30.4.06

Home At Last

Just a quick update regarding Dean's Lesotho trip... after 12 hours of driving Dean arrived home 24 hours earlier than expected which was a really pleasant surprise for Paula and the boys, especially Joel!
In short, about 400 people were saved in Maseru and countless others were healed. We saw a massive out pouring of God's grace and healing in the city and are in awe of His saving power!
We'll post more later with some photos (Dean took about 650!) but for now bed is calling!

28.4.06

City of Joy

I'm here in Maseru, Lesotho as part of a team of 100 helping to plant the City of Joy Community Church in Maseru. As Paula said below there are about 100 folk from 11 different churches around South Africa and the UK as well as a small core of people who will be the basis fo the church. It is such an amazing privilege to be a part of this event and we are seeing God moving in the most amazing ways! We've seen a large number of salvations so far and lots of miraculous healings. It is so good to know that we do indeed serve the one true living God!

On the way into town this morning we stopped to pray for a man who had collapsed at the side of the road. He was definitely healed and then gave his life to Jesus as we prayed for him! We then took him back to the SU centre for some food. What an awesome privilege to be involved in this man's salvation.

Last night in our first Celebration meeting over 80 people gave their lives to Jesus and will be followed up by the chuch in the next few weeks. Praise God! In the three days prior to last night we saw over 70 people come to know Jesus! Wow! We're really expectant as to what God is going to do in the next two Celebration meetings. We have a huge marquee which can seat 2000 easily and we're praying that it might be full so that many people may hear about Jesus and come to know him personally. Please join us in this prayer.

Nobody here has ever experienced anything quite like this, we feel that revival is on the brink in Lesotho. Certainly this place is very open to spiritual matters and the Holy Spirit has definitely been preparing the ground prior to this campaign. Last night in the main meeting Lex prayed for healings and many folk came forward to be prayed for and then give testimony about how God had healed them. We simply stand in awe of what God is doing!

Please pray that Maseru and Lesotho as a whole will be deeply impacted by the good news of Jesus!

25.4.06

Whilst the cat's away!

I thank God for our boys... it is as if they fully understand that mummy can't do everything!! They are both being absolutely fantastic whilst Dean is away. Joel in particular, is being a little angel - thanks for your prayers. He does, of course, miss Dean and asks for him everyday, but he is being very good for me. Tonight was a classic as I stood on a chair in his room to put up his black out material and I heard a little voice behind me - don't fall off mummy! OK I will remember that advice, thank you!
Please keep praying. After a long journey and a tyre blow out whilst Dean was driving, the team arrived in Lesotho safe and well. There are about 100 people from 11 churches in South Africa helping out. Dean says it is very exciting and that noone in Maseru can fail to know about the new church starting on Sunday. The evening meetings start on Thursday, so do pray.

23.4.06

CNP Update

This last week has been very emotional and stressful in CNP, not least because we've been working hard to try and resolve Michael & Joyce's housing situation. Well, Praise God! we've managed to get a wendy house for them. We can take no credit for this as Michael actually rang a local Christian radio station to tell them of his plight and an elderly couple called in to say they had a wendy house and they were willing to halve their asking price which amounted to the sum we had raised! So Thank You to those of you who helped!

On Friday Dean borrowed a bakkie from a church member (who also paid for a trailer) and went with Michael and a few other men to collect the wendy house, so by lunch time the wendy house was in CNP and Michael was then able to set about erecting it. Needless to say Michael is really delighted with this especially as the shack he and Joyce are currently in is due to be dismantled this weekend. God's timing is so superb!

As a result of an incident which occurred in CNP on Friday in connection with this, Dean is going to have to meet with a church member and an elder to resolve a serious issue which requires some discipline. Please pray for wisdom as Dean and the elders seek to address this issue and resolve it in a Godly and righteous manner.

On Sunday Dean is off to Maseru in Lesotho with a team from Jubilee Community Church in Cape Town. The team is part of a larger mission which aims to evangelise much of Maseru prior to the start of the 'Joy in the City Community Church' next Sunday. The team will participate in a number of rallies in the city as well as one to one witnessing out on the streets. There will also be some practical stuff that they will be involved with. Please pray for this mission, pray that God would bless the venture and that the church would be packed on it's first Sunday. There is a huge need for this church and it's great to be involved in a small way. Pray too for Paula as she'll be at home on her own for 8 days with the boys. Pray especially as she seeks to make this a fun time but also keep Joel's behaviour in line - he has a tendency to play up when Dad's not around.

