Blessing in South Africa--A Journal

November 10 2008 / ShareHim in South Africa, Oct. 17 - Nov. 1 '08 #332
by Maurice Vargas

Campaign Site Narrative from KwaNobuhle, Port Elizabeth in South Africa. The speaker assigned to this site was Maurice Vargas.

October 17th 2008
Today was the first clear day since we arrived in South Africa.
It was a long tiring trip … We traveled from New York to northern Africa to refuel and then to Johannesburg and then to Port Elizabeth. The first two days was cool and balmy. Today, Friday, the sky is clear blue and the ocean reflects that almost Caribbean color. It has a beautiful mixture of various blues and greens. The white sandy domes guard the entrance to the ocean. Beautiful. It is as you imagine it to be. Like looking out from an Island the crashing white waves are a pleasure to see.

The people drive on the left hand side of the road as they do in England. The cities are more developed than expected. Specially, Port Elizabeth. It has malls, plazas, grocery stores and shops. But the country side is plagued with abject poverty. Many people live in shanty towns with tin roofs that echo the dance of rain drops.

The deep wrinkles of the elderly tell the sad story of years of struggle. Smiles come through like glimmers of passing sunshine breaking momentarily through gray clouds. They are the generation of Apartied. The people of the struggle. A time when they were treated less than second class citizens. For decades the white man has taken the countries’ wealthily resources. And I am a white man who has come to show them a better way.

I remember looking at a woman squatted outside of her wooden shack. She is wrapped in African garb stirring something in a tin pan over an open fire. It is a page out of national geographic. For some reason I love these people.

The other day we passed two donkey’s lying dead on the road side. A couple of days ago they were struck by a passing car. One dead donkey on one side and another dead donkey on the other side. Their lifeless bodies seem to speak. Perhaps it is indicative of the poor’s futile plight in a rich nation of gold and diamond mines.

In the distance is a huge Volkswagen factory pumping out 100’s of cars.

While on the plane I met a white South African doctor who honestly admitted to me that 40 percent of the population has AIDS. That is four out of every 10 people are heading to the grave. I shake many hands. I don’t care who they are - I shake their hands. Many children have AIDS and HIV. I wonder sometimes as I look at some of them with emaciated looking faces that perhaps they are dying of the dreaded slim decease. I realize if nothing is done some of these little ones will be forever food for death’s dust; And just a faded memory of a withering little child.

I realize that God has sent me across the world to give them hope.
Standing among the impoverished hopeless and broken down homes I sense a bit of what David Livingston must have felt -the conviction to help a people in desperate need.

The glimmers of light are the Young people who smile like the morning sun. They don’t know defeat. They are Africa’s hope for tomorrow. Among the many, the Adventist families, seem the happiest. They have the blessed hope. Unfortunately many other young people roaming the streets don’t reflect inspired enthusiasm for life.

The evening has come:
Tonight is the opening night of our meetings. I asked an elder about the sound of the drums echoing and pounding in the distance. He responds, “It’s the pathfinders”. The rhythmic cadence comes slowly closer. The pathfinders are dressed in Christian uniforms and are proudly marching down the streets in step with the beating rhythms. They stop in front of the church to sing and salute. Then they march in with a train of neighborhood children following them and quietly sit down. The leader rises and leads them in enthusiastic choruses. The children are happy to follow praising God for least 15-20 minutes.

The singing is heavenly and melodious - filled with enchanting harmonies and moving movements. It will make any westerner sense the power and presence of something good.

I and my interpreter take to the streets. We stop people in their tracks and invite them to the meetings …. Some promise to come later. One young man says he will come as he walks to the corner to talk on his cell phone. Later I saw him entering.

Around 7:00 PM people are streaming in. Some bring their friends. They are delighted to come … some with wondering anticipation about what is to happen next. After praying with the elders I decide to skip the video tonight and get on with the meetings. The subject is Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams of the coming world empires and their fall. And the coming of the kingdom of heaven. People, even children are glued to the message. Every one is concentratively silent. The Lord allowed me to hit many practical points that move their hearts. They are much affected. I tell them of the time when I had no money and had to pray for help to find a loaf of bread for one dollar. They look at me surprised and deeply interested as I stand there in one of my fine suits. I continued - I entered the supermarket to find the shelves of bread emptied because of the coming storm. There was only two loaves of bread left. And one of them was for 99 cents. [I was overjoyed that I could now buy a loaf of bread and a quart of milk.] Those were difficult times but I realized God allowed me to experience these moments so I may know how to relate to people who have nothing or very little. The auditorium is dead silent. No one moves.

