South Africa 2016
The October-November 2014 Trip
The goal of this trip was mainly to work in schools with children ranging in age from 6-18. We partnered with a church movement called Doxa Deo, which has extensive inroads into the public and private schools. The message to the children and teens boiled down to: You have a God-given purpose and destiny. You are not accident. God wants the very best for you – which is why He gives boundaries to protect and training to help you answer the calling He has for you.
We also held several parenting events, equipping parents with the information necessary to help their children make wise choices in today’s overly sexualized and technology-driven culture. Parents were eager to learn from Julie’s experience of raising her own children and also working with parents all over the world.
For a lot of the children we ministered to, it was the first time they grasped the truth that God has a divine plan for their lives. And for many parents, they were given answers they had been seeking about raising children in a world that is rapidly becoming very different than the world they grew up in.
What a privilege it was for our team to deliver these messages. We look forward to the day when the Lord opens the door to go back to South Africa!
It was about half an hour before Sunday evening youth group. About 20 teens had already trickled into the informal church, and were passing the time with soccer, coffee and small talk. Our team was looking forward to visiting with the teens and getting to know their culture and needs.
As we talked with them, several girls in particular were very open about what went on “behind the scenes” in their youth group and schools. They said that most of the guys would pressure girls to send them inappropriate pictures of themselves. Those pictures would then be passed around to other guys. They also affirmed emphatically that boys would make bets on who could get a certain girl to give them her body, and once they got that, they would ignore her. One of our team members called some boys over and asked them if this was true. The boys, most of them younger than 16, confirmed that it was.
While the young people we talked with obviously knew that such behavior was wrong, they seemed to accept it as just part of life. It was “what everybody did”. Even in youth group, promiscuous and immoral behavior was considered normal. That evening as our team shared with the group, God led us to talk very openly and honestly about the issues of premarital sex, pornography and using others rather than loving them. Team members shared personal testimonies, and very clearly described God’s plan for sex, relationships and love.
By the end of the session, the rowdy audience was completely quiet. Those who had squirmed at the mention of specific activities were silent and thoughtful. We don’t know exactly what God did in the hearts of every teenager there. But we know that we spoke the words He wanted us to, and that the young people heard it.
Before leaving, I exchanged phone numbers with a girl I’d been talking with, who had also shared with me the broken relationships and perversion at her school. She texted me that night and thanked me for what our team had shared. She said that she really appreciated that we hadn’t “sugar-coated” any of the issues. In her words, “being straight forward is the only way to get things stuck in our hearts and minds today.”
If the truth we spoke causes even one of those precious young people to believe that they don’t need to follow the example of the world, and helps turn their hearts fully to God’s beautiful plan and love story for them, this entire ministry trip will have been worth it.
This particular day found us in a TINY farm town called Philadelphia outside Cape Town. We were ministering at a Christian school with 9 teachers and about 250 students. The first session was for the grades 1-4 (ages 6-9), and the second was for the grades 5-7 (ages 10-13). Our team uses a combination of stories, skits, and games to empower the kids with a vision for their God-given destiny.
One of my favorite parts of an event is when we are sitting inside and the kids begin to file in. It’s always a mixture of expectation and heaviness. We know we can’t sit with each kid, but we know that God can. So we seek Him for new words and stories to share with each group.
With the older group we spoke about their call and destiny – but specifically about things that would try to derail that. The story I shared was about lies we often believe based on what other people say about us. Specifically when it is someone close to us in authority, like a parent, older sibling, or mentor. It was shared from the heart and brought tears to my eyes when I shared it. You could have heard a pin drop when the story concluded. When the truth of God’s ultimate and triumphant love was shared at the end, the light in the eyes of the crowd was radiant.
One of the teachers approached me afterward with used tissues in hand. She shared about how much the session had impacted her. That she had come expecting to have to put back the pieces after her kids were inspired by Americans with dreams they’d never reach. But God. He showed up in a personal way to her through the testimony and she was so encouraged by the fruit she’d already seen in the atmosphere with the kids. She shared that she was inspired to face the lies she’d believed throughout her life and to walk alongside the kids toward truth and their destiny.
