RAY & SUE LOWE – Final Updates on our South Africa Visit 2018

May 10, 2018 | NEWS FROM THE NATIONS, Ray, VISITING THE NATIONS

We are now back home in the UK after some 10 weeks visiting our friends in the Regions Beyond churches in South Africa.  For the last 5 weeks we have been based in Muizenberg, a coastal resort south of Cape Town.
A beautiful place famous for its surfers who can be seen enjoying the huge waves most days.  The water is very cold, some 13 degrees C so wetsuits are the order of the day.  Above the beach on the mountain road, shark spotters keep a keen eye out and sound the alert if a hungry predator is spotted.  Shark attacks are few but safety is wise.  Water has been in short supply here, the worst drought for 100 years, virtually no rain to speak of for 3⅟₂ years and warnings that Cape Town could be the first city ever in modern times to run out of water.  Rationing is strictly observed by most responsible citizens.  Showers are short and buckets store up the shower water to flush the loos and cleaning your teeth is now an art so very little water is wasted.  Some limit a shower to every other day and it’s a matter of in and out within 2 minutes!  It’s not unusual to see people with large containers queuing at standpipes.  Sue and I purchased 90 liters of water before we arrived in Muizenberg so we have played our part.

 

These last few days the winter rains have started and even some roads were flooded.  Just before we arrived, Angus Buchan gathered some 100,000 of his mighty men to pray for rain in Mitchell’s Plain, just outside Muizenberg. Mitchell’s Plain is a township is known for violence, crime, and gang warfare but while the men were praying there were no incidents reported at all!  Golf and cricket clubs are suffering but the golf club Sue and I have enjoyed has 16 boreholes so the greens and fairways are lush and members take advantage of the showers to clean up after a round of golf.  We take so much for granted in the 21st century!

Well there may be a shortage of rain here but in the Cape Town churches, there is no shortage of God’s presence, good leadership and church members growing in their faith and reaching out to their communities sharing the wonderful gospel of Jesus

We have been based at the Bay City Church in Muizenberg ably led by a good friend Sheldon and his team of staff and many volunteer workers.  I preached for them on 2 Sundays, the last in 2 days time but much time has been spent with their wider leadership teams.  Using some of the material from my “If Only I’d Known” conference about 40 of us worked through what it really means to be a mature Christian and how to produce that in others.  They enjoyed these evening as I shared biblical principles with many stories (some funny, others quite tragic) from 40 years of pastoral ministry.  To be honest, I love doing this and if I spent the rest of my days doing this in different contexts, I would not complain.

Our second Sunday in Cape Town I preached at Urban Voice in Somerset West now led by Daniel Linders who has recently taken over leadership of the team from Gary Welsh who is now exercising a wider ministry serving churches, especially in India and Zambia.  You may recall Gary was attacked by a pack of rabid dogs on a morning run in India last year and thankfully is now fully recovered.  Anyway, Sue and I enjoyed another Spirit and grace-filled time of worship with what I call Urban Voice 1.  What impresses me about all the Regions Beyond churches in Cape Town in that they are seriously involved with their communities especially in mercy ministries which range from a “baby bank” where unwanted babies can be deposited and adopted!  2 years ago Sue and I just happened to be around when a mother and her 20-year-old daughter were reunited for the first time since the mother had deposited her newly born daughter some 20 years before.  What a moment!  There is much abortion here and the churches offer another way, care until the baby is born and then finding good adopting parents as well as aftercare for the mother who grieves after giving her child away.

Well, the following Sunday we went to the races, well not quite but to visit Hope Church, a church planted out from the Bay City Church with Jeff and Viv Kidwell, meeting in a beautiful setting at Durbanville race course.  There are race meetings as well as other events held there.  I spoke on “The ultimate purposes of God” from Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church.  The morning was tinged with sadness as Viv was unable to be with us.  The cancer has flared up again after 2 years respite and she is desperately ill and so needs our love and prayers.  Jeff led so well when his thoughts were so much with his dear wife Viv.  Please do not neglect to pray for them and the family at this time.

 

Wesley & Danelda van Graan moved some 7 miles from Somerset West to Gordon’s Bay 2 years ago to start a new church called Urban Voice.  Wesley had been with Gary Welsh serving as a leader in Urban Voice Somerset West where around 30 members were from Gordon’s Bay and they made up the core group of the church plant.  Sue and I had spent 6 weeks living there a few years ago and it was good to renew fthe riendship.  I preached for them the next Sunday and the meeting place was packed, this core group had grown 4 times its original number.  We were so impressed with Wesley’s pastoral care and thoroughness as he led the service which consisted of prophetic contributions, tongues and interpretation as well as Scripture read and shared.  The whole family was edified as it should be.  Time was not of the essence and the Holy Spirit was given room and time to strengthen and encourage the church.  Some 14 new members were brought into the family and Wesley read to them a well put together statement which consisted of how the leadership would care, protect and serve Christ’s family in Gordon’s Bay.  The new members responded with a statement of their desire to be good servants of Jesus in the church and in the local community.  I asked Wesley to give me a copy of this document which was clear, thorough and practical.  I preached on my favourite proverb “Money is like manure, in a pile it stinks but spread around it does a lot of good”.  It hasn’t got into the Old Testament yet but I’m working on it or as Paul says “See to it you excel in the grace of giving” 2 Corinthians 8v7.

Since living there they have developed a thriving furniture business using old wine barrels.  Here’s photos of Simon chatting with Ray about how the factory operates one of their garden swings made in their factory which employs folk from the township in Bredasdorp and other locals.
Since living there they have developed a thriving furniture business using old wine barrels.  Here’s photos of Simon chatting with Ray about how the factory operates one of their garden swings made in their factory which employs folk from the township in Bredasdorp and other locals.
I said we wanted to link them up with the Bay City Church in Muizenberg and especially Anton, his wife Elena and Steven Morris who head up the thriving mercy ministries under the name of Sozo.  Well, we did it and I believe this will be very beneficial for all concerned.

Sozo has recently opened a training programme teaching building and construction skills to young people from the township.  To think the guy who runs this programme was once a gangster who was wonderfully converted to Christ and now serves his community in this project.

Students Before and After

            First Aid Training

First aid training with a Resusci Annie and having fun.  They are trained in case of an accident in the   Workshop and to use in their township if the need arises

 The Bakery Business

The latest Sozo project is a bread and cake baking business that sells to local shops and restaurants.

Sue and I again were so impressed with what Sozo has and is achieving.  They have recently been approached by government authorities requesting their help to model this in other townships, they even specifically mentioned Bredasdorp where Simon & Emily live so who knows what this will lead to.

Our last Sunday (29th April) was spent with the Bay City Church.  What an end to a wonderful 10 weeks in South Africa.  Sheldon and his worship band led us in worship into the presence of God.  I actually wondered whether I would get around to preach such was God’s presence.  I thought afterwards that in each church we have worshipped with, God’s presence has been quite awesome (a word I don’t use too often!) and realised that I shouldn’t be surprised by this, Jesus must be thrilled as he sees his church in Cape Town living out their faith in such tangible ways.  I did preach from Ephesians on the God who is rich in mercy.  Easy to preach in a God-filled atmosphere.

So home we’ve come but an added pleasure was to meet up with our old friends from Biggin Hill, Paul & Fran Heather, Emily’s parents, who with Simon & Emily emigrated to South Africa 12 years ago.  They were on the same plane as us visiting friends in the UK.

Well, that’s it from us for now, some time in the UK and then from September until November in the NW USA and maybe some time in Mexico.

God bless,

Your friends Ray & Sue