At the end of the evening everyone stands to be ready for the coming kingdom. They were amazed. Many come forward to make sure they will be ready. Some of the members are surprised that it goes so well. Their expressions and words indicate the effect of God’s blessing. There were at least 250 present.

October 18, 2008
Today is an exciting day. This morning the church was packed with many people. I went around the neighborhood inviting people to come. The choir sounded majestic. And the message stirred so many hearts. The Lord allowed me to end with the story of the man who tried to kill me. It was a blessing. They were captivated. Many responded to the call. It was wonderful. Some were wiping their sadden eyes as God was touching their hearts.

In the afternoon I went visiting and some who we visited came to the evening meeting. Four men who entered and sat in front were the result of one man we visited who brought his friends.

Others promised to come. Earlier one man approached requesting special prayer. Though he speaks seven languages and is a teacher he is now homeless. His heart ruptures as he starts telling his story. His wife was ganged raped by a group of men and murdered. He lost it and could not function any more and now deteriorated to homelessness. It was a moving scene as he related his story.

Tonight there were many new faces - both men and women. I told the story when God impressed me to have three crusades close in time. I could not understand why God wanted me to have one more crusade. But there was a woman who came to our meetings from across town. I baptized her. Soon afterward I was transferred and when I return to visit I found out that she was the only one baptized in that last crusade. Shortly after her baptism she died. The crowd was dramatically moved. Many stayed afterward for me to teach them further in the way of the Lord.

Tonight the Holy Spirit was there. The message was on Jesus the only way of Salvation. Many responded. Over 60 interests came to give their hearts to the Lord. It was an amazing experience. The people listened attentively to the illustrations. They came alive both young and old. Many young people responded – especially some young men that entered in later. I don’t believe they have any connection to the church except knowing someone there. I was also glad to see a man whom we visited come again with his friends. One young man in a wheel chair came as a guest. His searching eyes were hungering for a better way.

October 20th, 2008
Though the work week has begun our numbers have not dismissed. They simply come a little later. There is a movement among the young people who are bringing their friends. And they in turn bring others. It is so exciting to see teenagers and young adults really sensing God’s presence. I began by greeting many people in the streets as they passed by to invite them in.

One lady told me of a man who said if invited he would come. We sent a young man to take him a brochure. People want to be personally invited. The church is seen as a private community not a public place. No wonder Jesus told the parables of kingdom of God being liken to an invitation to a feast or wedding. We are to go and compel them to come.

Young adults are bringing their family and friends. A revival is happening among those who attend. One invitee helped us set up. Later he responded to the invitation. I still remember his prayer before the meeting asking God to show him the right way to live.

I went to young person’s house. I personally a man across the pathway to come and He told me he will try. Then we went to the lady’s house. She is sweet. We stood outside to speak to her. The abode looks to be a one room shack. It looks no larger than a 12 x 12 shed with tin walls. She keeps herself so nice and clean. I am sure that God has an unimaginably glorious mansion waiting for her; There are many coming that are living in nothing more than a shack or a simple cinder block house.

Though many young people are bright and cheery some have sad gloomy expressions. But still they are coming. I feel they are sensing Hope. I believe for many of them their life is going to change.

And then there are the faces of those who seemed to stretched by AIDS. O, how we need to help them. They need Jesus so much. Perhaps they will be gone next year or even tomorrow. This is what made my heart work hard. I knew that the issue is either life or death.

Tonight was a difficult subject. It was the 2300 year prophecy. I believe the Lord made it practical for the people to understand and get the big picture. To my surprise many responded to the call and we added another 15 or so to the previous 60 interests. At least 70 people stayed for the lesson afterward.

Oct. 21st 2008
It was a cold evening as a young man and I walked up and down the streets inviting people to enter. One woman who I invited yesterday came in. Others came in also. God is so good. So many are interested. Though there were about 25 -30 fewer people today the many present were very serious. We spoke about our Great High Priest. There were serious looks on the faces of the men who came for the first time. One of them came forward for the after class. Tonight 42 requested baptism.

October 23rd 2008
Tonight was amazing. The subject was the Sabbath. Many came forward who desire to keep the Sabbath. My after class had almost as many as my class before the meetings. At the end of the message the Holy Spirit moved me, to “Call them forward.” They came so willingly. Afterward, a young man started to ask, if people from another religion were lost. The Lord led me to answer “that in the times of ignorance God winks at. He overlooks when we don’t know. And He judges every man according to understanding that they have.”

