When I was 13 years old, a baby boy was born on the eastern coast of South Africa. He was a member of the Zulu nation. He lived in poverty in an area where poisonous snakes claimed the lives of many children. During his teens and through his thirties, he would face another danger called “apartheid”, an institutionalized racial discrimination enacted in 1948. I would experience my own poverty and abuse in America. In my 60’s and his 50’s, God would supernaturally bring Pastor Thomas and Pastor Ann together in ministry. What has happened is no less than a miracle as lives across two continents have been changed, the gospel has been preached and leaders in the kingdom of God have been raised up.
As a little girl, I would check out books from my church library. I would sit at the top of the stairs and read about missionaries in foreign countries who were sharing the gospel with those who had never heard of Jesus Christ. The stories of Lottie Moon in China, Amy Carmichael in India, and Stanley and Livingstone in Africa filled my heart with a love for people I had never met.
It was a challenge as a teen to surrender my life to that potential call of God to “go wherever you want me to go”. I did surrender at sixteen and I thought for sure my life would end in a foreign jungle living a life other than the romantic, picket fence, house full of children dream I had!
When apartheid “technically” ended in 1993 in Africa, Pastor Thomas was four years into building a church, Victory in Fellowship Church, (VIFC) in one of the townships it had created. He had very little in resources, but he had a passion to share the gospel that had changed his life. This December 2019, the church will gather and celebrate their 30th Anniversary. From the original VIFC, eleven satellite churches have been established. Eight thousand miles across the Atlantic Ocean, my husband, Larry and I had founded and co-pastored Victory Fellowship Church (VFC) in Thomasville, GA in 1997. Larry retired in 2013 and I remained until 2016. God was working to bring “Victory” to his people worldwide!
Upon retirement from the church, I began mentoring, writing curriculum and training men and women called into the ministry. Pastor Thomas heard of the training program and asked me to help prepare ministers for the eleven satellite churches he had established across South Africa. A partnership of two unlikely strangers began in 2017 and continues. Upon my return to South Africa at Easter of 2020, twenty-seven ordained ministers will have been deployed. An amazing God found two improbable, but willing vessels and married two continents into the work of building the kingdom of God! I stand amazed.
In Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV) the scripture says, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” I grew up knowing this passage as “the great commission”. It was the final instructions of Jesus to his disciples before he ascended to the Father. It was the expressed wish of a resurrected Savior for the future of his church.
The Amplified Bible states it this way, “Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”
Are you willing to receive God’s commission? Are you willing to share the good news of Jesus Christ with your neighbors along the highways and byways of life? Are you willing to “help the people learn of Me, believe in Me and obey My words”? If you are, quietly surrender in a simple prayer between you and God and then watch what happens. It will be amazing!