Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
The Madutle Mission Team arrived home safely on Monday night after about 40 hours of travel time and an incredible week of ministry in the village. I wanted to take a few minutes to share with all of you some of my thoughts about the global impact that Community Church has been making in Madutle, South Africa.
The entire week can actually be summed up using a simple, one word metaphor, “rhino”. Allow me to explain… At the end of the week, Pastor Patrick (Madutle’s Pastor) let me know that he had a special surprise for our team to express the appreciation of the entire village. Before we knew it, Patrick went down the line of each individual on our team, reflecting and praising God for the talents and gifts God had given to each of our team members and how much our sharing of those gifts meant to the village. From the comedy of Dave Durfee and Michelle McDonald to the loving kindness of Ann Owens and Rose Cowden, Patrick glorified God for allowing us to share our hearts with the village. At the end, he wanted to share something with all of Community Church, and he presented us with a red, paper mache rhino that had been made specifically for us. He shared that in Africa, other animals follow the path created by the rhino to food and water as it bulldozes its way through the brush. The rhino makes it possible for other animals to clearly see the path to precious resources needed for survival. Patrick stated, holding back tears in his eyes, that Community Church has been the rhino for Madutle, making it possible for the village to gain access to resources, and most importantly empowering both he and the Fountain of Hope Church to make known the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Since we first visited Madutle in the fall of 2011, much has changed thanks to our partnership with Orchard: Africa and the village of Madutle. While this may seem methodical, I would like to simply list out all of the ways in which our church has become the rhino for Madutle:
- 102,489 meals have been provided to starving children.
- 80 orphaned children have received counseling and intervention care.
- 73 children have heard the Good News of Jesus Christ through our VBS programs.
- 2,057 youth have been educated through the HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention program.
- In 2011, only 10% of the village had access to electricity, now approximately 60% have access.
- 541 home care visits have been made to families and individuals with HIV/AIDS.
- 36 preschool aged children now have a place to go during the day through the Preschool Program.
- 13,810 visits have been made by children and youth to the after-school tutoring and educational program.
- Pastor Patrick now has a car with which he is able to transport patients to and from the nearest clinic (30 minutes away) for much needed care.
- The Fountain of Hope Church in Madutle, which started in September 2011, has approximately 60 members and continues to grow.
- The Fountain of Hope Church is responsible for bringing over 120 people in the village into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Praise God!
- The Mayor of the District visited Madutle for the first time after speaking with Patrick and hearing about the changes going on in the village. She brought blankets and food, and she has promised to work towards bringing economic developments to the village.
- Most importantly, hope has been restored to a village and a pastor that were once downtrodden and depressed. The people can see that God hears their prayers and cares about them, simply because of our presence. There is simply no number big enough to describe the change that hope has brought about in Madutle.
So, as I reflect on the past week and our ministry in the village, it is clear to see that God has enabled Community Church to be the rhino for Madutle, clearing the path to a better life through the hope of Jesus Christ. Pastor Mike Tessendorf, Co-Founder and Board Chairman for Orchard: Africa, has shared with us each trip now about the parable of the Good Samaritan. His message was not just about being a good neighbor and aiding those in need, but about finding a better road to prevent future robberies and beatings. Glory to God, that is exactly what we are doing in Madutle. As Pastor Patrick shared, Community Church has become the rhino for Madutle, opening up a better road for the future. We are finding new ways to seek out and encourage all people to be growing disciples of Jesus Christ, even across the globe. All this to the Glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom.
I would like to thank you all again for your prayers, financial contributions, and loving support for the team. It was an absolute honor for me to be able to lead this team of 14 from Community Church, but none of this would have been possible without the full support of the church.
This is my second trip to Madutle, South Africa, and I must say that it is a much different experience than before. The village, Pastor Joseph, Pastor Patrick, and even Lerato (our bus driver), have truly become family. On Sunday I was one of fourteen witnesses on our trip to see the way God has built up Pastor Patrick. He delivered a powerful message from Zechariah 2 about not attempting to measure the things of God. Patrick explained that when he was young, he was very poor and had only one pair of shoes that were falling apart. Those shoes caused him great embarrassment as other children mocked him. He looked at his situation, measured and evaluated it through his own eyes, and began thinking about suicide.
He went on to explain that last fall, he was mocked as a second rate Pastor by other villages. People said, “Who cares of Madutle? Why are you spending time with those forgotten people?” Pastor Patrick said he measured that situation with his own eyes again, and became depressed. Yet, as he began to preach on, he shared of Community Church and Pastor Brian being here last year, and bringing hope to the village. In the past 10 months, the government has begun to notice that someone cares about Madutle. A village that was once forgotten now has the attention of leaders in South Africa. The Mayor of the region actually visited the village to see what was going on, and the President will be in the region within the next month. Where there used to be 10% of homes with electricity, about 60% of the homes now have electricity. The Chief of the village continues to welcome us with open arms, and is incredibly appreciative of the hope that we bring to the children and the entire village. By the grace of God, Patrick found Christ and is has become an incredible Pastor and Shepherd for the people of Madutle.
I write none of this to build ourselves up our pat our own backs, but to glorify the name of God and to attempt to explain the power of our presence in this place. Pastor Patrick shared a very intimate prayer request with myself and another team member the other day. He stated, “We do not tell you these things to either encourage you or to make you pity us, but we believe that your prayers do make a difference. I feel that you are praying for me and for this village. You being here is more precious than gold or silver.” And there it was. I was reminded once again that it wasn’t about anything we did or brought, but simply by being present, showing up when God asked us to, this village and our Pastor are reminded that God cares about them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me” and was present with them. This trip is not about us or what we are doing, it is about being present when God asks us to show up.
