Aaron & Kristi Wheaton
Bozeman, MT / Banfora, Burkina Faso
Children: Jesse, Megan & Jana
Happy Easter from Montana! We woke up Sunday to inches of snow- a reminder of the contrast between the two sides of the world that we love so much. April in Burkina is so very hot- the heat makes it hard to sleep at night. We send warm greetings, full of gratitude to you all.
As individual members of the body of Christ, we have opportunity to serve the Lord each day, wherever He has us. We have each received different giftings and our own sphere of influence in which we can have an impact in the name of Jesus. What a cool thing to work in unity, celebrating and building up one another's strengths for the glory of God and His purposes.
We are so thankful for your ongoing partnership that allows us to walk forward together in the name of Jesus, seeking to reach the lost in Burkina Faso. Your giving sustains the ministries of village churches, Pastors and Christians in rural parts where we cannot go- and an orphan care center, housing 17 sweet babies- all precious in His sight.
- The preschool program is going strong, and the Orphan Care center continues to develop into a thriving ministry outpost. A small home was just completed to lodge the families of babies when they travel to bring a child in need to the center.
- There is a sweet boy who is the youngest in the Center- his mother didn't survive childbirth, pray with us for his family as they experience this deep loss.
- We celebrate with Felix and Priscilla as he participated in the graduation ceremony from his continued education, acquiring his license in theology.
- A recent young adults conference was a well-attended encouragement to the pastors and church leaders. With teaching, prayer, and worship through song and dance, they had a great time investing in the next generation.
- Please pray for the continued needs among displaced families as they seek shelter, work and community. Our village pastors are serving many in these times of difficulty.
- Regional instability is an ongoing danger as churches put on open-air evangelizations- Pray for protection and fruitful ministries.
- Praise God for His continued protection and provision- even as difficulties move into the immediate vicinity.
- We are thankful for the Lord's faithfulness and His word which draws each of us closer to His Truth and His ways to strengthen each of us in adversity and challenge.
**Please do not share on social media**
- Two little girls have returned to their fathers' courtyards with their birth families, after receiving nourishment, medical treatment and loving care at the Orphan Care Center.
- The Administration building is nearly complete, allowing Social Workers to conduct interviews and meetings. It's a huge achievement in the eyes of the government, to provide a place for them to work and receive visitors to the Center.
- 23 remote village pastors received rice and a small cash gift to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with their congregations.
- A remote church has been constructed by members, and we will help with a roof and doors soon to complete the project.
Over the past year, the local security situation has continued to deteriorate. Many Christians have been given the choice to convert or be driven out. These faithful brothers and sisters in Christ have fled their homes and fields, but are being received by other churches in new villages. We have been able to support their needs with food and resources to begin again in a new place. Please continue to pray for the many displaced families and for the safety of Christians throughout the country.
We are overwhelmed with gratitude to the Lord for what He has done in Burkina, as well as in our family! We were blessed to welcome two sons this year, when both Jana and Megan were married! As we gathered to celebrate and consider the incredible people and relationships that span the globe because of a shared heart for the lost and a passion to proclaim the gospel, we were just so immensely grateful! Planting churches in Africa has been a privilege, and being a part of Orphan Care is something we never anticipated! Your ongoing generosity is feeding the hungry, providing hope and equipping pastors to fulfill the calling on their lives. Please know that you are prayed for and vitally important in this ongoing work- on behalf of our family as well as our brothers and sisters in Burkina Faso, Thank You... xoxo
- Please pray for the displaced families as they seek shelter, work and community. One village church received a family of 11 adults, 11 school aged children and 11 babies just last week. We are helping financially with rice and benevolence funds through village pastors.
- We appreciate your prayers for the marriages and family dynamics among the pastors in the region.
- Praise God for His continued protection and provision- even as difficulties move into the immediate vicinity.
- We are thankful for ongoing faithful service in the Compassion site next to the Orphan Care Center- Pastor Felix wears many hats, and overseeing this ministry is one of them!
We are so thankful for your ongoing partnership with the work in Burkina! The needs are many, but your faithful prayer and generosity continues to build churches, train pastors and care for babies! It is an honor to be the 'middle man' for such amazing work!
- Praise God that the foundations are being laid for a new church building, and the Orphan Care Center will have electricity in the near future!
- Please pray for the Pastors who serve tirelessly to care for their church, plant new churches as well as leading their own families.
- Praise God for His continued protection and provision
- Thankful that the Compassion site next to the Orphan Care center is going well and Pastor Felix is thankful for the integrity and heart of service in the new leadership.
- Please pray for the national pastors who are still in training to go out as Pastors and Church Planters- The newest church building is going up and will need a faithful man of God to shepherd over them!
The Wheatons had to return to the U.S. a couple years ago because of the increased threat of violence in Burkina Faso. However, they are still heavily involved in supporting national pastor Felix Kambou, his wife Priscilla, and other churches there.
