South Africa: Soles and Souls

by Shannon Coenen

South Africa

Wyoming

“We just traveled 22 hours to arrive at my old home!”  Those were my words as I looked out over the South Africa landscape where GOF Missionaries Shannon & Corné Stone live and work.  It seriously looked a lot like where I grew up in Wyoming.  See for yourself!  This trip had proven to be very different from all other Africa trips:  no shots required, no visa required, you can drink the water, and the roads are halfway decent.  And though it is summer there, the temperatures were quite bearable….until you step inside one of the tiny metal homes with no air flow.

GOF Board Director Steve Ferrante joined GOF President Shannon Coenen and her husband, Joseph, to deliver 300 pairs of shoes.  These are special for two reasons:  1) They adapt in size up to 5 sizes and 2) They are used to bring the gospel message.  We began to experience early on the depth of this second purpose, carrying of the gospel message, and the spiritual battle surrounding these shoes.  The shoes were detained by customs at the airport, which was highly disappointing because we had planned on handing out the shoes while we were there.  However, we weren’t going to let this inhibit us from completing the rest of our mission.  Unfortunately the shoes are still being held by customs, but we will continue to work with authorities (and pray!) so that the shoes will be released and placed on the feet of those needing them most.

Most of our time was spent visiting families in their homes, praying for needs, and sharing the gospel.  It was amazing to see how God orchestrated the time and answered prayers!  One man had severe swelling of his legs and suffered great pain when walking.  A few days after the team prayed, the swelling was gone and he was walking around the town with no issue.  His wife rededicated her life to Christ and was then filled with the Spirit!

Another woman had cataracts that covered her eyes and could hardly see a thing.  In fact, we couldn’t even tell what her eye color was!  But after praying for her, we discovered her eyes are brown because the cataracts were gone except at the very edges of the iris.  She was so happy because she could see!

Sangomas, or witchdoctors, are common place in Mautse.  But the Lord is at work and many Sangomas have turned to Christ and walked away from their previous life.  Yet for many it is very hard to fully walk away, instead choosing to include Christ in their arsenal of magic — which doesn’t work.  One particular woman was a Sangoma in the past, gave her life to Christ, but has since returned to wearing symbols of witchcraft and signs of ritualistic behavior was apparent at her house.  We challenged her to make up her mind once and for all for Christ, but she was not fully convinced.  We asked if we could pray for her, but felt the need to pray inside her house.  Much to our surprise, her son was resting in a dark corner of the house, so we asked him if he knew Christ and proceeded to share the gospel with him.  He gave his life to Christ and was then baptized in the Holy Spirit — right in front of his backslidden mother!

Mixing witchcraft and Christianity is very common.

We discovered that area churches were endorsing ways of witchcraft by selling water that was “blessed” in order to protect the consumer.  Another church was handing out dried plants that were to be tucked into one’s ceiling for protection from evil spirits.  As can be imagined, these things were doing more harm than good.  One man, a lay pastor in his church, had these dried plants in his house and was complaining of abdominal pain.  We prayed for him, but the pain didn’t go away.  After noticing the plants, we taught him the truth about trusting Jesus only and Jesus’ power to heal by Himself and took the plants outside.  We prayed for him again and all pain immediately left his body. He said that he felt something “jumped out from his side” as we prayed.

I did a few Bible studies with ladies and girls about the need for Jesus to be allowed complete lordship and that one cannot turn back to old ways, even if people around us give us a hard time for our decision.  The message struck home as many repented and prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  And by the way, I think more Bible studies should be done outside under trees.  🙂  But when it rains, it’s not so fun anymore.

Steve Ferrante also taught at a few Bible studies.  One study Steve did with the boys focused on Samson and his struggle to truly follow the Lord.  At the end, 26 boys either accepted Christ for the first time or rededicated their lives and many prayed to be filled with the Spirit.

And lest you think Joseph Coenen was just along for the ride, he was his typical “kid magnet.”  Seriously, kids adore him and flock to him for all sorts of fun and games.  During one of the women’s Bible studies, the kids gathered around Joseph and gave his scalp a good massage.  At one of the food distributions, several kids decided that Joseph and Steve should lift them like weights.  Most of these kids have no father in their life, so the presence of Joseph and Steve was very meaningful and it was heartwarming to watch the kids intently observe these two men as they prayed, taught, and played.

