I Press On

The Apostle Paul, who penned the words “Forgetting what is behind…I press on toward the goal” (Philippians 3:13-14), had a lot of reasons to forget what was behind him. Paul lived with the shame of his past when he held the coats of those who had stoned Stephen, the first Christian martyr. But as the Life Application Bible suggests: “Because our hope is in Christ, however, we can let go of past guilt and look forward to what God will help us become. Don’t dwell on your past. Instead, grow in the knowledge of God by concentrating on your relationship with him now.”

Following my second surgery this past Friday, Paul’s word resounded in my heart as I laid on my hospital bed in the middle of the night. Putting them into the context of my own journey, I was thanking God that both surgeries are now behind me. I was filled with gratitude that both surgeons assured me that the surgeries were very successful, and that from their perspective, all the cancerous tumours have been removed. Amazingly, I was released from the hospital and sent home two days after the surgery, and now find myself on the pathway toward recovery and restoration. On my sixtieth birthday I was told that I have cancer. I look forward to finding out on my sixty-fifth birthday that I am cancer free!

Now, it is time to press on toward the completion of eight more cycles of chemo. Following chemo, MJ and I will press toward the goal of returning to the Continent of Africa to fulfil what God has called us to do.

In my devotions last week, I read a question in Psalm 116:12, “What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?” This question has become a journal entry and the list of my responses have already started and will continue to grow. There are no words to express how thankful MJ and I are to God for His goodness to us. We are thankful for our family and friends who have been so supportive through this ongoing journey. And, to the hundreds and maybe even thousands who are praying for us from around the world, be assured that your prayers are being answered.

The next few months, there will be very little to report, so do not be concerned if you don’t hear from me. Remember, no news is good news! 

In the meantime, I keep holding tightly to the right hand of my Heavenly Father, the Healer!


A Day of Miracles

Incredible memories were made on Saturday, August 17th, as our daughter, Stephanie, and new son-in-law, Jonatas, became husband and wife. The day has come and gone, but now the door is open to building family memories for years to come.

It was a day of miracles! We believe prayer held off the rain, that weather radars said would descend on the outdoor venue, at the exact time the wedding was to begin. MJ and I prayed that my health would hold for the wedding. Not only did it hold, but I felt supernatural strength from the Thursday to the Sunday. 

Now it is time for some new miracles. After reviewing my most recent CT scan, the liver surgeon has scheduled surgery for October 3rd. Although the tumours have not diminished in size, the good news is that they have not increased, nor have they spread. It is time to get those suckers (excuse the expression, but that is what they are) out of my body!!!

What remains to be seen is if both the liver and colon surgery will be done at the same time. Both surgeons will consult. The final decision may not be made until the day of surgery as they remove portions of my liver. As my liver surgeon put it: “if we can do both on the same day, I’ll go for a coffee while the colon surgeon does his work”. I have to laugh, surgery for these guys is like most of us driving a car, it becomes a daily routine over time.

Here is a closing thought for you. Psalm 66 remembers God’s rescue of the Israelites, as they watched God part the waters of the Red Sea, during their exodus from Egypt. Verse 10 says: “For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” I love what the footnotes in the Life Application Bible say about this verse. “Just as fire refines silver in the smelting process, trials refine our character. They bring us a new and deeper wisdom, helping us discern truth from falsehood and giving us the discipline to do what we know is right. Above all, these trials help us realise that life is a gift from God to be cherished, not a right to be taken for granted.”

Can I encourage you to cherish every day that God gives to you. Don’t take life for granted, make every day count.

Until next time…


It Is Well for the Wedding Bell

Wedding bells will ring this coming Saturday as our daughter Stephanie marries Jonatas Trindade. MJ and I are so grateful that God has brought this wonderful couple together. We are very excited and filled with anticipation about the week ahead and their future life together.

From the moment I heard that I was facing the new reality of cancer, it has been my prayer that all would be well for Stephanie’s big day. Once again God graciously continues to fit the pieces of the puzzle together with incredible precision. As He would have it, my chemo schedule has aligned perfectly with the wedding. I completed my third cycle of chemo yesterday which allows me to rest and prepare for the weekend. To date the side effects have been minimal and I have been able to live life with considerable normalcy.

On August 23rd, the week after the wedding, I will have my fourth round of chemo therapy followed by a CT scan on September 4th. The scan will determine if I am ready for surgery. My September blog will provide you with an update. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the surgeons were to discover that the tumours have disappeared and surgery is no longer needed? Whatever my lot, it is still well with my soul!

