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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kesentseng

Just about 1 mile down the dirt road from The Pines is a squatter camp known as #7. This camp houses about 250 people in 49 tin shacks. Alcoholism is a large problem affecting the people that live here. While they have no amenities that modern civilization would enjoy, such as running running water, sewer, electricity, or trash services, they do enjoy bi-weekly delivery by the beer truck.
One of our children, Kesetseng (pictured top left) comes from this village. A pair of sisters, Kara & Kathryn Bailey were here on short term missions work. While here, they ministered to this village, and during their visits, they became concerned about the welfare of Kesetseng and her 1 year old sister. The mother was constantly inebriated and was neglecting the two girls.
Typically, all our children come to us through the Social Development Dept., however, the situation became so severe that we had to take the two girls and notify a social worker ourselves.
When we told the social worker, she was surprised that there was anyone living in the #7 area at all. They didn’t even know the village existed.
We have had Kesetseng since March, and we just took her sister in as well. She had been living at a facility that specializes in caring for neglected infants. It is unclear at this point how long we will be allowed to keep the girls. The social worker is supposed to be working with the mother to ensure she is equipped and able to take the girls back, but due to the living conditions and the mother’s alcohol abuse, we are not sure the timeframe involved.
As we continue to attempt to reach this village with the message of God’s love and grace, we try to show them as well. Recently, we had to remove some dead trees from The Pines property. We loaded up the trailer with wood and with our kids and drove back to #7.
After everyone gathered to the center of the village to get the firewood, we used the opportunity to share the Gospel. POG Team 6 was able to do the drama, and afterward I explained the message of eternal life while one of our girls, Rafiloe, interpreted.
Several people said they understood the message, but at times like this, it is difficult to determine sincerity. We have learned the people here have an ability to tell you what you want to hear if they think it’s to their benefit. Pray that God will allow continued follow-up. He sees the heart and knows who believes in Him. Good works won’t earn Heaven, but they are a result of a changed heart that loves Him.

Missionary Story

The following story was related to me by Bob Schultz, a friend of ours who used to be a missionary in France. Apparently, the story in our last update of the outreach at the flea market jolted his memory. He's getting pretty old, so his memory needs to be jolted from time to time. The following is the unedited version of the story as he sent it to me:

"The first time I went to our twice weekly open market in La Garde, France and
the person in charge of collecting the fee for a stand (based on its size) saw me
there, he did not know how much to charge me (I was between the cabbage
vendor and the olive vendor). He said he would check with the (Communist) mayor
and collect from me four days later at the Friday open market. Friday came, as did
the fee collector. He got to my stand (stacked high with a tower of Bibles and an
open Bible for people to pick up and read for themselves) and just walked right
past. I ran to catch up with him and said, "Wait, you didn't collect a fee from me."
He replied that the Mayor had said not to charge me anything. The following
Monday I visited City Hall and asked to speak with the Mayor. I was escorted to
his office and I told him that he had created a real problem for me by not allowing
me to pay a fee for my market stand. He asked how that could possibly be a problem.
I told him that I would have to report back to our supporting churches that part of our
ministry was subsidized by the Communist Party. He laughed until tears ran down his cheeks.
After that, we had a very good relationship and I was able to go door to door once a year
while others (Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.) were denied authorization. And, I
never had to pay a fee for my market stand.
There are a few follow ups to that story.
One of them is the Communist mayor told me he read the Bible.
I replied (in French), "Oh, I see."
The mayor said you replied like you don't believe me!
I knew I had put myself in a difficult situation.
So, I honestly said, "I was just accepting what you said as a politician speaking.
I didn't know a Communist mayor would read the Bible."
He replied that he had a Bible in his desk drawer in his office in City Hall and one
on his night table by his bed.
He must have seen the questioning look I had and opened his desk drawer and
took out a Bible!
Years later we left France and came back to the US permanently.
Ten years after our return to the US, Slater Baptist Church sent Liz and me to France
on a three week short term missions trip. While in France, I paid a visit to the
Communist mayor (he was still mayor of that communist town of about 30,000 people).
When I walked into his office, he greeted me and then, with a twinkle in his eye, he
opened his desk drawer and pulled out a Bible!
We prayed for Monsieur le Mayor DelPlace for years and I trust that the seed of the Word
of God was planted in good soil and I hope I see him in heaven!
Sorry to bore you with stories from an old man's past."
-Robert Schultz

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Kids Classes

Recently, we started training classes for the older kids here at The Pines. Our long-term goal is to raise these children to be able to effectively contribute to their communityhere and impact this continent with the message of Jesus Christ. Two evenings per week we meet with the kids. One night we cover issues of theology, like where the Bible came from, how we know it's true, who Jesus is, etc... The second evening we read them stories about men and women in the past who have served God.Of course, the issue of heaven and hell comes up frequently in our discussions. Many of the children here understand that Jesus died to take the punishment for our sins, and many have already asked Him to save them. We want to be sure they truly understand, and are not just parroting things they learn from us. of this, I asked them to find me sometime within the next week and tell me their story of how they came to understand that they need Jesus to save them.
I asked this on Thursday night (today is Saturday). So far, three of the older girls have sought me out and told me their stories. One of the girls, Okuhle, wanted to make sure I understood what she was saying, so she decided to write it down. I will copy it word for word, so you all can see what she said: "One day we go to church with us! and Pastor George told us about God and he seys you suppose to be born again so we can go to heaven and then I believe that God, He died on the cross four our sin and I pray to Jesus to live in my heart
but now I believe that God, He died on the cross for our sin in 2007, March 16 day.
Gold is for Heaven
Red is for the Blood of Jesus
White means a pure heart
Black is for our sins

From: Soboyise (her surname)
To: Uncle Loui"

(Photos from top to bottom: Rafiloe, Okuhle, Dieketseng)