The orphan care facility is currently taking care of 13 babies, some of which have been abandoned by their families. Muslim families in the area have been blown away by the love shown to the babies, and it has been a powerful witness to the love of Christ.
There is also a mentorship program that teaches different trades to marginalized young women coming from nearby villages. The program is led by local women and is connected to the church there.
- That God would guide and provide for the children in the orphan care program and the young women learning new trades
- That Felix and Priscilla would be strengthened as they serve in so many different ways, and that the Lord would keep them in good health
- Pray that God would give wisdom and provide for a missionary and evangelism training school, so that more pastors can be brought up to continue aggressively planting churches in villages
Joel & Angel Ballew
Children: Taylor, Reagan, & McKinley
Once again, the Lord provides key moments of sharing our faith. Angel was able to reconnect with a friend before a concert began in which their kids performed. This friend is going through a difficult divorce and searching for Truth. Please pray for Eliza (name changed for privacy).
We enjoyed family visits with Angel's brother Jeremy in the country for a church leadership conference of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CaMA). It was so special getting to show off Barranquilla to Jeremy, even though the heat was a bit more than he desired! Joel's parents were able to fly down and see the girls play at the national volleyball tournament in Medellin. Joel's folks and sister enjoyed the beautiful weather, mountains and valleys of Colombia and of course cheering on their granddaughters.
City 2 City Barranquilla
Joel got together with City 2 City leadership (out of Mexico & Colombia) as well as 17 pastors from our city. The purpose of the meetings was to create/grow a network of pastors that are passionate about the Gospel, church planting, and discipleship. The pastors shared a burden on the subject of "unity." Barranquilla is a city with churches and pastors that mostly stay to themselves and are very protective over their little "kingdoms" instead of being open to collaboration and supporting one another. All expressed a desire to start something more collaborative. The goal now is to begin to integrate those pastors into a more cohesive group that can become accountable to one another and begin to strategize long-term for what God has in the city. Joel will come alongside those pastors and with God's prompting be able to include some of them in the incubator for the next year!
Cristhian & Evelin
Please lift up these two in your prayers. This couple is leading the 1st Presbyterian Church in Barranquilla, the oldest Christian church in the city. They are a couple near and dear to us, expecting their baby girl any day now! Cristhian continues to carry his pastoral and preaching responsibilities with total grace and professionalism but we know that this season has been a hard one.
Financially the foundation is not doing well. Angel and Joel have stepped back a bit to allow the 4 Colombian leaders a chance to do this on their own, being very careful to not overstep our bounds. Please be praying that God will give these 4 leadership skills, wisdom, and ears to listen as they navigate the administration and running a rapidly growing organization. Pray for us as we listen to the Holy Spirit's leading.
Joel will be traveling in November to take part in South America Mission's (SAM) annual board meetings. He got a special invitation to go this year. He will be meeting with several contacts in the business as missions world to continue working on future work with Co.Labor. Pray for his safety and the organization of this trip as it has a direct impact on ministry opportunities.
The music foundation (Fundacion Rubato) that we helped launch almost a year ago was invited to Bucaramanga in the Department of Santander (about an 11-hour drive from Barranquilla to the east). They were invited as part of a fine arts collaboration/festival, with a large private university well known for its classical music department. The really cool news is that the foundation figured out how to raise the support needed as well as procure donations for over 40 kids to travel, eat, and stay in Bucaramanga for 4 days. Remember that some of these kids come from families that live on less than $1,000,000 pesos a month ($218 US). It was a unique opportunity for the foundation and for us as a family. We got to see the 4 leaders in their absolute element. They had the chance to pour into kids from across Colombia and share their passion for music. The culmination was a combination of multiple orchestras playing together on the final day of the conference. It was so cool to see everyone together, representing something bigger than themselves.
After several months of hectic activity and a lot of success the proverbial "well" seems to have run dry of all the fundraising efforts. Despite the lack of new investors and setbacks in the way of issues with providers, God has shown up in some really cool ways. It is amazing how He works even "despite" the setbacks and disappointments. Over the last 3 weeks, Joel has been introduced to two different men in Turkey & Ireland wanting to do a similar model to Co.Labor! They are really just starting out in the journey of creating Gospel ecosystems and what that looks like to integrate faith & work in a business as missions context. It has been fun for Joel to be able to share what he has learned through the years of building out the model. As well, he has been able to share some tools and contacts that will help ultimately get these projects to fruition. Joel will travel in late October/early November to the U.S. to hopefully secure more investors but realistically it is not for us to worry about. We continue to lean into our Savior and allow His timing to be the ultimate timing.
