We have re-settled very nicely back in South Africa.We are enjoying extremely nice summer weather but it has not been raining as much as is needed.The crime rate is still very high and the cases of people who have contracted AIDS are still increasing in number.It is very difficult to look into a person's face, particularly an infant or toddler, who has this disease.
We had an opportunity to meet with several young men whose lives have been changed because they have come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.These young men are in the process of being rehabilitated from drugs, alcohol, and a miserable life of crime.They have told us how they thought no one loved them, especially their family members but they thought that the drug they were taking would be their friend.At the Thusong-Carroll Shaw Memorial Center where these young men are residing, they learn how to care for themselves and others.They are learning how to grow food and learning a new skill that will help them once they are outside of the walls of the Center.This is a very good thing because the number of criminals decreases as they come to know God's grace and saving power.In the midst of crime, turmoil and famine all around us it is good to see that God is still on the throne.
Our three younger children are settling in and making new friends at their new school.Because the South African school system' session is from January to December, this posed a problem for our children after attending fifteen months of September to June school sessions while on 2001-2002 US assignment.Before our return to South Africa we searched for a school in South Africa, via internet, whose school calendar year coincided with the US calendar year and found one-the American International School of Johannesburg (AISJ).Since the tragic events of September 11th security has been heightened.As you enter the grounds of AISJ you are greeted by four security guards who search your vehicle and raise and lower the security boom to let you in or out.The school is surrounded by a high electric fence and several armed people, on motorcycles, patrol the grounds to keep out unwanted intruders.We were told that some of the children at the school are "children of high profile parents," ambassadors or diplomats.And that they "enjoy high status."We tell them our children are "children of the Most High King" and also enjoy high status!
In his spare time, Caleb (5th grade) plays soccer and basketball while Chasah (6th grade) and Charliese (3rd grade) are Girl Scouts in the Lone Troops Overseas group.They are all on the school's swimming team.We praise God that they are adjusting well and enjoy going to school so much that most days we hear them say, "I can't wait to get to school!"
Sarah, as many mothers are, is always busy with the children and household demands.Added to this are many ministry responsibilities-teaching, administration, budget, planning and church related travel.Charles, actively engaged in administration and planning with our partners, has been busy preaching, traveling to reconnect with our partner conventions and carrying out evangelism, reconciliation work and "Mission Education" (See Go Global Priorities) for ABC pastors and groups on mission trips to South Africa.
Ministry work underway includes new church planting in the Free State Region with the Baptist Convention of South Africa; preaching inaugural dedication service at a new church plant in the Cape Town area for a Baptist Union of South Africa church; joint meetings with the South Africa Baptist Association (comprised of five, diverse cultured, South African Baptist groups: Afrikaans, Black, Coloured, Indian and White) to move forward with united Christian witness and joint theological training; support, education and assistance of ABCUSA pastors and groups from ABC-LA on mission visit to South Africa.
As you celebrate the holidays of the US Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years remember to give God thanks for your blessings and for our ministry and safety in South Africa.Please continue to pray for us.
Charles and Sarah West