I Can Only Imagine
Such a joy to sponsor a new elementary school with 200 refugee kids from Zimbabwe!
"Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine...." Isaiah 58:10
Hi friends, it might be freezing cold here in South Africa, but God is doing amazing things and we are so excited to share!
Imagine if you lived in a shack with a dirt floor and no hot water. In winter, the rain pours through the cracks and the floor turns to mud. Imagine you have no electricity. And imagine because you are a refugee, your kids cannot go to school.
HOW WOULD YOU SEE JESUS?
Our hearts were so moved this month to discover a school for undocumented refugee kids from Zimbabwe. Some of the kids have autism. These 200 kids have been lost and left behind.
We know Jesus loves these precious kids! The principal tells us most show up with empty stomachs and no food for the day. We praise the Lord for your ongoing partnership that allows us to feed these kids and share the love of Jesus with them!
1. Unreached People Groups:
God is giving new vision to plant an underground church in the "Island that Must Not be Named", our beloved 99.9% Muslim island! This week a building is under construction that will serve as a coffee shop bakery and a secret house church!
2. Fighting Human Trafficking:
It was a treat to attend this year's brunch for the S-Cape Home safe house that Tonya helped start. One survivor, who gave birth the day she arrived, shared her testimony of the past 2 years with S-cape. Both mommy and baby are growing and incredibly well-cared for. "My best days began with S-Cape," she said. "... they loved me until I could love myself."
Hope For The Hungry and Oppressed
"For I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink." Matthew 25:35
The past few months have consisted of feeding hungry kids, ongoing Bible translation for Unreached Peoples to encounter Jesus and discipling and training indigenous missionaries!
What an incredible joy to tangibly share the love of Jesus with these precious kids and their families! Over the past month our African team has served over 6000 meals! We praise God for the opportunity that the community can experience the love of Christ through a hot meal.
We can celebrate that God is moving in the "Island That Must Not Be Named".
After 15 years of sowing into this 99.9% Islamic nation, we are so humbled to see God raising up Indigenous Islanders who have decided to follow Jesus! Kevin's disciple, "M" is passionately committed to translate the Bible into his own language! In partnership with Wycliffe, "M" has translated 7 books so far!
Tonya with students from last year's Love Your Neighbour Bible School on Justice and Peacemaking.
Discipling and Training Indigenous leaders
One of our leaders shared with Tonya, "As an African woman coming from the township (slums), I did not know what Jesus would do inside of me in this Bible school. There are deep wounds in me that needed God's healing. What is Christ’s justice for me as a person of color? I believe I am at the most divine place in God’s purpose for me ever in my life.”
Feeding the 5000...
Even in the midst of a pandemic, God can do more than we can ask or imagine. Spend 4 minutes learning about the unexpected ministry that began when COVID hit South African shores.
Jesus preached the Good News. (The word Gospel is actually Greek for Good News.) Some of us find Good News in God’s forgiveness of sin. Or, in the promise of eternal life. But for the poor, Good News has to mean even more. Telling a single mother her afterlife is guaranteed when she doesn’t have enough food to feed her children today, really isn’t good news for her…at least not all of it. If l I tell you Jesus can take away your sins but not your hunger, again, that’s not Good News.
When you're poor, what sets Jesus apart is that he cared about bodies. He healed bodies; he defied powers that would harm bodies; he multiplied loaves of bread and fed bodies. Nobel Peace Prize winner Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu said, “I preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is concerned for the whole person. … Because the good news to a hungry person is bread.” When we feed children in the name of Jesus during the COVID pandemic and beyond, we’re showing them God cares as much about them in THIS life as He does the NEXT. We’re showing their parents that God loves their children, body and soul. In South Africa, the Gospel that will save you SOMEDAY has been preached far and wide and hasn’t done much. After 15 years here, we know a Gospel served on a plate is much more likely to be digested in the soul.
"Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon." Is. 58:10
Mamma Edith, a local hero in Masiphumelele, approached us on behalf of 3 women in dire need, including an albino Zimbabwean mother who had just arrived, Rose. Everything she owned was stolen on the bus, including her ID and papers. Kevin and his local ministry partner, Okhuhle, bought 40 dollar food parcels for the 3 women, plus 2 other refugee families. 3+2=5. Right?
