Monday, July 30, 2012

DOWNLOAD Friday 17 August 2012, 7pm

Hey friends, sorry we have not been blogging for some time now, but the summer is passing us by as we have been trying to process our time in Africa, get ready for a new school year, persevere through some personal trials and wade through the many distractions and fiery arrows that are being thrown our way.  So as we truly seek what the near future holds for us, we ask that you would continue to lift us up in prayer as we seek the Lords will for this season of our lives.

Matthew 6: says to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

To be honest it has been a very trying season in coming back home, as the enemy has truly sought to distract and discourage us.  We have been seeking "Your will not mine" Luke 22:42, which is such a hard thing to do in the face of Proverbs 19:21 Many plans are in a mans heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand  We have many plans running through our minds and saw so many needs and ways we could be involved in Zimbabwe and South Africa long term.  However we truly want the Lords best for our family, wanting to be good stewards of our time and resources the Lord bestows upon us.  Not us pushing through doors just cause they are there, but wanting to be sure it is the Lord opening and not us pushing those doors.

So all that said, we are about ready for a download, to share our trip, and what all we were doing while away and to share some (as much as we feel the Lord has allowed us to see) of what our near future holds, with regard to returning to and being involved in ministry in Southern Africa.

Please come out Friday, 17 August 2012 at 7pm
Calvary Chapel Chattanooga in the Kids Live Room (dessert and cofffee will be provided)

We encourage you to bring your children with you and allow them to come listen and pray with us.  Matthew 19:14 "let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me, for the kingdome of heaven belongs to such as these" we love doing most of life with our own children and it was such a blessing to see the Lord work in and through them on this trip.  However if you feel your children would be too distracted, our church has very graciously offered to provide childcare.  If you are wanting to bring younger children and utilise this, please could you let us know asap so we can give the church an idea on how many workers we need.

We look forward to sharing our hearts and lives with you on the 17th.

Much love in the Lord
David, Jackie, Daniel, Timothy and Abby

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Living Hope

Living Hope is a wonderful ministry that we were privileged to work with for a very short time in Cape Town.  We are prayerfully considering working longer term with them, to be a greater part of this ministry, for now we wait on the Lord and seek to rest in His goodness, as we look for guidance. 

The link below gives you a short glimpse of what they do in Cape Town and are seeking to do in other parts of Africa.  Would you pray with us for the Lord of the harvest to continue to provide for this ministry that seeks to bring hope to so many...and for Him to reveal to us our place amongst the work He is doing on a little peninsula at the very tip of Africa...

Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest. Matthew 9:38

The Grays

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure-- pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." Luke 6:38

It's good to be home, is a confusing term in our household nowdays, where is our home? Here, South Africa, Zimbabwe...I (Jackie) have always called South Africa home, even though I left there 19 years ago. However after being there these past couple months, I realise it is not my home, its definately the place I grew up and one that I love dearly, but it definately is not my home anymore.  I honestly for some strange and for the first time in 19 years, was happy to be back in the US, cause this is now my home and has been for more than half my adult life.  I realised my kids are American, my husband is American, they like America and all that it is to them. And I have to very hesitantly say that after this trip I felt more American that South African (yes blasphemy to my South African friends reading this)...

1. a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household.
2.the place in which one's domestic affections are centered. institution for the homeless, sick, etc.: a nursing home.
4.the dwelling place or retreat of an animal.
5.the place or region where something is native or most common.

 We had many homes these past 4 months
We visited many different homes these past 4 months

If home is where the heart is, as a believer in Jesus Christ, then heaven is my home.

If home is where the heart is as a non-believer then my home is the earthly dwelling I reside in.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. Matthey 6:19   We saw so many earthly treasures being store up, behind the doors of shacks, behind electric fences and burglar bars, in little stone houses not bigger than my living room.

As humans we have this tendency to store to gather things, things that make our lives supposedly richer or more comfortable.  We seek to have a better life for us, for our children, but truly if we all just trusted the Lord to provide our needs (and not our wants) and to not live for all the earthly treasures we so eagerly chase after, how much less would we need to worry about what the future brought:

Matthew 6:  Do Not Worry
25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifeb?
28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Mark 9:35 
35Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Are we living our lives and truly being grateful for the Grace that has been extended to us through Jesus death on the cross, or are we living our lives serving ourselves first and with the best and then throwing the extra towards the Lord's work.  