Kat's Ministry: Our other missionary that is part of our team, Kat, has begun a project of bringing trauma care to the youth in Barranquilla with a focus on training leaders on how to deal with the effects of abuse in victims living in a fallen world. She will be leading seminars and conferences as well as equipping local leaders to take up this amazing cause to help those most hurting on the coast. Please be lifting up the leaders that Kat is training and that the curriculum is well received. As well, be praying for Kat's heart as she peels back some major hurts in people's lives and that she will be strong through the process and it won't take too much of a toll on her. Those helping with the traumatized often experience secondhand trauma and we want to pray for those leaders and her specifically.
Jean Paul: For those following our journey over the last few years you know Jean Paul. A young man that we consider almost family, he is involved in several of our activities. Well, he turns another year older very soon and we ask for prayer for him. He has accepted that God is out there and after some cool conversations are opening himself up to the Gospel more and more.
Fundacion leadership: Lift up the 4 leaders of Fundacion Rubato. They're struggling through life as a 20-something in Colombia and we are here to witness it all. As we come alongside this group in a meaningful way in discipleship we struggle with the decisions that are made sometimes and ultimately we want them to look to our Lord and Savior as their only want and need. Pray for us to be grace-filled and have mercy when they don't follow through with what we hope they are supposed to do as well. As James 1:22 puts it we must be "doers of the Word and not just hearers only." It's in those frustrating times that the Light of our God can/will shine the brightest.
Co-working: Well, we have some huge news... The coworking space, Co.Labor received its largest single investment to date!! Yahoo. Legacy Ventures Partners which is a private equity firm in New Jersey stepped up after a month of due diligence to put Co.Labor at 51% fundraised. The great part about the partnership is they want to see the company grow and expand and has much of the same vision that Joel has had for so long. We are so excited and can finally see the end in sight of our launch date. There are several other potential suitors to finalize this round of funding and we are hopeful that those conversations will continue to be fruitful. Once the company is 100% funded, construction/remodeling begins. The anticipated timeline from the architect & design team is around 3 months. The cool part is even though the doors aren't even open to the space yet, Joel has received over 40 requests for memberships since launching the website! Isn't that fantastic?
Relationships: We have continued to see a ton of movement just coming alongside people and loving them well. It is amazing to us that we don't have to do some unique programming or create some class to get in front of people and share the Gospel message of hope. Our girls have had unique experiences as well with their volleyball team and junior orchestra as their peers just want to understand more about what a "missionary" really is. We are seeing people in the midst of everyday life struggles seek us out and ask us the hard questions about who God is as well as why we have the faith we do. Angel recently had a woman who emigrated to Colombia to marry a man in Barranquilla seek her out as her marriage is struggling. She shared that she wanted to know more about what a relationship with God looks like. She invited Angel to coffee and asked her to share. God is good!
Volleyball Tournament: The girl's volleyball trip was a big success! Frankly, it was an overwhelming (in a good way) experience. The tournament ended up with over 34,000 people in attendance and 225 courts of volleyball. It was absolute madness. Both Reagan and Taylor had 3 games a day for 3 days and then had a playoff round on the 4th day. Angel's parents were able to join us for the entirety of the trip and got to see the action up close and personal, which was really cool! We mentioned in our Facebook post on 12 Degrees North that It was an emotional experience seeing our girls represent Colombia and just be one of the "girls" as they played alongside their teammates! And it really was. They were just one of the girls... Something we have been praying about for a long time! The team bonded a lot and the girl's experience was amazing. Thank you to all that participated financially. You are very much appreciated!
The Final 49%: Even though the news above is awesome we ask that you continue to pray God would stir the hearts of investors and other funders of faith-based businesses to get Co.Labor off the ground. We are sure God is going to do great things through this process and company but we need to actually launch to do it! It at times can be daunting getting so many "no's" but it is all in God's hands.
Angel's Mom: Please continue to lift up Angel's mom, Diane, and her health. Her cancer hasn't gotten any worse or any better at this point. However, her energy levels are low and she is having problems with other side effects of chemo/cancer.
Parakleo: Angel is taking part in a women's enrichment event in Cartagena for pastors' wives from all over Colombia. The group is being led by the City 2 City Latin America. The conference is a 4-day event that gives these ladies a chance for some support and accountability that oftentimes doesn't happen for them. Please pray for those hurts and struggles to come to light and for the support to be felt in a Spirit-led way. Pray that these ladies will be refreshed and encourged by one another.
Easter: Well, the weather has changed and it is scorching hot out. April is a killer as the breezes die down and it summer heat moves in. However, our week of celebration for "Semana Santa" was really cool this year! In Colombia Easter is less about the actual day of Easter celebration and more about the entire Holy Week (Semana Santa). Our church put on 4 days of celebration services culminating in Jesus' resurrection on Sunday. This year every group took a day to organize and execute the service. The youth/young adults took on Thursday and Kat was able to lead worship with Jean Paul and a team. It was fun for them to be the leaders of the service for once and get to put their own personal touch on the service! The men had the Good Friday service. Joel was asked to be a guest preacher! It was the 1st time he has preached in Spanish living in Colombia, which was a great experience. He preached on John 19:30 and the significance that little verse has in our faith and our history. The cool byproduct of the time is that Joel was invited to be part of the preaching team and that was so special.
