The Fire & the Family

Greeting from South Africa!

Praying you sense the Father’s unfailing love surround you. I want to share with you a video clip of a vision I had back in July that I believe is prevalent during this season.

A Great Time To Become a “House of Prayer!”

Hi all! Just want to share a quick video hello from South Africa and a prayer challenge!

Making the Father Known – Self-Sacrifice

“What do you think of Americans?” I asked this question to a group of South African’s we were having dinner with. One of them responded, “serving!” She went on to explain how many US teams want to help our country and “work really hard!” Honestly, I was a little worried when I asked the question but was blessed by this answer. This individual just witnessed a bunch of incredible servants from Western Michigan pour their hearts and soul into several work projects at Oceans Retreat Center.

Last week we looked at how Jesus lived totally dependent on the Father which highlighted the Glory of His Abba. Another way Jesus made His Father known was living sacrificially. You simply cannot read the Gospels without being overwhelmed by the heart for service displayed by Jesus. From healing the sick, feeding the multitudes, listening to the lonely, washing the grimy feet of clueless disciples and placing His perfect life on a painful cross to provide a way for sinners to enter the Father’s forever loving presence.

Jesus lived the servant leadership manual for us to follow and stated boldly:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Therefore if you and I have received the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice and He lives in us and our new spiritual DNA is wired to serve. I guarantee that the more you “deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow” the leadership model of Jesus and serve others-you will experience an abundant life (see Luke 9:23-27). When you live out of the Spirit of Christ in you and love others by serving them you point others to the gift of the Father, which is Jesus!

Everyday I wake up at a miracle called Oceans Retreat Center. The miracle was birthed out of tons of people who made sacrifices of time, money, prayer, and hard work. This campus is a standing stone to the glory of God the Father who filled His children up with the servant love of Jesus Christ. A love received in order to be released on a world that will only be transformed by Jesus’ followers who walk in His steps.

If Jesus is in you-He is waiting for you to display His love in tangible ways. I challenge you to find someone today that you can serve for the glory of your Father in Heaven!

Making the Father Known – How?

Everyday hundreds of people walk by Oceans Retreat Center and see our new sign. During that first week it was put up I could hear conversations of people asking, “what is Oceans?” And “what does making the Father Known mean?” It opens a great door for us to share our mission, but it also prompts me to ask ,”how are we making the Father known?”

A few months ago I gave the Oceans board & staff the assignment to choose a Gospel, spend a month reading it, and then answering the question, “how did Jesus make the Father known?” This was the purpose Jesus came to earth- to reveal the Father’s love to a lost and dying world (John 3:16, John 17:3,26). If by faith you have died with Christ and have been raised to new life through His resurrection your mission and my mission is to make our Abba Father’s love known to an insecure and fearful world just as Jesus did.

As the Oceans team pondered the Gospels for a month they came up with 7 key points revealing how Jesus modeled for us how to made the Father’s love known. The first take away from the text is to Live a life of total dependence . Jesus didn’t do anything without listening to the heart beat of His Father. He stated, “the Son can do nothing by Himself, He can do only what He sees His Father doing…the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does,” John 5:19-20.

In fact, Jesus didn’t start His ministry until He was filled with the Father’s love through the Holy Spirit at His baptism. Daily I watch hundreds of people walk by the Retreat Center-which daily reminds me that I need the Father’s love to wash over me as just as Jesus did. It is only when I find my security in His love-that I can truly love. The Father’s love is the most powerful light that will overcome the darkest soul. Daily I need to be reminded of and receive His love in total dependence. It has to be the very breath I breathe, so I can then release the aroma of His grace to those around me.

As we enter in this beautiful season of Lent I challenge you to open your Bible to Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, one of the Gospels and ask the Spirit to show you how Jesus made the Father known. It is amazing to note that everything flowed out of Jesus’ intimate, dependent, love relationship with His Father. May you also experience that total dependent love and watch how His love overflows.

Taste & See

Written by Patty Spykstra

It has been a whirlwind these last months getting “settled” into our new home. We feel so blessed in our one bedroom flat here in Cape Town. Our friends & family from CA and the team from Michigan were an amazing help with projects around the retreat center, huge encouragement, and already touched many in the community.

Ray Haakenson, Oceans Ambassador, has been a wealth of knowledge and has already established many relationships in the community; Johan is one of those connections. He is a South African native, grew up in a missionary home and actually stayed at Oceans Retreat Center as a child. 

One night we invited Johan to dinner at ORC and he shared his story. He is a humble, passionate man, sold out for Jesus and the marginalized. Johan is a well-known presence in the township of Ocean View for the last 10 years with his primary focus being the fatherless and gangs. However, as he observed countless children wandering the streets he felt he needed to start a free care center. The center has been open for over five years now and he shared that rival gang members now bring their children to this safe place where they are learning about Jesus. 

Our group was privileged to see first hand the preschool and prayed for the teachers who are doing so much good in the midst of limited space and few resources. These ladies, who have families of their own, offer hope and love to these vulnerable kids. Our team was quick to help with lunch-which was simply rice or porridge-for many the only meal eaten during the day. After one group ate the bowls were washed and used for the next.  

When asked what we could do to help, initially Bernie, the director, said, “Please come back” and then she added, “well we could really use some mats for the children to take their naps on. The floor is so hard.” 

Our reply, “We would be blessed to do both.” 

The next group out will be from Lutheran High School in Parker, Colorado and we have arranged for them to be an extra set of hands to hug and to help. We are also set to order 100 or more mats for these kids to be able to rest on in their narrow classroom containers. 

It is hard for us in the States to understand what we have seen. I take comfort in the believers such as Johan and the ladies serving that they can offer food, comfort and the goodness of the Lord. They are providing a refuge for the least of these. We pray these 3,4 and 5 year olds can know Jesus and look back to taste and see that their Abba Father loves them. 

Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”