We were very challenged on this trip to examine our own lives and truly see if we truly are willing to serve the very least of these, if we truly are willing to lay it all down, if we truly are willing to put aside the comforts of our American way of life, wether we live here or in Zimbabwe or South Africa.  Are we willing to give not just our first fruits but to truly say to the Lord - here I am send me, whatever the cost.

I have been very challenged going throuh Romans these past couple weeks and seeing Pauls life and what it truly cost Him to preach the gospel, to truly be willing to wait on the Lords timing and to accept the circumstances of that time -  no matter what the cost.

Are we willing to count it ALL JOY!

Our trip was amazing, it was everything we thought it would be, it was wonderful to see all the sweet people in Zimbabwe, to truly feel the joy and struggle of their everyday life.
South Africa is always beautiful, the kids were so at home there, but it was definately relationally challenging on many levels.
Living Hope the ministry we worked with is just amazing and we would encourage you all to pray for them and the awesome work the Lord is doing through them.

Yes its good to be back in my comfortable, air conditioned home, where the power doesn't go off, and the water always runs and is clean, where my washing machine and dryer sit fully functioning next to each other, where the neighborhood doors can stay open for laughing children to freely run in and out of...for now
What does the future hold?  We don't know yet, its definately to go at some point and some capacity...we need time 
To process
To think
To pray
To be still
To read
To seek wisdom 

We will be having a download sometime over this summer, if you could bear with us until we are ready, so we can slow down a bit after being slammed back into our lives here.

If you could pray with us, we would love to spend time one on one with families - so please invite yourself over for dinner, or invite us to your house.

If you would pray for us, for wisdom, for the counsel we need to move forward...

We cannot thank everyone enough who supported us in prayer, it carried us through when we truly weren't able to pray for ourselves or those around us anymore, our groanings were interceded and give up to the Lord - thank you.  Financially we were beyond blessed to be able to do all the ministry we felt led to, to have all our expenses covered, to bless those who needed, to have all our bills covered while we were gone...and to have a home to bring our children back many helped that happen through prayer, through donations, through David's wonderful customers giving him work...we are eternally thankful.

We are blessed beyond measure...hope to catch up with you all soon

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This was written 19 April 2012, but never got a chance to post it, thankful for good internet back here in the US, updated post coming soon soon:

Trying to write a blogpost, but way too much going on in my heart and head that needs to be procesessed, so here are the highlights :
1. Its a beautiful clear and cool Autumn day in Cape Town
2. Jesus loves you and died for you, even if you choose not to acknowledge His sacrifice or existence in this world today
3. He truly is the only way to heaven
4. Two more weeks till the kids and I get to com...e back to the US
5. Chattanooga, Cape Town and Earth are not my home - Heaven is!
6. There are a lot of physically poor and vulnerable people in the world, and I think we all have a responsibility to share our physical wealth with them, and spend time with them, I have seen so much dedication and dependance on God through the physically poor and emotionally broken on this trip - we have a lot to learn
7. I think Francis Chan is a great modern day role model (if you don't know who he is you are missing out)
8. I miss my husband
9. Me and my back are looking forward to sleeping in my bed again
10. I have great kids and am very thankful for all the time I get to invest into their lives, and so thankful that our schoolroom is not bound by the same building each day
11. Thankful for my parents love and generosity towards me and my family
12. Not sure what the future holds, but looking forward to it with excitement knowing the Lord will show us the way, and that it will be His perfect will not ours...
13. I have great friends, and am thankful for all you bring to my life
14. Thankful that God uses and works in non-believers lives even when they are not aware of it - I probably wouldn't be here today without Him working in my life when I was lost

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Living Hope-Bringing Hope, Breaking Despair

Our humblest apologies to all who are not on Facebook, as we have been doing little update snippets on there, as life has been a little hectic since arriving in South Africa, and it has been an easy way to keep you all updated.  We are still processing so much, but here is a summarized run down of our last couple weeks.

We took a little time off between Zim and starting serving here to decopress, regroup and have some family time, which was a wonderful break and helped us switch gears from one culture to another.  It was great to have that time and to catch up with my folks, old friends and neighbors and to enjoy the beauty of Southern Africa.