As Kevin and Okhuhle divided the shopping into equal piles... 5 chickens, 5 oils, 5 beans, etc., a new woman arrived... also in great need. As they sorted, they slowly realized there was 6 of EVERY item! But, they were certain they'd purchased five. When Kevin came home, I made him find the receipt. Look for yourself; they had purchased 5 of every item! Yet, there were 6 complete food parcels for 6 different families!!
No one went home hungry! Kevin had told these ladies, "God sees you. God has not forgotten you." But, honestly, it wasn't until we were staring at the receipt that we understood just how true those words are. God does see. God does care. And, sometimes, God wants to make certain we know. Isn't it just like our God to miraculously declare His love in the presence of an albino African refugee ? Sometimes, I think He wants to remind who comes first in His Kingdom. (Mt. 20:16)
We could not have imagined we'd be a part of a network providing 4,000 to 5,000 meals per day for kids from our beloved township 4 months ago. But hey...even in the midst of COVID, God can do more than we can ask or imagine!
Case and Point:
This precious beauty just filled up her bowl and tummy at our brand new soup kitchen in Masiphumelele!!!
In South Africa, unemployment has hit a historic high. Foreigners (asylum seekers and refugees) don't qualify for government help. Hunger is the greater pandemic the poor now face...
At first, it felt novel to be part of the strictest lockdown in the world.
41 days later, the novelty has worn off...
For our family, in a suburb of Cape Town, our lockdown life probably looks a lot like yours. Asher is moaning about digi-school. Chesney's dance program is on hold. Tonya is learning to teach and train via Zoom. However, the occasional military tank rumbles down our street. The police presence is always visible. (Breaking lockdown results in fines or arrests.) The nation has an 8pm curfew. Our only visitors have been baboons as they (and in some parts penguins) have free reign of the quiet streets. This week, we've finally been allowed outdoors to walk dogs or exercise from 6 to 9 am.
However, if you live in a township, (like the vast majority of South Africa) lockdown might mean you're facing starvation. There have been riots, grocery stores looted, and even a garbage truck was robbed... for food. There's few credit cards in townships. It's a cash only life. No work today = no food today.
For this pandemic season, we're shifting our focus to feeding folks in our beloved township of Masi... and a few others. (Including the neighborhood where the garbage truck was robbed.)
A co-worker named our What's App group: "Feed A Few." When the need is overwhelming, you do what you can, even if it is only a drop in the ocean. Jesus treated the poor as his treasure. A beautiful liturgical prayer says... "Make us worthy to serve" those living in poverty. There is a depth of truth in those words that I understand just a little more each year we live here.
In the past 41 days... we've delivered enough food to feed 73 families for a week.
By tomorrow, we'll have doubled that!
We want to personally thank every one of you for the tremendous support you were this year. The list of ways you blessed us and partnered in our ministry is long and runs deep and rich in our hearts.
As most of you know, we’ve had a year for the record books. So, I’ve written a very personal update in hope that you will see…even so, God is good. First, a sad, quick recap of 2018… a looming financial challenge was followed by the suicide of Chesney’s best friend (Harry), was followed by visa fiascoes, was followed by the death of another close friend. Never-the-less, a beautiful truth has settled over our family: “Perfect love casts out fear.”
I’ve heard fear is friends with trauma… a natural by-product...
From South Africa to Thailand
It was an incredible honor for Sound of the Nations to be asked to lead worship for our organization’s largest global gathering yet…nearly 4000 people. Missionaries from over a 100 nations (China, Cambodia, Iraq, Brazil, USA, etc.) gathered for a week of training, networking, and encouragement. But, there weren’t many from Africa. Why? Africa in not a rich continent, and Thailand is really, really expensive to get to.
However, in Sound of the Nations we aren't only about leading worship; we're about empowerment, faith building, and South Africans discipling the nations. We think that's God's agenda as well because somehow these miracles... like an African band in Thailand seem to happen...
LIFE as a Worship Experience!
I couldn’t bring myself to sing a certain line in a worship song. The worship band settled on it, hovered over it – a melodic mantra. Hands were raised; eyes closed; voices intensified all around, and yet my mouth clamped shut.
“Nothing in this world can satisfy.”
Lately, I’ve noticed this particular phrase is popular in many worship songs. Israel Houghton likes it. Maranatha Music likes it… and we YWAMers seem to like it. So, I searched for it in the Bible. I couldn’t find it.
Kevin and Tonya Stanfield
Serving in South Africa since 2007