. The physician zooms onto the spherical object to amplify. In that moment, every auditory muscle flexes. Silence, but just for a moment, then bursting forth the heartbeat, and its loud pounding and rapid rhythm serenades my ears. Life.

Melanie is pregnant! Our journey through previous miscarriages, the last one as recently as a year ago, tempers my emotions -My son, my fears. Melanie is ten weeks, and we are excited about the pregnancy. Our child’s arrival will be in June 2016.

Thank you for your prayers

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#Feesmustfall

Photo Credit to tonyleon.com
Student Protest at UCT – Photo Credit to tonyleon.com

“Did you hear? Students are protesting at WITS University in Johannesburg. They will probably begin protesting at our campuses in about two weeks.” Leon and I had this discussion on Friday afternoon, 16 October. By Monday, 19 October, UCT students were protesting and by the end of the week all of our campuses were protesting proposed tuition rate increase as high as 11%, and campuses were closed. #feesmustfall campaign was a great reminder of how university students spark movements of political and social change, but it also serves as a telling reminder of the desperate need to raise up a generation of leaders who know the Lord and are committed to living their lives for Him. Students across South Africa joined together to stand up for their right to access higher education. Many of their families don’t earn enough money to save or pay for tuition. Due to wasteful government spending and economic injustice, students struggle to keep up with the rising costs of higher education.

As we read reports of students’ reactions to the decisions of the Minister of Education, we sensed God confirming the need for our new initiative to raise up potential laborers and help students with paying for expenses. Batho Pele Project (BPP) mobilizes current university students to work with their local campuses by launching movements of evangelism and discipleship through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ South Africa (CCCSA). In return for hours participated in the project, the students receive tuition assistance. We invited students in September and October to consider partnering with us through BPP in 2016. We have two potential candidates, which are involved leaders at UCT and UWC. Our team is excited about our prospects; two young men! Pray for us as we review their applications, and continue to secure funds for growing this program.

Some of the protesting has subsided because the government has agreed not increase fees for 2016. On some campuses, for qualifying, financially stressed final year students in 2015 who owe under R 15,000 (approximately $ 1,200) or less, will not be required to pay this amount in order to graduate, as this may prevent them from finding a job. The most exciting reports we have heard is students are coming together to pray for peaceful resolution and for God to open doors for them to finance their tuition. Our teams have been praying and God is making a way. Thank you so much for your partnership.

Praising God for your partnership,
Melanie Best

Crucible

Leon and Nataniel at Delft Technical High School
Leon and Nataniel at Delft Technical High School

The month of August has been very challenging for our team in Cape Town. Two families need to find housing because of unexpected challenges with landlords. One family is contemplating an early return to America due to these circumstances. Man, times like these feel very unsettling for all of us! Yet we know that as, “The crucible is for silver and a furnace for gold, so the Lord tests hearts” (Proverbs 17:3). In this time of testing, pruning and refining, God reminds us why we endure these hardships.

During our team’s monthly outreach at a local high school, a young man named Natanial approached Leon. He expressed remembering Leon 3 years ago when he was a student at the University of Western Cape (UWC). Leon shared the Gospel to him and answered his questions. At that time, Natanial had a lot of questions about evolution and atheism. It turns out his questions were the result of a desire to witness to atheist friends. He went on to be involved with various campus ministries at UWC and he is now a teacher at Delft Technical High School. Often times, we never get to see the rest of the story. God in his sovereignty knows when you need to be reminded of His handiwork in our lives and those whom we meet daily.

In a few weeks, we will begin to experience the beautiful joy of spring – new beginnings. On 12 September, our Western Cape Team will host a Harvest Celebration breakfast for donors and friends to join us in celebrating what God is doing in the Western Cape. We will be joined by current student and community leaders as well as past laborers with CCC. As you think of the Western Cape over the next month, pray for Natanial teaching children and witnessing with his life and words to high schoolers and pray for our Harvest Celebration. We are trusting God to remind us of how far we have come, present clear ministry vision and gather more local connections.

Praising God for your partnership,
Melanie Best

Movement Building

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In June and July, we hosted our sixth US missions team. This season is always fun for our family especially for our kids. They enjoy time with young college students full of energy and excited about the Lord. Leon and I get the privilege of connecting with fellow compatriots. Our times are always memorable.

We are so privileged to have additional laborers. We had specific tasks for the team to help launch new campus movements at Northlink College – Tygerberg, Cape Peninsula University of Technology – Cape Town and False Bay College – Khayelitsha. These US students shared the Gospel and invited local students to our New Life Training Curriculum (NLTC) seminar.

NLTC is designed to challenge and equip believers to be active in the Great Commission using tools for evangelism and discipleship. In July, several of our leaders from our church group, LinC (Living in Christ), also attended NLTC. One of them shared that she had been looking for material to help the high school girls she was influencing become more grounded in the faith. We had several student leaders from UCT and UWC. At their weekly trainings after NLTC, they were already applying the principles of leading small groups.

