Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sister Del Lea took Gauteng by storm.

Volunteers adding Value – Sister Deb Lea visits Johannesburg, South Africa. 
Over the course of the last few weeks we have been blessed with overlapping visits by Sisters Rachael Schaen & Deb Lea, both from the greater Cleveland area in Ohio. Both of these sisters were, we believe, literally a "God-send" in that their various skills, wisdom & experiences enabled them to add such incredible value to the many ongoing outreach & preaching programs & activities that we in Gauteng are responsible for. As Sister Rachael has already penned her thoughts and experiences herself I would like to just share some of the wonderful experiences we shared with Sister Deb - and perhaps elaborate on just how much of an impact her short visit (two weeks) had on the many lives she was able to touch. 
Jetlagged or not, Deb got straight to work in assisting myself, Rachael Schaen & Liezl Viljoen in presenting the Creche (Preschool) Teacher Training Course. We currently have three courses running - two at the Aphiwe Good News Center (presented by Leona Scheepers)  & one at the Tswelopele Good News Center - which meant that Deb would do  "back-to-back" sessions with the only time for lunch being in the car on her way to the next Center! Her many years of experience in the teaching field meant the attendees received valuable "tips" regarding their work with the children in their care, & we as presenters learned many new & better ways of sharing the information with the students!
Aphiwe Good News Center Creche Course: Explaining the importance of providing nutritious meals. 
Aphiwe Good News Center Creche Course 1 - we had to split the attendees into two courses so that everyone would fit! 
Tswelopele Good News Center Creche Course - explaining the importance of reading & sharing ways to make it both enjoyable & educational. 
As part of the CUDDLE Program we often host one-day seminars to the teachers that have completed the creche course, which focus on and provide more in-depth information about specific topics such as the "Praise & Participation for Positive Assessments" seminar that Rachael presented. Deb also presented such a seminar titled "PRESCHOOL BRAIN DEVELOPMENT: Teaching the right things at the right TIME". She also visited a school for mentally handicapped children where she showed the teachers how to use various Braingym exercises to increase the learning potential of their students. The teachers were very encouraged by the almost immediate results they could see in the children's listening and concentrating abilities & promised to continue with the exercises in future.
Continuing on the "outreach" front, the Homework Club kids greatly enjoyed the assistance & instruction Deb provided them with especially their math work. During her previous visit in 2013 she encouraged one of our students, Junior, to be more positive about his math skills - and he was very eager to show her how he has put those skills to work throughout the year she was away. We should never underestimate the power of a few encouraging words spoken in love.  
Homework Club - Tangram fun! 
On the "preaching" front Deb encouraged, enriched & enlightened so many - the members & youth at the Aphiwe Meeting, the members at the Kempton Park Meeting, the youth from the Yeoville Meeting, the kids at Saturday Bible Club, and the sisters from the Kempton Park & Johannesburg Meeting to mention just a few. Here are some of the bible classes that she presented: 
Over the two Saturdays that Deb was here she presented the Saturday Bible Club at the Tswelopele Good News Center. Using a book called Hope for the Flowers Deb shared with the children the imagery of the caterpillar turning into a butterfly - and how that applies to us spiritually. The kids loved the crafts that she had prepared for them as she was able to bring with her craft resources that are quite costly in South Africa. They made a caterpillar the first Saturday and both a craft butterfly and an edible butterfly the second Saturday.  
Saturday Bible Club - learning from the Scriptures. 
Saturday Bible Club - "Yellow" the caterpillar. 
Saturday Bible Club - Edible Butterflies and big smiles! 
Saturday Bible Club - spot Deb!
 On Wednesday mornings Deb led the sister's classes at either the Aphiwe Good News Center or at sister's homes. The sisters were encouraged through her object lesson on key ingredients for salvation and Godly living & the ladies at the Aphiwe Good News Center enjoyed the culminating activity of making their own chapattis! 
Aphiwe Good News Center Sisters Class - making Chapattis.  
Aphiwe Good News Center Sisters Class - making Chapattis - spiritual & physical education. 
The youth that attend the Preparing for Baptism class at the Aphiwe Good News Center also enjoyed the Chapatti ingredients object lesson as well as learning about the Jewish feasts - their origin, practicalities, New Testament application, as well as their possible prophetic applications. This was possibly the "deepest" study many of these youth members have engaged in and their active participation & keen concentration were proof of the value it held for them. Deb was also able to present this study at a Sisters Class which set a very high standard for the poor sister presenting the next one! 
The Aphiwe Youth learning about the Jewish Feast Days.
Perhaps the most ambitious of her undertakings was leading a Youth Study Day at the Aphiwe Good News Center, tackling some big issues including premarital sex, homosexuality, faithfulness in marriage, & Jesus' marriage - to mention a few! This was a marathon 5 hour study day - through God's grace Deb's voice stayed strong throughout. It was encouraging that the youth felt comfortable and safe enough to raise questions and participate in the discussions. There was much laughter, some tears, but by nightfall everyone left feeling encouraged & armed with useful decision making tools & tactics.  
Youth Study Day at the Aphiwe Good News Center - telling it as it is! 
Sister Deb both touched & taught many during her visit - changing each life through the power of God's Word & His love shown by the energy & compassion she brought to each new day. Even though it was with sadness that we bid her farewell we were encouraged by the idea that, God Willing, she will return next year - and bring along others wanting to work in His vineyard.
"He said to His disciples, "The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields."" (Mat 9:37-38)

