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The Long Journey Home

Our raw hearts have finally burst. After hours upon hours of driving, airport traipsing, flying, landing, flying again, landing again, and driving, we are nearly home. Exhaustion is upon us; we are spent.

 

And here, in this broken, exhausted, bursted heart place, right here, Jesus is good and faithful to his people. We peer through our exhausted, spent hearts to the founder and perfecter of our faith. We lean in close; we press our wounds into His, and ask the deepest questions of our hearts, “Even here, Jesus, even here, you are good? Even when I’m broken? Even when every fiber of my being is cut open and running red?”

 

Jesus whispers softly, like a light breeze blowing through a meadow, “The Lord is good to all and his mercy is over all that he has made.” (Psalm 145:9, ESV) With that promise, we travel home. With only the eternal hope of the Gospel, we move forward, one step, one moment at at time. Without it, the things we’ve seen and heard are confusion incarnate; only with the good Gospel do we make sense of the brokenness we have experienced in Swaziland and the brokenness we feel in our hearts.

 

We thank you – each one of you whose whispered prayers were lifted to the Almighty. Each of you who thought of us, followed us on our journey, spoke of us, prayed for us and over us. Each of you who broke for us. Thank you. The Lord listens to the prayers of His people, and we know He listened to yours on our behalf. Thank you for your brokenness for us.

 

We plead with you, continue to pray for us. We need them still. Our raw, fleshy hearts need time to continue to lean into our Savior. Pray for us to rest, to breathe, to lean on His goodness, to not forget what we have seen and heard. Pray for our Swazi friends; they need us now and continually. Jesus is good and faithful to His people.

 

Almost Home,

 

The Swaziland Partnership

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Categories: July 2017 Trip

Renewal

And it finally happened. Our first flat tire. This morning, instead of traipsing through Kruger, we spent it at a tire shop, getting a small hole on a tire fixed. Even in this moment, Christ is good.

After this quick interlude, we traveled onto Kruger. What another day of sights! Baby giraffes, lots of elephants, zebra, impala, and two cheetahs!

Driving lends itself to reflection. And as we drive, we’ve been reflecting even more on what our transition back to the States holds for us. We are marveling at the last few weeks of ministry, and God’s graces. We’ve been renewed in God’s spirit, more than ever before. This process of renewal has led to Christ revealing himself to us over and over and over again.

Yet, Christ is continually renewing us. He’s sanctifying us, he is refining us by his fire. Our time in Africa draws to a close, but God is still renewing us. We pray to bring a new boldness home. A renewed belief in God’s faithfulness.

We’ve taken a long draw of water from the Well of Life. We’ve tasted the tree of Life from the Garden. We’ve awed and marveled at God himself. At his graces. At his goodness. At fresh new mercies every morning.

But now it’s time to come home. To bring our renewal to those we love most. Revival begins with a few. Jesus began with 12. The 12 became 70. The 70 became the thousands of Acts. The thousands became the multitudes.

Father, Let it start with us. Let revival be found in the renewing of our spirits. Let us share with those we love most in this life the fire of revival. Let us heed the call to go. We’ve tasted and seen you are good and now it’s time to share. Give us boldness. Give us revival.

In Christ we Pray,

Amen.

The Swaziland Partnership

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Categories: July 2017 Trip

The Herd

Today during our adventures we absolutely basked in the glory of God’s creation. We discovered grace upon grace, but one specific highlight for the entire team has been African elephants. Around lunchtime today we discovered a herd of nearly 50 elephants munching away on the savannah! WOW!

 

After watching them for about 20 minutes, we decided to move on to let other cars enjoy the beauty. Just a few minutes down the road, we noticed another car, viewing a few little monkeys. One of the team members exclaimed, “They have no idea that because they are looking a just a couple of monkeys that they are missing out on an amazing herd of elephants just a minute away.”

 

Woah. Isn’t that true of us too? We’re satisfied with so little spiritually. We go to to church, have our wafer thin prayer lives, and go about our business. If  you’re familiar with C.S. Lewis, it brings to mind his words on mudpies vs. a holiday at sea.

 

“Our desires are not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mudpies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)

 

We’re content beings. In our comfortable contentedness, we’re missing out on every bit of glory God has for us. God is SO much bigger than us. His glory is far more than we can ask or imagine. As we reflected on the gift of this herd of elephants, we were reminded of this glory.

