Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ranch Hands

As I mentioned earlier, Living Hope is hosting Holiday Club, aka Vacation Bible School, in the various communities where we work. At Red Hill, we’ve been working with the younger group (ages 10 and under) in the mornings and the older ones in the afternoon. Both groups are using a cowboy-themed curriculum, “Saddleridge Ranch.” After trying to manage 100 or so kids everyday, I feel like I’ve been out ropin’ cattle like a real cowboy. But we’ve all enjoyed ourselves, and most importantly, those 100 kids have heard the Good News of God’s Kingdom each day. Below are a few images from Holiday Club in Red Hill.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Festive Day

Ubuntu Sports Outreach is a ministry that seeks to reach underprivileged Cape Town kids through soccer. It was started by an American, Casey Prince, who with his wife, Sarah, moved here from Raleigh, North Carolina a year ago. Yesterday was Ubuntu’s first large-scale event, the One Valley Festival, a family-friendly event designed to bring together people from the Fish Hoek Valley’s black, white and coloured communities. Casey hopes to make it an annual happening. Based on yesterday’s festivities, which hundreds attended, it’s off to a good start. Mzo and I brought a team of under-11 players, pictured below.

Spring Breakin’

It’s Spring Break for South African schools, which means it’s again time for Holiday Club, Living Hope’s version of Vacation Bible School. As it does every September, Nashville’s Brentwood Baptist Church has sent a team and a VBS curriculum to help us stage the event at each of our children’s clubs. This year’s theme is “Saddleridge Ranch,” where we’ll be “roundin’ up questions and drivin’ home answers” about God. Pictured here is the team with our Life Skills Education staff as we practiced one of the worship songs for the week. Stay tuned for photos and highlights from the program in Red Hill.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Water is a funny thing. It’s the primary ingredient in our physical makeup. We need it on a daily basis to stay alive. Yet it can just as easily bring destruction, illness and death (e.g., hurricanes, floods, contamination).

A few years ago I was hiking in the Georgia mountains when I got caught in a thunderstorm. As I huddled under a rhododendron bush, I had absolutely no need for water. Yet there it was, coming down in buckets and soaking me from head to toe. Fortunately I didn’t melt (or get hit by lightning, which had been my greater concern).

On another hiking trip, I found myself without water on a hot July day. I had taken a wrong turn, wandered for several miles, and drained my drinking supply. When I finally came upon a stream cascading down a hillside, it was the most welcome sight I had ever laid eyes – and mouth – on.

Away from the woods, in the tamer confines of suburban life, bottled water is a big seller. Spring water, vitamin-enhanced water, distilled water – it’s all there on our grocery store shelves. There’s even a product called “Lifewater.”

But consumer marketing has nothing on Jesus, the one who described Himself as “living water” (John 4:10). He’s the only one who can satisfy man’s greater thirst, the kind described in Psalm 42: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (vv. 1-2).

Jesus promised that He is faithful to satisfy that thirst. As He told the Samaritan woman who had come to draw water from a well, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).

That promise is good for life here on earth and in the one that follows: “To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life,” (Revelation 21:6).

The water Jesus offers doesn’t need purifying. It can’t be bottled. And it’s free to anyone who will accept it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

God Used It for Good

It’s been said that God never wastes a hurt. If we let Him, He’ll use the trials of our own lives to minister to others facing similar circumstances. That’s certainly been the case with one of my Living Hope colleagues, Shagmie Levendall.

Growing up in the township of Ocean View, Shagmie (pronounced Shock-me) faced long odds. He was surrounded by drugs and gangs. All he knew of spiritual matters was the impersonal Allah of his Muslim faith. He began a downward spiral at age 13 by doing drugs, which ultimately led to addiction. By 18 he was living with gang members. When the father of a friend became a Christian, Shagmie saw a change in the man and started to ask questions. Still, he recalls, “I thought, ‘I could never do that because I am a Muslim and that would be like being a traitor.’”

But when the man invited him to a prayer event at Cape Town’s rugby stadium, Shagmie went and ended up committing his life to Jesus. A local pastor  later began mentoring him and got him involved in leading worship at Ocean View Baptist Church. Shagmie began work as a Living Hope Life Skill Educator in the Capricorn township in 2007. He has since taken on the role of youth pastor at Capricorn Community Church as well.

“God brought me through drugs and alcohol and He turned it around for His good,” he says. “I can relate to kids on a level that a lot of other people can’t. I’m real with these guys – I don’t pretend to be something that I’m not. I just try to show them that with Christ they can make it out of their situation.”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Song of Love

When I see scenes of nature’s raw power, I’m often reminded of the chorus to Rebecca St. James’ Song of Love: “The heavens declare You are God … The mountains rejoice … The oceans cry Alleluia … This is our song of love.” The image above was taken in Hermanus, located about two hours to the east of Cape Town.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Where Two or Three are Gathered

It’s a rainy night in Red Hill. A bare light bulb hangs from the ceiling of the aluminum shack. A carpet covers the floor, the dirt foundation peeking from underneath its frayed edges. One by one, the men file in through a creaky door and take a seat wherever they can find one in the cramped room.

These humble surroundings have become home to a weekly Bible study over the past three months. These men – and a few women as well – are growing in their knowledge of God. To see it is to realize that God’s Church has nothing to do with fancy meeting places. It is simply wherever His people are, with Him among them.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Filling the Void

Often I wonder if the kids Living Hope ministers to are “getting it.” That is, are they really experiencing the kind of life change that can only be brought about by Christ? But even on their worst days, I think of what they would be missing if Living Hope were not working in their communities. Day after day, week after week, they are receiving sound Biblical teaching and moral values to build their life’s foundations on. As Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Monday, September 6, 2010

Parental Guidance Needed

Living Hope’s D.A.D. (Dollar a Day) donor initiative specifically supports the Life Skills Education program by giving individuals the opportunity to contribute financially and symbolically serve as a father to the children served by LSE staff. The LSE program reaches more than 7,500 students each year through after-school children’s and teenagers’ clubs, and classes in local crèches, schools and colleges. Students receive Bible-based lessons on sexual abstinence and other lifestyle topics. For more information on this always-important funding need, visit; for a D.A.D. pledge form, click here.