MJ and I continue to walk together within the peace and strength of God. We can literally feel the sustaining power of prayer that is taking place from various points around the globe. What an amazing privilege to hold tightly to the right had of our Heavenly Father, the Healer!

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.” – Psalm 73:26

Until next time…


Pieces of the Puzzle

Six weeks ago, when I discovered that I had cancer, I told  MJ that life felt like pieces of a puzzle in a box. I suggested that we empty the box, spread it on the table, and start putting the puzzle together one piece at a time. There was a sense that one day it will form a beautiful picture.

Since then, we have watched as God has literally helped us to fit pieces together in mind boggling and faith building ways. It would take multiple blogs to describe each piece and explain how they connect together. Everything from closing the chapter of our life in South Africa to being blessed with some of the finest medical care that anyone could ask for. Slowly but surely, the picture is coming together.

After weeks of appointments, scans, tests, and x-rays, another piece will be added as chemo begins on Friday. The decision to start chemo before surgery is allowing one of the pieces of the puzzle (a tumour in my liver) to shrink in size so that surgery will be less complicated.

At times, some of the pieces seem out of place. They seem more like misfits, like finding out I need to do an emergency root canal the day before chemo starts. However, what seems like a misfit can be God’s way of preventing something far more serious in the future.

MJ and I continue to hold tightly to the right hand of our Heavenly Father, the Healer. We thank God for being surrounded by such a tremendous medical team. We are equally thankful for the incredible army of people who have told us they are praying. There are few words to adequately describe how overwhelming and humbling it is to be lifted so high in prayer. Prayer will guide the medical team and prayer will move God’s hand so that His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Although there are many pieces of the puzzle still on the table, we are confident of what the picture will look like in the future because we already see how it is coming together in the present.

Just a reminder, that whatever my lot, God is still showering me with peace because it is well with my soul!

Until next time…


Christ Stollen

To the readers of this blog, it may appear that I need a lesson in spelling. Back in October, while MJ was grocery shopping here in South Africa, I came across a German Christmas fruit bread called “Christ Stollen” which actually means: “after Christ”. As MJ finished her grocery list, my mind kept going back to the first Christmas and how Herod tried to steal and kill Jesus, the Son of God, born to Mary and Joseph. 

To this day, 2000 years “after Christ” was born, a “Herod spirit” prevails around the world. Over the centuries, revolutionists and dictators have tried to eliminate Christianity. Even today, governments in different parts of the world are removing crosses from churches and shutting them down all together. The ministry initiatives we are involved in can attest to this.

In spite of the fact that people are still trying to steal the Christ of Christmas, He and His message are still very much alive!!!

Here are a few thoughts that will encourage us to make sure that no one steals Christ from Christmas.

1) Never lose the spirit of Christmas

John 1:14

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

2) Never lose the spirit of giving at Christmas and all year long.

2 Corinthians 8:7

“But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”

3) Never stop telling your children and their children about the spirit of Christmas

Deuteronomy 4:9

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

Together, let’s make sure that no one steals Christ from our Christmas!

Until next time…


She Said Yes!

MJ brought two wonderful children into the world, Stephanie, thirty-five years ago and Jonathan, thirty-one years ago.

Over the years, our children have brought great joy to our home with little to no hardship along the journey. A blessing we do not take for granted. In all stages of life, we have formed lasting memories that are re-visited from time to time as an opportunity to thank God for His faithfulness.

This past Friday, an event took place that has been added to the top of the “memory pile”.  MJ and I woke up at 3 in the morning to watch live through the amazing technology of Face Time as Jonatas Trindade bent a knee and proposed to our daughter Stephanie. Rather than a quiet engagement, Jonatas chose to propose in front of their closest friends and family at Stephanie’s thirty-fifth birthday party.

Over the years, Stephanie has chosen to wait for the right man that God would bring into her life. In a recent conversation she said to me: “Dad, it has been worth the wait!”

I have watched as Jonatas has treated our daughter with the dignity and respect she so deserves.  To see the happiness that he has brought to Stephanie gives to me as her father a peace and joy that seems to move beyond the ability to put into words.

In the three minute video that captures  the engagement moment, you can hear Stephanie say to Jonatas, “My Dad knows?”, and “he said yes?!” Stephanie, I said yes because of the maturity with which you and Jonatas have handled this brief relationship. Jonatas, I said yes because of the gentleman like qualities you have displayed towards our daughter. The other yes is the fact that Jesus is at the centre of your relationship. Yes, yes, yes!!!