 

When we come back home, we don’t want to be content. We don’t want to make mudpies when we have the gift of salvation, the holiday at sea. We want to remember and remind ourselves daily of God’s faithful goodness and his unending glory.

 

We encourage you to behold God’s glory today too. Find it where you are. It’s alive in America too. We just have to keep looking for it.

 

Following the Lamb,

 

The Swaziland Partnership

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Categories: July 2017 Trip

Thin Lines

“The line between faith and insanity is thin.” Faith – the most basic element of our entire belief system. We are asked to believe in something (someone, really) greater than ourselves. And if you really think about it, it IS borderline insanity.

 

Today we traveled out of Swaziland, back into South Africa to Kruger National Park, the largest game reserve in the world. We beheld AMAZING creatures of God’s glory, including impala, kudu, zebras, elephants, lions, and yes, giraffes!

 

In the midst of this viewing, the team spent personal time reflecting, praying, feasting on all of God’s goodness over the last two weeks. We’ve reflected both individually and collectively on the lessons we’ll be bringing home. The resounding cry: boldness. faith. trust.

 

The belief in things unseen, faith is the actionable step to belief. We have witnessed many come to faith in our time in Africa, but in doing so we have also strengthened our own faith. We have walked the line of faith and insanity. We have felt on the fringes, pushing the limits of our faith and seeing God expand that faith.

 

We expect God to continue to move that faith. To give us the kind of faith that moves mountains. As we continue to meditate on all we’ve seen and heard, we’re begging God to continue to strengthen use in that faith, and to help us bring it home.

 

Join with us in that prayer.

 

With Faith in Things Unseen,

 

The Swaziland Partnership

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Categories: July 2017 Trip

African Sunsets

Goodbye never gets any easier. In fact, in Swaziland, goodbye tends to be harder and harder. As we said goodbye to many today, we tasted the bittersweetness of this life. We beheld the faces of those who we may never see again in this life, but we know we will rejoice with in eternity.

 

Church today was a combined three services of all the churches in the Northeast. With attendance of over 100, we praised God for nearly 2.5 hours! Jimmy delivered a fantastic sermon on Nicodemus, and many Swazi and American voices were lifted high!

 

After delivering many of our Swazi friends back to their homes, we came back to our guesthouse and said goodbye to the Allen family, the Poe family, and our great friend, Kuseni Jele. Although we will be going home with some of those, the goodbyes do hurt. This evening we were able to invite the pastors in this area to dinner, and we celebrated and shared with them the amazing things God has done in our time here. Praise God!

 

As the sun begins to set on our time in Swaziland, we reflect back on all that God has done in our time here. We’ve seen lives changes – both Swazi and American. We’ve witnessed God move in a mighty way all over this country. We’ve beheld grace incarnate in the faces and voices of Swazi Christians. We’ve cried, reveled, and shared in the beauties of the nation and in each other. We’re thankful for the African sunsets, even if they are bittersweet.

 

Continue to pray for us as we transition to Kruger. We’ll be spending time processing, engaging with God, and sharing our last few moments together. Pray for our rest in the Lord. Pray for our steadfastness in the Gospel. Pray for our transition back to American life. We’ll update you on our adventures there!

 

Reveling in the Graces,

 

The Swaziland Partnership

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Categories: July 2017 Trip

Heeding the Call

“Call” tends to be one of those cheesy Christian words that people use. “Are you called? Has Jesus called you to Himself?” As much as we have culturalized it, calling is biblical. God has called each of us.

 

Today was packed with activities that showed us Jesus’ calling to us. This morning we headed out to Section 19, one of the poorest communities in the entire Kingdom of Swaziland. After attending kids’ bible church, we were able to share playtime with the children with stickers, bubbles, soccer and beach balls! We had a blast!

 

We then traveled to some of our missionary friends’ properties to have another children’s church. While there we were able to hear their story and of their plans for a medical clinic. We know they will be touching the lives of many in Tshaneni. We also prayer walked their property, praying for wisdom and love over them. After wearing ourselves down with more play, we went back, rested up, and went to Vuvulane for revival. What a sweet time!  God is moving in Vuvulane! In Swaziland!

 

Prayer Requests:

  • Church tomorrow. All three northern churches will be coming together for service, and we pray for a sweet time with our friends!
  • Bittersweetness. Tomorrow our friends, the Allens and the Poes will be leaving us behind. Pray for their safety as they embark on their own travels, and for their last sweet moments in Swaziland.
  • Rest. We are exhausted. As we go to Kruger, pray for us to rest and to connote to grow as a team!