Anniversaries: We are celebrating our 4th anniversary in Colombia! And as luck would have it, Kat actually celebrated her 1st year anniversary of being in Barranquilla a few weeks ago (before our anniversary date). Our family looks back and takes the time to thank God for all He has done for us and through us in our time here in South America. It is so rich to feel His guiding hand on our lives and ministry.
Wisdom: As we continue to minister and live here, the needs of those around us are more and more evident. Many times we lend a listening ear, and sit with those that are going through difficulties . We need continued wisdom with those we are with. They need Jesus' touch, and we pray that they would seek Him and find Him in the midst of their struggles.
End of the Year for the Foundation: There isn't much time left in the conservatory before summer break. It has been a really cool 1st semester for the school. Pray for the children and teens of limited resources and that the foundation can stay connected to them. Pray for more students so we can reach more at-risk kids with scholarships. And also just as important lift up the 4 leaders and us as we plan and strategize for next semester.
Travel: Our family is travelling a great deal over the next few months going in all sorts of directions. Please be praying for travel mercies as well as peace as we are away from each other. Ministry & life are hard when the family is separated and it adds to stress for those still doing life at home in Barranquilla.
Carnaval: Carnaval in Barranquilla for most Colombians is one of the most anticipated celebrations of the year. It is a 4 day celebration before lent where the city swells with tourism to celebrate the 2nd largest Carnaval in South America (1st being in Rio de Janiero, Brazil). There are parties in the streets, costumed parades, costumed dances, and a variety of other events… Including lots and lots of partying. This year for the 1st time our family was able to go and experience a tamed version of Carnaval at the theater festival for kids which took place in a cool theatre in a park. It is a really cool cultural experience as Carnaval has its history date all the way back to the 1900s, but at the same time it has been a focal point of contention for the Christian and secular communities due to the party nature and underlying tones of why it is celebrated. Imagine the same tension Halloween produces in North America.
Leadership Summit: Angel & Joel were invited as part of SAM's leadership contingent to take part in a Leadership Conference/Summit in Medellin, Colombia. There were leaders from multiple denominations and organizations. The group represented the countries of Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina, and Bolivia. The goal was to think & act cohesively to see how as a group they could live out the Gospel from a missional perspective in Latin America. It was 4 days of great conversations, accountability, and strategizing for our countries of work. The best part was seeing local leadership at the conference from Colombia, Guatemala, and Brazil. It was excited to sit side by side and strategize while calling each other to excellence.
Orlando Volleyball Tournament: Taylor & Reagan have been invited to Orlando, FL in June to participate in the world's largest international volleyball tournament. Their Colombian team won the right to participate and this year they are fundraising to make that happen! Check out this video and how you can support the girls in their journey.
Women's Gathering: Lift up the next steps for the women in ministry gathering that has been gaining traction over the last several months. There is a group of Christian women on the coast that would like to start meeting regularly in prayer, accountability, and a time of fellowship. Pray that these women will grow from their time together and that God will work out all the logistical headaches!
PRAISE: Joel found out last week that the first angel investor has decided to come on as an foundational investor for Co.Labor! Huge praises to God as this particular investor is very excited about the business plan and how ministry can impact not only the community around Co.Labor but also how church planting can reach the cities of South America!
Hurting people: When you have a moment pray for the people that we come in contact with that are struggling and/or hurting. It seems like everywhere we turn there is heartache and pain. We found out a stat recently from a friend that runs UNICEF here on the coast of Colombia that 74% of people living in Barranquilla don't have the finances to eat 3 meals a day. As we have begun to unpack that with relationships, contacts, and friends it is evident that a lot of those close with our family are a part of that 74%. As a family it is so easy to be overwhelmed with how to share God amongst the hurting so we press into him and could use your prayers of wisdom in that.
Co-working: Co.Labor is starting to see some traction with new potential investors! Joel has met with 3 different groups that represent Business As Mission (BAM) investors in the last month, what a praise! Each group has 5 to 15 individual people that would invest as "angel investors." The coolest part is several of these groups have experts in the BAM world and would add a lot of expertise and value being a part of the coworking project. There've been multiple conversations with the groups of investors and they've shown excitement about what is going on. Joel was also able to secure a commitment from church leadership in the Caribbean coast to filter potential pastors through the church planters incubator that is such a big part of the ministry of what he will be doing!
