How do you connect with what God is doing around the world?
When have you seen and felt God’s compassionate expressions of love and care for the impoverished and lost? What experiences have convinced you that God is big and He is in charge?
2018 Vision Trip to Southern Africa
For a group of 13 people including OC board members, partners, a US pastor, and their family members, the connection was a vision trip to Southern Africa. Starting in Johannesburg on May 26, this multi-generational group embarked on a 10-day life-impacting adventure. Facilitating the trip were Dean and Kathie Carlson and their daughter Kelsie (global workers in Swaziland and South Africa for 20 years) and David and Cherie Bulger (global workers in South Africa for 14 years).
The goal of the trip was to explore the richness of God’s heart, the expanse of his vision, and the transformative potential of his work expressed in the dynamic African continent.
And indeed, they did. The group had the opportunity to see God’s greatness reflected in the lives of many individuals along their journey. Thomas, the son of a witchdoctor, has planted more than 50 churches.
A Malagasy leader has sparked a church planting movement in a rainforest. African believers are loving like Jesus in disadvantaged communities. Zimbabwean students are passionately reaching a university. Pastors are sacrificially multiplying kingdom influencers. Network leaders are fervently praying 2 Chronicles 7:14 over their nations.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” NIV
The Breadth and Depth of Africa
The group was given opportunity to experience both urban and rural contexts. Through presentations and over meals they were touched by the whole-hearted faith and big-hearted vision of African leaders and OC workers. These men and women are pressing forward to see the people of Southern Africa discipled through a healthy church in every community.
One vision trip member commented,
“The beauty of the teamwork and mutual service and cooperation among the OC Africa team with each other to carry out the task of furthering God’s kingdom in such a variety of creative ways impacted me.”
The group got to walk the dusty streets of a township alongside Home Based Caregivers of HIV/AIDS patients. Some had opportunity to interact with AIDS patients personally.
They visited a farm and helped at a pre-school (early childhood development teacher ministry). This gave members of the vision trip opportunity to encourage those they met by offering a kind word, or taking a moment to pray for someone, or finding some other simple way to serve. Of course, there was some museum time and a brief tour of Johannesburg.
On to Zimbabwe
Both South Africa and Zimbabwe are undergoing profound political transition. Even still, there is hope in the air. This was the sense the group had when visiting OC workers Jay and Sarah. They work with students from the National University of Science and Technology, the brightest and best of Zimbabwean youth. This campus ministry seeks to help these university students grow deeper in their faith as well as see them equipped as future leaders.
For OC President, Dean Carlson, a personal highlight was being reunited with the leaders of the Zimbabwe National Evangelism Task – a movement that was launched in the 90’s that stimulated the planting of 10,000 churches.
To finish off the trip there was a trip to Victoria Falls, where two teen participants were baptized in the waters of the Zambezi River. And finally, a game drive in Chobe National Park capped with an unforgettable night of camping in that park with the roar of lions only a hundred yards away.
Living Color Connections
With feet planted on African soil, members of the vision trip got to view the Great Commission through the eyes of African leaders and learn from their lives. One group member said it this way,
“God made Africa three-dimensional for me. I had heard that Africa has a vibrant church and is sending out mission workers – which served as a one-dimensional black and white photo for me. My interactions with the people showed me their spontaneous worship and inclusive hugs; their great physical and social brokenness and needs; and their giving hearts, causing people in poverty to reach out to and serve others also in poverty. And I now realize that the church is mostly shallow and in great need of discipleship. My new image of Africa has color, and depth, and is no longer detached.”
Highlights, Surprises, and God’s Impact
Next month we want to share with you how vision trip members answered the following questions:
• What was the highlight of your time in Africa?
• What was a surprise?
• What is one thing you learned about One Challenge?
• What did God do in your life through the vision trip?
Watch for the story in August.