Thoughts on a new day (03-02-2014)
Welkom, Free State, South Africa
The first thought I had when I awakened at 4 a.m. on the day before my departure for “home, sweet home” was “Wow! I feel good! I feel rested!” God ministered restful sleep once again after a grueling day of teaching and then traveling six hours over some roads that even advertised, “Potholes ahead!” God has been so good to this servant. Into the Throne Room of Heaven I headed to kneel before the Father and say “thank you” and “I love You” and “I serve You gladly.” Then, “How can I ever praise You enough; You have done so much for me!”
As the years have advanced, I have found that Nehemiah 8:10 has often been my signature verse: “The joy of the Lord is [my] strength.” Also, Lamentations 3:23-24: “His mercies are new every morning.” I have been blessed this morning to hear our daughter Mona’s 2013 Easter cantata, which includes precious thoughts. “Let everyone bow before Jesus, the One and Only.” “He grew the tree that He knew would be used to make the Old Rugged Cross. He was crucified on the tree that He created.” “Amazing Grace, how can it be that .” "Let everyone bow to Jesus the One and Only!" The music is heavenly. Our two granddaughters, Jeanne and Emilee, are featured soloists. I could only bow and weep and thank God for a Son that died for my sins and was raised from the dead.
Then I listened to Steve Marks, one of my favorite songsters, sing “What would you have me do, Lord?” and “Our eyes are upon You, Lord.”
Sunday at Leslie’s church. On visits to South Africa, I look forward to Sunday morning at Leslie’s Thabong township church. Praise God, now they have a building of their own that stands out in simple structure and beauty, a testimony that God still accomplishes miracles. Our first ministry with this church was in a small tent that was erected every Saturday and taken down on Sunday evening. The congregation was mostly children. Leslie and Tabitha taught them to pray for their parents and now many adults join the children in making up a vibrant assembly of believers.
Leslie promised that we will end the morning service early so the people can get home, have lunch, and return for Prayer Seminar #13, the last seminar on this trip, that begins at 2 p. m. Invitations have gone out to many other churches. The only challenge is that the supply of prayer seminar workbooks from other years’ seminars is limited. We used all the prayer seminar workbooks in the North West & Northern Cape provinces that I brought with me.
The joy of serving! Since 1996, our work in South Africa has been mostly in Black townships, with indigenous congregations. The Black South Africans make up 85% of the nation’s population. The concept of “Lighthouses of Prayer” is one the believers take seriously. I was particularly touched by two closing remarks. One was a pastor in Carltonville in the North West Province. He said he had learned many new things and ways about prayer that he intended to use in his personal life and then teach his people. Then he held up the Prayer Seminar Workbook saying that within the cover of that workbook were remarkable, basic teachings that were well organized. He promised that he would be using it as a tool to teach the purpose and power of prayer. The other was the pastor’s wife in Stellasetlagole. Six had just professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. The unction of the Holy Spirit was upon this moment in a special way. She said that they were going to be Lighthouses of Prayer and intended to plant lighthouses to penetrate the spiritual darkness all over their large “village,” which is organized around many chiefs. She said, “We are ready and equipped to be people of prayer.” On this trip, there have been seminars in Black townships adjacent to Alberta, Carltonville, Rustonburg, Bloemhof, Hartswater, Schweizer-Reneke, Christiana, Pampierstad, and Stellasetlagole (a “village” that includes many chiefs/tribes covering a large geographic area). There have been twelve seminars (one mini-two-hour seminar, two leaders’ seminars, and nine full seminars). The one scheduled today in Welkom is Prayer Seminar #13.
Hundreds have attended using up all our workbooks; sixty-one made professions of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. The people rejoiced. After each seminar, many photos were snapped. “One more” was the usual word. It is a joy to serve God’s children and the churches.
QwaQwa prayer seminars. Malloy, Leslie’s assistant who travels with us, is from QwaQwa, a large area in eastern Free State that borders Lesotho, home a million people living in many, many villages scattered over a very large geographical area. Malloy has felt the call of the Lord to go to all the villages and teach the prayer seminar. A church has already scheduled a seminar for next Sunday, March 9. As we go to the airport tomorrow, we hope to discuss this possibility with Leslie. Malloy said, “we must see the principles of prayer you are teaching will continue until Jesus returns to earth.”
The joy of teaching! My friend, the late Dr. Leslie Flynn, long-time pastor of the Grace Conservative Baptist Church, Nanuet, New York and journalism professor at Nyack College, wrote a highly acclaimed book, The Nineteen Gifts of the Spirit.” I cherish an autographed copy that he presented to me. Several seminar professors have told me that this is the best book on the subject. One of the gifts is teaching. A lady came to me following a prayer seminar long ago saying, “You have the gift of teaching.” Hopefully, she is correct.
Whatever, there is joy in teaching for me far beyond any other work I have pursued (pastor, college administrator, college president, executive-director of a Christian accrediting agency) or simply sitting in a pew. My goal is to keep teaching as long as God gives me health and opens doors. Paul used an expression that is apt to what I am feeling on this beautiful Sunday morning in Welkom, Free State, South Africa where the birds are singing and the breeze is gentle. He said, “this one thing I do …” (Philippians 3:13). Regardless of what comes and goes, I have placed myself into His hands “to teach and to preach the things pertaining to the Lord Jesus Christ.” Hallelujah!