David painting in Capricorn

I (Jackie) always thought Zim and SA were very similar culturally, but after this trip, my opinion on that has definitely changed.  South Africa like many other countries in the world has many cultures all rolled up into one country, as Natasha from Living Hope very aptly describes it, South Africa is like 1st world clashing up against 3rd world and we literally see this daily as we get more involved with Living Hope here in South Africa.  

Our first day was orientation without about 20 High School students from Alabama, seeing the different campuses and townships the ministry works in.  We are truly amazed at the work this ministry does and how the Lord chooses to show them such favor as they very humbly seek to empower local people in each community they work to help bring hope to the people and to make Jesus known.  They have such a unique and simple approach to ministry that it is easy to see why the Lord chooses to use them as mightily as He does

Timothy playing a game with kids from Masi
The next couple days we got to be a part of homework clubs, which is an afternoon program they have for kids to have a place to come to in the Community Centers after school and play games, and learn more about the Lord.  This was a very quick and sudden introduction to the 1st vs 3rd World clash, and for both David and I to realize the very stark difference in cultures between Zim and SA.  It is a great program, a very lively yet very fulfilling couple of days.  The Lord did however clearly show us homework club wasn’t gonna be for me by myself with the kids once David left, it was little overwhelming for Abby and something we would do better doing together.

Thursday we got to meet with Avril who with her husband John are the founders of Living Hope, and John is also the Pastor of King of Kings Baptist church here in Noordhoek.  We got to talk at length and share our heart and listen to theirs on the work the Lord is doing with their ministry and how they are seeking to go into other parts of Africa (Zim being one – lots to that story).  Needless to say it was a goosebump moment for us, as the more time we spend here, the Lord is slowly revealing more of the reason why He brought us to this wonderful ministry in Cape Town.

The rest of the morning, we spent helping pack things for their Taxi TB day outreach the next morning.  Friday we arrived at 7am at the Taxi rank in Masiphumelele – which too is not for the faint hearted – as it is not a taxi rank you envision in the US, but a whole operation of minibuses and small vans sending people out to the ends of the Peninsula and back.  It was a wonderful morning taking pictures and allowing our kids to truly see how a good portion of the world lives and goes to work each day, and the struggles they face in possibly catching something as serious as TB on their morning commute.

We then went on to an outreach in another township about a km down the road – and a totally other culture within the same area.  Again is was a great learning experience for everyone, all the high schoolers that were present and ourselves included.  We have pics of this on Facebook at:

Sunday we had a great time of worship, the word and fellowship at Calvary Chapel Kommetjie, again meeting more Americans serving over here - its quite amazing to see the work the Lord is doing over here, the harvest truly is plentiful and the workers few, so we continue to pray for the Lord to send more to do the work to be done here.  We then had a wonderful afternoon at Avril and Johns house as those hosted all the volunteers for Sunday lunch, the kids had lots of new friends to play with, and it was kinda like having a get together at our house – me being one of only two South Africans there!! And the majority of the other volunteers are from Nashville!! How fun, we had a wonderful afternoon and it was great to connect and meet some of the other people serving long term out here.

Daniel handing out flyers in Masi
This week my parents have very graciously taken the kids for some fun grandparent time, which is allowing me to work at Living Grace– which is another location in Muizenberg . Living Grace seeks to transform the shattered lives of the Homeless and destitute in the areas as well as reaching out to substance abusers through rehabilitation programmes.  I have the privilege of cooking for all the wonderful people there, and helping the ladies and staff that organize and cook all the food that is donated and then cooked up and sent out to other sites everyday – those who know my catering background can appreciate how much this blesses me to serve in this area, and spend time getting to know the staff.

David is working with a fellow American this week painting one of the community centers in Capricorn, and then later doing some electrical work in another location, so he too is right in his element this week.

David gets ready to head home next week, and it is hard to believe that his time is almost up.  I will be staying on through 3 May, and hopefully continue doing half days at Living Right once a week and a preschool program a couple other morning a week in Masiphumelele, both which I should be able to do with the kids and hopefully continue with a bit of school each week.  So hopefully our entire summer back home won’t be spent finishing the school year up!  The kids have had great life skills education the past two months, but Math and English workbooks still are a necessary part of our future.

Daniel and Abby also celebrated their birthdays over the last few weeks, Daniel is now 11 and Abby 6!  Happy Birthday to our babies.  Tim is feeling a little left out, so we will be celebrating is pre-Birthday next week before David leaves.

