Proverbs 16:9 "A man's heart devises his way: but the LORD directs his steps."
We are nearing the end of the first quarter of 2016, and I have only now started to see a bit of what our glorious Father's plan is for us this year.
The verse I quoted above, Prov 16:9, has been very practically illustrated for me in my and Michael's lives these last few months.
Near the end of 2015, when we knew that we might very well not receive WCF sponsorship for 2016, it was very difficult for us to "get our heads around" the idea of not continuing the projects we had then been working on for 4 years.
It became a time of intense reflection on and evaluation of all of the different projects we were involved in, as we knew that even if we both had to find conventional employment again we would still continue with as many of the projects as we could find time to. As such we prioritized the projects that had grown the most in terms of relationships built as that is, for us, is the link between outreach and effective preaching.
It was also quite a testing time as we were both tentatively job hunting in a country with an exceptionally high unemployment rate – as well as an affirmative action policy that makes it almost impossible for a white man to find work.
To come back to our Proverbs verse – "a man's heart devises his way". In our minds a reasonable solution to our dilemma was that Michael would find full time work with a salary that at least matched our current sponsorship, and I would remain at home to home school our daughters and then try to continue with the Crèche Teacher Training courses and the Skills Training Academy for Community Kids (STACK Classes) as best I could.
We worked really hard at making this happen – Michael went for several interviews with no success, and even I applied for a job, which I could have taken, except that it would have meant either uprooting our family and moving away from all our support structure, or spending close on 4 dangerous hours a day in travel time with my two young daughters.
We and our family (relatives as well as brothers & sisters in Christ) spent many hours in prayer, praying that our Father would indeed "direct our steps" and while we were waiting, help us to continue in faith.
And direct our steps He did!
In Oct/Nov last year we received confirmation that at least I would continue receiving sponsorship from WCF. I then also started a small home-based Montessori preschool (as I would be home schooling my daughters anyway) in the mornings. Shortly thereafter Michael found half-day work as a tutor at a home school assistance centre (Crossroads Christian Academy), although his salary was less than his sponsorship amount. This meant that we would still need to find another source of employment to cover our needs. A month or so later we learnt that he too would receive WCF sponsorship for this year – the amount sponsored exactly covering the shortfall in his salary!
As an aside – I do not believe in "coincidence". In Afrikaans the word for coincidence is "toevallig" which directly translates to "then the light fell" and for me that is God's light highlighting His work in our lives.
As the projects we had prioritized as the most necessary to continue all ran over the weekend or in the afternoons the fact that both Michael's work and my preschool was half day meant that we could continue all of them.
Of course it is only when one looks back that you really see how our magnificent God was creating a much bigger picture – one that only He was able to see at the time, and even now, one that we only manage to understand in part.
As wonderful as it was that we were able to meet our needs financially as well as continuing our outreach & preaching work this was just the beginning of His bountiful blessings.
The first "extended" blessing was that as the preschool I started had more enrolments I was able to provide one of our Youth members, who is currently studying the Montessori Method, with both gainful employment as well as valuable classroom experience time.
Another way that our "work" has benefitted our outreach efforts is that in setting up and running a preschool myself I have come into contact with several key persons that are able to also assist the teachers we are training in the Crèche Course with legalizing their preschools. I am also able to speak to them from more recent experiences and provide examples which reinforce the lessons we provide.
The next blessing we discovered during our first STACK Project Class. At these classes we first do our best to assist any of the children there with any projects & assignments they need help with, and also try to help them if they have work that they do not understand. We then do activities that develop various skillsets with them. Last year we found it really hard to effectively assist them with especially the math work that they struggled with, as we ourselves hadn't done that kind of math in about 10 years!
This year however, Michael is teaching this very math as part of his work at Crossroads Christian Academy! As such he knows exactly what they are busy learning & need to learn next, and can offer them really effective tutorship. This is the same for all of the subjects and grades that he teaches, and has added much value to our STACK Classes!
We have already had instances of members of the youth group stopping by the Adieu Centre, even on Saturdays, with a question, and leaving with a much more confident step!
A little further on in Proverbs 19:21 we read: "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand."
Looking to the rest of the year, we have many hopes, plans & dreams for the projects we are working in as well as the individuals we are continuing to build relationships with. I hope to soon also share the more practical details and photographs of our projects with you.
I can now, however, look back and know with absolute certainty that as long as we continue to seek our Father's guidance and trust that He is actively working in every detail of our lives, His purpose, immeasurable greater than ours, will prevail.
YOUR BROTHER AND SISTER IN CHRIST
Michael and Lilandi Furstenburg