Discipleship: February was a special month as we were blessed with several opportunities to pour into the lives of some individuals and couples that needed it in different ways. We always leave those sweet times feeling tired but so accomplished as God was able to use us in very specific ways to draw individuals closer to Him. Our family has realized something very clearly that being part of God's work/Church is messy. However, it is in the messiness of people hurting, struggles with relationships, and even estrangement from parents that God shows up in the biggest ways. Philippians 1:27 says, "Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ so that-whether I come and see you or whether I remain absent-I should hear that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, by contending side by side for the faith of the gospel."
Our Ministry: Please lift us up in prayer when we come to mind. Our opportunities to serve and love on the lost have continued to increase and we are excited about that but we don't want to spread ourselves to thin, which has happened before. We need God's wisdom and discernment to decide on opportunities. Also lift up praises for so many opportunities!
McKinley: Our youngest daughter McKinley has been in a series of accidents of late (including a trip to the ER) and it has taken its toll on our nerves. Pray for healing for her and peace for her Mom & Dad!
Leadership Summit In Medellin: We were invited as a couple to go to Medellin in mid-March to take part in a leadership summit with leaders from across South America. These leaders come from all sorts of ministries and denominations, which is cool. Pray for us to be good listeners and safety as we travel. Pray that we can take away new relationships to help Colombia however God sees fit.
Increase In Church Planting: City to City is ramping up their launch of church planting incubator. As well, their 2022 strategic goals have already been set out and they are moving in a great direction. Joel has been having a blast seeing how so many pastors (& their families) have answered the call to start Gospel first, community based churches throughout the entire country of Colombia. They have several meetings already in the pipeline and we are loving the chance to pour into the lives of disciple makers and their wives through the first quarter of this year.
Fundacion Rubato: Well, if you follow us on any social media, you know we have been hard at work for the last 4 months interacting a lot with classical music… Weird, I know. However, it is a really cool story of four 20-somethings we have been mentoring and their desire to create a non-profit that helps launch classical music in the city no matter ones economic or social status. There has been so much success that in the last few weeks they have started a music academy in which every paid student pays for a scholarship for a child from a disadvantaged neighborhood!
Fundraising: The year end giving to our ministry was awesome! God did a tremendous work through people like you to get us through December. We raised over $7,000 to help in 2022. However, our monthly giving has dropped off in the last quarter of 2021, which has put us in a place to begin the process of looking for folks that want to partner on a month to month basis.
Vacation with Family: We were able to travel and celebrate Joel's Dads retirement as well as a late Christmas, which was so sweet for the entire family. Taylor got Covid but we still enjoyed the time to relax and decompress from a busy end of the year from a work perspective. We so easily forget just how much we need that time to see family and recharge!
PRAISE: More than 6 months ago you saw in our prayer requests a request for Milagro, a sweet 12 year old girl that was physically in bad shape. Well, the doctors were able to diagnose her with Lupus after several longer stays in the hospital. Those long stays accumulated into 6 months of time trying to figure this all out. Not only that but a long process of working her regime of medicines out… She has gained strength and is back to almost pre-sickness weight! We celebrate with her parents and sibling as she works her way back to her normal day to day.
Pastor & Family: Please be praying for Jose Escobar & his family. Jose and his family are good friends living in Cartagena. Jose is the leader of City to City in Colombia. They have been in really poor health of late and on top of that just got Covid. They are down emotionally and could use the prayer support.
Project Targeting Low-Income: Lift up the work we are doing with vulnerable populations and low-income families. The project will be new to our team so it is a lot to manage as something starting from scratch. As well, its a lot of work to identify where and who we can support without being in the way of local non-profits and support.
Clear Vision: Lift us up to ensure we continue to follow what God has called us here to do. There are so many ministry opportunities and only so much of us! As you pray please lift up our abilities to be sure in what we should do as we conquer the doubt of momentary failures as well as God helping us see the marathon not just the sprint of day to day.
Michael & Maegan Cody
Gauteng, South Africa
Children: Callan Booth, Noah Robinson, & Aldyn Ara
As you may have seen in our last update, for the first time in 3 years we will be able to host our summer project (equivalent to a Beach Project in the U.S.) from November 30-December 7! Our project is called "Khula," the isiZulu and isiXhosa word for "Grow."
We have over 30 students from our 3 campuses signed up, and our prayer is that the Lord would use this week to begin establishing deep roots in Christ. We will be spending the week teaching students the basics of the Gospel, as well as practically how to study the Bible for themselves and begin to share their faith with others. They will also have daily meetings in small discipleship groups.
The cost for each student to attend is about $200, and we are asking them to raise $60 themselves. One way we are doing this is having them invite our friends and ministry partners in the U.S. to partner with them, so they have written personal letters such as this.
If nothing else, we hope you will be encouraged by how the Lord has worked over the last year in these students' lives through reading their words. And if the Lord leads you to help these students experience the Khula Project, the link to donate is written in the letter.
Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, and thank you for your partnership with us in the Gospel!
Michael (for the Campus Outreach South Africa team)
NEW BROTHERS AND SISTERS
In many ways 2022 was a "start over" year for Campus Outreach South Africa, due to the campuses finally opening back up after nearly 2 years of tight Covid restrictions. As we reflect back on a year beginning with so much uncertainty, we are amazed at how God's grace has been poured out.
At the University of Johannesburg, we believe 7 students have come to true faith in Jesus! Just this past week our staff team got a message from Mpho sharing about our new sister in Christ, Nosipho. I want to just post it here so you can be encouraged by the story!
"Hey team some awesome news to praise God for today! 😄 Just had a clarifying conversation with Nosipho and she just professed faith! She said she realized that doing life outside of Christ is hard and she hasn't been successful! She shared the moments she realized she needed Christ and she really believe and has seen in her own life that Jesus really is her Lord and Saviour and she wants to be part of that! 😄 We had a really great conversation and she was so specific and deep about her life before Christ and how she came to Christ. 🎉"
Please pray for Nosipho and the other young believers, that their faith would be proved genuine and they would be established to walk with Christ for the rest of their lives.
A GROWING COMMUNITY
The majority of the staff's energy this year was spent befriending and sharing Christ with first year students (freshmen), asking the Lord to give us some to disciple and train as laborers for the next 2-3 years.
We see some encouraging signs of God's answering these prayers, not only through the new believers mentioned above but also a growing community of ~25 first year students, who have been involved in Bible studies and other growth activities.
We would ask you to pray that all these students come to faith in Jesus and are eager to reach out to friends and new students next year!
As a family we are striving to end the year strong. The kids are finishing up homeschooling and had their year-end program just last Saturday, where they sang (among other things) a 15 minute song chronicling the history of the world from Creation through today 👀. It is remarkable how much they are progressing. Pictured above is Maegan with the other mom/teachers and some of the students in the homeschool co-op.
I hope you are able to see how much the Lord is using your prayers, giving and encouragement to establish his kingdom in southern Africa. Please know, as we have been stripped of so many of our normal comforts since coming here, how much we tangibly feel the weight of your partnership. We love you dearly.
All Glory be to Christ!
- The Codys
THE RETURN OF LEADERSHIP PROJECT!
After a 3-year hiatus due to Covid restrictions, the Lord has opened the door for us to host a week-long version of our summer discipleship program. This is our equivalent of Beach Project in the U.S.
Our campuses will bring 30-35 students to the coast from November 30-December 7 for a week of intensive training in studying the Bible, sharing faith and living a Gospel-driven life.
Our prayer is 3-fold:
1) That no student would leave not knowing Christ
2) That all students would leave equipped to study the Bible and share Christ themselves
3) That each campus would have a solid student leadership team formed from the students who attend
Please pray with us that the students we are pursuing will commit to the project and that these goals will be fulfilled!
The cost for a student to attend is R3000 (equivalent to roughly $170), and we are helping them raise support to cover the costs of their Leadership Project. If you would like to be part of helping our students attend, you can click here to donate!
AFRICA CONNECT CONFERENCE 2022
Recently we had the privilege of gathering with Campus Outreach staff from Gauteng (Johannesburg and Pretoria), Zambia and Cape Town. Several U.S. staff made the trek across the Atlantic to spend the week encouraging and investing in our staff here.
We heard great content on family, leadership, multi-cultural teams and persevering in ministry. But perhaps the best part was the encouragement of sharing the week together, learning how the Lord is making disciples across southern Africa, as well as bearing one another's burdens in prayer and fellowship. We are so grateful to work for a ministry so committed to caring for its laborers.
I think we left with a healthy grasp of the importance of church and campus ministry work on our continent (see graphic below), and we are so grateful for your partnership in reaching the next generation of these leaders with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
ON THE BRINK OF FAITH
I met Themba back in March when we hosted a seminar in his residence hall. Since then we have developed a great relationship and he has been eager to learn more about Jesus through our dorm Bible study and personal conversations. I asked him where he thought he was with the Lord recently. Themba told me he is very close and on the verge of committing, using the analogy of being serious about getting to know someone but not yet committed to marriage.
Please pray that the Lord brings Themba to faith before the end of the term, as it truly does seem like he is "on the brink" of turning to Christ!
At our most recent staff meeting, we spent the bulk of the time conversing over where the men and women in our Bible studies and discipleship groups seem to be spiritually, as well as what the next steps could be in moving them forward in discipleship.
One of the most encouraging things for me was hearing how many of these men and women are either brand new to following Christ (within the last year or so) or seem to be just on the edge of beginning to follow him. It was also neat to see our young South African staff intentionally seeking the Lord on how to lead these guys and girls.