October 24th 2008
I and two other young men went out to visit various homes. I visited 8 people in an hour before the meetings.

I preached terribly. It was a complicated message. Fatigue drained my excitement and energy. But The Lord brought them forward. And my class afterward was filled with so many people. One young man who had given me difficulty earlier was entranced as I spoke about eternal life. His disposition was amazing different. There is another man who came forward for baptism.

October 25th 2008
There is a gala prepared for tonight. I mentioned in the minister’s meeting that it wasn’t wise to have planned a gala that may take away people from attending the meetings. This was not right. Well with the guidance of God’s wisdom … I changed my topic around. The evening meeting which would have been during the gala I presented in the morning. That morning as I was mildly struggling if I should change the message and switch the messages around so I can preach on Baptism instead; I opened my Bible and it fell to “Man shall not live by bread alone.” I felt that Lord was telling me that it wasn’t necessary at this time to preach on diet, but to preach on conversion and Baptism. It worked. Many people were present Sabbath morning – approximately 300. After I preached many responded to baptism. The church members were amazed. One woman told me that she has never seen so many people respond to the appeal before in her church. She said that mostly only four people would respond. We had a crowd of people. That afternoon I went visiting. Then I preached on health in the evening to a smaller crowd. The effects of the gala was felt not only on our meeting that night but the next night as well since it had not ended till 1:00 AM. The Gala wore the people out.

October 26, 2008.
This afternoon I met with three groups of people in preparation for their Baptism. Then after the service I met with another group. I met with the elders concerning the baptism of the candidates. I sought to carefully prepared nearly everyone by having teaching classes everyday.

The message was on Spiritualism and the state of the dead. It was interestingly received. Also the Lord added five more people to our Baptismal list. Though our attendance was much lower than ever the list is still climbing with more commitments. I just need the wisdom to know what to next.

October 27th 2008
We went to a nature preserve to day. We rode in an open jeep and viewed animals in their natural state. Impalas, zebras, Rhinos, Giraffes and etc. We also saw some cheetahs, in confined places.
It was a wonderful adventure. I went visiting this afternoon and was able to see 3 or 4 people.

My class was attended with people who wanted Jesus. Tonight we preached on the 1000 years and the people were fully touched. We received 7 more request for Baptism.

October 28th 2008
We went out today. We must of seen nine people. The homes are very humble. Some people live in shacks. Most Adventist live in well kept cinder block homes. And great care is taken to keep them nice. There are many neighborhoods that are nothing more than shanty towns.

We visited one nice home. A passerby told us that there wasn’t a dog in the place so we ventured to the side entrance to knock. Suddenly a dog with vicious teeth tried to attack us. My two companions circled me to keep me from getting bit. One was trying to push me into the house. The other was dancing like crazy to kick the dog. The owners quickly came to scare him off. It was very funny to see the frightened look on one of the young men’s face. He was the one scrabbling to kick the Dog.

I went to one man’s house that I was informed would come if he were invited. He was leisurely lying on the couch. He denied saying he would come if invited. He asked who I was and where I was from. He then agreed to join us. It didn’t look like he would but I replied – I will see you there. That night as I was preaching I noticed him sitting in front of me. He was nicely dressed in a suit and smelled of Alcohol. Amazing – God brought him there. We made all our visits this day on foot which was quite a task. Many of the streets are dusty and dirty. The people are friendly if you initiate greetings with a wave and a smile.

October 29th 2008
Today I continued to visit and it was a blessing. I must of seen at least 10 people today. I was fortunate to have a church member with a car. I went to one family where a young lady decided for baptism this weekend. I inquired concerning her friend. She took me next door where we spoke to a very nice young lady. I invited her tonight. At the meeting when I made the call to follow Jesus and be baptized she came forward. This afternoon she will be joining our class.

This day we had terrible technical problems. There were many people in attendance. Almost as many as in the first night. I had to stop teaching my class to attend to technical problems … my class was filled with nearly 40 people if not more. Finally the men fixed the problems and we were ready.

The Lord impressed me to speak on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The message was attended with much power and freedom. My translator spoke as though he was filled with the Holy Spirit. I had never seen him speak in this way. It was like the message was already flowing through him. Before I could get out my third word it was as though the whole thought was already flowing through him. It was an inspirational moment. Five more people decided for baptism. About 50 people studying for baptism stayed for the review. It was a night to remember. The attendance is steady or actually growing because more members are bringing their friends. There are a lot of non – baptized people in attendance. Perhaps 40%. We praise the Lord.

