Archive for October, 2010

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Songs of the children

When I wrote about our visit to the Mukhanyo Theological College, I mentioned that part of the chapel service was music from the children of the new Christian school on campus.

Mukhanyo Christian Academy is a faith-based K-12 private school serving AIDS orphans and vulnerable children in Mpumalanga, a poor region near Pretoria, South Africa. The academy offers free schooling, foster homes, daily meals, and healthcare and other services to some of South Africa’s most vulnerable children.

I wasn’t able to post videos then. So here now are the children of the Mukhanyo Christian Academy.

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Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Two weeks ago

Two weeks ago today was the opening ceremony at the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. The evening was filled with color and cultures. Here’s a taste:

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Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Praise him with the piano

As I mentioned earlier, there were a lot of Bethlehem people serving in many ways at Lausanne 2010 in Cape Town. One of them was Jason French, Pastoral Resident for Worship at our North Campus.

He was on the keyboard with the multicultural worship team. We could hear the powerful piano carrying the music along, although Jason himself usually was hidden behind the frontline singers. So I was glad that I could see more of him during one song. It was a reminder to thank God for the gifts he’s given the church through Jason and others who serve us for Christ’s sake.

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Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Home from South Africa

God brought us safely home from South Africa. We are brimming over with the experiences we had, the people we met, and the things we learned.

In the midst of unpacking, washing clothes, and recycling junk mail today, let me take advantage of a couple of posts at Pastor Sam Crabtree’s blog.

One is Talitha’s reflections after our visit to Mukhanyo Bible School, AIDS Clinic, and Day Care for orphans outside Johannesburg.

The other is what I wrote thinking about the impact of the first Lausanne Congress for World Evangelization. In particular, I’m remembering the effect of Lausanne 1974 on the ministry and life of Bill Piper, my father-in-law.

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Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Bethlehem presence at Lausanne 2010

In Cape Town, all around the convention center where Lausanne 2010 is meeting and in the nearby hotels are volunteers in African-style shirts that are identical except for color.

About 14 or 15 Bethlehem Baptist people are among that number, doing all sorts of support tasks–in the administration offices, in the media center, in the bookshop, in sessions taking notes to summarize the messages, greeting, ushering, directing crowd traffic. In other words, on call with dozens of other volunteers from around the world for whatever needs to be done.

Besides those crucial servants, at least 6 BBC people were official participants, and another 4 of us were guests.

I didn’t manage to get photos of everyone, but here are a few photos taken over several days.

I’m thanking God for brothers and sisters who are blessed by blessing others, at Lausanne 2010 and wherever God leads them.

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Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Pictures from Mukhanyo

I posted a few days ago about our visit to Mukhanyo Bible College, Aids Clinic, and orphan day care program. The photos are available now, if you’d like to see them.

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Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Mukhanyo and onward

Update: Pictures are posted now. And: the correct name of the AIDS clinic is Nakekela.

Update 2: Here is a video of the Mukhanyo Christian Academy children singing.

This past Wednesday morning, after a long drive through the countryside, we arrived at the chapel gathering of the Mukhanyo Theological College just in time to hear songs from the Chapel Choir and then from the children of the new Christian Primary School on the Mukhanyo campus.

Johnny gave the devotional: True love toward other people is the overflow onto them of our joy in God.

Afterward, we visited two other ministries that are part of the same organization as the Bible College.

First was the  Clinic that cares for 12 AIDS patients at a time. For some it is a caring hospice setting. For many it becomes a place for regaining strength and enough recovery to be able to return home. There is always a waiting list.

We met Busi, a woman who had been admitted recently. She lay curled on her side, her  thin body hardly making a rise in the bed covers. (It’s easy to see why people in some parts of Africa call AIDS by the nickname, “Slim.”)

When she nodded with her eyes that I could pray for her, I took her hand and asked God to give her strength and hope and faith in him. I told her I would pray for her even after we left. Writing about her here is another reminder to me. And perhaps you might add your prayer for Busi–with whatever desires God gives you for her.

From there we went to one of 5 day care centers the ministry sponsors for children who are orphans. Our car hadn’t even stopped before boys and girls were swarming out the gate to hold our hands and asking to be held. Most or all of them have distant relatives to stay with. But all, by eagerness or shyness or sassiness, stretched out toward someone who might show them love.

South Africa is one of the countries most affected by AIDS, so there are a growing number of children without relatives to turn to. For these children, the ministry is trying to recruit and train suitable Christian families to provide foster care.

Now to today. In a few moments we leave for the Sunday morning session of  the first ever Rezolution in South Africa.  Johnny will be preaching this morning. I hope to post some videos and photos. The music has been phenomenal–an infectious blend of cultures.

This afternoon we fly to Cape Town to be there in time for the opening ceremonies of Lausanne 2010. Please pray for us and thousands of Christians gathering from around the globe.

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Friday, October 15th, 2010


Yesterday, Talitha and I entered a heavy, sober, prison-like stone building. But not together. One of us passed under a sign that read “whites,” the other under “non-whites.” I haven’t seen signs like that in 50 years.

Nor are they elsewhere today here in Johannesburg. We were at the Apartheid Museum, trying to understand more about official policy established in the 1940s that labeled every South African as black, white, coloured or Asian. These groups  lived fairly separate lives before Apartheid, but now it was required by law.  The whites had the privileges; the non-whites had little.

I would be foolish and presumptuous to speak authoritatively on people and history which I know so little about. So I will just record some of my impressions and thoughts as we walked through the Apartheid Museum–impressions that weave together with my own history.

1. Old images of battles between the incoming Europeans and the native peoples of South Africa could just have well been images of battles between Native Americans and incoming Europeans.

2. The only mention of slavery that I heard or saw was of Europeans bringing slavery with them. In whatever ways that may have changed slavery, there was no acknowledgment that slavery already existed with Africans enslaving other Africans.

3. In the town I grew up in, the blacks and whites lived in separate parts of town, as they did here during Apartheid. In South Africa, it was dictated by law. In Georgia it was de facto.

4. Apartheid made it illegal to marry across color lines. That was true too in parts of the US.

5. I watched a video in which a politician argued for the establishment of Apartheid. He justifies it because of the need to protect “our future generations.” That stopped me in my tracks–the idea of one group of people deserving protection at the expense of all others. And yet, it was not a new idea and there are still people in my own country who feel the same way.

6. I had to ask myself, Which is worse? Europeans invading South Africa and subjugating the native peoples for more than a century? Or  Europeans invading America, subjugating the native peoples and also importing another group of people as slaves and later treating them too as inferiors? I find it difficult to balance one set of evils against another.

The event that is the symbolic landmark of the end of official apartheid was the election of Nelson Mandela as president in 1994. As Talitha and I left the museum, I put my arm around her shoulder, thinking: If we had lived in South Africa when Talitha was born or in the US only a few years earlier, she would not have been our daughter.

I am thankful that much has changed in South Africa and in America. And there is much to keep praying toward.

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Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Online in South Africa

We arrived in Johannesburg on Talitha’s 15th birthday.

On Sunday, we will fly down to Cape Town for the 2010 Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization.

In the meantime, we had a jetlag-recovery day and have begun some visit and ministry days in the Joburg area. More about that next time.

arriving in Johannesburg

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