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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The first six weeks of the school year lay the foundation for evangelism and provide momentum for launching ministry. Our teams were mobilized with surveys and evangelistic tools to help them as they presented the Gospel. With the help of the larger Western Cape team (all the Campus Crusade for Christ ministries), we presented the Gospel 78 times and 15 people gave their hearts to the Lord. This is only the beginning. Next week is the sixth week and we are trusting God for the impossible.
Our first ever National Catalytic week will be 9 – 13 March 2015. The heart of this time is for all provincial teams to fill their cars with petrol and head to the ends of their provinces and everywhere in between to decode, pray, share the Gospel and determine where God wants to begin spiritual movements. Monday, 9 March, we have three teams of at least two headed to different campuses throughout the Western Cape. By Friday, our hope is to visit 40 new campuses. Friday afternoon as team, we convene and share observation and how God was working on the various campuses. We will then prayerfully select 5-10 new campuses to focus on from now through our time when the Summer Missions team serves in July.
Certainly, these are exciting times. Please join us in praying through the map above and for specific campuses and teams in the chart below. “This is gonna be too good!!!”
“The gang is all here!” Two weeks ago, we had Epicenter Launch, our annual ministry orientation and briefing time. Our new teammates from Texas, Tyrone & Andrea, arrived in December, on my birthday. The ministry also initiated a pilot program called Cru Abroad. This program consists of US students participating in study abroad, who will dedicate 20 hours per week to movement building. Three Cru Abroad teammates arrived mid-January. They will serve for the next 6-8 months at the University of Cape Town.
As always a new year means new beginnings and a fresh start. Our team led the weekly provincial prayer time. Leon shared his heart and prayers for this year and the next five years of ministry. The first phase is trusting God for 5 multiplying disciples for every staff person to develop. What is a multiplying disciple? A multiplying disciple is someone whose life exemplifies 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”(NIV)
We are praying for God to establish 5 student-led movements. Presently, we have one student-led ministry, University of Western Cape. There are several students through our church partnerships who are praying about their involvement and desire to see the lost reached on their campus. Since we are dealing with fives, we are trusting God to help each staff member share Christ with at least five people every week. 2015 vision is 5-5-5. All of this is leading us to our God sized Bigger Picture Vision. By 2020
• 50 Campus Locations in the Western Cape
o On each location a team of 5 students who are multiplying disciples.
• 250 multiplying disciples
• R 6 000 000 (approx.. $600,000) raised each year to support 100 interns
Will you pray with us? God is able and faithful. Can we ask him together?
The cycle begins. In our final planning meeting for the year, one of the repetitive themes was a need for consistency. It is a consistency that is integral to building a foundation for ministry. Along with prayer and evangelism, there is building up laborers.
Our team planned and successfully executed Equip 2014. We held a small leaders training to prepare five of our student leaders from our ministry at University of Western Cape (pictured above) and our local church. I looked at Leon and told him this is what I enjoy, spending time with students outside of the norm – time away for us to learn and hear from God. It was so amazing to trust God as a team and challenge the students to go forward in their walks and ministry with God.
Only God knows what next year will hold for these future leaders and our ministry. When we look back at this year, it was a year of transition and new beginnings. We saw the Lord change the hearts of 78 individuals as they gave their hearts to the Lord and 20 involved students in our ministry. Your partnership is changing lives and building the kingdom.
We are swiftly coming to the end of 2014 school year. What a year of transition and trusting God to show His power. Last month, I shared that we challenged the students involved in our weekly events to commit to discipleship. As a team, we knew this would be difficult because the last term is full of exams and preparation for finals.
When we sat in our staff meeting last week, we looked at a list of 20 students who have engaged in follow up and training since September. Over half of these students have learned more about assurance of salvation and what it means to be accepted by God. Charlotte, our team member, asked one student about her experiences. Below is her response:
“I will never forget the very first training meeting that Leon Best gave; “Confidence”. It was pretty much due to the answer that he gave that kept me coming back every week for more. Even though I had accepted Christ into my life a long time ago, I had struggled to develop a set time to spend with Him on daily basis. I feel it was the resources that were made available to me through the training sessions allowed me to both enhance my quiet time as well as develop confidence in my knowledge and understanding of who God is and my identity in Christ.
CCC(Campus Crusade for Christ) came at a time in my life when I was starting to use my own strength to complete tasks and my own understanding to go through life. I was slowly starting to pull away from God. At the time I blamed it on the work load of Pharmacy, hence I falsely justified spending less and less time in God’s presence or with him at all. It was during this chaotic season of my life that Leon Best posed a question that confronted and pulled at my heart. He asked us to determine on a scale of 1-10 how confident we felt that we would go to heaven if we had to die in that very instant. At the time my answer was not 10 and I knew that with God its either you are in or out. A question ran through my mind: ‘Why am I not 10/10 certain?’ It was from that very first meeting that my soul’s thirst for more information grew.”
Pray now as we plan a leaders’ retreat for 16 and 17 November. We are challenging the students to take a steps of faith. Pray that if they hear God’s voice they will say, “Here, I am. Send me.”!(Isaiah 6:8)
Our team was busy with follow-up and training students in August. The US students left campus at the end of July. This missionary cavalry had 156 four laws presentations, 27 responses to the Gospel and 36 students became involved in our ministry. Wow! The team really helped bring much needed exposure of our ministry to the University of Western Cape. As we followed up these students, we have seen the Lord bring 15 students to our weekly training time and 5 for our New Life Training Center day seminar in August.
This week marked the beginning of the final term for the 2014 school year. Our team challenged the involved students to commit the next five weeks to meeting individually with staff to deepen their walks with the Lord. We feel this is a faith step for many students. They will feel challenged by peers and the demands of classwork. We are praying that as they prioritize their walk with the Lord, He will help them navigate these challenges and put into practice this priority; a major life lesson.
Leon was invited by our team leader, Rose, to help train a group of students from different campuses in an area called Milnerton (approx. 15 min north of downtown Cape Town along the Atlantic Coast). For four weeks, he and Rose covered topics of sharing the Gospel and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Last Sunday, 7 September, the group went to Table View beach to share the Gospel. I had the opportunity to pray for boldness, clear presentations and indications to follow Christ. God answered all these prayers. There were 7 students witnessing and they had conversation with 27 people and 9 people prayed to begin their new life In Christ. So exciting!
We rejoice in what God is doing. It is amazing that personally one can experience deep trails. Leon and I experienced our second miscarriage at 7 weeks of pregnancy, last Thursday, September 4. Our hearts are saddened but we have found comfort again in God, His Word and His People. He has reminded us from the Psalms that He is our refuge and strength and ever present help in time of trouble. Our trouble has been in our hearts and we have run to God our fortress. Please continue to pray for our family as we heal in this busy time of ministry. Thanks for being a part of God’s work.