Thursday, June 16, 2011

STEAM XXIII - Trumbles in Malawi - 4 November 2010

Greetings! Today I am sending out a little different STEAM message. I am asking you to consider donating some money toward the purchase & distribution of Bibles and other evangelistic endeavors in Malawi.

Michael and Igna Janse van Rensburg are new to ABC. As the academic year approached there was an urgent need for a teacher at the ABC Christian Academy and this family who was living in South Africa responded on very short notice and moved their family of 5 to Malawi in August. They only found out about the possibility of coming to ABC at about the beginning of July and received official word that they were coming on July 16 and then in early August they drove from their home in South Africa to Malawi. Igna (and yes, it is spelled that kind of includes a Germanic guttural sound when you say it properly) teaches 3rd grade at the ABC Christian Academy and Michael (when pronounced properly it kind of sounds like MIK-el but there’s sort of a guttural sound in the middle there somewhere too…I mostly just call him Michael like one would pronounce it in the States) is working in a badly needed maintenance/facilities role at ABC.

Michael has got to be one of the most gifted evangelists I've ever known. He talks to people and leads them to the Lord. I went shopping with him once and it was kind of a pain because he ends up talking to people and it takes a long time. Anyway, one of the things that he does in his job at ABC is to oversee the dozens of manual laborers that we have on the campus. These are grounds workers, carpenters, brick layers, painters and the like. Michael does devotions with these guys in the mornings before work…he leads the devotional times most days and then ABC students come on Fridays to speak. Many of these workers do not have a Bible but Michael would like to see those who want one to have one.

Michael rode with me yesterday to a men’s Bible study group that we attend on Wednesdays and mentioned this issue to me. He had contacted his old church back in South Africa but they are unable to help fund this Bible purchase at this time. So, would you be willing to help pay for some Bibles and possibly other evangelism-related expenses that he will incur? Michael would like the workers to pay something for the Bibles so that they appreciate them and value them but these guys are pretty poor so the purchase would be subsized to some degree. Many of the workers take home less than the equivalent of $75 per month and even the highest paid ones would rarely, if ever, take home as much as $200 from ABC in a month). Over 30 of these guys have expressed in interest in a Bible…most would like a Chichewa Bible (Chichewa is the main language spoken in Malawi) but a few want an English Bible and then there is a desire for one in Portuguese and one in Timbuka (another language spoken in Malawi). The money he collects from these guys for the Bibles will get rolled back in and will be used for further ministry.

It won't really take a lot of seed money to get started but I'm asking you to consider making a donation to support this effort to provide the Word of God to some folks here in Malawi. Even if you do not wish to support this effort monetarily please pray for Michael as he shares the gospel with these workers and others with whom he has contact. Pray also for boldness for the rest of us who are not gifted evangelists but still need to be ready to share the reason for the hope that we have in Christ.

After the family moved to Malawi Michael hired a young man to work at his house and led him to the Lord. I asked him about others who he’s led to the Lord here in Malawi and he said that there were “plenty”. As I spoke with him this morning (and keep in mind that he’s been in Malawi for less than 3 months) and asked him about people he’s lead to the Lord he mentioned Francis, Mark, John, Godfrey, Chifundo, Noah, Naston, Alick, and Emerson. I said something like, “You’re always looking for opportunities [opportunities to witness to people]” and his response was, “Oh yes.”

Not long after the family arrived in Malawi some kids were at our house and Hanna , the 6 year old came to me with a hurt toe and she was asking me for a plaster. Huh??? What's a plaster?? Anyway, apparently that's what a South African calls a bandage. Now, nobody has ever accused me of being particularly gifted in the medical arts but I helped here rinse off her toe in the tub and I got some bandages on her toe and it seemed to go okay. Happily she still has the toe and it seems to be fine...she is quite the cutie. Lydia, the 13 year old calls me ‘Uncle Dan’. They are a nice family.

Whether you can give us some funds for this effort or not, please keep this family in your prayers. Igna has left today to fly back to South Africa where her Mom is in bad shape. About a week ago a dog bit her arm and face and there is some question about whether she’ll be able to keep the arm. After the dog attack she had a stroke and has been unconscious for most or all of the time since then. She even stopped breathing on her own for a time on Monday but is breathing okay again now. Michael says that she is a nominal Christian but that she has not given her life to the Lord so pray for her physical and spiritual health as well as the family as Mom spends some time in South Africa while Dad and the kids stay in Malawi.

Below is a picture taken in early August before the family left South Africa. The couch they are sitting on in the picture belongs to friends of theirs. It’s a very nice couch. If the couch could be sold and the proceeds used to purchase Bibles, we would probably have plenty of money for this effort. Alas, the couch is not being sold for that purpose.

If you are interested in contributing to this effort, for now I would ask you to respond to this message and tell me how much you wish to contribute. I do not have a final answer yet regarding what mechanism we will use to move the money to Malawi but if we get adequate commitments we can possibly move forward with the purchase of Bibles this weekend with the idea of distributing some of them early next week. However, this will not be run through ABC like support for our family is done. While there will be benefit to some of the ABC workers through this effort, it will not be limited to ABC people and is not an official ABC ministry. For those of you who tell me that you wish to contribute I will send a follow-up message with the details of how to do that.

Thanks for your prayers for the Van Rensburgs (even though their name is “Janse van Rensburg” we just call them “Van Rensburg” here at ABC) and for our family.


Michael & Igna and their three children. Hanna is 6, Reinier is 10, and Lydia is 13 (Lydia is in Jim’s 8th grade class at the ABC Christian Academy).

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