There are so many other stories left to tell you!  Like how Steve went hunting a got an oryx that is now providing meat for hundreds of families in Mautse.  Or the boy who lost his ability to read after being exposed to the occult, but who now believes in Christ, can read once again, and he, along with his whole family are now filled with the Spirit!

Shannon & Corné Stone are doing a fantastic job in their work.  They love the people deeply and it’s obvious the people love them.  Children shout and wave once they spot them in the Landrover.  Beaming smiles appear on the faces of adults.  More and more are requesting the Stones visit them in their homes and pray for them.  Corné is an expert at drawing the people into conversation while at the same time feeling down their backs and arms for signs of witchcraft — and the people have no idea she’s doing it!  The gospel is going forth, people are growing in their faith, God is proving Himself through signs and miracles, and lives are changing.

Please keep the Stones in your prayers and consider giving toward their ministry.  They are faithful workers who are pointing people to Christ in so many ways.  And please pray with us for the release of the shoes.  We look forward to the additional testimonies that will come forth as those are distributed.  Soles and souls….what a great combo!SaveSave

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Christmas Shoes that GROW

What are you thinking about today?  CHRISTMAS????

Yes, I said it.  Christmas. And we at GOF are thinking about it a lot.  Our list is short.  Shoes.  We want shoes.

Not any kind of shoe.  We want shoes that last.  Shoes that grow.  SHOES THAT GROW?

We are partnering with The Shoe That Grows to provide shoes that adapt 5 sizes and last up to 5 years.  Pretty cool, huh?  These shoes will be a Christmas present for the 300 children within Shannon and Corné Stone‘s ministry in South Africa.  It is there the Stones have diligently worked feeding the kids’ bodies, minds and souls.  So many young ones and their families are coming to Christ through the Stones’ efforts!!

This November, GOF’s President Shannon Coenen will be traveling with her husband, Joseph, and GOF Board Director Steven Ferrante to deliver these shoes during the children’s Christmas Party.  

BE SANTA WITH US!!! 

We’ve got a short amount of time to raise $5,000 to purchase these shoes and have them ready.  Special thanks to The Shoe That Grows who is giving us a reduced price and providing free shipping to GOF’s headquarters so we can carry them across the ocean.  

We only have until October 15th!

A pair of shoes for $15 that adjusts 5 sizes and lasts for years!  That’s a gift that keeps on giving!

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Heartbeat of the Nations: Romania and India

I believe that in each generation God has called enough men and women to evangelize all the unreached tribes of the earth.  It is not God who does not call.  It is man who will not respond!

— Isobel Kuhn, Missionary to China and Thailand

Mary Mielke, her husband Randy, and a young lady named Cana recently returned from Romania and India where they reunited with friends, met new ones, and ministered to the people.

HouseGatheringStarting out in Romania, Mary and her team distributed crocheted hats and swaddling blankets for a local ministry center.  Surprised by the level of poverty in Romania despite being part of the European Union, the average person’s wages consists of $150 to $200 per month and living costs are quite high.  Though people fight against the corruption existent in the country, little seems to help.  Mary and Cana met with a group of 32 women inside a very small house where Mary spoke about sharing God’s grace — even to cultures not familiar or uncomfortable.  The women were powerfully touched by the Holy Spirit as they cried out to the Lord in response to this message.

Later in the week Mary taught sessions from her “West & East Meet” series on ministering to Muslim neighbors.  Near the Romanian ministry center is a Turkish village with a Muslim mosque initiated by the European Union.  The surrounding Muslim community offers a significant opportunity for Romanian Christians to reach out and share their faith, but many fear speaking to their Turkish neighbors.  Through Mary’s teachings, the Romanian Christians learned helpful tips on how to relate to their neighbors and “Jesus Story” DVDs in the Turkish language were distributed.  A Turkish man who had become a Christian introduced his Muslim wife and family to the team and invited them to his home.  The wife attended the first “West & East Meet” session, so pray that her eyes will be unveiled to the truth and that Jesus will reveal Himself even further to not only her, but all in the region and around the world.

CanaThe team took part in several worship services in different areas and a real hunger for more of the Holy Spirit was evident.  Randy Mielke took part in a men’s prayer and worship gathering and described the time as powerful.  Cana, the third team member, played violin in different worship services including a youth meeting where  many received baptism in the Holy Spirit!  

