We are sitting under the meal shelter at Iris Footprints in Johannesburg, the wind whipping us with the last bits of South African winter. Everyone is bundled and talking together into the night. New friends and new ground recovered after a week of significant, powerful healing and deliverance. Week 1 is done, and I think everyone is ready to have a Sabbath day tomorrow! We are emotionally spent in the best way!
John and I made our way to the base last Friday, with a few days of settling in and meeting new students as they came in shifts. The Footprints base here is an active Children’s home, and they have never before hosted a Harvest School. With very little notice, they have hosted 250 students for these first 2 weeks of school, which I’m sure was not at all easy – just think 3 meals a day for 14 days in an outdoor semi-kitchen, and the bathrooms to cater to us all!
Just to accurately paint the scene here – Imagine a large, sloping hill covered in mowed down brush and red/black dust and dirt, and then imagine about 150 tents scattered in bunches, a dozen or so portojohns, 2 horses roaming around freely, a few large worship tents to one side, a handful of tiny, new wooden cabins and a large tin shelter on the other side – that is our home for this leg of Harvest School! John and I are in one of the small cabins, which is segmented into 2 private rooms (one room per couple) just large enough for a bed and our bags. We are super thankful for a mattress and a tiny plot of space to call our second home!
There are 14 other married couples in our family, which is called “House of Love.” They are amazing. It is crazy to go from feeling a bit isolated in your life decisions (ie: we’re packing up our stuff and selling our car and quitting our jobs and moving to Africa and God’s gotta show us what to do!) to being surrounded by Godly couples who have just gone through the same process, the same emotions, the same thoughts. They have faced the same hard steps of faith, the same uprooting from homes, jobs, and families, and are here in confidence that God has something for them. There is a couple that has been married over 20 years, and a couple who got married just a few weeks ago! We are honored to be in such sweet company. We have especially made close friends & partners in the gospel from The Netherlands!
This first week has exceeded all of our expectations! It’s kind of funny the notion that, because it’s a missions training school, we must be doing lots of missions! Although we have several opportunities to serve the community around us and go on outreach, Iris has spent the entire first week leading us through our own inner healing and deliverance! They had minister/trainers come all the way from (drumroll please) North Carolina(!!!) from a ministry called Restoring the Foundations. They not only trained us up with the truth of and tools for Biblical healing and deliverance for others and ourselves, but actually took us through those steps for our own healing and deliverance all week!
I think that as believers, we can put such a stigma on needing any further healing and deliverance after salvation – if you do, you’ve got something “really wrong.” What a lie from the enemy to keep us in a place of shame, and ultimately deflecting us from our destiny and the life abundantly he really does have for us. It was completely from the Lord that he took time to take all of us through some needed healing from the many hurts of life and deliverance from real oppression – tending gingerly and powerfully to this group of ministers and missionaries as a necessary part of the process of training before going out.
There were many countless testimonies of freedom and healing just from this week – including our own. He gently and meticulously began unwinding places which had been stuffed or coiled deep in our hearts, minds, and spirits. Out of this freedom and healing, we are set up to give away the love of Jesus more freely and powerfully. He wants His sheep to be wholly well, not just “getting along fine.” Thank you Jesus!
It has been super cold here during the nights (40’s) so we’ve developed a routine of bundling as many layers of clothes as possible, then wrapping in blankets, then getting in our sleeping bags! Then it gets very hot during the day, so our clothes are getting a good workout!
Our hearts are full and free. He is awakening hunger. We have formed many great friendships already! We miss all our friends and family back home but feel so blessed to be here, now! He is restoring passions of our hearts and giving us new passions. We are so excited for the next 9 weeks!
Our ministry group for to visit a slum village close by yesterday afternoon, and the kids and men loved John, while I got to spend some sweet time with the mamas.
We have one more week at the Jburg base, then head to Nelspruit for 3 weeks. We are expectant for more!!
(This blogpost brought to you by a Saturday off and wifi in a coffee shop at a nearby mall!)
We are praying for our friends and families back home, that he is tending to you deeply in His love!
Sam & John