 

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take us his cross and follow me!’” (Matthew 16:25, ESV)

 

We ARE called. We are called to leave it behind for Jesus. We are called to pick up our cross. We are called to leave behind comfort. Family. Friends. Relationships. Ambition. Success. Country. Citizenship.

 

Jesus is worth it.

 

Going to the Well,

 

The Swaziland Partnership

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Categories: July 2017 Trip

The Fire of Revival

“When somethings burns you, you remember it.” The fire of revival is burning in Swaziland. What a testament to God’s grace! We’re getting to witness it firsthand, and we are so thankful.

 

Tonight we went to church! After a arduous drive to Tshaneni (the northern area of Swaziland), we spent the afternoon on the small game park where we are staying and resting as a team. After a quick dinner, we headed off to Vuvulane for church!

 

The Lord MOVED tonight and we saw four souls get saved! Praise God! Brother Jarred brought the word of the Lord to the room, speaking on revival of the flame of our hearts. He challenged us all in many ways, but a few stick out.

 

`If you feed your flesh, you will starve the fires of God.” He challenged us to sacrifice everything we have to fan the flame of the Gospel in ourselves. With the spirit moving, he asked us just to consider, “We have to stop playing church. We have to go out on the highways and byways and preach the Good News of the Lord.”

 

We felt called to pass that challenge onto you tonight. We pray that you feed the fire of God in your own heart. Fan the flame of the Gospel. Ignite your heart for Jesus. Ask yourself, “are you walking with God? Are you sacrificing everything for him?”

 

We pray over each of you to know the Lord. We pray that you would know the fire of God, and that it would reignite. We want to bring home the fire of Swaziland to America. We want to stand in awe of the revival that we see here right at home. Help us fan the flame. Help us bring the spirit of revival to your neighbors, coworkers, family, and friends.

 

Prayer Requests:

  • Revival. Pray for the revival of Swaziland. Pray that each soul tonight saved would go out and share with others the Good News of Jesus.
  • Swaziland. Pray for this country. Pray fervently that every soul would know Him. Pray that revival would burn here.
  • America. Pray that the fire would ignite in our own country. We want to watch America burn with the Gospel.

 

We are so thankful for you. Your prayers moved the Lord to bring revival tonight to Vuvulane. We beg you to continue to pray for us and Swaziland, that the coals would become an open flame, and that our hearts would burn for this country, for this land.

 

Igniting the Night,

 

The Swaziland Partnership

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Categories: July 2017 Trip

Rubbing Raw

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you….” (Ezekiel 36:26-27, NIV)

 

What a Gospel message: When we come to know the Lord, we are given a heart of flesh. We are given His spirit, and he descends upon us. In this process, however, the heart of flesh becomes pulpy, and raw Our fleshy hearts are rubbed raw with wounds of sin,  scars of pain, and burns of heartbreak.

 

Our hearts have been rubbed raw by Swaziland. We fight to believe they are not goodbyes, but rather they are “see you soon.” As we finished up homestead visits in the central part of the country today, and said goodbye to our translators, we are reminded of this fleshy heart.

 

One particular story stands out today: during a homestead visit, we were able to “cold call”, one of our Swazi friends was paralyzed, most likely from a stroke. After presenting her with a BGR bucket, she wanted to put the socks on her feet, but did not want to until her feet were clean. Sweet Elijah, only 15 years old, knelt down and lovingly washed the feet of this sweet Swazi woman. Not a dry eye, as you can imagine. She was blessed by his sweet testimony, and we were blessed by his Gospel heart.

 

Prayer Requests:

  • Illness. Most of the team is fighting some kind of illness, both internal and external. Pray for our health as we finish out the trip.
  • Travel. We will be moving locations tomorrow in country. We are so excited, but want to stay safe during out travels!
  • Revival. Tomorrow we will be hosting a revival in the North. Pray for God to move during this time, and for team member Jarred as he brings the word of God!

 

It’s getting bittersweet here but your encouragement and prayer continues to give us the strength and hope of the Lord. We are so thankful for each of you!

