hope does not disappoint…

Dear all, hmm.¬†I have been putting off updating this blog as it is always tricky to know where to begin… there have been so many changes in us and in Zanethemba, the place we only now after 7 months feel we can call ‘home’. (We still refer to Ireland as home too though ūüėČ

The word hope hangs on our bedroom door… to remind us at the beginning of the day that God’s plans for us & for each of the kids are to prosper us, to give us a future and a hope. Our prayer is that God will give us, the body of Christ, “hope big enough for the whole city” (Alan Scott). Romans say this: “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. We also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, & character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” How beautiful that God can create hope out of suffering! Only He could ever do something that beautiful. It’s our prayer for each of the children in the haven, but also for our own lives as we share in what it really means to leave close friends and family… people who have invested in us & have loved us for years. We miss you all daily, and as today was a day off, I was thinking about all you folk from home & how we miss you¬†so much. It can feel at times like we live in a city of strangers, and I was feeling a bit sorry for myself today in this respect & said to God “I just want to bump into someone that I know! Or else someone I can make friends with!” and then this evening we bumped into a family on the beach who we’re getting to know through Joseph’s playschool, & I was so amazed at how God knows our hearts & exactly what we need, in the exact moment we need it. I needed familiarity, friendly faces & the promise that although making new friends is a slow process in a new city, that we are making progress. God loves friendship. It’s his heart.

We had a meeting with our managers this week and prior to this I felt God ask me “what are your hopes for you and your family, in Zanethemba?” These were my answers:

1. That within 5 years of living in Port Elizabeth we will understand every aspect and every role of running a haven, with the vision of seeing more established.

2. That Port Elizabeth will be known as a city holding more families willing to welcome children at risk into their own homes, than there are children at risk.

3. That Zanethemba will be a resource to other churches/havens on how to take in, care for and love children.

4. That Zanethemba would develop a reputation for children getting healed emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, and restored to maximum health.

5. That every child, caregiver, visitor, volunteer, health professional, administrator, social worker involved in the childrens’ care, would have Holy Spirit reveal to them the heart of the Father, and the fact that they are well loved sons and daughters of the King. Royalty! ūüôā Created in His image for His purposes. That they would know their identity as such, and that nothing would be impossible for them because of who their Father is.

6. That the wider church would grasp “whatever we do for the least of these, we do for ¬†Him” and that as His hands and feet we would be immovable in our resolve to do what we can for children at risk, whilst we still can.

7. That there would be a national response in every nation to motherlessness & fatherlessness. (Right now, only as we happen to be living in South Africa, we want this to happen in S.A, but it’s not about the location. It’s about seeing an end brought about, to motherlessness & fatherlessness among the nations.) That this response would be trailblazed by the church, in reaching and raising up every dying part of society, for the sake of the Kingdom.

8. Our hope for Port Elizabeth is Isaiah 54: 11-14:

“O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels and all your walls of precious stones. All your sons will be taught by the Lord and great will be your children’s peace. In righteousness you will be established: tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you.”

We had the privilege of accompanying a friend around an area of P.E where there have been many murders and crime due to gang warfare. We got invited into peoples homes and had opportunities to minister to folk there. It was so humbling as many had lost loved ones, but the most amazing thing is that God is transforming that community & now many gangs are talking through how they are going to hand over their guns. Many teens have been shot due to mistaken identity. Some of the kids we have had in our haven have come from areas like these ones, and so it was good for us to see the “bigger picture”… but more importantly, our friend and his team have been praying and serving in these areas since 1998 & now finally they’re seeing the fruit of their labour. This is hope in action! This hope does not dissapoint! Lord may our vision as your body, always be hope-filled & never circumstance-filled. Give your church perseverance, character and hope in abundance as she pursues you, regardless of the personal cost. Because your hope changes the world and brings life wherever it is experienced! amen ūüôā x

Prayer Letter 04/05/2012

Over the last week we have welcomed 3 new children into the Zanethemba family. It has been a reminder of the huge¬†responsibility it is to look after the children God places in our care, they are God’s children. They are so precious: a 5 year old girl, a 3 year old girl and her 14 month old sister. They are settling into the haven well and God is constantly reminding us of how¬†valuable¬†they are to Him. He is¬†breaking¬†our hearts again for these children.

Before we left Northern Ireland I can remember being asked if we would not find it too heart breaking looking after these children. I can remember glibly answering that it was precisely because we found it heart breaking that we were going to do this. The truth is I am only just beginning to work out that how God feels about these children is why we are here, and that without God we could do little of any value. The emotion, everything would over power us. It is only through His strength, love, and power that we can continue the work here. Whenever God gives us glimpses of how He feels about these children, how I feel pales in to insignificance. His heart for these children is so huge, and that is why He is calling and raising up people to impact their lives. We are here because of Him, not us and all the glory belongs to Him.

It has been lovely watching all the children welcoming the three new arrivals into the home. God has been increasing the burden we feel for these children, breaking our apathy and¬†promoting¬†us to pray¬†continuously for them. He has been reminding us that we “do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,¬†against spiritual¬†hosts¬†of wickedness in the heavenly¬†places.” Our weapon is love, through prayer, fasting & obviously care. We have been impacted recently by the power of praying using the gift of tongues. Often we just don’t have the words to express what we want to say & I love how this gift also requires complete reliance on Holy Spirit. Reminding us again of our need of Him. Please join with us and pray for these children. They¬†desperately¬†need God’s power in their life. Please pray that Jesus would call them into His Kingdom, that God would provide a “forever home” for them, & for spiritual protection and freedom for each of them.

Please pray for us too. We¬†desperately need more of God, His¬†strength,¬†compassion, wisdom, love, intimacy, the list goes on. We want all that He desires to give. We don’t want to just provide a good home for a period of these children’s lives, but we want to see God’s transformation in our lives, in Joseph and Reuben’s lives and all the lives of the children and caregivers in Zanethemba. Recently I was reminded of a quote – I have no idea who said it: “Prayer is finding out what God wants to do and then asking God to do it”. This once, I feel it would not be right to give a list of prayer points, but I want to ask you to spend some time searching God’s heart for us and praying for us whatever you feel led by Holy Spirit to pray. He is¬†sovereign¬†and knows where we need breakthrough and transformation. Thankyou so much. Without your prayers we simply couldn’t be doing this.

R, K, J & R x