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Pete and Deb Ochs

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This next month is FULL of events.

I have been asked to serve over this next year as a “mentor” in an “Accelerator” program for non-profit and for-profit promising entrepreneurs. Our first event is happening next week.

Early February, we are hosting a week with Pete and Deb Ochs—an amazing business couple from Wichita, KS.   God has both humbled and used this couple to build his kingdom in unique ways, including starting a successful business in a maximum security prison in the US while also discipling and investing in the inmate employees.  You can see their story here.

While here, Pete and Deb will be intersecting with the South African business community in many different venues/settings around personal humility and living His kingdom in business settings.  We will also be facilitating two Journeys of Generosity during that week.

The Lord recently reminded me that the next month has NOTHING to do with events but everything to do with Breakthroughs.

South Africa has been at a point of crisis, and other countries in Africa are as well.  There is such a profound need for the children of the King and citizens of His kingdom to rise up in this country and continent, and bring His kingdom in Africa as it is in heaven.

I ask you to pray with me for—TRANSFORMATIONAL BREAKTHROUGHS!!

Two Worlds…

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Living between two worlds…both a joy and a challenge…

This season of my life has served as an incredible reminder of what it is to live between two worlds.  As a follower of Jesus, I am always an “alien and stranger” on earth, but some seasons highlight this truth more than others.

While in the US, I fully give myself to the joys of family, friends, familiar surroundings, and known activities/traditions.  Even in the midst of that joy, there is sometimes an ache that a whole realm of my life is unknown to those around me while still very, very present in my heart and mind…South African friends, new traditions and activities that I have grown to love, new experiences that have broadened my sense of the King and His world.

On the flip side, while in South Africa, I give myself fully to wonderful friends, new experiences, and kingdom work that brings great joy.  However, there can sometimes be an ache at the lack of a sense of history, the knowing of my “roots”, and the familiarity that can only come with time.

One world often excludes the other and yet also enriches the other in unseen ways.  It is both a strange and beautiful experience.

In a fresh way I am realizing all over again that I am not a citizen of earth.  My true citizenship  is secure in heaven and doesn’t change.  I am known there FOREVER and fully, and there is a shared history with friends that dates back to the foundations of the earth and has everything in common through Jesus.

There is one King.  He is eternal and doesn’t ever get elected or dethroned.  I have a home that has been built with my specific desires and being in mind from which I will never have to move…built by One who knows exactly what I need.

He has visited and been a citizen of both places, and He knows all aspects of my current worlds.

In this season, I am so grateful that Jesus is “the sure foundation of my times.  A rich storehouse of wisdom, salvation and knowledge….”  He is my source of joy and hope as I transfer from one world to another, belonging totally to each in different ways, but often feeling a bit abnormal in both because I really belong to another world all together–an eternal one!!

Signature :: Laurie

It’s Time…

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South Africa is at a time of crisis–a serious time of crisis (read below for specifics)…

Even before the crisis arose with the force of the last 3 weeks’ events, Angus Buchan (pictured above.  If you have never watched the movie, Faith Like Potatoes about his life, it is well worth your time.  Amazing…), one of the father’s of faith in this land had already felt lead by the Lord to call a collective time of prayer for the nation–a million people of all colors and races on a farm in Blomfontein (4 hours from Johannesburg).  Here is his invitation.

There is a call on South Africa to be light and life–within its own borders and into the continent of Africa.  There is a significant battle waging between the forces of light and darkness, and we are asking the Light of the World to step down into this darkness in POWER.

Will you stand with us in praying for the nation of South Africa on Saturday, April 22nd.  The prayer meeting starts at 2:00 p.m. in South Africa, which is 8:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.  The prayer of righteous men/women avails MUCH!

Here is more information about the situation in South Africa right now…

South Africa elects a party, and not a specific person.  The party chooses the president.  Since 1994 the ANC has been in power.  Nelson Mandela was the chosen president of the ANC at the time of the abolition of apartheid.  The ANC elected Jacob Zuma as president in 2009.  There is a two term limit of 5 years each.  He has been charged with over 600 accounts of criminal activity–including rape, corruption and fraud, to name a few.

At the end of 2015, Zuma had a finance minister that was opposing his nuclear plan as well as a South African Airlines bailout, both of which have had suspicion of fraud and racketeering.  Without consulting the party, Zuma fired the finance minister and replaced him.  There was such a national outrage and fall of the rand that Zuma fired the second appointed finance minister 2 days later and appointed one that was acceptable to South Africans.  The 3rd finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, also stood against Zuma’s initiatives for the last year.

Two weeks ago, Zuma, again without consultation, fired Pravin Gordhan, and replaced him with one of his own men who has no finance experience and would agree to his desired plans.  This action has resulted in more collective outrage among all races and tribes of South Africa than has been seen before.  The South African Sovereign credit rating was downgraded to “junk status” at this latest move, which is a huge deal for the economy.