18.4.06

Family Weekend

We had a really good long Easter weekend which started with spending the morning at Spier vineyard, they have an excellent play garden for children and do lovely picnics, they also have a small Cheetah reserve which was a treat. For the rest of the weekend it was great to be able to spend so much time together as a family and Joel definitely benefited from Dad being around so much. On Sunday we had a great dinner with some friends, there were 8 adults and 17 children so it was a little chaotic. Thankfully our friends have a trampoline in the garden and the children kept themselves amused. On Monday we went to the Acquarium in Cape Town which is one of Joel's favourite destinations (our membership has paid for itself many times over!).

Mutual adoration! We are so thankful to God for answering our prayers for Joel & Eli, they really do adore each other.


Joel has just started to swing himself and now whenever he disappears we know he's on his swing in the garden


Bouncing at Spier


Eli in his baby bouncer, Joel thinks this is really funny and tries to assist Eli in bouncing higher and higher!

17.4.06

Evelyn

Dean & Joel popped into CNP briefly this afternoon, mainly to catch up with Michael but also to see Dina. Remarkably as we discussed this at lunchtime, Paula suggested I take Joel to see M.i.c.h.a.e.l to which Joel immediately said: "I see Michael", how did he know that was the name we were spelling out? Never mind!


Whilst chatting with Dina, she informed Dean that Evelyn had died in the hospital this morning. This is a really sad loss for the community. Hopefully the funeral will be later this week so that Dean is able to attend as he's off to Lesotho on Sunday as part of a mission team (more on that later).

16.4.06

Easter & Other Bits

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

Easter is such an amazing time in the Christian calendar as it marks the time in which Christ was murdered but then triumphantly rose from the dead (after giving the devil a good kicking for 3 days in Hades!). Wow what an awesome God we serve!

This Easter perhaps more than most which have gone before, our faith is being questioned and challenged and we need to be able to give an answer "..to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.." (1 Peter 3:15) in order to give glory to God.

As the release of the Da Vinci Code film is upon us and their court case was victorious many believe that this best selling book challenges the foundation of Christianity by alleging that Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene. Personally I can't believe that the Catholic church gave this book credibility by condemning and banning it. Let's just say that if the DaVinci Code rocks your faith then your faith is built on sand, same as the foolish man's house! (Mt 7:26-27). Faith built on rock would never be shaken by a book which ultimately is about sex and more specifically, about older men justifying perverted sex - read it and you'll know what we're saying!

So the supposed 'main' challenge to our faith this Easter is the 'Gospel of Judas'. We had directed readers to Ben Witherington's Blog and again we would advocate you read his Blog if you want a bit more technical background than we can offer. However, we will address a few issues. Firstly, the codex (Gospel of Judas) was written around 180AD or approximately 150 years after Jesus death so there is no way on this planet that Judas wrote it. Secondly, many 'commentators' are saying that it is a Coptic translation of a Greek original. However, no one can offer any positive evidence that a Greek original ever existed (Ben Witherington deals with this point very well). Finally, many commentators are arguing that this so called Gospel challenges the core beliefs of Christianity. How exactly? This codex reveals quite a lot about 2nd & 3rd century Christianity & Gnosticism and as such is a useful document for New Testament and other Biblical scholars but let's be clear here, this so called Gospel offers nothing new in terms of Christ's birth, life, death & resurrection. The most contentious issue this codex raises is that of Judas Iscariot's reputation (which was fully deserved, see John 12:6) and let's face it even Saatchi would have a problem restoring Judas's reputation. Simply put, this codex offers nothing new other than an insight into early Christianity and Coptic beliefs (by the way, the Gnostics would have had a vested interest in restoring Judas's reputation).

On a more cheerful note, we were delighted to see that the Bishop of York, John Sentamu is into full immersion baptism of believers and conducted 4 baptisms outside the minster on Sunday. You can see more about this story on the BBC website: Worshippers take outdoor baptism. Praise God for people such as John Sentamu who are prepared to make a public stand for the true gospel of Christ!

12.4.06

Gospel of Judas

There is much debate, speculation and misinformation circulating about the so called "Gospel of Judas", so rather than try to set out our stall in terms of how it does or does not impact on our faith and the Bible as we know it, We'll direct you to the Blog of Ben Witherington who has written some excellent and eminently readable stuff on this whole controversy. In fact, read his whole Blog, it's all really good stuff!

Suffice to say that we agree with Ben's view.

11.4.06

Michael's House

As promised yesterday we're posting photos of the shack that Michael & Joyce are forced to live in (hopefully) temporarily. The first thing to say is that if we had a dog, we wouldn't let it live in these conditions! No-one should have to tolerate this and yet for many in Chris Nissen this is sadly the norm.

