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Closed Doors for Us. Open Doors for God.

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So these past few days have been so incredibly powerful, not only with each individual, but also as a team. As you may have read in previous blogs, we have been helping run a soup kitchen in Ocean View. Personally, I think this has been one of our most effective ministry opportunities because the people trust us and open up to us. This past week, we served just under 500 people! We even ran out of food, something unprecedented. In these moments it is amazing to actually realize God's timing and how perfect it is. Just a split second decision to speak to someone can turn into a pouring out of one's soul and a healing of one's heart. Ten minutes of conversation can change the lives of all those involved and the heart is forever impacted from that moment. 

Today, we visited Drakenstein Prison, famous for being Nelson Mandela's final barrier to the outside world. As we drove up to the entrance, a massive statue of Madiba greeted us, along with multiple armed guards. We were to meet a group of guys from Hope Academy, a soccer academy that focuses on three aspects of the rehabilitation of the prisoners: football, faith, and future. We were escorted into the rooms of the players and they were tidier and more well kept than any college dorm room I've ever seen (these are prisoners mind you). They explained to us a bit about their program and the core values they enstill in each player. They also told us that to be involved in the academy, you also have to be in school which is an amazing thing in itself. After our tour, we intermingled with the guys for a Bible study from a passage out of Isaiah. The way these guys were able to speak life into each and every one of us was so baffling. I mean, afterall, aren't we supposed to be the ones ministering to them? Nevertheless, we heard things from these former thieves, rapists, and even murderers that struck us to our very core. And yet, when we prayed for one another, in a warm embrace, you could feel the overbearing love just pouring out of these guys. Coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit, these guys shook the very foundation we stood upon. 

After bible study, it was time for our game! Unfortunately we lost 4-2. However, it was an amazing opportunity of fellowship and glorifying God through the gifts that He had given us all. The pitch wasnt at all top shape but that didn't even matter, they had some crafty players as well so it was fun to have a bit of a challenge! Upon leaving the prison, we were able to interact with our new friends (yes, I said friends) one last time. Again they spoke life into us and encouragement that felt like we should have been giving them. One man, Lunga, whom I befriended during Bible study, came and embraced me in one of the warmest hugs I've ever experienced. He said, 'Thank you so much for coming. you don't know what it means. I will always pray for you." This knocked me straight off my feet.. why would a guy, in a less than ideal situation, continue to pray for me? Someone who seemingly has it all together, surely I should be the one praying for him. I was completely baffled and so incredibly humbled. He then looked me dead in the eye and said, "Always, always trust in God." With a wry smile I simply replied with "You, always trust in God." and that was that. We walked out of the gates that some of these  guys may never get to walk out of again with heavy hearts. My eyes welled up as I had to say goodbye to not just friends, but brothers, brothers in Christ. This may seem strange, but although it was a maximum security prison, I did not want to leave. 

With that, I will just leave you with a few short words. This team is so poised to do great things for the kingdom of God in our final two weeks here in South Africa. It is evident God's hand is on this team and the Holy Spirit is moving within each of us. A few prayer points for those interested in lending a hand, or a voice :)

- intentionality
- perseverance
- protection/safety
-Masiphumelele (massive fire burned down over 200 homes and left 1000+ people displaced)
- our contacts

Thank you so much for taking the time to read about our experiences! Until next time!

be easy, 
Chris Kroeze