Mom and I are literally an ocean apart from both of you, but our family members who are closest to us have shared with us how happy you are, how genuine your relationship is, and Jonatas, the gentleman that you are. We may be an ocean apart, but the expanse of an ocean can not hinder the closeness we feel to both of you in our hearts.

Jonatas, I am so glad you asked the question, and Stephanie I am so glad that you said yes!

Be assured of our love and support as you begin this journey together. As a family we look forward to adding to the “Mann memory pile”!

Love to both of you!


P. S. This blog was shared with Stephanie and Jonatas first, and they gave me their blessing to share it with you.

A Month of Remembrance

Many of us took time over the weekend to remember those who have fought in world wars. Today, we are the beneficiaries of the freedom they fought for.

Remembrance Day is always an opportunity for me to remember my father, who along with his brother, enlisted as Canadian soldiers in World War II. I still remember the days as a young boy when my father and Uncle Hubert would sit in our living room and reminisce about their experiences while serving the Canadian military in England. Thankfully, both my father and uncle survived the war and returned home.

Ironically, my November remembrance is not just one day, it lasts the whole month. Eleven days after remembering those, including my father, who fought for our freedom, my brother and I take time to remember the fateful day when our father and mother made such a premature departure from this earth. In spite of the fact that my father survived a war, he and my mother could not survive the injuries of a horrific car accident on November 22, 1979. Today, they are enjoying  the prize for which God called them heavenward in Christ Jesus. For this reason, my brother and I had these words engraved on their tombstone at Union Cemetery, in Cobourg, Ontario: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21).

This blog was inspired in part by the devotional I read in Our Daily Bread on November 11, 2018.

“Dr. William Wallace was serving as a missionary surgeon in Wuzhou, China, in the 1940s when Japan attacked China. Wallace, who was in charge of Stout Memorial Hospital at the time, ordered the hospital to load his equipment on barges and continue to function as a hospital while floating up and down rivers to avoid infantry attacks.

During dangerous times, Philippians 1:21—one of Wallace’s favorite verses—reminded him that if he lived, he had work to do for the Savior; but if he died, he had the promise of eternity with Christ. The verse took on special meaning when he died while falsely imprisoned in 1951.”

Sometimes what we think has the potential to bring our life to an end, like a world war, is not what actually takes us. Instead, it is the surprise of the “suddenly’s”, things that come out of nowhere or sideswipe us, that lead to our death. That’s why it is important to live for Christ while we walk on this earth. Even if we are broadsided by a “suddenly”, we gain the promise of eternity with Christ because we lived for Him while we walked this earth.”

Do this in remembrance of Jesus!

Until next time…


Lip It or Live It?

In a recent BBC article entitled “Letter from Africa: Kenya unveils biblical strategy to tackle corruption”, the writer states: “Corruption is eating us up alive, with new scandals emerging day after day…The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the country’s official body for fighting corruption, appears overwhelmed by the scale of the problem…Indeed the problem appears to be getting worse…The figure for those who paid bribes to receive government services has risen to 62%, up from 46% just two years ago…So running out of ideas for tackling this menace, the anti-corruption commission has turned to a new weapon – the Bible.”

The writer goes on to ask the question: “What about non-christians?…I personally have nothing against the Bible. I read it regularly and I know of quite a few characters in there who were deeply corrupt, starting with Judas Iscariot, a disciple of Christ who betrayed him for a fee only to take his own life later. But there are a few questions that I and fellow Kenyans would like the good bishop to bear in mind. Many of the top leaders who have been accused of, or charged with, corruption are church-going, Bible readers. Is there another version of the holy book that the bishop could recommend to them?”

If corruption is to be tackled head on in any country around the world, we are going to have to move beyond just lip service. Just saying you read the Bible and/or attend church is not going to cut it.

In ancient Israel, the prophet Jeremiah was lamenting about the nation’s corruption. They had “turned their backs to God and not their faces”, immorality mattered little to her, and truth had perished. Than Jeremiah used these piercing words to describe Israel: “You are always on their lips but far from their hearts.” (Jeremiah 12:2b)

If integrity is to grip a nation, it must move beyond lip service and become a matter of the heart. Integrity is a lifestyle that cannot be forced on you, it must start within the heart and work its way from the inside out!

This past September, while training a group of leaders from across Nairobi, Bill and I were privileged to have a brief meeting with Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, the leader of the Ethics and Anti-Anti-Corruption Commission of Kenya. We presented him with a copy of our CLI manual.

The Six Pillars of Integrity taught in the manual are biblically based, differentiating between characters who lived a lifestyle of integrity no matter the cost, and others whose corrupt leadership led to their downfall.

