20/20 Vision

Trust in the Lord and do what is right! Settle in the land and maintain your integrity! Then you will take delight in the Lord, and he will answer your prayers. Commit your future to the Lord! Trust in him, and he will act on your behalf.

Psalm 37:3-5

Not long ago, I laid in bed, reflecting on God’s faithfulness to us. These words came to my mind. Actually, only the last verse, “Commit your future to the Lord! Trust in him, and he will act on your behalf.” Only in the morning, when I searched for these words, did I read the first few verses of the psalm. Without necessarily being aware of these particular step-by-step-like instructions, we feel like we have obediently followed them and been blessed by our gracious God acting for us.

  1. Trust in the Lord. Long before we left the States, the Lord pressed it on us that we must trust and hand these things over to Him. We must not force support and finances to come together. We must not attempt to use clever technique and persuasive attempts to expediate the process. 
  2. Do what is right. As ministry opportunities increased for us stateside, we found ourselves having a conversation about whether we could continue to be faithful in “doing our part” in support raising and partner development, making phone calls and setting up meetings. We had growing discipleship and evangelistic relationships, multiple bible studies and couples counseling and we no longer could do both with excellence. We decided to be faithful to our local church and our ministries. We stopped applying our time and energy to support raising and partner development, giving it to the Lord. “Lord, if you want us in South Africa, we trust you will make it happen. We see you are working all around us, we will be faithful here. Glorify yourself. Your will be done.”
  3. Settle in the land. For us, I am not sure that transition could have possibly been smoother. But as we followed the above two steps, the way was prepared and the time to leave in February came quickly. The “settling” and establishment of our new “normal” felt fairly unremarkable. We were quickly able to sort out phones, open bank accounts, and purchase vehicles with lots of help from our missionary and local church family here. We were told acclimation and adjustments to culture and life could take as long as a year, and one should accept that it may be this long before you are serving and participating in ministry. God puts many things in place for us, much quicker than we anticipated.  
  4. Maintain your integrity. Perhaps one of the first times our integrity was tested was when we were driving through a very busy, and unfamiliar area. With cars parked on each side of the road, and attempting to reverse out of a tight space, I backed into and dented a car on the side of the road. The car guard “helping” to guide me quickly came to my window. “Look, no one saw it, give me fifty rand and go.” I paused. Temptation. Just weeks into a new country and culture. At this point, no proper car insurance. Uncertainty and a bit of fear regarding the process of legally sorting through the implications of this accident. I glance around. Now more of the many people walking the busy streets nearby are looking our direction. The guard tries to reassure and asks again for a bribe and he won’t say anything and we can be on our way. “I can’t. I need to do what’s right.” He refused to help as I sought a pen and paper and wrote a note apologizing and leaving my contact information on the windscreen. From an instance like this and others, we have committed on the Lord’s timing and praying that we would not force our desires from where we lived to what ministries we have invested in.
  5. Then you will take delight in the Lord. This isn’t an instruction, it is the result of the instruction. And the Lord has made this abundantly true. He has brought us such delight and joy as we have watched Him unfold His plans before us and take all the glory He desires for them.
  6. He will answer your prayers. We prayed for Him to lead and open the doors, make it obvious where He wanted us to go and what He wanted us to do. We had one house application, of many, accepted. We were asked to join in areas of ministry in which we happen to be both passionate and gifted by God. Thank you, Lord!
  7. Commit your future to the Lord. After the truth in the first 6 points, why would you do anything otherwise. He is the Faithful One. He is committed to glorifying Himself and working everything together for the good of those who love Him. His devotion, love and power has been displayed through the atoning work of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection 3 days later. If you haven’t surrendered to the One who created all, cares deeply for you, offers you a gift of peace with God through salvation regardless of what you’ve done, and promises you hope and blessings abundant as His child, please repent and come home to the Father!
  8. Trust in Him. Louder for the people in the back! One more time the psalmist reminds us to trust. It’s a reiteration but feels like even more than repetition. These last two almost act as summary statements. If one trusts in the Lord; you will obey Him, doing what is right in each situation. One’s obedience will produce joy and delight in God and His good instruction for us. This makes it all the easier for us to put further trust in Him as He answers prayers and acts for us. It’s like continuing the cycle of trust, obedient action, joy and God’s work. 
  9. He will act on your behalf. All the true desires and needs of humans cannot be fully met without God. We thirst for unconditional love. We need to connect with the Source of Life that created us. We may only be wholly fulfilled and wholly satisfied in relationship, function, meaning and purpose when we have repented and returned to the embrace of Father through the sacrifice of the Son on the cross and have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to live the life He made us for. It is all the work of God and has always been. Both for our salvation, justification and for our daily sanctification. He can be trusted and He can handle every weight we carry. Jesus reminds us that our good Father in Heaven knows what we need. Therefore, pursue his kingdom and his righteousness, and all the other things will be given to us as well (Matthew6.25-34).

Now, while trusting in the Lord and being obedient to His commands, we commit our future to him. Here are a few ways you can pray with us as we make our plans and surrender to the Lord’s direction…

Planting Churches

Our Wednesday Bible study

As we wrap up one year in South Africa, we have formed some great and growing relationships with neighbors in our community. As we currently live to the west of Somerset West and nearer to the village of Macassar and Croydon, we are in a quickly developing area with thousands of homes and thousands more being built. As far as we know, there are less than five churches ministering in this area. In partnership locally with Mountain View Baptist Church, we hope to gather a new group, evangelistic in nature, in our home to study the Word of God. We pray to see a new church planted and we hand over all these efforts and relationships to the Lord for His glory. 

Making Disciples

Lauren and friends at Mountain View Ladies’ event

Even in this past year, between intentionally seeking discipleship relationships and simply being asked directly to disciple some, we have our lives full of the rich privilege to continue the Great Commission. That being said, we can always be more intentional and more invested in this great work. 

We plan to continue leading our home bible studies, while seeking to create a campus ministry of Mountain View to Stellenbosch, home to Stellenbosch University and its 30,000 students. Mountain View has a number of students on campus and we would love to encourage and sharpen them to reach their friends. 

This year in the Ministry Training Centre, I will be teaching through Christian Disciplines, The Local Church, Biblical Leadership and Intro to Missions with the second-year students. 

It is also our hope and prayer this year, to develop a trade and ministry school. This would bring together the program of the Ministry Training Centre with a skills development program. Initially, we could launch this program with a barista training course (my stateside background) because of our coffee shop. Due to the great need for skills development and job creation, this could be an incredible opportunity to provide employable skills and equip disciples to minister wherever God leads them. 

Developing Communities

Preparing to open up Summit Coffee Culture at Mountain View Baptist Church

At the moment, we manage and run a coffee shop which has provided us great opportunities to connect with our neighbors within the reach of Mountain View Baptist Church. This year, we hope to train others to manage this space while opening it further for reaching the community. Lauren would love to develop a ministry to mothers in the form of a “play café,” and we would love to host monthly events, free for the community to enjoy a film, board games, a concert or any number of other ideas and services. 

It happens to be that our neighborhood is seeking to build a coffee shop for the community. If it’s the Lord’s will, we may just be planting a church and opening another coffee shop on the other side of town! 

We commit all of it to the Lord, trusting that He knows better than us and that He loves our community and these people more than us! May He guide and direct our every effort for His glory!

Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. (1Peter4.11)

P.S. Link to my sermon from 29 December at Mountain View is here. Thank you to the many who prayed. Myself and many others were challenged deeply.