And Just Like That, Summer Has Come to an End
March rains have wasted no time in making their mark on Cape Town. Our city has welcomed the sprinklings and downpours these past few weeks. After months of summer and continued water restrictions, thirsty gardens have been thoroughly quenched after consecutive hours of rain. The overcast sky and chilly south-easterly breeze make it easy to believe that winter is on its way. The warm embrace of summer is drawing to a close, just as the Northern Hemisphere is preparing for its warmest months. After so many years living in Phoenix, it’s strange to change our mindset on the reversed seasons here in the Southern part of the world.
It’s still surreal to us that we’ve been living in this beautiful city for a year now! We celebrated the first anniversary of our arrival (14 February, 2018) by going to the beach as a family and enjoying the last remnants of summer together. We keep forgetting just how close we live by the ocean and plan to make more frequent family trips there from now on.
Belleville South Outreach
We walked around a corrugated iron fence in order to reach the front door of the home. As we rounded the corner into the courtyard, the stench of dagga (marijuana) wafted through the air. A friendly tannie (Auntie) was standing with the front door open, looking across the courtyard to a group of eight guys and girls in their twenties. We instantly could identify where the strong aroma was coming from.
The soft-spoken tannie smiled and speaking Afrikaans welcomed Erik, Alieske, Marco, and me in to talk to the wayward youth sitting across her front yard. As we walked toward them, two guys were huddled over a hookah pipe, another guy was smoking a joint, and four girls were huddled around as if they had just been smoking some unknown substance. With every step we took, I could feel their carefree enjoyment crashing to a halt. They laughed sheepishly as we approached. A few of them tried to hide the blatant drug paraphernalia, but they could not hide the overwhelming smell of marijuana permeating the atmosphere of the outdoor sitting area.
I wanted to share with you about what the Lord is doing in the Nuba Mountains. As you know, this year a team from Frontline had the opportunity to visit the Nuban believers for two weeks. During that time, we were part of an outreach team that preached the Gospel and distributed many Bibles to schools in this remote 10/40 window area in North Africa.
We were able to successfully distribute 38,000 Bibles and just under 50,000 Story of Jesus picture books to 130 schools. This was a wonderful blessing to be a part of, but there are still many Christian leaders without any discipleship training resources.
You don’t have to be a ballerina to keep on your toes. We may live in a big city, but our life as missionaries has already proven this fact to be true.
Change of Plans
Shortly after we sent you our last family update, we made a pretty significant change regarding our mode of transportation to Back to the Bible Mission (BBM) in Barberton, South Africa. Rather than travel by air, we decided to travel by road as this would save us significantly in travel costs. This, naturally, affected our itinerary just a little since that involves driving nearly 4,000km (2,485mi) round trip. To give our American friends some perspective on how far that is, it’s the equivalent of driving from Phoenix, AZ, to New York City, NY! Another comparison would be driving from San Diego, CA, to Orlando, FL. That is literally across the U.S. from West Coast to East Coast!
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Suffering, Sacrifice and Sanctions
It was surreal walking in places littered with fox holes and bomb shelters, knowing that a little over a year ago, bombs were being dropped on the very places I was travelling through. The thousands of children we shared the Gospel with in schools had endured aerial bombardments by the Sudanese government time and time again. Although horrific, it is commonplace for the Nuban people to have seen friends and family die in bombings and military attacks. By God’s grace and pressure from the US with a promise of sanctions being lifted, a ceasefire has been implemented in Darfur, Nuba and the Blue Nile. President Al-Bashir was not driven by compassion on the people he was killing, but by a financial raise in the country’s economy. This time of peace made our task of distributing Bibles to the Nuban schools possible.
On May 1st, Hunter, along with a team of three other missionaries, left for a month-long mission trip to Sudan. By God’s grace, they distributed 32,000 Bibles to 130 local schools. Many of the people told us that they had been praying for years for Bibles and now they had their very own Bible! Among those who eagerly accepted the Bibles were some Muslim schools, due to their eagerness to learn English (Arabic is the primary language spoken in the areas where the team ministered). Please join us in prayer that the Lord would transform the hearts and lives of all who received His Word!
Jesus said to them, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
No one could ever claim life in Africa is boring. This is exactly the way we like it.
Cape Town Outreaches
We have been involved in many exciting ministry opportunities since we have been in South Africa. We have been doing regular outreaches at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and in a nearby Muslim neighborhood. Students on campus are open to the Gospel and we are working on building relationships with on-campus ministries to build partnerships with.
After 30 hours of travel, on three flights, touching three continents (from Phoenix to Seattle to Amsterdam to Cape Town), we finally made it to our long-long-long-anticipated destination: the stunning and draught-stricken country of South Africa. Jeremy impressed us with how well he did on all three flights and layovers, and he didn’t take long to adjust from jetlag. With only 50 liters (13gal) allotted per person, per day, what we have had to adjust to are 60-second showers (using buckets to catch excess which we reuse for toilets and gardens) and overall careful, minimal use of water. Nonetheless, our feet have finally been planted firmly on (extremely dry) African soil.
It is a joy to be here with the family and with friends at Frontline. On our first Sunday here (the 18th), Hunter was given the opportunity to preach about Jesus being our victory over the spiritual battle. Since then, he has been preparing for more teaching opportunities here, such as an overview of early Christian responses to Islam at the Reformation Society meeting tomorrow and a podcast or two with “From the Front Line.” The three of us are beginning to settle into a delightful rhythm here, and we are eager to see what will unfold in the days and months to come.
The Cats and the Castle Update
Thank you all very much for your prayers! We have found a home for our kitty Juliette and are still looking for a home for Romeo. We also discovered after our last inspection that our AC unit had given up the ghost sometime since we last used it in the summer. Thankfully we have a very competent realtor who is helping us work out the logistics of replacement so that the next owner of the Castle will be blessed with a brand new unit. We also as of Monday night are under contract again! Praise God!
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Phoenix has finally caught up with the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, temperature-wise, which means we can actually begin to believe that Christmas is right around the corner! I know we aren't the only ones who love to enjoy a cup of tea in the evenings with a good book and a warm blanket. Unfortunately, there's little of that going on over here at the Combs Castle.