Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
We thank you for your love, prayers and support which have been abundantly present to us as we enter our fourth week here as your missionaries to Durban, South Africa. We give special thanks to God for these following blessings:
-Your active intercessory prayers on behalf of our family and the Baptist Mission of South Africa, our local partners in mission.
-Meeting with you throughout Michigan and at Green Lake.Praying, worshipping and fellowshipping with you in the past few months.
-Our hosting partners, pastors Daniel Philip and Brian Naidoo, their wives, families and churches. The Lord has given these people a passionate heart and a vision for cross-cultural outreach, reconciliation, and empowering the poor through vocational training, Bible study, and active care and education for the many orphaned children here.
-A Baptist Mission of South Africa which engages with other Baptist bodies such as the Baptist Association of South Africa, and American Baptist Churches, seeking the Lord's leading through the power of Christian union and cooperation.
-Insights the Lord has given church leaders here with respect to holistic health ministry. This in evidenced by nascent screening clinics in Tongaat to the north and Chatsworth to the south, with plans underway for training workers and coordinating church-based holistic-health missions outreach.
-Public schools here being used as places of worship on Sunday mornings by many people who do not have the means to buy property or build church edifices.
-The organization of our mission partners, who work together in discerning God's will for their churches as they seek common cause in mission to their neighbors of many faith traditions.
-The mild climate of Durban and the graciousness of her people as we seek to establish our family on these far shores in Christian mission.
-Our sons Marc and Paul being welcomed into the Northlands Primary School, a public school which is fully integrated, with boys and girls up to seventh grade. Paul will be in first and Marc the third grade. The motto of this school is Honour God, Build Surely.
-We have found a safe apartment complex in which to live, where the boys will be able to play outside. We are centrally located to work with the geographically scattered churches and communities of our partners. We have followed the guidance of our hosts in selecting this community as one of relative safety and family friendliness.
-We praise God for starting our relationships with our partners on a mutually respectful and open grounding.
Proverb 23:12 Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge.
We will be taking up the following instructional challenges this year, with the aim to establish true paths which will bring the Kingdom. Please pray for us and our partners as we go about the following:
-Listening with great care to the people of the thirteen Baptist Mission and 26 Baptist Association churches. These bodies were previously divided and now have agreed to come back together. We need to understand their intentions for health ministry, see what they already have in place, and meet with the people of the surrounding communities.
-Learning the Zulu language. This will allow a deeper understanding and collaboration with the Zulu community, who make up some 70-80% of the people of this province and who as a group are the poorest, most marginalized, and suffer the greatest burden of HIV/AIDS disease.
-Conversing with members of civil society and government to discern the most appropriate options for the training and credentialing of our health workers. These church-based health workers will need to operate legally alongside other venues, and complement them.
-Acquiring the hours of clinical experience in caring for people with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, syphilis, malaria, cholera, and other common local conditions, given the local limitations regarding treatment and testing. Many of these conditions are rare in Michigan so we need experience.
-Learning to coordinate our training with other learning resources for our students. These may include hospitals such as the McCord hospital, which trains church workers for other aspects of HIV/AIDS prevention and care.
-Getting the relevant South African medical licenses.
-Learning to work safely in this environment, which has both crime and disease hazards.
Psalm 33:11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
We know that God has called us to this place. We know he will reveal to us his firm plans and the purposes of his heart. We can see and hear this nation crying out, and know our God is the one who hears the cries of his people. He is making a provision for the healing of the nations here, and for their reconciliation.
We praise the name of Jesus Christ, by whose love and sacrifice for our sins, we have been redeemed.We place our days in his hands, and we will toil in him to bring that part of the Kingdom he has entrusted to us to good and living order, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Rick and Anita Gutierrez