 

We Burn for Jesus,

 

The Swaziland Partnership

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Categories: July 2017 Trip

Heartbreak For a Nation

Heartbreak and Jesus go hand in hand. As we fall more in love with Jesus, our hearts tend to break harder and harder for those who don’t know Him. As we traversed Swaziland today, our entire team broke for this nation, broke for these precious, precious people.

 

After a morning breakfast, we traveled to Lesibovu for homestead visits and Bible Study. The morning was spent introducing the team and encouraging the  members and pastor of Lesibovu. As it always happens in Swaziland, they encouraged us more than we encouraged them! Their hearts were so good to us, and we left humbled by their words.

 

Homestead visits were both heartbreaking and joyful. We saw a few decisions for Christ, praise God! It is a joy to see new souls won the Kingdom, knowing that we will see our new friends in Ezulwini (siSwati for Heaven)! Bible study was also a huge success for the men and women who stayed, and some of the youth played with some local children!

 

“I left my heart in Swaziland, and I had to come back  and get it.” Swaziland just has a way of doing that, doesn’t it? If you’ve traveled here, you know that firsthand. If you haven’t, ask God if He is calling your heart here. As our hearts are breaking for this nation, we pray that your join us in prayer to the Father, that God would bring the whole Kingdom of Swaziland to the Kingdom of God.

 

Prayer Requests:

  • New Converts. Pray for the souls who have made decisions for Christ this week. Pray for their spiritual nourishment, as they are infants in their walk. Pray they become strongly rooted in God’s word!
  • Physical Needs. Pray for the physical needs of the people of Swaziland. They are so very prevalent, and the communities we are working in are often the poorest of the poor. Pray that God would continue to meet the physical needs of the people here.
  • The team. Tomorrow is our last full day as a team, as some will be breaking off to visits their friends in Swaziland. (those who have lived here previously.) Pray that we would relish the friendships we have formed, and not take these last precious moments for granted.

 

We’re so thankful for your continued prayers, encouragements, Facebook and Instagram comments, and love. We are so encouraged by those of you who are in the States praying fervently for us. Continue to pray for us, and we’ll see you soon!

 

Letting the peace of Christ rule our hearts,

 

The Swaziland Partnership

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Categories: July 2017 Trip

Stirring Affections

As the sun sets over the mountains of Mbabane, we are thankful for another restful, thoughtfully designed day in Swaziland. Today was filled with both emotion and joy, as the team split apart to set out on two very different missions.

 

This morning was spent in devotion with a local police station, which was a huge success. After sharing both testimony and the Word of God, we were invited into the station commander’s office, where we were able to pray over him and present him with a Bible! He then gave us a tour of the facility, and had tea and biscuits waiting for us! What an honor and treat!

 

After a lovely morning, the majority of the team spent today resting, visiting both the candle factory and some local markets for souvenirs! This brought rest and relaxation to our team, which has been nonstop since we landed in Swaziland. Swaziland has both beautiful crafts and gifts, and we look forward to bringing them home.

 

The rest of the team traveled south to Nhlangano, the southern most city of Swaziland. Although different groups from different churches travel to Swaziland over the course of a calendar year, we often don’t get to visit every single person and friend we love in Swaziland. We were able to visit some of our friends in Nhlangano, those who have translated and loved our ministry for many, many years. Although this was a treat, it was also bittersweet for all who went. Many tears were shed, both happy and sad, and words of encouragement and hope were shared. These kinds of discipleship moments are key for our ministry in Swaziland, and we hope to bring peace and love to all who we visited.

 

The theologian Charles Spurgeon often spoke of “stirring affections for Jesus.” For many of us today, our affections were stirred for the Lord. Sharing with our Swazi friends is a gift, each and every time. We pray that you are all encouraged and that your affections are stirred by our stories and thoughts from Swaziland!

 

Prayer Requests:

  • Hope. Seeing old friends for a moment is a bittersweet time. Pray for each of us who went to Nhlangano today, that our hearts would not be troubled, but we would find hope in the Lord tonight.
  • Homestead Visits. We will be traveling to Lesibovu tomorrow, and delivering supplies. Pray for the team and the homesteads we will visit, that the Gospel would be preached and hearts would be stirred towards Christ!
  • Our leaders. As the week moves on, our adult leaders are beginning to feel the strain of driving  8+ hours days and planning strategically for the whole team. Pray for their rest!
We covet your prayers! We are so thankful for each and every one! Continue to pray for us please!
With great anticipation,
The Swaziland Partnership

 

 

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Categories: July 2017 Trip
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