David will be back Easter weekend, and Lord willing back to work the following week.  Island Cove where he does most of his work took a direct hit from the tornado a few weeks back, so he is not entirely sure what to expect on his arrival.  But we know the Lord is good and has so graciously shown us favor on this trip and so provided for our needs, we can only wait with excited anticipation to see what He has for us when we get home.

Please be praying for his re-entry into US life and for my time with the kids without him. 

We also humbly thank all those who have been a part of this journey for us through prayer and financial support, it has been such a blessing to have been able to fulfill the deep desires the Lord had placed in our hearts for this trip, and to not have had to worry about the financial burden of it.  The Lord has been so good to us and we cannot thank you all enough for being obedient to your part in His plan.

Much love to you all, sorry for the long time between updates. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Good Shepherd Family

Thanks to Jackie's parents we have had a good few days this past  week to be able to just have some quality family time away, without much of an agenda, to see some of the beauty of God's creation that is the E Coast of South Africa and to be able to sit back and reflect on the past few months and the incredible journey we have been on.

It’s hard to believe our time in Zimbabwe is over and we are heading into the second part of our trip here in South Africa.

After we left Lasting Impressions in Kadoma and the wonderful Croudace family, we headed over to Chinoyi.  For those that have been on Facebook, we kinda did a picture chronicle of our time there, as we had internet access, but not much time to sit and keep a journal.

We spent a good majority of our time there visiting with everyone at the Good Shepherd Center.  Daniel Timothy and Abby just had the best time there, playing and making new friends with the children their age.

We have been so proud of them this whole trip, as the Lord has just given them each individually a very tender and unjudgemental heart towards whoever we have been with.  When Jesus talks about “suffering the little children to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven, and that whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (Mark 10) this portion of scripture, has truly come to light for us, in watching how our children just go adapt to wherever we take them and just jump right in and get on with life, and how much we have learnt by just watching their example of how we are called to love and do life.

A major concern for some in bringing our children on this trip had been their exposure to children with ‘you know HIV and AIDS’ how could we do that, but how much more blessed is it to give than to receive and to be in the center of the Lords will.  Knowing He is forming our childrens hearts just as much as He is ours during all the seasons of our lives and that Jesus, in making this statement in Mark, truly does know best, in that children are so less judgemental than us adults with all our perceived ideas and agendas, they just accept each other where they are, regardless of race or language barriers, find their common ground and get on with life! and enjoy it to the fullest. 

What a blessing to be able to bathe sweet Abby (all 5 years of her) at night and scrub (literally) the dirt off of her little feet and body, and listen to her relay the excitement of her afternoon spent running around barefoot, playing with children, new puppies, pushing each other round in wheelbarrows, all with children she cannot understand verbally, but with whom she has had such a wonderful time playing and interacting with.

The Good Shepherd family and those that serve and do life with them, are a precious group of souls.  We did not have any one particular project with them, but instead chose to just spend time with them, visiting every day.  Much counseling and parenting advice with dispensed to many of the teenagers from us.  Many of the younger girls especially just want to walk and go with you and hold your hand, and be close to you.  As a mom you just want to stay with them and tuck them all in at night, and pray over their sweet lives, asking the Lord to give them a mom and dad everyday to hold their hand and walk through this oftentimes cruel world with them.  However it is sweet to watch how some of the older ones ‘mother’ the younger ones, like sweet Rejoice who at 10 and has such a tender heart, and carries one of the 18month old babies around with her and plays with her, feeds her and mothers her every moment she can.
Possibly our favorite day with the kids was one Saturday, we had set aside some funds, to throw them a birthday party – we asked the Mothers to draw up a menu and we went shopping and bought loads of good foods, and treats and got some cakes baked, and then threw a birthday party complete with balloons and napkins and glow sticks for everyone.  For us our childrens birthdays, out of all the holidays and special days we have in the US, we choose to focus most of our energies on the day the Lord chose for them to be born into this world, so with 60plus extra kids in tow, we had a big birthday bash and celebrated each of their lives, and let them know how special they all our in the Lords sight.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Time at Lasting Impressions

It’s almost two weeks since we arrived here at Lasting Impressions and time just flies. We are heading into our last full week here, and there is much to tell.