We have been so blessed over the past month to welcome Maegan's parents, Paul and Karen, to South Africa. We have enjoyed sweet fellowship and introducing them to our life here. We were fortunate to be able to spend a few days on the beautiful coastal town of Ballito and then a couple more in the more rural areas of Kwa-Zulu Natal going on a safari.
Having them here has been refreshing to our souls, reminding us how loved and supported we are by those we love back home. We know it will be tremendously difficult when they board the plane back to Georgia next Wednesday.
Thank you all for investing in the Great Commission here, through your prayers and encouragements and giving. We hope this short window into just a few things happening over here will allow your hearts to rejoice in Christ and his kingdom!
ONE YEAR IN
Last month we celebrated our first full year in South Africa, and what a whirlwind it has been! There are really sweet days and really hard days, and recently we've realized how much we truly are grieving the loss of so much of "home." But we're also getting glimpses of why it's all worth it, and we'd like to share 2 of these stories with you...
OUR NEW BROTHER
Two updates ago I asked you to pray for 3 guys who seemed to be wrestling with the Gospel - Valentine, Slick and Chris.
- Valentine seems to still be in a similar spot - faithful to come to every Bible study and spending lots of time with us, but not yet trusting in Christ.
- Slick has sadly grown distant and cold to spiritual discussions.
- But Chris recently professed faith in Christ after church one Sunday! In South Africa the culture is very religious, experiential and emotional, so it's not uncommon to see people "make decisions for Jesus," only to fall away. But we have hope in the fact that he has been hearing the real Gospel over and over through Bible studies and personal conversations, and there are encouraging signs that he really has received new life in Christ!
Please pray that the Holy Spirit's work in Chris' heart is sincere and he gets well-established as we follow up with him, as well as for the Spirit to bring the other 2 guys to faith!
My friend and co-worker Siyanda recently shared his testimony during a gathering at church. I hope listening to it will leave you encouraged at how the Lord has worked here over the past decade, and how he is using changed lives like Siyanda's to bring more lives (like Chris') into his Kingdom!
We hope you can taste a little bit of the sweetness of the fruit that your giving, encouragement and prayers are bearing in the lives of staff and students here!
Please continue to pray for the Lord to strengthen us with the joy only he gives, and that he give us immense wisdom as we seek to love and lead our kids, the South African staff and the students at UJ.
We are very much looking forward to the next month, as Maegan's parents will be visiting us! Please pray this will be a sweet time of fellowship and refreshment for us and the kids.
Thank you for loving our family so well. We are so thankful for the Body of Christ all over the world who play a part in building Christ's kingdom among university students in South Africa.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Michael, Maegan, Noah Robinson, Aldyn and Callan
JOURNEYING TOWARD CHRIST
As I said last month, we have just come out of the busiest time of the year. After a couple weeks of winter break UJ students returned to campus this past week, and the focus of our staff is continuing to evangelize and follow up with the 100+ students we have built relationships with this year.
A big piece of this is the residence hall Bible studies we host. Above is a live action shot from this week's study in Cornerstone Hall, where we discussed the claims of Jesus. The study went unbelievably well, and below are some examples of the (unprompted) comments from the guys:
"Why would God create us if he knew we were going to sin?"
"Why would God put so many good things in the world if just wants us to worship him?"
"I know I'm missing something, and I just hope I can find the relationship with God I know I need."
"I'm so thankful you guys are here to love us and explain these things in ways we can understand."
Please pray for the 4 men who attended this week [Chris, Lwanda, Onke and Themba], that they will soon come to faith in Christ!
STAFF PROFILE: PRIDE
Pride Khumalo has served as an intern at UJ this year. The Lord has used her mightily in Impumelelo Hall, to build many relationships and evangelize girls. Many of the girls who come to our Bible studies and events are ladies whom Pride has reached out to. Currently she is praying through and considering whether to join staff full-time next year or enter into another kind of ministry, and we would ask you to pray for her as well in this process.
Pride says of her year on staff, "Being on staff this year, I've really enjoyed growing in the Lord and having a continual desire to know him more. I have genuinely enjoyed forming relationships, not just with the people I work with but also the girls on campus. It has truly been lovely!"
During the term break we had the privilege of taking a trip to the Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal. It was a wonderful time of doing next to nothing besides enjoying the beauty of God's creation together, away from the noise of city life.
Family life is very busy with homeschooling, friends, events, ministry and everything it takes to function well in a big (foreign) city. Overall we are well, we would just ask your prayers for the Lord to give us wisdom on how to balance everything, live effectively and love one another well in our current context.
One highlight is the Lord answering our prayers for the spiritual development of our children. We have prayed since they were born that they would never know a day they don't call on Jesus as Lord and Savior. Their eagerness to do family worship, learn the Bible and be part of our church are very encouraging signs.
During family worship we are studying God's Word through the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and the kids wanted to share with you one of the questions they've memorized in this video.
