Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Joy, Pain, & some GREAT News

Our Dear friends & family,
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” – Psalm 18:2
What an incredible blessing it is to belong to the LORD!  Whether in good times or in bad He is our Rock, our Fortress and an ever-present help.  He is always with us, and will never leave us nor forsake us!  The past few months have been very busy, and filled with great levels of both joy and pain.  But the Lord Jesus has been with us through it all, and we are so thankful for His sustaining love.  Now I would love to start with some good news first:     
Teaching Ministry 
I recently had the great opportunity to teach again at Joy Mission Bible College in Ngculwini.  I taught a 4 week course on Expository Preaching.  When the College approached me to teach this class there was only a week and a half before it started.  So, I had to get right to work because I needed to build everything up from scratch.  I had to develop & write the class syllabus, source all my teaching materials myself, develop all the lessons, and students assignments.  It was a lot of work, but it was also very fulfilling and fun.  I had 13 students and they were all wonderful. 
Some of my students & myself from the Expository Preaching Class. 
I am so thankful that I had a lot of my own expository preaching books from my days as a student @ Nyack College – they really helped me!  I also realized that although I am no expert on preaching, I have been blessed to receive so much from those who poured into me over the years.  I am forever thankful to those who have poured Christ’s love into my life.  Their mentorship, love and support, has impacted me tremendously...I think of people like:  Jim Bailey, Jon Schuerholz, Ken Berding, Ron & Wanda Walborn, & Paul Hazlett to name a few.  The phrase “I stand on the shoulders of giants” rings so true for me.  My class went very well and I loved it.  As I said, it was very fulfilling for me to help equip my students for their ministry.  I will be teaching another class early next year in January or February.                 
A Painful Road  
One of the hardest things in the past few months was to lose one of our very close friends.  In fact in the space of 2 months we lost 3 friends.  2 friends died of complications from HIV.  That was terrible but we knew ahead of time that could be happening unless the Lord Jesus brought some significant healing.  However, we were incredibly shocked & unprepared to lose a dear friend very unexpectedly.  Her name was Nokuthula, and we first met her when she worked as an Aunty at the  Sandra Lee Centre.  She quickly became a very good friend to us.    
Nokuthula laughing with Zwakele behind her.
In fact, she was really one of Zwakele's closest friends.  Her passing was very painful for us.  Shortly after our family left the SLC, Nokuthula also left her job because of some challenges she was going through in her life.  In this season and up until her death Zwakele spent a lot of time with her.  Our friend had a very difficult early life, but she met Jesus and he changed her and brought her joy and great hope.  Nokuthula loved to laugh, I'll always remember that about her.  I joked a lot with her and we would always laugh so much together.  She also loved to sing and worship the LORD.  Although we are sad she is gone, we are incredibly thankful that she knew Jesus!  We will see her again one day!  Nokuthula left behind a sister (named Thando) who really has no other family.  Would you please pray for Thando as she continues to deal with her loss and please pray for us as we minister to her.  We've known Thando for a while, and love her and told her that we are now her family. 
Rural Outreach                                                                                                                                                      
In the past few months we have continued to regularly spend time in the rural area near Pigg’s Peak.  This is the community where we did some home visits with Pastor Jon Schuerholz when he came out to visit us in February of this year.  We have spent time building relationships, doing home visits, and meeting some practical needs.  One of the families who we met with Jon in February was headed by a pastor who had lost his sight.  Our family has grown to know this family quite well over the recent months.  As we spend time with this man I am often struck by his attitude.  He has gone through a very rough season in his life.  He lost his sight - how terrible a thing to go through.  Further, we recently found out that there was some medication he could have been receiving to help keep the sight in one of his eyes but the government hospital has run out of it many times.  Because of the poor level of care he has suffered so greatly.  I don't know about you but sometimes I complain a little too easily.  And some of the things I complain about are often trivial.  However, since I have started knowing this man I have never heard him complain.  In fact, he is often the opposite, ready to encourage us and filled with joy.  He has a joy that rises independently from the circumstances he exists in.  That kind of joy is rare, and can only come from Jesus Christ. 
Zwakele talking with the pastor and his wife.
Thandeka being silly with the pastors wife!
Because of a donation from a friend we were able to get the pastor a solar powered talking siSwati Bible.  He was touched and very thankful for the gift of the Word of God.  At our last visit with him he was telling us about the importance of the Word of God.  He said that many church's in Swaziland are distracted by so many things but what they really need is the Word of God.  He encouraged us to continue strong in the Word as it is the source of life.  Despite all he is going through, he remains passionate, walks in purpose, and is always encouraging and having the joy that comes from a life in Christ.  Praise the Lord!
The solar powered talking siSwati Bible.
Thank you Caroline McGraw for the donation!
Kenmore Alliance Church also donated the funds to build a house for a widowed single mother of 4 in this community.  The process to get this house done has been quite frustrating.  It has taken much longer than originally planned.  We had a lot of problems.  First, it was so difficult to get a truck to deliver the building materials from the nearest city to the homestead.  The road was so bad and often inaccessible due to rains.  Secondly, we had quite an ordeal getting a builder and then working well with him.  Sometimes the builder would just not show up to work. :(  Other times he would run out of something which would cause him to stop working.  However, he would not communicate this to us and the work would stop for a week.  
Old & New:  The old house on the left and the new one going up in the back!
Taken about 2 weeks ago, the new house nearly finished!