MECHANICS: The vehicles that David had been working on came to a halt. As two were having trouble becoming one, so if you all could keep that in prayers as they truly need another reliable vehicle on the road. David and Al had a trip into Harare to explore other options and repair generators that we are learning are a huge necessity to run a fully functioning camp and household here.  Power cuts are just a part of the normal day that you get used to – but fervently pray for a solution here, as it can be very wearing when this is part of your everyday life.

CAMPS:  We are on the third camp since we got here. It’s been neat to watch the different groups and ages come through here, and to see the impact of the work on the children. Prayerfully it will continue in their lives as they go back to school, home and dorm life.  David was able to share his testimony (the long version) with some seniors, which as his wife, was very moving to see, and then he was able to follow up with it at the camps close the next day before they left.

FIXER OF ALL THINGS: Other than that, David has been fixing, and I have been teaching. The kids have been able to interact with Shelley’s home school group and I got to attend Bible study and a potjie (cookout) with some of the families from her group. It has been a blessing, getting to listen to and pray for them.
ERNEST:  We got to visit with Ernest and his family a few times, and have had some sweet interactions with them and their whole church last Sunday. We took many pictures of them and his mielies (corn) which he is very proud of.  It has been very sweet to bring the kids along as we go visit and especially as they play with a lot of the staff that work here and live on the property. As we visit at their homes, they truly are just slotting in wherever and pay no mind to rich or poor, black or white. To them as the kids song goes, they are all just precious in His sight, and they love and play with everyone as well as the next.

CHURCH:  We were blessed at church with a very timely word on the multifaceted love of Christ this weekend. I had given Shelley a copy of The Story and it has been used repeatedly in teaching at the camp and very powerfully at church this past weekend.

PRAYER:  We have been praying much as there is much to pray for here. It’s been very freeing not to have our daily chores and routines to deal with. We are able to stop and pray and help where needed as we go along throughout the day, which is nice considering the constant power cuts and daily struggles of life here that we never encounter back home. Please be lifting the local church here as they seek out a new pastor. Also pray for continued favor and protection over the camp, which is very much needed right now, with all that is going on in this region at this time in history.

FRIENDS:  Friday the Bekar family will be joining us, and then we’re going on our ‘mini-vacation’ with their sweet family, then next week we head off to Chinhoyi to see all the wonderful people at 3C’s church and the Good Shepherd Orphanage.

  For the rest of this week, there are back to back camps, which has been such a blessing to see the growth here and the amazing ministry that this is to the people of this nation. Please be fervently praying for the word of the Lord to continue to go throughout this land.  There is still so much darkness in places I hadn’t seen it before. It has been really good to have more time here, and get to hear of lot of people’s stories, so we can better understand life and culture here. In turn it allows us to better know how to pray for and serve this community.

Work has been continuing up at Everest with the installation of a very ‘special’ longdrop toilet! It was installed just in time for Wednesday’s full moon activities up there, which will allow us more time to minister to and deepen some relationships with folks from the community that need to know the Lord.

The wildlife continues to fascinate the children, with monkeys as our morning alarm call, a huge troop of baboons on the way back from breakfast, blue winged flies, and birds of all sorts.

Today I (Jackie) took my first solo ride into town with the kids to do a grocery run for the camp. For those who have been here, you will appreciate that this is not any ordinary 10 mile ride! Much praying was done with every bump and pothole we encountered on the way.

Thursday we are hoping to be able to visit Tariro which is a small home for children that was started here. We have tried to remain flexible with our plans, as the camps keep everyone busy, and we have not had the opportunity to visit there yet.

We love you all and sorry if you have replied to any posts or sent emails or comments, we have not had much internet access, Shelley is sending this via email to Lindsey to you!! Thank you Sue for your wisdom and Lindsey for your willingness.

One thing that has really struck us is the work of those back in the States who help out not just in coming out on trips to serve, but who have grasped the vision here and contribute in what probably seems like minimal ways. Whether financial or of your time the impact that this has over here is huge, so please continue to ask the Lord how He would have you involved in the work at LI. It is such a far reaching ministry that no-one will ever see the total fruit of it this side of heaven. Just from the staff that gets saved to the kids whose lives are forever changed by a few days here, we pray that it too will leave a lasting impression on your heart and life as you partner with this ministry.

Visit Lasting Impressions website to find out more about them at

We love you!

Jackie for the Grays