If your father or mother was sick, would you not visit? If your brother or sister was in trouble, would you not go to help? The people of Madutle are our family. Who would we be if we continued to measure their situation in our own eyes and not through the eyes of God? They don’t ask for money or things, they ask for family to be family. Our team T-shirts have a cross on the front made from Mt. Pleasant and Madutle. Pastor Patrick has loved introducing us to people with these shirts as they show we together make up the body of Christ, as a family. Madutle is our family, and we must simply show up when God asks us to, being present, demonstrating the redeeming love and grace of Jesus Christ. Praise be to God the Father forever and ever. Amen!
Hello America, my family in Arizona and Michigan, Community Church, the Diner, Wellness Central, and all my other friends! God works in many ways. I can’t believe I am in South Africa.
The experience with the kids at Madutle is so great. They really need all the help they can get. I am so glad Community Church took on this project. We should continue to keep these people in our prayers, as well as Pastor Joseph, Pastor Patrick, and Pastor Victor.
What an amazing day! We had the opportunity to spend almost the entire day in the village of Madutle. We started the day by doing some work in the church/preschool building. We patched walls and then painted the preschool room in a bright blue color. Later this week we will do the other part of the building that is used for the church services.
It was very touching to hear Pastor Patrick so enthusiastically express his gratitude for what we would deem as relatively simple tasks. It was fun work, which sounds like an oxymoron, but knowing that we were doing it for the children made it even more enjoyable. It was so cool, because it didn’t feel like Community Church was doing this for Madutle’s church, but because of our relationship, it felt like “we” were doing this for “our” church.
After finishing, we got to spend a lot of time playing with the preschool children. There were a lot of piggyback rides, swinging, running around, dancing, and laughing. But most of all, there were lots and lots of smiles. I’m not sure who had more fun, the kids or us. Except for the size of the bodies, it was hard to tell the difference between the two.
When the older children arrived for the feeding program, we were all too happy to do it all over again. Speaking of the feeding program, it is so rewarding to see the children looking healthy, and knowing that God has allowed Community Church to be a part of that blessing. We got to see many of the children that were in the previous VBS program that we put on during our 2011 trip. It was especially rewarding to see some of them still wearing their VBS shirts and carrying their backpacks that they had made.
A good part of the afternoon was spent doing our daily VBS program for a group of children. The theme for the week is “I am Special,” and we reinforce that each day through Bible stories, games, crafts, and singing. And, oh, the singing! The children sing so beautifully! Today we talked about the children being special because God gave each of them special gifts and talents. And were they ever on display in an almost heavenly way! They sure know how to make a joyful noise unto the Lord!
Pastor Patrick expressed to us that the children’s self-esteem has really been boosted by our interactions with them. Patrick talked about how uplifted they were in knowing that we (Community Church) are praying for them, and how excited they are to pray for us. Patrick also shared some sobering news with us. Two parents (from homes that we were going to visit tomorrow) passed away this week. It was a harsh reminder of how prevalent grief is in these peoples’ lives. But Patrick has frequently reminded us in the short time that we have been here that our mere presence and interaction with them brings hope to the village.
After lots of hugs and waves, we finally departed the village for the mission house. Although many of us had sore backs and shoulders, it was barely noticeable because our hearts were so full. Just before I got into the van, two children hugged me and said, “Ke a lo rata,” which means “I love you.” If there was ever any doubt about the significance of our church having a personal relationship with the people of Madutle, it was all erased in the words of the children. “Thank you Lord for these beautiful people who are your precious children and our dear brothers and sisters. Amen.”
Coming to South Africa, I really truly had no idea what to expect other than pictures and maybe a video or two that I had seen put up around the church. Unavoidably, you are going to have some ideas of what your experience is going to be like going on any type of mission trip for the first time. More than likely however, what you plan on experiencing is not necessarily going to be the one that you end up living. One thing I’ve learned throughout the course of my life, is that pretty much 100 % of the time, God has a better plan for you than you ever had for yourself which is more true than ever when going on a trip like this as well. For me, this trip has been a great learning experience with the situation I am in and all of the great and Godly people that I am being surrounded with every day.
One of the things that has inspired me the most so far on this trip is the parable about Jesus and the Samaritan in Luke 10:30. Brad read this to the group on one of our first days in South Africa and when we were first seeing what life in the village really means for the people living there as well as the shock of how close together the first and third world were actually living. Immediately, my reaction was how could the people who are living comfortably in the city and suburbs look the other way and continue on with their own lives when there is such an obvious need to alleviate such a mountain of issues in such as the need for more aids education and the elimination of extreme poverty and hunger. Some of it is probably ignorance for it is certainly easier including aids education and the elimination of poverty and hunger. This is where I made the connection with the parable for the Samaritan is the one who helped the man in distress whereas all the others who saw him, chose to just pass him by because that was the easiest thing for them to do and they probably had somewhere to be. This made me reflect on my life back at home and just think of all the situations I’ve avoided just because it made me a little uncomfortable or I didn’t feel like doing whatever was needed for that person or situation at the time. So what I am taking from all of this is that it is easy to judge others without looking at yourself which at first, is what I did however I’ve learned the value of acting Jesus-like from the rewarding experiences I’ve had in the village with all the children.
Being able to see all of the children in the village and the joy that they have just from the presence of our group is unmistakably one of the best feelings ever. Seeing how happy they were just to have someone to hold onto and someone to touch is something I am never going to forget and it will always remind me of the joy you can get from putting someone else first how much of an impact you can make on someone else’s life just from an act of kindness. One quote that someone shared with me right before I left for this trip, states: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis. This has stuck with me throughout the trip and probably will for a long time for even though it implies to focus less on yourself, you will get so much more joy out of life if you know you are making a lasting impact on someone else for the better.