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This past May one of the Bishops in our fellowship of churches in South Africa passed away after a short illness. While there was some preparations made for the church and leadership in the event of the senior pastors passing, the ministry was not fully prepared for the earthly departure of Bishop Joe Mokwena. And after my May visit to Potchefstroom, at the advice of Bishop Nelson Haines in Durban I felt it necessary to return before the close of 2015.
The sole visit for the December trip was to visit with the ministry leaders and church family to encourage them. One thing I continued to hear throughout my week visit there was knowing that New Life is “here to support us” gave them the strength to continue on despite the grieve and pain they feel after loosing such a devoted and involved husband, father, and spiritual father.
This time of support was an extreme learning experience for me, being that I don’t have an extensive record in the ministry of comfort and encouragement in this area. That ministry that my parents have both been praised for seems to fathom for me, while I’ve tried in the past I can’t say offering compassion and comfort has been one of those things that comes easy for me. None the less, it was a blessing and a huge relief when the host, Pastor Mario, said to me on Sunday evening that he enjoyed me and the time shared more than any other visit. And that this visit really encouraged and strengthened him. While I’m sure I have a long ways to go, I’m encouraged to know that the purpose of the mission was fulfilled in many ways.
There was one thing about this trip that I can’t say I enjoyed as much as I thought I would…the heat. God please be merciful to me during summer months! Preaching in a building that has no central AC and very small windows, with an outside temp that is in the 90s…for me it is a sacrifice of will. The more I travel and the longer I live, I’m convinced messages are not meant to be any longer than 20-30 minuets. Whoever started 1 hour or more messages must not have preached in a sauna, lol.
According to the members of Grace Tabernacle, they said I really preached. Hmmm, so I guess that means I’ll be shortening my message time from now on…
There were several things planned for our time in Potch, but time and preparation did not allow everything to be done. But the most important thing was accomplished, spending time with the pastoral staff and helping to guiding them in the coming year, visiting with Mother Mokwena, and ministering on Sunday morning. It was a delight to see that even after the passing of Bishop Mowkwena and a few set backs, the ministry is still going on, new people are coming, and the younger generation has been encouraged to step up and get to work. Thank you so much for your prayers during this mission trip.
Well, I’m on board my flight to Atlanta and then it’s on to South Africa this evening. As I look at other passengers on my Delta flight, many have on coats, sweaters, other fall slightly winter clothing. Just about everyone is appropriately dressed for the weather once they arrive to Atlanta or their other domestic destination.
Despite the comfortable climate of the plane, the passengers are smart enough to know that the air outside once they reach their destination may not be so. Therefore, they are dressed accordingly.
Once I arrive in South Africa I will be greeted by a different season than the one I will leave behind in the States. I will find myself on the first day of December feeling the summer evening warmth that is embracing the southern hemisphere. Non of my winter clothing will be suitable for the warm and sometimes hot sun of summer.
While I’m used to packing warmer clothing when I head to South Africa, this time I had to pull out those cool white linens, that are now forbidden during the American fall and winter season.
I’m having to adjust to a drastically different season. While all of my family and close friends back home will wear sweaters, jackets, and coats (for those on the East Coast and Midwest), I’ll wear comfortable summer clothing, t-shirts and linen bottoms.
The moral of this simple illustration is that despite the church cliché of “your season is changing” and “God is taking you into a new season”, there may be a new season coming but 1. It’s not always the one we want and 2. Everyone will not be in the same season.
Things may get better for some, while things seem to get worst for others. We can’t compare our seasons to the person seated next to us. In fact, we can’t figuratively dress the same way as everyone one else, because our seasons may require a different type of “material” than that of someone else’s season.
So, as believers we must learn to be understanding of those who are in their fall and winter. Don’t jump to conclusions of what is going on in their life. Like wise, don’t be envious of those who are in their spring and summer season. We all go through changing seasons at some point. If it’s winter, spring and summer is sure to come. If it’s summer, prepare because fall and winter will come.
The greatest time to get involved in mission is when we are young. If we start in our youth, we will carry that passion for people with us for the rest of our life.
Mission isn’t about going to another country and sharing the good news of Jesus’ love and redemption power. No, it’s about sharing Jesus Christ with the people we see every day. And sometimes even a believer in Jesus needs to be reminded of God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
Let’s live out our mission today in the mission field God has given us TODAY!