With love in Christ
Lilandi Furstenburg

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Baptisms of Riziki, Anastazia, Kisanga, Promise and John.

The Water was BITTERLY cold but nothing was going to stop our new sisters and brother from taking the all important step of baptism. There was great joy to witness the baptisms after each of them gave wonderful testimonies of their faith. Riziki, Anastazia, Kisanga, Promise and John have been taking baptism classes with Bro. Paderi of the Congolese ecclesia in Pretoria for several months now and it was wonderful to hear of their convictions at their interviews. God's word is truly a power unto salvation.

Your brother by grace

Lucas Scheepers


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Puppet Ministry - Gauteng And then He told them, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone." (Mar 16:15)

This year we wanted to focus more on getting God's Word "out there". We have always felt that although we have neither the power nor the responsibility to "convert" anyone, we do have both the power AND the responsibility to expose everyone to God's Word. Similar to the farmer sowing seed on all the different types of ground - only God knows who the "fertile soil" will be.
In many ways we have been well "trained" for Puppet Ministry as Lilandi worked as a puppeteer for just over a year fresh out of high school, and Michael played leading roles in several theatrical productions during his time in high school and still enjoys doing lots of different "voices". Lilandi & her sister Liezl had also hosted a very successful "puppet roadshow" a few years back using smaller hand puppets.  Isn't it encouraging to look back and see how God was already at work in your life so many years ago - preparing you for something wonderful before you ever even imagined it?

So started our journey into puppet ministry. First of all we created the puppets:
(from left to right) Pam (the mom); Gogo (the gran); Wilson (the dad); Lihle (the older daughter); & Benni (the young son).
Here is a close up of Oupa (the soft-hearted grandfather).
And another close up of Gogo - a very spirited, fun granny!
These puppets are the ones that interact with the kids, and then we tell a bible story using paper characters: 
The story of Zacchaeus - Jesus, Crowd, Zacchaeus & tree.
Zacchaeus up in the tree.
Our first two shows were great learning experiences - mainly we learned that most kids are absolutely terrified of puppets! After that we made sure to take extra time beforehand to explain that there is nothing to be afraid of! We found that it helps if Lilandi touches the puppets to show the kids that they are harmless.
We also learned to add more "slapstick comedy" to the show as the language barrier makes verbal comedy fall flat. Often we have a teacher translate the show as we do it - which means the show takes quite a lot longer and places a lot of strain on Michael who has to work the puppets with his arms above his head!
"Meeting" Gogo.
We finish the show with an action bible song. With the Zacchaeus show we do " Jesus' love is bubbling over"
The "Love" action - isn't it cute how Benni can also do it!
The "hallelujah" action.
And here are some photo's of a few of our audiences:
If you were wondering, as the kids always do, what it looks like "behind the scenes":
The puppetmaster!

We are very excited about the response we have had to the shows so far - we have been invited back to every school, & have even been asked to perform at some of the schools' graduation ceremonies. We have also been invited to perform the show at a private "rich" preschool in town which may be a great opportunity to bring exposure to the Kempton Park Meeting and Sunday School.
We are currently practicing our second show which features the "loaves & fishes" story - with the "take home lesson" being about the importance of sharing.
With love in Christ
Michael & Lilandi Furstenburg