Sunday, January 3, 2016

Ten Years Old Today


Ten years old today
Mama's fever burning—Mama can you hear me—Mama don't leave us
Start the fire
Stale mealie for little Brother and Little Sister but it is warm stale mealie
Ten years old today


Little Sister fetch water, Little Brother fetch firewood, play
Games with rocks, soccer with a ball of rolled up bags
Singing, oh how we love to sing
Drunk uncle coming--Brother, Sister, run, hide, be safe
I am not


Orange-red fireball sinking
Elephant silhouette
Grass mat early sleep better than hunger pangs
Hush baby girl, don't show pain
Cicadas and toads singing lullabies

Friday, November 27, 2015

AIDS Has a Face, and The Healer Has a Name--Jesus

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that bought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

She was 18 years old, painfully thin, with downcast eyes and shoulders that drooped. Sores were already breaking out on her dark brown skin, and her ragged and faded dress hung on her fragile frame. She'd run away earlier this year to live with a boyfriend, an older man who promised to love and cherish and care for her, but who likely abused her and gave her AIDS before moving on to another young victim. It is a scenario that is repeated countless times here in Sub-Saharan Africa, and one with which we've become all too familiar.

I met her because she'd returned home ( a tiny two-room concrete structure) to her mother and seven siblings with nowhere else to go, and no hope. Time will tell if she is pregnant. Her mother was hosting our regular Bible study in front of her house, and was running late from her job as a housekeeper, so the daughter was obediently there to greet me, which gave me some precious time to engage in small talk with her in an effort to help her to relax in my presence.

Praise God she decided to stay for our Bible study. Afterward, with no altar call, no soft music, no prompting, she asked to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Her mom and I joined together in leading her in a simple sinner's prayer, and then praying over the new creation that she now is. She still has a hard road ahead, but now she has eternal hope.

Image result for images of hiv aids symbol

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Blessed Hope

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for , the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

It is spring here in beautiful Mpumalanga, South Africa, and my favorite season. Gorgeous flowers are blooming everywhere--on the ground, on the bushes, and on the trees. Everything is beginning to get green after a long, drab, brown winter. However, I've been watching one enormous tree just on the other side of our fence.

This tree towers over the others, a giant over all the other lush burgeoning greenery. My heart has been sad as this tree alone has remained bare, a stark image echoing the feelings of hopelessness I sometimes feel faced with hard trials in my own life and the lives of so many others for whom I care deeply.  

For several months now, I've pestered my husband John about this tree, asking countless times if he thinks it's dead. I'm not sure what answer I expect, but deep down I know I wanted him to give me some hope that those magnificent, hulking gray branches would spring back to life. His answer was always the same stoic, "Just wait and see." And each time, a tiny spark of hope pierced through my forlorn disbelief.  

JOY! Yesterday John encouraged me to look up, and brilliant yellow blossoms have begun to burst out all over!

And just as my husband's steadfast faith in the resurrection of this tree did not disappoint, so the hope we have in Jesus is the anchor for my soul.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. Psalm 62:5 the hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began...Titus 1:2

...waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ...Titus 2:13

Sunday, September 13, 2015


These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:13-16

My great niece just had her 2nd birthday, and the photos are so cute, and my heart cries because we are missing so many precious family milestones.  

My country just came together to remember that horrific day meant to destroy us, but rather which united us for a brief and shining moment.

Here in South Africa we've had recent terrorist threats towards Americans and American interests on this foreign soil.

Most days I'm joyfully and gratefully and wholeheartedly doing the ministry God has given us here in Africa, and knowing how blessed I am.

But every now and then, I am just a homesick American, loving and appreciating my homeland as only an expat can. God bless America.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Master's Voice

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

Many years ago I learned a lesson that I have put into daily practice. I wish I could give credit to whomever imparted this valuable nugget, but my memory is not what it used to be! Anyway, the analogy was given of a soldier receiving his marching orders from his commanding officer first thing in the morning. So I began asking my Commanding Officer, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for His direction for the day every morning before I get out of bed. And He is faithful—if we ask, He answers. Many days I receive sweet encouragement, or needed chastisement, or just a word like “hope” or “love” or “boldness.” And then there are those rarer days when I get something so specific that makes absolutely NO sense at the time, but as the day progresses, I can only marvel that truly the King of Kings loves me enough to guide me in those still small hours of the morning.

A couple of mornings ago, this was the case. On the schedule for the day was teaching two Bible study groups. One of these groups is one to whom I regularly minister. The other was one I'd only met once, several months ago, and they had invited me back for this day. Since it was only my second time to meet with the latter group, I had definite ideas about what I should teach. Yet the Lord kept persistently nudging me towards another topic, completely unsuitable in my opinion! Since I have learned the hard way that it pays to listen to His All-Wise counsel, I acceded, through still with grave misgivings.

