Phelps News - Feb 2013

2013 is well under way and doesn’t look much like I thought it would at the beginning of the year. A combination of a tough period in our personal finances and a shortage of ministry funding have meant that two or three planned trips have been put on hold.

My initial response to this was disappointment and some anger at God. Following reflection and prayer I have come to accept that God had other plans. I have for a number of years been procrastinating in a particular area. I have prepared and presented many different training events and I often get requests from people for my notes etc. This is a challenge, as I generally don’t include enough details that someone else would need to teach my material. God has impressed on me strongly that it would be good stewardship of the effort that I have put in, to write up various materials for the use of others. I don’t find this easy but I have committed to doing this with a number of sets of materials. Some of them are: Introduction to Christian Leadership, LIFE Development, Training Process Design, Biblical Basis of Missions, Cultural Adaptation.

Some ministry highlights from this year: Ministering to MDT leaders. Teaching at MDT, Team Building with AIDS Hope in Mamelodi, Ferndale Brethren Chapel Family Camp, Teaching interns at 3D Outreach.

Please pray for being able to focus and concentrate to get these things done!

Organizationally OM Africa is in a real time of growth and transition. It is both exciting and daunting. The opportunities are endless and there is a real sense of being on the brink of great things from God. In any change situation there will be challenges and we are facing plenty. New relationships, changes in operational structures, greater resourcing needs all place us under pressure and have the potential to cause stress and conflict.

Please pray for Godly relationships and wisdom as we negotiate these exciting days.

As a family we have been learning some deep lessons about trusting God as we have literally had days when we have been unsure of where we would find the money to buy fuel or food. This has been a invaluable learning experience for the children as we have played open cards with them and they’ve carried some of the faith load and also the joys of seeing God provide. Philippians 4:6-7 has been very meaningful. The Message by Eugene Peterson puts it particularly well.

Please pray for God’s ongoing provision and that we would remain faithful in putting our trust in God.

Upcoming ministry opportunities: MDT & 3D Outreach training, OM Africa Leadership retreat, AfricaJourney (Leadership training).

Thank you for your interest in our ministry.

Colin for the family

Phelps News - Jan 2013

The story below comes from our Lake Tanganyika team. Our role as part of the regional office is to give support and assist in the strengthening of these amazing pioneers of God through training and leadership development. All of the missionaries mentioned in this account are Africans.

"Kapembwa is our most recent church plant. Aaron and Duncan moved into Kapembwa after being discipled by Good News II Missionaries. Neither Aaron nor Duncan speak any English. They are from the Lake Tanganyika area and are both fishermen. They are very passionate about reaching the lost around the lake and made a big sacrifice to move to Kapembwa with their families.

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Kapembwa is known as one of the darkest villages on the lake shore in terms of its receptivity to the gospel and the influence of witchcraft. Our team leader Christopher Kasale with Ringwell, Donald and Charles (Good News II missionaries who visited Kapembwa recently) observed that Aaron and Duncan have already started to bear fruit in Kapembwa. This is visible because their disciples are on fire for the gospel!

Aaron and Duncan have several disciples who had never heard the gospel before they came to Kapembwa. Now these fishermen and their families are more passionate about Jesus even than the missionaries. Christopher Kasale said you can see just by looking in the faces of these new Christians that they are shining the love of Jesus and they look different from the other people in the village.

One of these disciples, Meshach, had quite a reputation before he became a believer. The people living near him knew when he had come home from drinking by the sounds of his wife screaming because he was beating her. He said other people have a sound system to play music, but his wife's screams were known as his sound system. Now Meshach has stopped drinking and smoking and his hungry to learn more. He and the other disciples followed Christopher and the other visitors around, asking them questions and writing down everything they learned. They are already facing persecution within the village because they are Christians. The people can see they are different because they don't drink or beat their wives and their homes and the surroundings are clean. The other villagers feel betrayed and are mocking them. Witch doctors are living close to the disciples and to Aaron and Duncan and have already tried to have them thrown out of the village. We are praising God to see the fruit in Kapembwa, the village where for so long we were unable to enter.

The people in Kapembwa have desperate needs beyond even the need for salvation. They drink stagnant water and there is a lot of sickness from waterborne diseases. The only medical care for the 3000 people in the village is provided by the witch doctors. The soil is not good for farming and is sandy so many of the houses are falling down. The village is full of children. Most households have five children between the ages of 2 and 6 living with them and there is a big need for a preschool. Starting a Christian preschool in Kapembwa would be a very effective way to reach the community through the young children.

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Please pray for Aaron and Duncan and their disciples in Kapembwa. The spiritual situation is intense, and Kapembwa is also a village where criminals hide and sell stolen materials such as boat engines. These criminals are armed. When our missionaries arrived in our Pelican boat in Kapembwa, the people started running into the bushes to hide because they thought our missionaries were the police and they didn't want to be caught with weapons.

The next step with the work in Kapembwa is to provide Aaron and Duncan with a large Ring Fishing Net and the five fishing boats which are used with this huge net. This is one of the common ways of fishing on Lake Tanganyika. They fish at night using lamps in groups of about 20 men. Aaron and Duncan, equipped with the net and boats, can disciple the fishermen who work for them fishing every night. The vision is for the fishermen on the lake to be a floating church. Most fishermen use traditional rituals and sacrifices to try to get good catches of fish from the lake. Aaron and Duncan want to model something different - Fishing God's Way. Fishing is the way to the hearts of the people along Lake Tanganyika and is an ideal way to teach them the principles of the Kingdom."

We are humbled to be playing as small part in this "book of Acts" ministry.

Blessings
Colin