July 2007 Prayer Letter

Monday, July 16th, 2007 by Dave Marttunen

We returned from our trip to South Africa on the Friday evening of July 6, so we are nicely adjusted back to life in Canada.  Both Donna and I seem to find less jet-lag flying west than east.  Our trip has the finger-prints of the Lord all over it as our plans changed and adapted to His will.  We were joined by five others from Central Baptist, Victoria, who were our Team in Stinkwater South Africacommitted to serve the Lord in the rural township of Winterveldt, north of Pretoria.  The team included Blair Staples, Helen Reid, Jennifer Emry, Sharon Horton and Lisa Anderson.

Shortly before we left in mid June, our team learned that the land use of Winterveldt had transitioned from informal to formal status.   This means that a council in the area now determines all land use and registers it formally.  The piece of land on which we were to build our permanent brick structure is part of a larger parcel that has been given by the new council to a land developer.  An implication of this is that the land that had been designated for our community center could be exchanged for another piece entirely.  The uncertainty of the land use required that we delay building a permanent structure.  However, we also learned that a temporary center must be erected so that the council in Winterveldt area would know we were serious about meeting community needs.  Credo Mangayi our BUSA partner, who leads Deeds of Love Minstry inOur African team coordinator Credo Mangayi South Africa coordinated our team.  Our partners in South Africa Petrus Vorster leads our building projectrose to the opportunity and donated materials and help in the person of Pastor Petrus Vorster.

As the local council sorts out the land use in the township and our project is given a parcel of land, we plan to send a Canadian team to build a permanent structure with funds raised by Central Baptist Church, Victoria.

On this trip Blair and Dave worked with Petrus, two young volunteers; Bogwane and Kyhoso, and a hired construction worker; James, from Stinkwater.   As the men built the temporary building (shack church), the women visited nearby homes along with Ethel, the resident worker. The outcomes amazed us. Working in the dust we screwed and end of the second day all the roof trusses are in placewired together a building that would meet needs in the community.  With a staggering 20% HIV/AIDS infection rate, alcohol and drug use, endemic poverty and all the social chaos that ensues from this volatile mixture, our women’s team visited and served with a growing sense of God’s purpose in the community.  Over 72 homes were visited by the women’s team.  On most weeknight evenings all of us attended cottage meetings in the homes of local believers who invited neighbors and friends to join them.  The singing and testimonies honored God as they deeply affected our hearts.  We also led a holiday club with over 125 children attending the Friday and Saturday sessions.  At two kids bible school proudly showing craftsSunday services, in Winterveldt many indicated a desire to grow deeper in their faith.  We were especially encouraged as we prayed for men, since we observed their absence not only in the Church but from any leadership in the community, (this is likely a legacy from the apartheid years).  On the last Sunday we saw 3 men and 1 woman responded to The service starts at 930am and ended after 12.receive Christ.  How exciting to see witness a specific answer to a specific prayer.

We stayed for the two weeks in a home in Stinkwater which met our needs completely.  We each had a bed supplied along with linens and each night we had a meal cooked by a team of women from the host Church.  Laughter filled the room as we shared stories and teased each other freely.  God gave our team a rich bond.

The needs of South Africa overwhelm and frustrate North Americans.  There are so many asked and unanswered questions.  Joining together to advance church based holistic care is a key response to the huge needs in Africa.  Orphans are cared for by extended family and community.  Widows are loved in practical ways by those who speak their own language and know their hurts.  The community sees God’s people in action and has a lasting legacy of empowerment and hope through the specific centers that are established and resourced.  We left shocked at what we saw but encouraged by what we saw happen and through what we left behind.  The gospel demonstrated through practical deeds is a powerful witness.  Preaching and teaching accompanied the works which were graciously received even as they were lovingly given.

We have come home thankful to God for what we were able to do, and convinced that many others can join together with our South African partners to do similar work.

We had key meetings with our BUSA partners when our team returned to Canada.  As in our Canadian Fellowship there are significant transitions happening.  We appreciate you standing with us as we work to strengthen our partnership in this needy area of the world.  There are opportunities in neighboring Zambia, and Congo as well as elsewhere in South Africa.  We are continuing to explore all these possibilities.

Prayer and Praise:

  1. Give thanks with us for the blessings of our recent time in South Africa, asking God to preserve the harvest and strengthen our FEBI partnership in that country.
  2. Ask the Lord to use us as we participate in our FEBI missions institute in Ontario July 23-27, Dave is speaking and we are presenting a workshop to our missionaries.
  3. Ask the Lord to direct us as we plan trips to the Middle East in October.
  4. Pray with us as we extend care and engage resources to support our missionary families.
  5. Pray with us as we explore further mission opportunities in Africa with our BUSA partners.

Warmly in Christ,
Dave and Donna Marttunen

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