The shack seen from the front


Here you can see just how ropey the construction of this shack is


Viewed from the rear, things get no better


The shack seen from the road


This is the bed in the corner, as you can see the light is pouring in through large gaps in the walls, the roofing is wholly inadequate and the walls have holes dotted throughout


Close-up of the ceiling, once the rains come this will be a disaster zone as the roof & walls offer no real resistance to the elements.


Michael & Joyce have made the most of very cramped living conditions by adding a few 'homey' touches, but it's impossible to disguise the fact that they live in a tumbledown shack



So how can you help?
We have R3000 so far but need R12000 (£1200) to be able to provide Michael & Joyce with more permanent accommodation. If you can spare just a few quid it would really help! If you want to help, contact us via email or leave a comment on this post and we'll get back to you very quickly. Michael & joyce are not looking for freebies here as they are also willing to invest as much of their income as is necessary.

Why are we helping Michael & Joyce and not everyone living in a shack in CNP?
Quite simply because we have a very good relationship with this couple, Michael is a regular member of Dean's bible study group and they are in the process of becoming members at Helderberg Christian Church, as such we have a duty to reach out to them.

Why isn't the local church doing something?
We are! Unfortunately (or fortunately) the church is committed to several projects reaching out to the poor in Lwandle and CNP and as such we are quite stretched at present. That's why we need help from the wider body to try and meet this need.

Why the urgency?
Such shacks are illegal and the municipality is in the process of forcing homeowners to knock their shacks down, this one was supposed to have been taken down on Saturday. Also, the season is changing and winter is definitely on its way. In summer the Southeaster blows but in winter the Northwester blows in straight off the Helderberg mountain and brings fierce driving rains with it. This wind is also very destructive and it's unlikely that this shack would survive the whole winter. Even if the shack does survive, Michael & Joyce would definitely lose a number of their personal possessions to the rains (already one carpet has been ruined).

To those of you who have already helped, Thankyou!

10.4.06

Chris Nissen Park Update

Dean visited Michael & Joyce this afternoon in their 'shack' and was appalled by the conditions they've been reduced to living in. When it rains their bed gets soaked, and they have to pay for the privilege!! Tomorrow Dean will take some photos of the shack so you can see just how awful their living conditions are! Michael is trying to remain faithful and believe that God is going to provide his family with some permanent accommodation but he's really struggling and cries himself to sleep at night. Dean was with Michael & Joyce for about an hour and spent time praying with them which was great. We'll not harp on about this until we post the photographs tomorrow, however please consider how you might be able to help.
Dean finally caught up with Dina after the Bloemfontein conference. This was a life changing experience for her and she is positively glowing with God's grace in her life. Please pray for her as she has a difficult role in the community and she desperately wants to live "..in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ," (Philippians 1:27) that others in CNP may come to know Jesus personally. Since the conference Dina has had an amazing time with Sandra and actually had a cup of coffee with her in her house - WOW! We thought such an event would never occur but for the grace of God!
Aletta too seems to be having a bit of a wake up call from God and has come to the point of saying that she wants to come back to church "not because of the people but because of the word of God" which is great. Dean spent quite a bit of time with her this afternoon talking about 'Do you want to be Right, or do you want to be 'Righteous?' and Aletta is in the position of wanting to be righteous but just not quite sure how that should pan out on a daily basis in her life. Please pray for Aletta as she come to terms with living daily for God, pray too for Dean as he has the privilege of spending time with Aletta and her family, encouraging them in the ways of God's word.
We've posted some more family photos on Finnie's in Focus so please take a look.

6.4.06

Bloemfontein Zoo

We spent the day after the conference in Bloem and took Eli to meet the social workers who had facilitated his adoption at that end. They were delighted to meet Eli and will pass on some photos we left to the birth mother. This also closes that stage of the adoption and will be the last time we meet with the organisation in Bloem.

We then spent the afternoon in the zoo before flying back to Cape Town in the evening. Joel really enjoyed himself in the zoo, especially chasing the Cape Ground Squirrel which was incredibly tame.

Joel chasing the squirrel


Boarding the plane for home

NFI Bloem Conference

We've had a great time at the New Frontiers South African conference in Bloemfontein. The theme this year was 'Mobilising an Apostolic People' and we spent quite a lot of time hearing about new church plants into places such as Durban, Maseru in Lesotho and Gabaronne in Botswana. We both attended a 3 part 'training track' on Families with Focus which was exelent, we felt encouraged to keep doing much of what we already do as a family but also to be more intentional in bringing God into every aspect of family life.

We also spent some very valuable time catching up with many dear friends from Zimbabwe (see Finnie's in Focus) for photos.