As part of the CLI process, the manual is a strategic component of our cohort experience (integrity groups of ten people). We firmly believe that information applied on a regular basis, will lead to genuine and lasting transformation.

If we are going to use the Bible to fight corruption, we must not just “lip it” we must live it!

Note: To read the full BBC article, click on this link https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-45863819?fbclid=IwAR3zaDf2UPrzG-EHSyHLnpuMr_yPQfUyaVMRrHvfJlQc12btUhxPmwV2OLo

Until next time…


Enflammés, pas retraités

L’expression « Il n’y a pas de mots » a été une déclaration récurrente depuis la naissance de Bâtir un pont entre la Chine et l’Afrique (BCA), il y a sept ans.

Aujourd’hui, j’écris ce blog depuis notre Centre culturel Bridge dans l’Afrique. MJ et moi savourons l’occasion de passer une semaine avec notre plus récent ajout à la famille du BCA.

Vendredi dernier, nous avons pris R et J à l’aéroport et les avons amenés à ce qui sera leur foyer d’accueil pour les deux prochains mois.

Comment un employé du gouvernement à la retraite et son épouse, qui donnent bénévolement de leur temps pour établir des relations avec les Chinois au Canada, ont-ils été « enflammés » pour passer deux mois à bâtir des liens relationnels avec des Chinois vivant en Afrique? Une partie de la réponse réside dans des amis, des petits groupes et une église qu’ils fréquentent tous.

Des amis de longue date de MJ et moi ont commencé à fréquenter une église dans leur communauté et ont décidé de se joindre à un petit groupe au sein de l’église qui se réunit le dimanche soir. Ils ont rencontré R et J et ont réalisé qu’ils avaient le potentiel de répondre à un besoin temporaire du Centre culturel Bridge. Nous sommes présentement à la recherche d’un couple qui viendra sur une base permanente pour tisser des liens avec plus de cent mille Chinois qui vivent et travaillent dans cette partie de l’Afrique. Entre-temps, R et J sont venus temporairement continuer de bâtir un lien relationnel en utilisant l’enseignement de l’anglais comme langue seconde et d’autres initiatives comme des rencontres pour jouer au ping-pong.

MJ et moi devons beaucoup à nos amis qui croient en ce que nous faisons sur le sol africain, et nous ont mis en contact avec un couple qui a mis sa retraite en veilleuse et a « rallumé » sa passion pour les Chinois en Afrique. Nous sommes reconnaissants pour une église qui a attisé la flamme et soutient dans la prière la mission de R et J pour les deux prochains mois.

Enfin, nous remercions Dieu pour les églises qui voient le potentiel et la valeur des « petits groupes ». Sans eux, R et J auraient pu entrer et sortir de l’église dimanche après dimanche sans jamais entendre parler du besoin du BCA. IL N’Y A PAS DE MOTS!!!

À la prochaine…


Re-fired, Not Retired

The phrase “There are no words” has been a recurring statement ever since the Bridging China and Africa (BCA) initiative was birthed seven years ago

Today, I write this blog from our Bridge Cultural Centre in Africa. MJ and I are enjoying the opportunity of spending a week with our newest addition to the BCA family.

Last Friday, we picked up R & J at the airport and brought them to what will be their home away from home for the next two months.

How does a retired government employee and his wife, who volunteer their time building relationships with Chinese in Canada, get “re-fired” to spend two months building relational bridges with Chinese in Africa? Part of the answer lies in friends, small groups, and a church that they all attend.

Life long friends of MJ and myself started attending a church in their community and decided to join a small group within the church who meet on Sunday nights. They met R & J and began to recognise their potential to meet a temporary need that exists at the Bridge Cultural Centre. Presently, we are looking for a couple who will come on a permanent basis to build a bridge with more than one hundred thousand Chinese who live and work in this part of Africa. In the meantime, R & J have come on a temporary basis to continue to build a relational bridge using ESL (English as a Second Language) and ping pong gatherings amongst other initiatives.

MJ and I are indebted to friends who believe in what we do on African soil, and have put us in contact with a couple who put retirement on hold and “re-fired” their passion for Chinese in Africa. We are grateful for a church that has fanned the “re-firing” flame and are prayerfully supporting R & J’s mission for the next two months. 

Finally, we thank God for churches who see the power and value of “small groups”. Without them, R & J may have walked in and out of church Sunday after Sunday and never heard about BCA’s need. THERE ARE NO WORDS!!!

Until next time…



Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox: