Reflect and Renew

The Blog of Pastor Alan Cassady of Navarre United Methodsit Church

Archive for the tag “missions”

South Africa 4

A typical day for our team begins with breakfast around 6:30 or 7:00 am depending on the schedule. We then travel to the church to divide up into teams for service projects.

We then work on the projects until noon and head to the church for lunch. The ladies of the church cook lunch and supper for us, and we have had some wonderful meals!

After lunch we either head back to the service projects or to a school for an afternoon motivational talk. We also spend time getting ready for other events or learning about other ministries.

3:00 pm means children’s ministry in the stadium – actually just a walled field where the kids and young adults of the community gather to play soccer. The first day we had about 300 kids show up. The number increased until it was too many to count but estimates went from 500 to 800. By the way, we planned for 250.

Our team did a wonderful job of telling Bible stories, helping with crafts and playing games with the kids. As you could imagine, there was a lot of improvisation going on because of the sheer numbers of the kids.

On other days we would do service projects of visit the orphanage and do activities with the kids there.

At 5 pm the kids are sent home and we walk back to the church for supper. After supper we change clothes and prepare for the evangelism services that evening. At first we were to do four services, but just prior to our leaving, Pastor Josiah asked if we could do six. I agreed and so for six straight nights we worshiped with the people of the community and preached the Word.

The services usually lasted about two hours and were full of singing, dancing and excitement. We held the services in a large tent that the pastor borrowed from another local pastor. It was set up in the “stadium” and was also used for the Children’s ministry in the afternoon.

After the services (around 8:30 or 9) we would travel back to the guesthouse and have a debriefing meeting so we could get to bed by 10:00 pm.

Boy am I tired!


South Africa 3

My first full day in South Africa, I sat down in Pastor Josiah’s office and talked with him about the community and his ministry here. He has served in the ministry for about 30 years, most of the time in this church. He is actually the founding pastor of Christian Revival Ministries.

One of the challenges he faces here is the high unemployment rate in South Africa. While he could not give me a figure, I later found out it was around 25%. One of the homes we painted was for a man who had been out of work for four years. He would gather plastic and other recyclable materials to sell for enough to live on and send his children to school. Pastor Josiah told me that University graduates even had a hard time finding work and sometimes had to settle for jobs cleaning floors in factories.

He said that many in his church are very poor and so it is the poor ministering to the poor. “Prayer,” he said, “is what the church offers and often all we have.”

He told me that often what he preaches in the church is completely counter to what the people learn in the culture. The church preaches honesty and godly living, but often people tempted to steal or prostitute themselves just to survive. As a church they can offer support to those who choose not to go the way of the culture.

One of the biggest challenges he faces is Satanism. Worship of Satan is alive and well in South Africa. Satanism here even includes human sacrifice and many are drawn to it. I asked him what was the attraction for people? He said, money, power and status. Satanism, as it is practiced here, promises people that if they will do the sacrifices and following their teaching and rituals that they will become rich and be able to control their own destiny.

If you want to add something to your prayer list, pray that the people of South Africa would have their eyes opened to the true power of the gospel in Jesus Christ. This is one of the places in the world where spiritual warfare is real.

South Africa 2

During the Sunday morning worship service, we gathered with the people of Christian Revival Ministries. We had been working in their community for four days and had come to appreciate all that God was doing through them in the community.

But during the service, I got a tremendous shock. The pastor told the congregation that our coming to this community was, “a direct intervention of God.” Later Pastor Josiah’s wife Mary welcomed us and told the congregation that one day she was praying and she said, God what have we done to deserve this team coming to us?” She then told us, “We do not want you to feel at home, but to be at home!”

I just sat there in the congregation in a kind of stunned, humble silence. How could we be a direct intervention of God? How could we measure up to being the kind of blessing they saw us to be?

I have prayed many times, “Lord if I can be the answer to someone else’s prayer I willing give my self to you.” And now it was happening! All I can tell you is that at that moment I wanted to do everything I could to serve and preach the best I could for these people. If I, and the rest of the team, were a direct intervention of God, I wanted to measure up to that billing.

I often remember hearing people say things like, “Well we don’t have to try real hard to make sure things are done well, because after all it is only the church.” I heard people say that about music in worship, Christmas performances and even outreach events – and it makes me cringe. If we are doing things for God, shouldn’t we give it our best effort? Shouldn’t we strive for excellence instead of just slopping through?

These days in South Africa have reminded me that no matter what I do, I am part of God’s answer to someone’s prayer – and that deserves my best, today and every day.

South Africa 1


It is now Monday afternoon on our trip to South Africa. It is hard to believe that so much has happened so far. I had expected to write an update every other day or so but this is our sixth day in country and the first chance I have had to write anything.

The days have been long, but the work is very rewarding. So far we have done a motivational talk and a devotional at one of the primary schools and begun painting three houses. We have met wonderful people and shared in great meals. We have visited a small orphanage and done Bible school lessons and activities with up to 700 kinds at one time.

We have shared in worship with the congregation of Christian Revival Ministries and Pastor Josiah. Their expressive, heart-felt worship has touched and challenged all of us. We have also experienced their worship in the evangelism services the past four nights. This was my third experience of preaching through an interpreter and the best by far. Although most people understand English, an interpreter helps them understand better by translating the message into their mother tongue.

He have had the opportunity to begin building relationships with Pastor Josiah and his wife Mary, James our driver and Brighton, a pastor and evangelist who has partnered with the Praying Pelican Mission group. We have also begun to build relationships with many of the children and adults of the church and community.

The African church is a vibrant and growing church. They are not sitting back and waiting for missionaries to come and help them out, they are doing the work of ministry and sending missionaries of their own. By the way, I discovered that there are more African missionaries in America, than there are American missionaries in Africa.

One particular ministry that I have been impressed with is a part of the Global prayer network. They have developed an easy and practical method of evangelism based on Jesus sending out the 72 disciples in Luke 10. Brighton and one of his coworkers shared the program with us during two sessions and It is a simple amazing and natural way to introduce people to Jesus Christ.

I will share more later.

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