Later that night we ministered at the local Doxa Deo church to parents and youth. Afterward, one of the moms came up to speak with me, and I recognized her from the event that morning. She said that during the morning she’d been preoccupied with a large event their school was hosting that day, but that afternoon she’d had a chance to reflect on the session. The Lord began to speak to her through the testimonies that were shared. She said she felt His presence in a powerful way all afternoon, and that she was so blessed by our ministry. She also shared the specific messages she’d been sharing with the kids and how what our team delivered paralleled and complimented the core of what she’d wanted to impart to them. To never give up and take it one step at a time.
It was a new experience for our team to minister to children as young as 6. In the past, we’ve spoken mostly to teenagers, with the youngest members of our audience being around 10 or 11. However, God decided to break us into children’s ministry this trip as several of our events ended up being for younger children, between the ages of 6-10. If you had told our team last year that we would be speaking so much to young children, I think we would have laughed nervously and said “that’s a funny joke”.
Now you may be wondering what a purity ministry has to say to young children. Plenty. We mostly focus on their call and destiny in God, and alert them to the fact that the enemy is trying to lie to them about who they are, who God is, and where their worth comes from. We explain, in simple terms, that God wants the very best for them. The VERY BEST. And just like their parents and teachers who also love them, He gives boundaries to keep them from harm and to make sure they experience His very best.
One event was held at a school called Hebron, located in a suburb of Cape Town. The children were fun and responsive. We use movie clips to illustrate lies that can come across through the media. It never ceases to surprise me how astute young children are. After a clip showing how advertisers significantly alter a model’s appearance using makeup, lighting, and photoshop, I asked why the children thought we showed them that clip. One boy didn’t miss a beat and responded “Because you wanted to show us how the enemy tries to make us feel like we don’t look right. Like if we don’t look like the people on TV or magazines. But we should be content with how God makes us.” The only appropriate response at that moment seemed to be “Amen.” Amen, little boy.
When our team was done with our movie clips, the skits, and talking points, the teachers thanked us for coming to their school. A sense of privilege swelled up inside of me. What an awesome privilege it is to plant seeds of truth and hope in a young person’s life. Surely there could be no better privilege than this, right? The teacher then asked if anyone of the children would like to pray for our team. Tears pooled behind my eyelids as a boy came up and prayed for God’s protection on our team. He prayed that God would protect us from the attacks of the enemy and help us to keep doing what He’d called us to do.
After our experience in South Africa, I hope the Lord has many more events for children planned for us.
From our April trip…
This year marked what I am sure will be the first of many trips to the country of South Africa and the continent of Africa. Our team fell in love the people from this beautiful nation. South Africans are so wonderfully welcoming and we enjoyed learning about the history and culture of such a diverse country. From the time we landed on Sunday morning from Singapore we were pretty much in non-stop meetings or events during our 7 day stay. We were ministering with the Doxa Deo church movement based out of Pretoria. The entire church staff was great; the Lord knit our hearts with this wonderful church and we are looking forward to years of ministry partnership in the future. Many of the comments we received after the speaking time was “this is so practical”; “thank you for helping me to feel confident in such a difficult area to address”; “I can’t wait to start some of these ideas in my family”.
In a country where sexuality has been hijacked by the enemy and used for evil, it is important to realize that a renewed perception of God’s divine intention for sex, family and marriage needs to be restored in so many lives. In addition to ministering to many parents and teens at churches and schools within the city of Pretoria, we were privileged to speak to a group of 500+ teens at a school in a poor area. This school was started by Doxa Deo to help an area that has little to no education options for children and youth, some of which are orphans and victims of the AIDS epidemic that has traumatized this country. It was encouraging to be able to laugh and connect with these teens while giving them a hope that making good choices, even during the difficult circumstances of life, is possible. These teens have such an amazing future ahead of them – we can’t let the enemy steal away their destiny by derailing them in the areas of their sexuality and purity. They need a vision of a successful future to look and strive for.
The overall response of the parents was, how can we learn more? How can we get further training? We are excited that Raising A Pure Generation parenting groups are launching soon for those who are hungry for more. The overwhelming response from the trip was: “we don’t have anything like this, please give us more!”
“I research around on the internet….and there is loads of stuff on the internet on purity but I couldn’t find something that hit home until I got your stuff. I had a ball when I received it, I went through all of it in a couple of days. Watched the DVDs and read the books. I said ‘I have been waiting for this for three years.’ The spirit of lust and sex is just loose in this country. We need this.” -Dani (a mom from South Africa)