Moving on to India, the team spent a few days with a family who used to live in the USA and participated in ministry events the Mielkes did in the Milwaukee area.  The team’s next stop was in the city of Bangalore where they learned of numerous needs and opportunities for future ministry.  That Sunday, a woman was delivered during the worship time by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary preached the Word of God, and the team prayed for all the men, women, and children present.  

MaryPreachThey had opportunity to minister in slum neighborhoods where the locals shooed away the barking dogs to allow the team into their homes.  In one particularly small room, around 20 women and children gathered to meet the Western visitors.  As they walked the neighborhood, the team taught the residents a short song, shared Scripture, and prayed for the needs of the people.  Children struggle with learning due to inadequate diets and families face many hardships, but they were truly encouraged by the team and the team was touched having been with them.  An Indian national, Biju George, shared with the team how God is revealing Himself powerfully through signs and wonders to the Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims in the area.  

Please continue to pray for seeds that were sown during the team’s time in Romania and India.  God is at work — making Himself known to those who do not yet know Him, confirming the truth of Jesus through miracles, and stretching His own children to reach out beyond their comfort zone and minister to others who need to hear the gospel message.  

Thank you for your prayers during the team’s time of ministry and for the financial support you provided.  There is much work ahead in that region and the team is looking forward to returning, ministering, and rejoicing in the great things Christ is doing!  

 

Welcome to the Johnsons

Meet Rachel Johnson (she’s the one on the left).  Though small in stature, she is a mighty woman of God and is impacting young lives in deep and practical ways.  She began a ministry called “No Price Tag” and does youth conferences to help teens understand their purity is not for purchase and that they each have tremendous value in the eyes of God.  Through these conferences, young men and women tackle issues such as sexual purity, dating, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, and human trafficking.

Rachel is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God, a published author, a gifted worship leader, and dedicated wife and mother.  She joins her husband, Jeremiah, in pastoring Canyon Road Assembly of God in Ogden, Utah where they are also raising their two girls and twin boys.  Active also in evangelism and missions, the Johnsons often involve the whole family reaching out to a world in need, whether at home or abroad.  

We are excited to have Rachel and her family as part of GOF and look forward to how she will continue influencing the younger generation.  Johnson family….we welcome you! 

 

All I Want for Christmas

“All I want for Christmas is my own pair of shoes…”  Wait.  What??

Yes, for Christmas this year there are still about 150 kids in Shannon & Corné Stone‘s ministry waiting and hoping to get a pair of shoes for Christmas.  Already we’ve successfully gathered the funds for the other 150 kids, but we don’t want to leave the other kids out!

Over the course of this past year, the Stones have seen a significant increase of kids standing in line to be fed a warm meal, be told stories from the Bible, and play.  Several of these kids have since given their lives to Jesus!

Please consider helping the Stones throw this Christmas party where each will receive a pair of shoes, a Bible, and a small amount of food as they celebrate Jesus’ birth — all for $20/child.  You can donate online here.

Thank you and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Seasons of Change for Wakiso, Uganda

It’s strange to even discuss seasons when referencing a tropical area, for other than rainy and dry seasons, there are no significant changes.  The trees keep their leaves and they stay green.  The days are all about 12 hours long.  But when talking about spiritual seasons, there definitely was a change of seasons in October — especially for the Wakiso area, a suburb of the capital city of Kampala.

That evangelism is widespread throughout Uganda is well known.  However, there is great need for continued evangelism and discipleship, as evidenced by this last church planting team made up individuals Dean and Carol Niforatos are discipling in Colorado and joined by a team from West Virginia led by Shannon and Joseph Coenen.  Over the course of 10 days, more than 400 came to Christ, about 750 were filled with the Holy Spirit as began praying in tongues, almost 200 experienced physical healing, and nearly 30 were delivered of demons!

Clearly evangelism is not finished in that area!! As can be expected, neither is discipleship.  One young man was set free from demons after having attended a local cult church.  He thought he was being faithful to Jesus, yet was being led astray by a worker of the devil.  Pastors who attended the daily trainings responded that their faith was encouraged and their skills refined.

Yes, there has been a change of spiritual seasons for Wakiso, Uganda!  We are still getting reports of new people coming to Christ through the efforts of this newly planted church.  Muslims are being saved, more are being delivered of demons, the numbers attending daily prayer meetings are increasing.  Wakiso will not be the same in Jesus’ name!

Please continue to pray for Wakiso and the incredible growth numerically and spiritually taking place in the church.  The church is already outgrowing their currently rented space, and we are praying for enough funds to purchase land for this infant church.