October 30th 2008
Today was a good day. Even thought we had trouble yesterday many people came back. Our numbers haven‘t diminished. I went visiting today. The pastor wanted to go with me. One young man I saw today – which has been to our meetings several times before made a decision to follow Jesus in Baptism. It was incredible; my bible study room was packed with 45 people who wanted to be baptized. And my second class had an additional 18 people. Many visitors came in on the message about the true church. We picked up an additional 5 baptisms request.

Earlier the people were happy we came to visit. Some parents gave their consent for their young people to be baptized. But there was one man standing at the entrance to his house. When I approached he was very abrupt and angry that someone had invited his son to attend our meetings. His son is a tall young man about 17-19. I first personally invited the father to the meetings. And told him that it was good for his son to attend because it can keep him out of trouble. The man calmed down and became a different person. The pastor was amazed how the Lord allowed me to handle the situation.

One young woman we visited lived in a little two room shack. One room was her living room about 7 x 7. (if it was that big) The other room was separated by a tin wall. Pieces of wood and a tin were the materials used for such a crude place. She came out and was so happy to see us. She was the one who encouraged her sister to go to the meetings. Her sister is going to get baptized this weekend. What a wonderful Mansion God is going to give her when she gets to heaven.

October 31st. 2008
This is the day that we have first appointed our baptism. I got to the church late. Yet people are coming early to be instructed in the way of the Lord. Soon the room was crowded with approximately 40-50 people. Later I preached on the unpardonable sin. The people were in earnest and interested in the message. Several more people decided for Baptism. Then our Baptism started. Everyone who entered the pool was shocked by the cold water. I tried to calm them down. The baptism went beautifully.
The next day we were on our way to the site for the services. By 9:10 AM the church had many people already there. People filled my class. There was one young lady who so often looks depressed. She would cold shoulder me often. But I was always nice to her. When it came for Baptism I saw her descending into the Baptistery with tears flowing down cheeks. God had converted her heart. After the service she was so kind to me. The intensity in people’s commitment was powerful. I said something admirable about each person before they were baptized. I baptized a good number of people. Afterward I made an appeal and others decided to follow the Lord. Well, we had lunch. And I baptized more from our meetings. God is good to us for his Son’s sake. We were able to lay before my Savior’s feet 76 souls in baptism from our crusade alone. Among those baptized I had many adults. I was especially pleased to see so many young men. This is a blessing.

So many of our other fellow ministers and evangelists worked so hard in their meetings and were blessed.

Nov. 3rd 2008
I packed and made ready for the trip. A kind pastor from one of the city churches took us around to see the coast. He appears to be a man of the highest quality. A man of understanding and compassionate in nature and void of egotistical disposition. The coast was astoundingly impressive. Some parts resembled Montauk New York with its beautiful waves and lush green foliage bordering the beaches. Other parts looked like Monterey in California or Carmel by the sea with its jagged rocky inlets. The waves are ever pounding against Rock and Sand. Magnificent! We came to a game farm with tigers and lions behind fences. Good they are. Large cats. The tigers walk along the fence watching us. One lion is fully blonde. A white lion. He was lazily asleep and it seemed as though nothing was going to wake him. I do believe he could hear us for he rolled over on his back in the cutest fashion and remained sleeping on his back. On the other side were two female lionesses. Upon our arrival to her domain she routed herself around to the bush and tree. I warned the rest of our party that she was stocking us but no else seemed to listen. Finally as I suspected she raced from the bushes and charged us. Good thing for the fence. But I believe these cats could scale this fence with ease if they were not electrically charged. The other animals we saw were not confined behind fences. At Addo, a large wilderness area, we saw about 100 elephants in the wild. These huge animals could of charged us but we thank God they did not. I saw one herd of elephants racing toward the water hole. A male with long Ivory tusks was running- leading the way. It was amazing to see an animal weighted in tons breaking through the brush and kicking up dust in the air as he races toward the muddy spring. Behind him were at least 20 other elephants following close behind. The small ones were very cute as they were muddied and walking around the herd. Some zebras were fighting among themselves by clashing their necks in contest. It was an actual awe inspiring time. To know that you are right there and so many elephants are so close away. Warthogs strode around. Bulls, Zebras, Spring bucks and birds enjoyed the refreshing moments of the time.

The people we met at the conference were very supportive and nice. It was wonderful to meet many beautiful people who we will see once again at the coming kingdom. May we all be ready for that day.

May God keep you in His loving arms,

Pastor Vargas
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