Thank you for loving our family through your prayers, words and giving. The Gospel work God has called us to in South Africa is made possible by your faithful partnership. We love you and miss you dearly.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Michael, Maegan, Noah Robinson, Aldyn and Callan
CRAZY, BUSY, AWESOME TIME OF YEAR!
This title reflects how crucial a time in our campus calendar we are in right now. For the first since 2019, the University of Johannesburg has been able to host a Cross Cultural Project (CCP) from the U.S. The team landed on May 17 and are with us through July 2!
It has been such a blessing to have these American staff and students laboring with us, to connect more students to the ministry and share the Gospel with them alongside our local staff. They have been used to make a big impact on our staff and students already.
The CCP team has been going with us to campus every day, meeting students through sports and spending time in the residence halls. They've been coming with us to Bible studies and helping host socials - including the last 2 Friday evenings, when around 60 students have come around for dinner, games and spiritual dialogue!
Please pray for the next month that they are here. As exciting of a time as this is, students also begin 3 weeks of semester exams this week, which makes availability more limited. Please pray for...
- Students we are evangelizing to come to faith in Christ - specifically Onke, Themba, Chris, Lwando, Chiza, Cring Cring, Azile and Alex.
- Bible studies beginning in Maqhawe and Cornerstone residence halls, as well as currently running ones in Impumelelo and Moshate Heights.
- Our staff families and the CCP team to be strengthened excessively by God's grace for this very intense season of ministry.
GOD'S FAITHFULNESS TO OUR FAMILY
As I write this I'm reminded that this time last year I was just getting home from Washington D.C. after our visa appointment. What a wonderful memory of God's gracious provision to get us where we are. Praise him, from whom all blessings flow!
We miss you dearly.
We miss Florence, Birmingham, Atlanta and all our other homes away from home.
But we feel you with us through your prayers, encouraging words and giving.
Thank you for being with us and being part of raising up the next generation of South African disciple makers.
For Christ and his kingdom,
Michael, Maegan, Noah, Aldyn and Callan
Click here to watch a video update from Michael.
Over the past month, the Lord has graciously increased our ministry's capacity, and we would like to share how the Lord has answered many of your prayers for this!
Johannesburg is an expensive city to live in, particularly close to the university. Many of our indigenous South African staff simply cannot afford living in optimal areas for ministry close to the campus...which proves very difficult when the core strategy of Campus Outreach is "life-on-life" evangelism and discipleship.
Siyanda and Anele Yaka, with their 2 boys, moved from Pretoria to Johannesburg last year to join our team, but until recently they were living 30+ minutes away from campus because of these challenges. Siyanda, being an incredibly gifted evangelist and people gatherer, really struggled being so hamstrung in ministry.
Enter Kennedy Froebe, a recent grad from the University of Kansas who committed to joining the international staff of Campus Outreach back in 2020. Her original destination remained closed due to Covid into this year, so Kennedy began prayerfully considering if the Lord was leading her elsewhere. He indeed was, and she landed in the O.R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg just last week!
Kennedy came to faith and was discipled through university ministry at Kansas, and she is bringing and cheerful and outgoing presence to UJ. We can't wait to have her join Mpho and Pride in reaching girls with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Kennedy and our other new staff girl Chandler (who is slated to arrive in June) will be living with the Yakas in their new house ABOUT 5 MINUTES FROM CAMPUS! The Lord has given a cost-sharing provision to get more of our staff right next to campus...so more LIFE ON LIFE ministry can now happen!
Thank you for your prayers, Team!
REACHING "THE RES"
Ministry to the residence halls has started to take off. We've met lots of students, hosted socials (like the game night above) and begun the first of several evangelistic Bible studies. Siyanda has even started coaching the res' rugby and soccer teams as a way of forming relationships with guys!
Most of these students are far from God. What an amazing opportunity he's given us to show them the love of Christ by sharing a lot of life with them and proclaming his glorious gospel that they may find life!
One student I ask specific prayer for is Onke. He is a first year student from Cornerstone Hall, who I've been privileged to befriend. Onke is a leader of men who often brings others around when we are hanging out. Please pray for Onke that he comes to faith in Jesus by the end of the year and the Lord builds him into a kingdom laborer during his years at UJ!
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
To God Alone Be The Glory.
Click here to watch a video update from Michael.
FAMILY PRAYER REQUESTS
- Clarity on what to say "yes" and "no" to, as far as commitments
- Friendships to continue to deepen with other couples and their kids
- Wisdom in discipling our kids
CAMPUS PRAYER REQUESTS
- Resources for our South African staff to be in sustainable and healthy spots
- That we would get recognized as an official student "society," so we will always have access to campus without any hassle from security guards
- That many students would commit to the evangelistic Bible studies we will be initiating in April, and ultimately come to faith