International Weekend in Wisconsin

Mary Mielke produced an International Women’s Business Workshop in the Milwaukee, WI area where 30 women (internationals and Americans) participated and 15 more took part in the Dance Clinic on Friday night. During Saturday’s Fashion Event, God was at work as people from many countries gathered together and were visibly moved through love demonstrated & words shared, as well as through the Christian dance to the song ‘Ever Be’.   Women came up to Mary, hugging her, thanking her and asking how they could “be a part of this group?”

Though not promoted as a ‘Christian event’, God’s love & Word was on display throughout the weekend. Scriptures were at 5 different locations between vendor tables, comparing stages of a cup of chai (tea) to ‘life’.  After seeing broken pottery near the Chai Stand & the Scriptures from Jeremiah 18 about the Potter, people walked over to see a live potter spinning clay.  What can a Potter do with the a broken shard?

We witnessed answers to prayer for vendors whose parents refused to babysit, but after praying in Jesus name, the parents had a change of heart!  Also, we learned that God moved in the hearts of volunteers working downstairs to pray with two Muslims girls from Malaysia. These girls have had their hearts stirred from weekly contact from Christian volunteers who have continuously showed love each week in taking them to the English Center in Milwaukee, and having conversations about spiritual things as God opened doors. They attended the last Fashion Event & had began inquiring after seeing and hearing Scripture from Peter chapter 3 and asked, “What is the meaning?” During this year’s event, the four gathered in a huddle and prayed! They asked, “What is this, that we can pray and ask God for a husband who honors and respects women, and that we can honor and love the Lord?  They have not always seen that in their culture.

Truly God is sowing seeds in the hearts of many who have never heard or encountered God’s love & mercy. Two days after the event, an Indian woman called Mary to learn how to expand her business and about guest speaking. Mary set up a meeting and talked with her about her own life — once having a café and then changing directions because of sensing God wanted her to help people (especially women), as well as the spiritual journey she took to find God. The woman exclaimed, “I wanted to find someone who knows & loves God!” How could this chance meeting have come about? Mary shared with her many things, how she surrendered her life and invited Jesus to be her Lord, and that He loves us and longs to have relationship with us. The woman told Mary, “I believe you are to be the keynote speaker”  for a conference being held at a nearby Hindu temple.  Mary will be speaking about bringing value to women and seeing them liberated!

Mary requests your prayer for this upcoming speaking engagement, as Mary is being given much liberty to come into their Hindu place and share.  Mary says this of seeing women valued and liberated: “We lay hands on people and God liberates or heals them. He knows each one, and what they need, and may even speak a word to someone.” Please pray that the power & presence of God may be encountered in a way that all attending will hunger for more, wisdom for Mary in how to pray for women at this event, that the Lord would touch these women in their need and encourage them to turn to Him in a most unusual place!

Mourning Together

It is with deepest sadness we announce the untimely deaths of our dear friends and co-laborers from World Outreach Ministry Foundation (WOMF).  Our hearts go out to their families and churches. We have worked hand in hand with these great men for many years and can testify to the terrific things they have done for the Kingdom of God! Now they are receiving the fullness of joy in seeing their Savior face to face. But many are in shock and need the peace of Christ in their hearts today and in coming days. Please lift up their families and friends, churches, and WOMF/UCOM in your prayers.

Pastor Steven Kaweesa

Pastor Steven Kaweesa

Ed Pohlreich WOMF Board Chairman

Ed Pohlreich
WOMF Board Chairman

Pastor Scott Volz WOMF Chief Operating Officer

Pastor Scott Volz
WOMF Chief Operating Officer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

— Romans 12:15

Shoes, Beans, and Bibles

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The Stone Family Missionaries to South Africa

We would like to thank everybody who donated towards the shoe outreach and also those who support us. We couldn’t be here without you and we praise God for you!! 

We were able to purchase 300 pairs of shoes to put on the feet of the children in the highest need in the local township, as well as the elderly ladies who look after them. We are currently experience a drought…apparently the worse in 30 years. Many of the families of the children in our ministry are struggling even more now. This is why we areimage2-1 trying to relieve their immediate need with packages of beans and lentils. Many of the children have lost weight over the last few months and it is really painful to see.
We started to help out a family about a month ago with food (and prayer) after we heard the single mother has been admitted to hospital for an extended period of time. The 3 children had been involved in our ministry for the last 3 years and it was hard to see how much weight they lost and how sad they were. When we saw them yesterday the sparkle was back in their eyes, they gained a little bit of weight and their mom was back from the hospital.
Many of our ministry children live with their single mothers and grandmas, but they are often absent as well, trying to find work, collect wood, etc. I noticed that some of the children group together to make ends meet and prepare food together. This allowed us to give food supplies to the groups to share, enabling us to spread the food supplies further.

