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South Africa Missions News (February 2012) -
Federated remains active in mission work in South Africa, extending our love to make a real difference in the lives of others.
After our June 2011 trip, team member Kate Koberna decided she needed to do something more so she began a blanket fund and raised $1030, which was wired to our trip leader, Craig Duffield or Port Elizabeth. Craig had heard of a new squatter camp where about 130 homeless people had congregated. Our team bought and delivered some goods to assist against the low winter temperatures. Kate took that willingness to help a big step forward.
In the same spirit, after the 2008 mission trip, Mark and Kathy Simone, with friend Sue Steines, also felt a need to do more. Out of many conversations came Brick by Brick: Building Futures Home and Abroad .
Brick by Brick is a non-profit focusing primarily on ways to help South African women and their families. During our 2011 trip we learned that our mission sponsor in Port Elizabeth, the Human Dignity Center, was in the process of building a school campus, one classroom at a time, near Area Q, where we did much of our mission work. Please visit the Brick by Brick website and learn more of our effort to build that school.
Finally, Federated member, Caroline Young, has returned to our beloved Sparrow Village near Johannesburg, for another extended stay among the predominately HIV positive children.
Federated has much to be proud of as we continue to support these projects with prayer and financial help.
Click here to see the journal from our mission trip to South Africa in June 2008.
The relationship of the Federated Church with South Africa began in 1998 when I was invited to be part of a four city Leadership Training tour. I had just published two youth ministry books with author Jim Burns and it was Jim who asked me to share the teaching and training responsibilities. Our team spent two weeks and visited Cape Town, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria conducting three day events for over 150 youth workers. During this trip I became good friends with Rev. Deon Kitching, a professor of Missions and Youth Ministry at the Huguenot College in Wellington, SA. Deon invited me to return for an extended stay and in May of 1999 so I returned to South Africa for a whirlwind six week tour that took us to many cities across the Republic. I became “hooked” on South Africa and have returned 11 times over the years that followed.
During my third visit in 2000, Deon and I learned of a tiny AIDS house run by a retired nurse, now ordained minister, from her home. We dropped in unannounced and visited what was then called the Sparrow’s Nest. For the first time in my life I was confronted by the horrors of AIDS as I saw it in full effect, ravaging the tiny bodies of innocent children. After spending a couple of hours visiting, learning and playing with the children I returned to our car and wept. What was going on in our world? I vowed to do all I could for Sparrow as they were just getting ready to embark upon a much prayed for building project which would create the world’s first all AIDS village. I was later told that I was the first American to visit and help Sparrow Village
. Someone should tell Oprah!
From these early trips Federated Church began to sense that God was behind these missions and ministries and faithfully sought ways to support what was becoming our joint, church-wide work in South Africa. In 2001 our Christmas Eve offering was split between Sparrow Village, Nederburg Primary School, Deon’s ministries and to establish an AIDS clinic in Johannesburg through the work of Rev. Andre Kloppers in which Andre persuaded 30 doctors to volunteer one day a month seeing AIDS patients free of charge.
Additionally, my Youth Ministry Leadership Training work was expanding. I was being invited back for conferences, retreats, day long seminars, to preach in churches and to instruct youth workers of all colors in guiding teenager to a loving relationship with Jesus.
It was around this time, three or so years into visiting South Africa, that Dave Norling (Senior Pastor of Federated Church at the time) said he saw this as an answer to his prayers for our church to have a global presence somewhere. It had been years since Federated had been involved in a much beloved orphanage in India. It was time for a new mission front. On his recommendation I took 30 or so adults and youth to South Africa for a work camp in 2002. Another trip went in 2004. In between I was going once a year for what has developed into an annual youth ministry circuit in March. And all of these missions have found incredible support from our precious Federated Church.
Many from our family have found their own ministries in South Africa. We have sent workers to Sparrow numerous times and members Cindy Marschner and Caroline Young have lived at Sparrow for extended tours of mission. Others have visited and supported various schools. Our work overflowed last year to include major donations of books and art supplies by students of Brady Middle School in the Orange School system when my wife suggested Sparrow and other South African schools as needy recipients. A number of our Federated members provided the money for shipping the materials.
There are so many individual stories and much more that we have done in the name of Christ in South Africa. Frequently, my hosts have marveled at this amazing church that does so very, very much for people they have never met. I am continually asked to bring greetings to you all and have heard our church prayed for in Zulu and Xhosa by appreciative sisters and brothers in Christ. It is so wonderful to hear our church being blessed for being such a blessing.
The work continues. I am planning two return visits, one for my speaking, teaching and training work and another for interested Federated members and friends. I don’t know how long the work will continue, but I do know that lives are being changed by this great church.
Thank you, Federated Church, for your continued love and support for South Africa through our missions.
May you always sense God’s best blessings and presence,
Rev. Mark Simone
To read the journal from our South Africa Work Camp Team's mission trip on June 9-25, 2008. Click here.