Half Way Mark

We are officially at the half way mark of our time in South Africa. We actually only have 8 full days left on the campus with the students because the last week we are here we will be at the COJ Winter Camp for 3 days with the students and spend the last 3 days at Kruger National Park. Monday and Tuesday of this coming week we will be visiting Alexandra, which is one of the poorest townships in all of South Africa. The organization we will be working with there is in the process of trying to create jobs for women outside of prostitution in order to provide for their children. The organization’s hope is to create enough jobs and sustainability within the township to officially break poverty.

I am really looking forward to getting more exposure to the desperate needs of the world. Compassion and mercy is something the Lord has really opened my eyes to and seeing I have a heart for those in desperate need. I’m really thankful God used this experience to reveal to me just how much my heart breaks for the needy and it gets me really excited in light of dreaming for what I could potentially do after I graduate in December.

With only three weeks left, I feel as if I’m just now really hitting my stride. I wish I would have sooner in the trip, but I’m thankful I am now rather than not at all. The first two weeks or so I was very overwhelmed with the depths of my sin and seemed to be struggling with believing the gospel in light of my ugly heart. However, within this past week I have experienced a lot of freedom in the gospel with my sin, knowing that I have hope in Jesus’ final payment of my sin on the cross and that because of him I have hope of redemption in these areas of sin.

Please continue to pray for Relo, Palesa, Tumi, and Lesego. Pray they would see their desperate need for a Savior because of how much they have fallen short of God’s perfect standard and that they would fully understand that Jesus is the only way for them to have a right relationship with God. Also, pray for Cebisa. Pray she would catch a vision to know Jesus deeply and to make him known wherever she goes. I ask that you would also pray these girls would get connected to the body at WITS and they would come to the Joint Winter Conference.

In His Love,

 

Catherine

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Not About Me

This last week was somewhat of a rough week. It started off with believing a lot of lies-believing I’m not wired up for this kind of ministry, I’m not capable of doing this everyday, it’s too draining, I don’t have the personality for it, God can’t use me here, etc. Lie. I found myself being sucked into believing these lies, and as a result, it stealing my joy. I have been putting a lot of expectations on myself-tellng myself “you’re here to share the gospel with students, so if you don’t leave with a ministry to show for it you have failed.” Lie. I was confronted with letting the fear of rejection and failure cripple me. I was not even aware of these fears until this week. Now that I am aware of it, I see it not only playing out on campus, but has even carried over into my relationships with people from time to time, but that’s a whole other story! Thankfully, Tuesday at  ministry training, Jesus met me right where I was at. We studied 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 and made observations about God’s role and our role from these verses.

God’s Role:

v. 17 – Gives new life; continues sanctification process

v. 18 – ALL FROM GOD; He reconciled us to himself; GIVES us the ministry of reconciliation

v. 19 – God reconciled the world to himself; God gave us Christ; displays mercy

v. 20 – GOD MAKES THE APPEAL TO THE LOST through us

v. 21 – God made Jesus to be sin; IN JESUS, we are righteous

Our Role:

v. 20 – THEREFORE, we are ambassadors FOR CHRIST

Being reminded that I am solely called to translate the message of the gospel was so freeing! My role is so small. I am not needed. The Lord is the one who makes EVERYTHING happen-give new life, change an eternity, soften hearts toward the truth, sanctify believers. I am just the mere vessel he may choose to accomplish these things through. The pressure is off of me and I found so much freedom in that this week. It has really allowed me to simply enjoy my time on campus and come expecting to walk into good works.

I also continue to be confronted with the deep heart issue of not wanting to love and pursue people who don’t want to love and pursue me back. This has been a common theme during my trip so far. I think the Lord is really pressing to redeem this area of my life, and even though it hasn’t been easy, I am so thankful! The gospel tells me that I am crazily loved and pursued without hesitation even though I hated God and was sprinting in the opposite direction. This is the truth I pray would compel me to crazily love those around me and pursue them because I was pursued!

The central theme of this week was the Lord reminding me that it’s not about me. JESUS saves, not Catherine. JESUS loved me and pursued me, while Catherine did her own thing. JESUS paid it ALL on the cross, so Catherine didn’t have to.

It’s been cool to see the Lord really expose my weaknesses to the point where I have no where else to turn other than Jesus. Galatians 6:9, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, and John 6:66-68 have been the truths I keep running back to.

Tuesday night we had our first investigative bible study and 10 first year girls came! It was so worshipful. They not only showed up, but they engaged with questions and comments. Cebesa may very well be a believer already, so Paige and I are going to continue to invest in her and treat her as one, while helping her learn the “hands,” such as how to study God’s Word and how to share her faith, so please be praying for her.

Thursday afternoon, Paige and I were able to get lunch with a first year named Relo and follow up with her about the bible study. It was incredible! We asked her what she learned from the bible study; her response: “I learned what repentance was and that it’s not about what you do.” Amazing, right?! We continued to press in a little more and also, had the opportunity to share the bridge diagram with her, as well as our testimonies. I can’t say for sure if her faith is in Christ alone at this point, but either way God is moving in her and leaps and bounds were made with her in the last week! Pray for her as well, please!