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT SHOES

IMG_7494One of the benefits of shoe/ blanket outreaches is that it also attracts people who would normally not be interested in a Christian gathering. We are really aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit during these outreaches and we have seen some hardened hearts being penetrated by His love. One is the mother of a few young girls who run their shady business from their house. When we first visited her house 2 years ago, we were not really welcomed and felt a lot of resistance. Yesterday she came out to meet us, smiling and waving. She prayed with us 6 months ago and really seem to have changed since then. The shoes have given us a “voice” and allowed us “permission” into the lives and houses of many people and allowed us to pray for hundreds.
We are hoping to start a regular Bible study soon. We ordered 100 Bibles and a few large print Bibles (since many ladies are quite elderly) weeks ago and are still waiting. Even though the population in this area in South Africa is 90% Sotho speaking, it is really hard to find Sotho Bibles. We think it’s because it is quite expensive and just does not fit into the average budget in these parts, so I guess Bibles simply don’t sell. 
Again, we thank you for investing in the lives of these children and families!  Every shoe, meal, Bible, and prayer offered is as if it is handed to Jesus Himself.

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” — Matthew 25:40

Don’t Give Us A Name. Give Us A Long-Lasting Effect.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls. — Prov. 11:30
Who dares despise the day of small things... — Zech. 4:10

Dean Niforatos Dir. Spiritual Oversight

Dean Niforatos
Director of Spiritual Oversight

When Shannon asked me to write an article and share a word as well as a testimony, I resisted just rattling off what I have seen Jesus do in a ‘large’ scope. Too much of our thinking in the Body of Christ today is caught up in the splash of production and large numbers.  We lose sight of the God who does things in the realm of the invisible.  We lose sight of the God who starts world-changing movements in obscure places and uses people who are ordinary to do the extra-ordinary!

I was greeted on my last ministry trip by a young man who had gotten born-again and Spirit-filled 4 years previous at meetings I had done.  That young man’s life was transformed thru the ministry of a great pastor at a church no one knows nationally (and has not been advertised in ‘trendy’ Christian magazines).  But the church is doing the work Jesus told us to do in being Spirit-empowered disciplers of those we lead to Christ.  The result?  He and his family are church members, he is a leader in one of the ministries the church offers the community, his family has been faithful in tithing so he has seen advancement in his job with increased salary and they are in a home he never dreamed he would ever be able to afford.  And thru all this, he praises the Lord and testifies for Him, seeing a number of others come to Christ thru his witness.

This describes the powerful effect of the Kingdom of God and how it grows from a seed into a fruit-bearing plant.  With no advertising, no fanfare or promotion of man, yet with eternal results that are growing each day as the fruit begets other fruit.  And all this is happening outside of the view of the news you watch or listen to.  Yet the world is being changed and an area transformed.

We at GOF get excited about this as much as the large crusades.  And what excites me is that my investment into our own ministry is bearing fruit when I am not awake, when I am traveling, when I am not even aware of His invisible hand.  This testimony I shared is playing itself out in countless lives that have been transformed through the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the faithful giving, praying and labor in soul winning of all of those involved with GOF.

This has caused my prayer life to increase.  I find myself more and more asking Jesus to hear the prayer Carol has prayed over us for as long as I can remember: Jesus, don’t give us a name, don’t give us a ministry; give us a powerful, long-lasting effect everywhere we go!

It is a well-established fact that when the Spirit of God is working powerfully, the spiritual results are usually deep and abiding. Souls saved or blessed in powerful outpourings are, on the whole, more likely to continue steadfastly than is the case at other times. There is more connection between the manifestation of God’s power in individuals and spiritual steadfastness that leads to true culture-changing revival than some have realized.  

That is why I strongly believe the hour is upon us to deepen and intensify our prayers for the lost around us and around the world, while also intensifying our witness.  And we need not concern ourselves if it is noticed by others, rewarded with praise, of even acknowledged by our leaders in the Body.  Let us never forget the words of our Savior, for they are reward enough!

Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you... — Matthew 6:4