As we’ve mentioned in previous updates, we were a little concerned about obtaining visas for our children. Amy and I have our visas that are good until July 2019, but our children’s visas were already expired. Last week, thankfully, our kids visas were approved and sitting in our mailbox when we arrived back from our trip to Texas.
Missionaries working and/or going to South Africa are facing visa problems that we have never faced before. It’s always been fairly easy to get a visa to do ministry in South Africa. This year has been a bit different. Changes in the visa process have created a lot of stress and uneasiness when it comes to getting permission to work in South Africa.
We aren’t sure how the visa process will be after July 2019, but we are praying some things get worked out so it won’t be a problem for missionaries to stay long term. We are hoping even through Camp Rhino, we can create a way for missionaries to obtain 5 year work visas. From a 5 year work visa, missionaries would then be qualified for permanent residency.
With all our visas in hand, we are officially buying our plane tickets for January 10th, and are looking very forward to getting back.
This past week my family was privileged to be a part of Worth Baptist Church’s missions conference in Fort Worth, TX. Pastor Tyler Gillit, his staff, and church people put on a spectacular conference. The Saturday night Foreign Food Festival was unbelievable. I’ve never seen so much involvement in a dinner like that, and I’ve definitely never tasted so many wonderful tasting foreign dishes in one evening. Throughout the entire conference we were blown away by the encouragement and kindness of everyone.
On Sunday evening of the conference, Worth Baptist really was a blessing to our family, and one of the things that really stuck out was the offering they gave to help with Camp Rhino. The generously gave $2460 to help buy property and take us past a pretty big hurdle.
We’ve broken the $80,000 mark and the new total of funds given or committed is $81,188. Another $18,812 will take us to our $100,000 goal. Praise the Lord.
First Baptist Church of Judson, TX and Pastor Tim Smith recently decided to partner with our family. It’s always an honor when a church chooses our family to be their representatives in South Africa.
First Baptist also surprised us this month by sending an extra $1500 for Camp Rhino. With this great offering our total is now at $78,728.00. With exactly 4 months left with our furlough, we’re excited about where we are.
Please be praying for our children’s visas. We are hoping to get them back in the next week or so, but nothing is guaranteed. If we do get them back, we’ll go ahead and pay for our return tickets that are being held which have us leaving January 10th.
On Sunday, August 27th, I dropped into Calvary Baptist Church in Dundalk, MD to visit Pastor Stacey Shiflett and his family. It had been many years since I saw the Shiflett’s. It was through him that I made my first visit to South Africa back in 2003. I don’t believe I would be a missionary to South Africa now if it wasn’t for this family.
It was encouraging to see the great ministry going on at Calvary and how the Lord is using this family from the “South” to reach folks in Maryland. It was an exciting atmosphere in Dundalk where there is definitely a need for the Gospel.
Pastor Shiflett gave me an opportunity to present our ministry, and immediately afterwards, the church voted to give $1000 for Camp Rhino. What a blessing! With that donation, we are now over $77,000.
This past weekend, Luke and I flew up to Washington, D.C. to be at two meetings in the Baltimore, MD area. On Sunday morning, it was great seeing Pastor Stacey Shiflett, his family, and people at Calvary Baptist Church. During the Sunday PM service I was privileged to report back to Pastor Scott Tewell and the folks at Rosedale Baptist Church. We returned back to Georgia on Monday afternoon, and Monday evening we received some unexpected mail. Our children’s passports that we applied for less than two weeks before, surprisingly arrived. We were expecting it to take 4-6 weeks. We needed the renewed passports so we could renew our kids’ South Africa Visas.
After flying up to D.C. for the weekend and finding out we now have all the passports, we jumped in the car Tuesday, and drove straight back to D.C. and arrived at midnight. Wednesday morning at the South African Embassy was a little challenging, but by Thursday, everything was worked out. The applications for our kids visas were accepted. Please pray they will be approved and returned to us ASAP. Several South Africa missionaries have faced problems getting their visas renewed in the last few months. Since Amy and I already have our visas we don’t anticipate any problems, but we definitely still need your prayers.
We did have an added bonus, on Wednesday evening we were able to visit Crossroads Baptist Church and hear Pastor Kenny Baldwin preach. Pastor Baldwin is someone our team of young preachers in South Africa respect very much. They were a bit jealous finding out I was in his church for their Wednesday evening service:)