Well just today (the 27th August) we received a call that the house is totally finished!  Praise God!!  We are so happy that the family will be able to enjoy a new safe place to live in.  Thank you so much KAC for your sacrificial giving to this family!  We will get a picture of the completed house posted soon!   
In July I had the great experience of leading a 2 week trip called “Steps Over Swaziland” (S.O.S.).  This was the third S.O.S. trip to Swaziland, but my first time to be involved with them. This years team consisted of 8 people from the USA who came to volunteer. 
The purpose of the trip was to raise awareness for various issues affecting Swaziland, to prayer walk the nation, and to do some practical outreach in communities around Swaziland.   Each day the team started by prayer walking a distance of 18 to 20 kilometers! 
The team and a group of Swazi's walking on Day 1.  Notice the police escort!
Part of the vision was to get young Swazi people from various church's to participate in the prayer walk and get them involved in their communities.  Praise God that on various legs of the trip we did have a number of Swazi's prayer walking with us! 
Day 1 finished!
After the team finished the days portioned walk, they would eat lunch quickly, and be driven to a ministry site where they would spend the rest of the day.  Many times this was at a neighborhood care point, although we also did a bunch of home visits and spent a day with The Luke Commission at one of their clinics.  My specific job as a leader was to handle the trips finances/accounting, run the logistics, support the team as they walked, and participate in the daily ministry.  While the team walked, at every 6 kilometers I would set up a relief station, giving the team water and fruit to help refresh them.   Because of my service the team ended up giving me the nickname "Carson," after the character on Downton Abbey.  I guess I'll take that over being called "Thomas" from Downton Abbey any day! :)
The team started in the Southeast region of the country and walked along the road up to the Northwest region of the country.  By the end of the trip the team had gone 122 miles by foot!  Quite a distance within a few days time.  It was a great trip overall, and a lot was accomplished.  It took weeks of work involved in preparation and set up before the trip but it was all worth it.         
The team brought a huge quantity of soccer jerseys that were given out at care points.  
YWAM DTS                                                                                                                                                         
Time has flown by!  I can't believe we officially started with YWAM in January.  Part of joining YWAM Swaziland is that the organization of YWAM requires that everyone who wishes to be a full time staff member go through a training called "Discipleship Training School," or "DTS" for short.  YWAM wants all their staff to know the organizations core values so hence the required training.  I will be starting my DTS this upcoming Monday, the 1st of September.  The training will run for 3 months, finishing at the end of November.  Will you please pray for me as I participate in this training.  I will be going through this training with 3 other team members.    
GREAT NEWS                                                                                                                                                      
We originally had planned to be back in America from the middle of July to mid-September.  We wanted to be home to see friends and family, go to the KAC Camping event, get a little break, and attend a good friends wedding.  However, something has come up that has prevented us from making the trip home just now.  Look at the picture below:
That's right Zwakele is pregnant!!!  The new baby is due in the last week of February 2015.  We are excited for this next member of our family!  Please keep Momma and the new baby in your prayers!  So far Zwakele has had a bit of a rough time with this pregnancy and she cannot wait to get into the 2nd trimester.  Next month hopefully we should be able to find out if were having a boy or a girl.  As of now the plan is to have the baby delivered in Swaziland, I will then make the mad dash to get all paperwork done and then LORD willing we will fly to states 1st or 2nd week of April for a visit!  Exciting developments!  
Thanks so much for your prayers and support to us!  We couldn't do this without your love!  May the Lord bless you abundantly!      


Sunday, April 20, 2014


Dear Friends & Family,
Happy Easter!!!

“This is love:  not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” – 1 John 4:10
“Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen.”  - Luke 24:5&6

We hope you have had a weekend full of reflecting on the costly sacrifice of our King.  And Praise God for this Sunday morning!!  May you have a wonderful Sunday celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ!! 
Our family is so thankful to be a part of what the LORD is doing here in Swaziland!  In the past few months the theme of what the LORD is doing in and through us has been: Home, Hope, & Happiness. 
The Lord has given us a new ministry home in YWAM Swaziland.  This has brought us much joy and happiness.  We are part of a great ministry team!  Below is a picture of our staff.                 

The YWAM Swaziland staff is composed of 3 families from Brazil, a family from Holland, a man from Nigeria, a young Swazi guy, and a Swazi Couple who run a home for orphaned children.  The YWAM Swazi base is located in the capital of Mbabane, up on a mountain that overlooks the city.  Below is a picture of the beautiful view from our headquarters. 