Friday night we invited a bunch of girls to have a spa night in a common area in the res. We talked, ate snacks, painted our nails, and sang and danced! Yes, the stereotypes are true. (Pictures to be posted Photo Diary)

Today, our team went to the Lion Park & Carnivore’s (a restaurant)! I got to play with baby lion cubs!!! I also got to be face to face with a giraffe, while feeding and petting it. (Pictures to be posted in Photo Diary) Carnivore’s was interesting. They bring out huge skewers of meat one after the other…from Impala to Zebra to Crocodile to Kudu to chicken, pork, and beef. I won’t lie, it wasn’t my favorite-too much meat for my liking, but it was a cool experience!

As we head into week 3, I am pleading with the Lord to continue to save women in Jubilee and make them gospel lovers and laborers, as well as begging God to CONVINCE me of the gospel and that I am lavished in grace and can now rest because the debt has already been paid by Jesus!

With His Great Love,

Catherine

Week 1 on Campus

We’ve just finished our first week on campus. Paige and I are responsible for targeting floors 8-11 in Jubes. Out of the 16 rooms of first years we were trying to meet, we met 13 making a total of 26 girls so that’s pretty exciting! Laboring in the res halls on WITS presents its challenges compared to what I’m used to at USI. A student is required to sign you in and out every time you enter and exit, you can easily be kicked out for being too loud if you are not a resident, and only 2-3 of us can be signed in at one time because it looks too “suspicious” for 8 American women to come into the res all at the same time.

That has presented its challenges for our time on campus. Some days we would just have to hang around on campus for hours at a time before a student leader was available to sign us into Jubes later in the evening. However, God has been gracious in allowing us to still meet 13 of the 16 rooms we are targeting in a short period of time! He has also given us much favor with the majority of the girls we have met. What is very different here than in America is that they welcome you into their room even if you haven’t told them your name yet. They’re just extremely friendly here! Another difference that at first made it difficult to sew broad quickly was they don’t just welcome you in to meet you for 15 minutes as is common in the states, but most every room we were welcomed into we stayed for at least an hour just talking to them and getting to know them! I love that.

Thursday night Campus Outreach had its first weekly meeting called HD. The lecture hall was almost completely FULL!! It was incredible and the girls I am laboring and the girls we had met took up almost a row and a half of the women in the room. I had an incredible conversation with a young girl named Tumi. She really opened up to me about things she makes a priority over Jesus and was very curious and interested in finding out how you add Jesus into all of life. I was able to share my testimony in detail with her and an illustration called “The Great Exchange.” I was also able to relate to her in areas of her life she had questions about and share how the gospel had drastically affected those areas of my life. By the end of the conversation she was very thankful and wanted to exchange numbers. Oh! I also was able to give her a bible to read through because she did not have one with her at school and encouraged her to read through John and Romans 3, 5, 6, & 8. I am praying she opens it up and the Scripture comes alive to her!

Friday night we had a Braai (American barbeque and party). There were around 200 people in all there!! It was really worshipful to see so many students there and especially how many girls were there from Jubes. I love their music and the way they dance here! Paige and I were able to have an in depth conversation with a girl named Cebesa. We were able to learn more about her family and spiritual background. It opened up another opportunity to share my testimony in depth and share the gospel and a couple verses with her. She seemed speechless as if she had never heard anything like that before. She is very Christian cultured, so I am specifically praying she would know Jesus intimately and not just have a lot of head knowledge about God and the Bible.

That’s all for now. Be talking with you all again soon.

With His Love,

Catherine

Cultural Orientation

Okayyy, so a lot has happened in the last few days since I last updated you! First of allll, we found out our ministry partners-I am with Paige Dixon and could not be more excited! For the next six weeks we will be laboring in Jubilee Hall, meeting girls, befriending them, and sharing the gospel with them.

This week was focused on introducing and getting us familiar with the culture. Thursday we had a full day. We went to the Apartheid Museum to help us understand how their history with segregation has shaped their culture and where people came from. It was an eye-opening experience to see just how frugally black south africans lived after being forced out of town by the British. Many had one bed for the entire family, if any at all. People waited for weeks at a time in line just to get medical care. It was definitely humbling seeing the way some people have to live, when I have been wanting to complain about a hard bed or not having the luxuries of a hair dryer, rather than being thankful I have a bed at all and especially blankets, or that I have clean water to shower with.

It is a lot different here than I expected. The town looks completely different than a city in America. The difference in classes is very extreme-it’s either extreme wealth or extreme poverty. Not much in between exists. BMW’s and Mercedes share the streets with homeless men, women, & children. At every corner and stop light, people either beg for money or beg for you to buy whatever they are selling (from fruit to newspapers to paintings). I’ve seen just how good I have it in America and a deserving mentality rather than viewing things as a privilege and having a thankful heart.

Thursday night we attended the students prayer on campus and had the opportunity to meet some of their student leaders and walk around the res halls. Friday night we had a game night with our team and the students leaders and staff of CO at WITS. I learned two South Africans games: “Indian War Signs” & “Ah-Kah-Soh”-so fun I’m bringing them back to the states! Everyone is extremely friendly and welcoming here. That is definitely different than in America as well. Here it is considered very rude to not greet a stranger in passing, where as where we are from most people think it’s odd when a person strikes up small talk with someone they don’t know.