The Lord is making the vision 5-5-5 become more of a reality. As we head into this third semester, our focus is building disciples. Trusting God, I challenge our students to believe with us and look at God’s harvest field to raise up disciples. They will help build the kingdom by sharing their faith and committing to follow up new believers. Pray for these new students involved to attend our next NLTC training on 29 August.

Other activities we begin this semester is our staff Bible studies. We are also excited about our Campus Crusade for Christ – South Africa exposure event informing current and potential ministry partners about the kingdom building work happening in the Western Cape. Please be praying for God’s work in the Cape. Pray for clear communication on our team and God’s Spirit to remind us of our unity in Christ.

Thank you for all your support and prayers.

Yours in Christ,
Melanie Best

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15 Years

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In light of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to uphold gay marriage, the question arises how does a Christian function in a country where same-sex marriage is legal? Imagine, if the country you call home also recognizes polygamy? My family has lived in these realities in South Africa for several years. To hear a polygamist defend his practice using the Bible is a unique experience, he usually begins by saying, “King David had more than one wife…”

The majority of the country comes from African traditionalist backgrounds, and compare same-sex marriage to placing older relatives in nursing homes as an “evil” Western cultural practice that needs to be shunned. As more young adults pass through the hallowed halls of the liberal institutions of academia, hostile ideologies against traditional religious values are taking a foothold in South Africa. Shortly after the US Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all states, the student government president at University of Cape Town (UCT) was removed from the position when posting this comment, “We are institutionalizing and normalizing sin. May God have mercy on us…”

This is an unfortunate intolerant action by an institution that professes tolerance of dissenting opinions. However, in this atmosphere the gospel is being proclaimed! When I share the gospel on campus, students usually ask me questions. They are amazed at how I answer the question, “Where is your wife?” My usual response, “She’s here with me in Cape Town.” Most are surprised she would leave the US to be with me in South Africa. It’s a blessing to tell students my wife and children have settled in this country to tell people about Jesus Christ. My marriage has become an invaluable witness to the gospel of Christ. The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful wife. I can’t see how I could do ministry without her by my side. Continue to pray for our marriage. In June, Melanie and I celebrated fifteen years of marriage.

Behind the Scenes…God is working

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April is the most interesting month in South Africa. The rhythm of ministry is interrupted by public holidays and school recess. For this reason, it feels like momentum has slowed down but really God is working behind the scenes.

At the beginning of March, our team launched a campaign of prayer walking and gathering information about schools in the Western Cape. While at the Cape Town Baptist Seminary, some of our teammates connected with leadership regarding potential partnership. Every year second year students are required to intern with church or ministry organizations. Beginning today, Monday 11 May, we will begin initial phases for CTBS internship with Campus Crusade for Christ South Africa.

From Monday – Thursday, there will be 16 seminary students joining our staff and getting a preview for what God is doing at universities throughout Cape Town. On Saturday, we conducted a brief ministry training using the Four Spiritual laws and Living the Spirit Filled life evangelistic booklets used for sharing the Gospel and initial follow-up. The students expressed their nervousness and fears but their hearts were so willing to communicate their faith with lost men and women on our campuses.

This morning three teams were sent to University of Western Cape (UWC), Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT-Bellville), CPUT-Cape Town and UCT. We are praying that God will have 7 seminary students join us in January 2016 as interns. Pray that God will impress on their hearts the need to see lives transformed for Christ at the university and partner with us to raise up more labors for this amazing harvest.

Yours in Christ,

Melanie Best

Catalytic Week Pt. 2

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Leon and Jerrah traveled an hour and 45 minutes away from Cape Town to visit a college campus that they knew very little about and our ministry had never been before. It was the first day of Catalytic Week – a radical initiative by our team to set foot on 40 new college campuses before the week was over, in order to gain insight on where else God was working. As they parked and stepped out the car onto a college campus named West Coast College in a town called Vredenberg, their hearts were filled with expectation. How would God reveal himself today?

Walking through the gate, they instantly caught the gaze of what seemed like every student. Leon and Jerrah were clearly outsiders. Pushing through a bit of awkwardness, they were prayerful that God was going to do something at this campus. Entering into the main building, a student walked up to Leon and said with confusion in the tone of his voice, “Hey, I know you!” Leon replied surprisingly, “I know you too.” It turned out they randomly met each other a year ago while at a Cape Town mall. His name was Earnest, and he had the desire to reach his campus for Jesus. He shared that he was vice-Chairmen of the Student Representative Council and there were currently no student organizations on the campus. WE would be the first.

God has impeccable timing! Moreover, two other teammates had visited the area two weeks prior for a training and connected them with a pastor, whose name was Eric. They also were able to meet with him while on the campus. He had an equal desire to reach this campus and his community, and to Leon and Jerrah’s surprise, he and Earnest knew each other! What an amazing opportunity God set before them to partner with these individuals who wish to see the Great Commission fulfilled! More stories similar to this have unfolded as a result of visiting 40 campuses during Catalytic Week. Our team’s aim is to launch ministry on 10 – 12 of these new colleges in the near future. New doors are opening! Thanks for praying.

For His Glory,
Melanie Best