The property of the base is nestled between an older township community known as "Zone 4," and a new property development called "Lomkiri."  In both communities there are a lot of opportunities for ministry, in some cases literally right next door. 

Zwakele & I are now involved in a bunch of different ministries.  All of the YWAM staff have to put in some hours every week helping the base.  Monday mornings I usually work about 4 hours with our director handling communications for YWAM Swazi.  We currently are working on our new website, building it up, and adding content as we can.  You can check out our new website @ .  We really have a severe challenge with communication at the moment.  In January we lost our internet ability at both the base and at all of our residences.  It is a long & complicated story, but we have been trying for months to get another internet service provider.  We are now dependent on internet cafe's again which can be extremely slow and impossible to download or upload any pictures/content.      
Part of our Partnering with God along the theme of HOME has been helping those in need of proper shelter.  In February Jon Schuerholz the pastor of our home church, Kenmore Alliance visited us.  It was an awesome trip with a lot of encouragement for us and much work for the Kingdom of God.

One day we did home visits in the rural area surrounding Pigg's Peak (North West Mountainous part of the country).  We visited a widowed mother who currently had 3 children staying with her.  The four of them lived in a 2 room stick & mud house.  The inside part of the walls are decaying and water is surfacing from somewhere underground.  This makes the floor of the inside constantly wet and even muddy at times.  So Pastor Jon decided that we would construct a new concrete house for her.  Below is the picture of the house they are currently staying in. 
Below is the "toilet" they use everyday.   
For the past month and a half we have been coordinating construction of their new house.  Zwakele & I typically spend one day a week up in this rural community checking on details of the construction and doing home visits in the community.  Unfortunately, due to heavy rains throughout most of March, the hardware store could not get a truck up the road to deliver building materials to the family.  However, two weeks ago we were very happy to find that the blocks & cement had finally been delivered and that the foundation was already laid!!   

Below a picture of the new foundation.
The rainy season has now ended and we are hoping that construction will be finished by the end of the month of May.  We will post more pictures in our next blog.  We would appreciate your prayers for our continued ministry in this community. 

HOPE – The Resurrection of Christ Jesus displays the only true HOPE for mankind.  Some of the ministries we now are involved in are all about declaring the love & hope that are found only in Christ.  Will you please stand with us in prayer for these ministries we are involved in.   

Hospital Outreach - Zwakele & I are taking time every week to do hospital visitation and outreach @ the Mbabane Government Hospital.  This is a great opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus and show his love and compassion to people who are often in desperate need of it.         

Outreach in Zone 4 - In the community around the YWAM base known as Zone 4 there are quite a number of widows & orphaned children.  Our staff has a continual presence in this community ministering to them.  So far we have had open doors to visit and share the gospel of Christ with people in this community.  Last week we broke into several teams and prayer walked the area and met with people at their house, at small roadside shops, or just walking along the street.  It was a great time.  We also have open doors at the primary school in Zone 4, where once a week we lead the students in morning devotionals before the start of school.  Below is a picture of some of us as we went out into the community.   

Lomkiri University students - There is a newly constructed medical university in the community of Lomkiri.  This has seen our area have a massive influx of college students.  In fact we have 17 students living right next door to us in a group of apartments.  A fellow staff member and I are leading a weekly time of outreach for them on Thursday nights @ the YWAM base.  Please pray that students would make decisions for Christ, and that God would empower us to have the right words & His wisdom to reach them.           
Seminars / Preaching @ ChurchTeaching @ the Bible College - Being at YWAM has also opened up much more time for me (Dennis) to be involved in teaching and preaching.  Soon we will be conducting one day and weekend seminars for churches to instill in them a passion to reach the lost and equip them to carry out the mission.  I will provide more details as the seminars draw closer.      

Being in Christ's will for your life brings joy!  We are so thankful to be in this new season of ministry.  Our families desire is that wherever we go we want to move with Jesus' purposes, love, and compassion.  We want to be conduits of His joy to those around us, carrying His light into dark places.  Whether its the government hospital, the township of Zone 4, or the rural areas, we want to minister Jesus' love and bring joy to people.  When people meet us we want them to encounter Christ.  Thandeka Grace is now 3 years old.  She is growing and speaking both Siswati and English.  It has been such a joy to take her with us as we go out to minister.  Below she is holding the hand of one of the children for whom we are building the new house.        

Again, we are so happy to be in this new chapter of our lives!  We feel incredibly blessed and humbled.  Thank you so much for standing with us prayerfully and financially as we serve the Lord Jesus in Swaziland.  Today is a great day!  He has risen, just as He said he would!  I pray that His resurrection power would be so very evident in our lives, and that we would choose to walk with him daily.  Lord Jesus thank you for your grace and please make us more and more like you!  May the Lord bless you all abundantly!