Saturday we were able to go to Soweto, the largest township outside of Johannesburg. It was heart breaking to see their living conditions. Houses made out of tin, children roaming the streets barefoot, makeshift hair salons made out of a wooden roof, cardboard boxes, and blankets as curtains. Many people had tables set up outside attempting to sell anything to make a few rand (currency). While in Soweto, we also went to a restaurant called Wandie’s Place. It was a buffet of South African food! I tried cow head, cow liver, and cow intestines (also called tripe). Liver=disgusting. Head=not that bad, kind of like pot roast. Intestines=not bad tasting, but not good either, texture and looks disgusting!

Today, we went to church with the students for the first time and were able to take a Sabbath which was much needed!!

The Lord continues to reveal many idols in my heart and strip me of them. As painful as pruning can be, I am incredibly excited for the privilege to cling to Jesus alone during these difficult/uncomfortable times.

Luke 9:23-24 has come alive to me. I am seeing just how fleeting everything in this world truly is-my looks, possessions, money, time, etc.. The only thing that is lasting is Christ, himself, and true contentment can only be found in Jesus. Please continue to pray I would die, so that others may live (John 12:24)

Tomorrow is our first day in the res halls! Pray for the students to understand the gospel and eternities to be changed! I am praying specifically for two students to be saved in our first week on campus.

Look forward to updating you again soon.

With His Great Love,

Catherine

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
(Luke 9:23-24 ESV)

Proverbs 15:11

After 36 hours of travel we finally landed in Johannesburg at 7 AM this morning; so midnight central time! The Joburg staff has been giving us a tour and helping us get settled as well as fighting to keep us awake until tonight, so we can get on their sleeping schedule. We’re all pretty out of it, so it’s made for some pretty funny moments with the team today.

It didn’t reeeally hit me that I was in South Africa for the next 7 weeks without my family and closest friends with me until we were at dinner about an hour ago. It’s definitely a hard reality check for me, but I know the Lord is good and is more committed to my sanctification than my comfort.

Proverbs 15:11 Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of man!

This verse has been coming to my mind over the last 24 hours a lot. I’ve already begun to see a lot of sin surface through the little time we’ve been here. I am seeing a lot of pride, insecurities, judgement, and selfishness. Not so pretty, huh? Thinking about the reality of this verse can be awfully scary. That my wicked/selfish heart lies open to the Lord!! My tendency is definitely to be very aware of my sin and to condemn myself for it.

To be honest, I think this blog is going to benefit myself the most because it’s already been extremely helpful in identifying specific sin that is going on in my heart, but more than that forcing me to have to really THINK & MEDITATE on the gospel that washes my sin completely clean.

So although my ugly heart lies completely open to the Lord, the story doesn’t end there. My Father loves me despite my ugly heart; loves me so much he chased me down for 19 years until he got me! He gave his one and only Son’s life in place of mine, and through Jesus’ perfect life and perfect death on the cross, I am no longer condemned by my sin! I have a perfect, righteous record before my Father. He no longer looks upon me and sees the depths of my sinful heart, but gazes upon me and says, ” This is my beloved daughter, Catherine, with whom I am well pleased.”

THAT IS THE VERY TRUTH I PRAY CHANGES MY LIFE DAILY!

I really miss you all, dearly and am thinking and praying about you often.

With Love,

Catherine

Just the Beginning!

So we have arrived in Frankfurt, Germany! We have a seven hour layover and our flight leaves for Joburg at 8:45 tonight. I will be in Johannesburg for good tomorrow morning!

It really is crazy to think about. I am going to live in Johannesburg, South Africa for the next seven weeks with the purpose of simply getting to know Jesus on a more intimate level and telling South Africans about him. How incredible! It makes me emotional to meditate on the fact that the God of the universe would want to use ME as his ambassador for his Son, Jesus. He chose me. A fool that was lost and living in darkness, disobedient, led astray, a slave to various passions and pleasures…BUT because of God’s goodness and loving kindness, He saved me! (Titus 3:3-5) And has entrusted me with his precious Gospel.

I am really looking forward to this summer and all that Jesus has in store for me. This is just the beginning of a sweet adventure with Him! I am praying to live risky for his name and to die to my own comforts and selfish desires, so that I may be made less of and Jesus may be made much of! This is potentially the only opportunity I will ever have to share the gospel in South Africa, and so I want to live in light of that. I know it is going to be challenging and uncomfortable at times seeing the depths of my sin and wicked heart, but am convinced from God’s Word that where sin increases, GRACE abounds all the more through Jesus!! (Romans 5:20)

We will be studying the book of James for the summer and reading Disciplines of a Godly Woman. These choices could not have been more fitting! Both of these books will very much be getting at my character and even further at the root of my heart issues. I am so excited to share what I learn with you and to partner with you in taking the gospel to students on the University of WITS, who will then go on to take the gospel to the rest of the world!

Be talking with you soon!

With Love,

Catherine