As such, there have been 1000’s of South Africans marching in the streets, demanding for Zuma to step aside.  I participated in one of those as well.

Because of his financial undergirding of so many members in his party and the corruption all around, so far the party has not been willing to courageously demand his resignation.

There has been a demand for a “no confidence” vote, which has been tried twice before to no avail.  The vote has not been secret ballot, and no one wants to be targeted by Zuma by opposing him openly.  There has now been a motion to have a secret ballot, which is being considered by the courts.  The “no confidence” vote, which could essentially impeach Zuma, is not being set for late April or early May.

The prayer is that Zuma will be forced or choose to resign, but an even greater prayer is that the government will be purified of the corruption and that the King of Righteousness will step in through His people to bring justice and righteousness to this country.

Racial tensions can also be very high, but there is also more of a national outrage at this behavior than I have ever seen, but another prayer is that truth will prevail and that there will be unity in this country among tribes and races like never before!!

Thank you for standing with us in prayer for this beautiful and unique nation!!

Boundary Lines

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It was a grand story how it all came about and there is quite a history around the particular street I moved to—one that the Lord spoke to me on when I was jogging almost two years ago now.

Two years ago in April, I was staying at a place called “Mustard Seed Guesthouse.”  I had been looking for a place to stay, and I found this place on line and loved the name, especially as I was standing in faith for some things the Lord had spoken to me about in South Africa.

One morning I decided to go for a jog.  As I ran, I turned onto a street called “Boundary Lane.”  Almost immediately as I turned onto that street, the verse “Your boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places, surely you have a delightful inheritance” starting going through my mind on repeat (Psalm 16:6).  It was the strangest thing.  I was also listening to a playlist on random with 300 songs on it and right at that moment Chris Tomlin’s song “Boundary Lines”  started playing on my iPod.

As all this was happening, I was saying to the Lord, “there must be something special about this street.”  I even stopped at a house where some people were outside their house to ask about a certain property on the street which was beautiful but rundown.  It turned out that the man I talked to was a real estate agent and he knew all about the street and the property.

When I came back last year (a year an a half later), I contacted this same real estate agent to ask if there were any garden cottages for rent on Boundary Lane.  He didn’t know of any.  After that conversation, I didn’t pursue Boundary Lane any further but ended up going to Pin Oaks, the place I stayed during my first year in South Africa.

I started looking for a new place toward the end of last year, as I wanted something a bit bigger where I could have people over and practice hospitality.  I looked at so many rental properties, but most of them looked very stark, and I didn’t have peace about any of them.

So, I was back to square one.  As a last resort, I decided to go on Airbnb and see if there might be a listing that would be willing to take a longer term renter.

I found two houses that might be a possibility that I approached.  I knew the general area the houses were located in, but there is no way to see a specific address on Airbnb unless you actually book.  Out of the two houses, one owner responded and told me I could come over right way to look.  I asked for her address and she said BOUNDARY LANE.  I almost fell off my chair…a garden cottage on Boundary Lane!!

So, I’m now living on Boundary Lane in an absolutely charming little place where “my boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places and where my inheritance is delightful!”

I walk this street on a regular basis, praying and claiming the inheritance that the Lord has given me in this country!

PrayerMate–Incredible Tool

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I always love to pass on things that have been transformational for me, and this is one of them!

I have never been a “prayer list” person, as it just feels a bit like a straight jacket, but this prayer app has been such a GIFT….

A friend of mine told me about this app, and at first I was a bit skeptical…well, maybe ALOT skeptical.  I am not a techie type person, especially when it comes to spiritual activities. So, it took me awhile to actually try it out.  However, when I finally did, I was immediately intrigued.

The initial setup was the hardest part, but as I got into it I loved the options.  I could create categories and tell the app how many items I wanted to pray for each time as well as how many items I wanted per prayer time in each category (I chose 15 per time with anything form 1 to 4 items per category, but you can set it up for any number that suits you).

Just to give you an example, my categories are:

Biblical prayers, My walk with God, My family, My friends, my Church, Unbelievers, World Mission and My Work

Under each category individual requests can be entered.  The World Mission section allows me to import the prayer requests from certain missions’ organizations if I want to.  The App also allows me to import or pick from scriptural prayers that I would like to pray for specific things.

I can take notes on each individual prayer item, which I often do–dates with specific things the Lord gave while praying.  It has been such a blessing to go back and read some of those.  I can also “archive” requests that have been answered and that I am no longer praying for.  That allows me to review answers to prayer from time to time.

Though I don’t pray with this method every day, I do so often and I love thinking and praying for people and things that I care about in such an intentional way.

If you want to hear the history of the development of this app or the testimony of someone else who has used it, click on these links.

This has been SUCH a blessing to me, and I hope it will be the same for some of you as well!!

Spring and Michael Phelps

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Though in the US, we are headed into fall at the moment, in South Africa, we are in the midst of Spring which means Jacaranda trees here in South Africa (the beautiful purple that you see in this photo).

Spring is a yearly reminder that the way things are does not mean it is the way things will be.  Resurrection is possible.  No matter how long “death” has reigned, life can break through and change EVERYTHING–forever.

I love the picture of “spring” in the story of Michael Phelps that Louie Giglio recently painted during a message at Passion City Church.  This story and Louie’s message both inspired and touched me.

I’m including it here for any of you who might want to listen or watch too!

Listen 8/14/16: “Past Forward”
Watch 8/14/16: “Past Forward”

It Smelled Like You…

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I just returned to South Africa recently after taking part in the Gathering, an event I have attended since 1998.  The Gathering is a group of friends who invest in the kingdom of Christ all over the world.  The richness of relationships, wisdom and knowledge that I have gained over the years from this weekend cannot be quantified.  I am blessed each and every year.

During a courtyard breakfast this year, one of my long time Gathering friends came up and enthusiastically asked me if I had been on “such and such” an elevator a few minutes previously.  Having no idea what he was talking about, I looked at him as if he had lost his mind, but he continued by saying, “I got on that elevator, and I knew that you had been there because it smelled like you!”

My mom was right (as she so often is) when she told me in high school that I should choose a fragrance and stick with it, as people remember you by your scent.

Perfume aside, that whole interaction with my friend got me me thinking about “the fragrance of Christ.”

What “scent” do I leave–on an elevator…when I’m traveling, bone tired and in one of those pressurized situations (I recently had to apologize to a Hertz woman in one such situation)…at my condo association–a challenge for the last 20 years…

When I walk away, what “scent” remains…do people know, in some way, that Jesus has been there because His “fragrance” still lingers?

I read an article just today where, in the most tragic and horrible situation from any human perspective, there was a group of people who left a STRONG fragrance of Christ.  Isis Crucifies 11 Christian Missionaries.  A sweet smelling fragrance that wafted to the throne in heaven…

May my fragrance be Him:  Let it be Jesus by Christy Nockels

Let it be Jesus…when all is said and done…For me to live is Christ,
,

Signature :: Laurie

Introducing En Gedi Blessing

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En Gedi Blessing is about gifts…gifts of rest, renewal, celebration, creativity, intercession, gratefulness, and renewed relationships.

Friends of En Gedi have been blessed with beautiful vacation homes, and their desire is to use these spaces to bless a unique group–ministry leaders and their executive teams.

Loneliness, challenges and exhaustion often accompany a position of leadership….A leader who is refreshed and renewed by the Lord naturally overflows in refreshment and encouragement for others….

En Gedi blessing is intended to be a blessing that flows in all directions. As you spend time in these beautiful spaces, surrounded by the care of the special families who own these homes, our desire is for you to bless them with your priestly intercession–for them, their families, and their places of service, asking for more kingdom fruitfulness in every area of their lives…

read more

Fred Smith’s Blog: In the Bosom of Fools

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I rarely make comments on political matters, as my brother Eric can heartily attest too (and he would also add it is “for good reason.”  🙂  However, Fred Smith, the president of the Gathering, wrote a blog that I believe is worth making note of in this season, both in the US and in South Africa.

This blog is not partisan but more a commentary on our engagement with political and other matters.

It is called The Bosom of Fools.

Fred’s blogs are thought-provoking, interesting and stretching–worth a read.  If you would like to sign up to receive them every Thursday, you can do so here, toward the bottom of the page.

For more of Fred Smith’s blogs:  read more

My Secret Garden

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The Secret Garden–a beautiful story.  I also love the song “I come to the Garden alone while the dew is still on the roses…He walks with me and He talks with me.  He tells me I am His own….”  It was one of my Grandpa Doden’s favorites.

Every morning as I sit in my chair with tea and chocolate with Jesus, I sit looking out into my “secret garden.”  Jesus gave me my own “secret garden” here in Joburg…right outside my door–literally.

Though it might seem insignificant to some, to me it is love.  My Father knows what ministers to and refreshes my soul, and He gave me a unexpected, lavish gift in this new world where He has put me, knowing that it would bring life to my soul.

“I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, you may be also.”  There’s something so amazing about the character of God in that phrase.  He’s intentional and personal in preparing a home for us, knowing us intimately…caring about the details of where He will bring us to live with Him forever.

Though Jesus was talking about heavenly homes with those words, I think He was also expressing the nature of our Father God.  Our Father prepares intimately and provides abundantly in the places where He puts us–South Africa included.

Pictures of His provision in my new world:

From a beautiful, gifted hairstylist…to my favorite and only perfume (which I have never seen in any other country)…to some wonderful new friends…to a car…to an incredible host family…to a secret garden–all gifts from my Father’s hand.  Sometimes the small gifts mean even more than the big ones because it shows that He really KNOWS me…intimately.

“My God will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  He provides according to His “riches” and not His “discount coupon book”–how I love that!!”  Each and every need of my heart is met lavishly–those spoken, those unspoken, and even those unknown to me…but known fully by Him.

My Secret Garden–“the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”