Of course He was right. I learned en route to the second group's location, with about 10 minutes to spare, that I had misunderstood what the invitation was all about. Instead of just a regular Bible study, I was to be the guest of honor and main speaker at a special Women's Month event with a large gathering of ladies. And of course the message God Himself had patiently given me was exactly right for the occasion, and at the end, many precious women were on their knees and in tears repenting and turning back to Him with all their hearts. I am NOT a powerful speaker, but the Holy Spirit is! SO grateful that He leads me and guides me and even miraculously uses me!
If only I would have consulted him on my wardrobe! I was a little underdressed in my simple blouse and skirt amongst all the beautifully garbed South African women!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Speaking in Other Tongues

I am fascinated with languages. Here in South Africa, where there are 11 official languages, almost everyone is fluent in two or three languages, with some working knowledge of still others. Almost all conversations are sprinkled with some words from one tongue and some words from another, and people flow smoothly between languages without even realizing it.

Recently, a couple of incidents amused me with their complexity! The first was at our Moms In Prayer International conference. One of my friends who is from Lesotho and is fluent in Sotho as well as English and Swati was testifying to a group of women from many different language groups. She asked our other friend, who is from Zimbabwe, and fluent in Shona, English, and Swati, to translate for her. Neither woman was speaking in her native tongue; Matshepo spoke in Swati while Vimbai translated into English. Brilliant!

The second incident happened when we were in Zimbabwe for the first time. I was thoroughly enjoying the company of a young woman named Gratitude who was working at our hotel. She was teaching me some basic words and phrases in her native tongue, Shona. Gratitude also spoke fluent English. Then she discovered that I know some Spanish. Apparently she is also trying to learn Spanish, so I said I'd help her. It turns out that she has a friend from Hungary, who is currently living in Belgium, who speaks fluent Spanish and was teaching her via text messages. So, here I was, an American living in South Africa, visiting Zimbabwe, learning Shona and teaching Spanish to a young girl who was texting her Hungarian friend in Belgium. Convoluted, confusing, cross-cultural delight!

All of this got me thinking about what the Bible has to say about languages. In Genesis we have the story of the tower of Babel, where humans in their pride try to reach the heavens, and God causes them to speak in diverse languages to confound their plans, and then He scatters them throughout the earth.

AND THEN JESUS CHRIST CAME, followed by the Holy Spirit. "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." Acts 2:4

It seems to me that the message of Jesus' life-giving death on the cross and His climactic resurrection, is such a paramount, imperative message that God made a way for the language barrier to be bridged, through His all-powerful Spirit.

I yearn for the day when " the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every TONGUE confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:10-11

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Here I Am Lord, Send Me

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Some days I grow weary. The steady, ceaseless reports of death after death here in Sub-Saharan Africa, mostly from HIV/AIDS, or from lack of access to decent medical care, may just be statistics to some. But for those of us who minister here, these are real faces and real people we know and love. We cry with the families left behind.

Wednesday was one of those days. The first woman to arrive for our morning Bible study in one of the villages almost immediately began her teary-eyed tale of her adult-age grandson who was dying and not expected to make it through they day. He would be leaving behind a small three-year-old son.

Then we received a phone call from one of our members saying it will be awhile before she can join us again because she is substitute teaching for a teacher who just died. I was already sick at heart before it was time to ask for prayer requests, and my interpreter also asked for prayer for her middle-aged father who is very sick and needing a miracle to live. We all cried together and prayed together for each situation, clinging to the hope that our compassionate God does hear our prayers.

After the morning Bible study and lunch in the car, we went to the community we serve in the afternoon. First we visited Elvis, a 94-year-old man living alone. Our weekly visits with food and treats make only a small dent in the loneliness and need in the waning life of this frail grandfather, whose own family neglects him horribly.

And then we received the news that one of the members of our afternoon Bible study group would not be able to attend because she was helping down the road with a family of four children, ages 10 years, 7 years, 4 years, and 9 months, whose mother had just passed away and whose fathers are not around.

I normally try to post “upbeat” messages, but sometimes the pain and the burden I feel spills over. I do not have the answers, but I know God does. And these situations propel me forward, day after day, with the urgency of sharing the love of Jesus.

And our compassionate God does hear our prayers. And He does encourage me.

This same day, one woman who has only recently started attending one of our groups and who frankly came with a bad attitude, was sharing in siSwati with some of the others, not realizing I could understand most of what she was saying. The gist was that in the short time since she's been attending our Bible study, she's realized that there is a difference between a church-goer and a Christian, and that now she has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.


“Here I am Lord, send me.”