Dawning of a New Day in Africa

Over the last few months, there has been a significant change in the political landscape across Africa. Military takeovers, forced resignations, leaders stepping aside, and elections have brought a cautious optimism toward positive change.

The most recent change took place here in South Africa last week. To the shock of many, an unprecedented and historic transition took place. Within nineteen hours, the President of this country resigned, and Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as the new President of the Republic of South Africa. Twenty-four hours later, President Ramaphosa delivered his maiden State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The following excerpts from his speech are worthy of review by those of us who choose to guard our hearts through integrity.

“In just over 150 days from now, the people of the world will unite in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela…Guided by his example, we will use this year to reinforce our commitment to ethical behavior and ethical leadership…We should put all the negativity that has dogged our country behind us because a new dawn is upon us…We are determined to build a society defined by decency and integrity that does not tolerate the plunder of public resources…We will change the way that boards are appointed so that only people with expertise, experience, and integrity serve in these vital positions…This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions…We call on all public servants to become agents for change.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa will be held accountable for his words as are we. That being the case, imagine with me what can happen in any nation who declares its allegiance to integrity because it abstains from the allurement of corruption. Think of the healing that is available to a country whose leaders and citizens put the needs of others ahead of their agendas and self-gratification. I am reminded of the words found in Proverbs 29:4, “By justice, a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down.” During his SONA speech, President Ramaphosa said these impactful words: “Every time someone receives a bribe, there is someone prepared to pay it.”

I remind you that Commissioning a Lifestyle of Integrity (CLI) moves beyond anti-corruption programs; it is a pro-integrity lifestyle. We have a chance to join with others in every sphere of society to serve with expertise, experience, and integrity. The opportunity to become agents of change awaits those who are prepared to turn the tide of corruption.

It may very well be the dawn of a new day in Africa. A changing of the guard accompanied by a new mindset can be the beginning of a movement of integrity that has the potential to sweep across this vast Continent!

May we unite to bring restoration of integrity and revitalization of hope for a preferred future.

Until next time…

Don

Sixty Years of Marriage

It is not every day that I have the privilege of writing about a couple who has just celebrated sixty years of marriage.

Three weeks ago, MJ and I booked two weeks of vacation, boarded a plane in South Africa bound for the United States, and surprised her parents on the eve of their sixtieth wedding anniversary. Shock at our surprise visit turned to tears and hugs of joy as the reunion took place.

Three days later, the rest of MJ’s siblings and their spouses arrived and round two of the surprise shifted to second gear. I can still hear the sound of joyous laughter, remember the tears shed from grateful hearts, and the repetitive words of my father-in-law saying: “I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it!”

For the next five days, we celebrated the lives of a couple who have learned the power of togetherness. On numerous occasions, our table conversations would turn to questions about the keys to enduring sixty years of marriage. Most times, the responses given would end in tears not only by the ones responding but also by the ones asking the questions.

One of the things repeated on more than one occasion was the difference that Jesus made in their marriage, family, and home. Maman was the first to come to a personal relationship with Christ. Papa and the siblings noted the peace that Jesus brought to her life. Over the period of one year, everyone accepted Jesus as Lord of their lives. Papa was the last to surrender his heart, and today he has no shame in talking to friends and family about the difference Jesus makes in a life.

On a personal note, I have known my in-laws more years than I knew my parents. At the age of twenty, I lost my parents in a tragic car accident. I have known Papa and Maman Gravel for thirty-eight years, almost twice as long as I knew my parents when they walked this earth.

In a recent email, I said this to them: “Personally, I want to thank you for how you have accepted me into the family…I have been privileged to know you longer than I knew my parents. Thank you for your love, support, encouragement, and patience with me. I regret that neither you nor Marie-José ever got to know my parents, but I guarantee that they would have loved you both and loved your daughter whom I have had the privilege of being married to for over thirty-five years.”

So Papa and Maman, thank you for your example of a marriage that has Jesus at the center. Thank you for producing incredible children, one of whom I had the privilege of marrying. Thank you for your love, support and prayers for all your children, their spouses and your grandchildren. Thank you for the joy you bring to all of us. Thank you for being you!!

Until next time…

Don

God’s Plan for Your Life

God’s plan for your life is not accidental nor are His plans meant to hurt you. Instead, they are meant to give you hope and a future

In Genesis 24, Abraham sent his chief servant back to his homeland to find a wife for his son Issac. As Abraham’s servant approached a well outside the town of Nahor, he said: “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham…May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’ – let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Issac.”

Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder.

1) God’s plan for you is not vague; it is specific!

Notice how the servant prayed specifically, and God answered explicitly. What you might think is another routine day of going to the well, may be the very day that God reveals his specific plan for your future.

2) Be faithful in the daily routines of your life, because you never know how one day can change your life.

Rebekah went the extra mile, she not only gave the servant something to drink, but she also watered his camels too. It has been suggested that one camel can drink the equivalent of 200 pounds of water after one week’s journey. Abraham’s servant had ten camels. That means that Rebekah would have drawn 2,000 pounds of water!

Always go the extra mile with people – show kindness, go over and above what you are asked to do. At your place of work, don’t accept the bare minimum, go the extra mile.

3) You never know who is watching your life.

Without saying a word, Abraham’s servant watched Rebekah closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful. What are people learning about God when they watch your life – is your God lazy, or does He go the extra mile?

4) Do not delay God’s plan for your life – when He reveals it, walk in obedience.

Rebekah’s brother and mother tried to delay the servant for ten days. They asked Rebekah if she wanted to leave immediately to which she responded: “I will go.”

Rebecca was faithful to her daily routine, not knowing what God was planning for her future. You never know how God is working behind the scenes in your life, orchestrating your future.

Trusting God’s plan for your life gives you hope for a preferred future.

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Until next time…

Don

Live In Such A Way

Last week, my cell phone provider here in South Africa sent out this mass SMS (text): “Need help with your New Year’s resolution to quit smoking? Dial *136*3# and get daily Quit Smoke tips FREE for the first two weeks.”

I had to chuckle when I saw the word FREE in bold letters, followed by “for the first two weeks.” It is a reminder that nothing in life comes free, there are always strings attached.

How many reading this blog today have already managed to break their New Year’s resolution? Have you ever considered the fact that the breaking of your personal resolution may cause someone who is watching your life to stumble? Continue Reading

Discussions With God

Recently, I read these words in my morning devotions.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15).

My wife’s Life Application Study Bible describes these verses as a discussion with God, not demanding what we want, but discussing with him what his will is for our particular situation.

Yesterday we went for our “ralk” (run and walk). At the halfway point, we usually stop and take a look at the beautiful hills that surround Pretoria where we live. We were treated to a memory making moment as three zebras were grazing in front of us. It was as if God gave us this occasion to stop, take in the landscape that he had painted with his brush and enjoy the wildlife that he had created uniquely with black and white stripes. Continue Reading

Zimbabwe Arise

I am sitting in the Robert Mugabe International Airport, Harare, attempting to put into a blog the unprecedented, historic events of this past week.

It started this past Wednesday. Our team was heading to the gate at the OR Tambo Airport, Johannesburg, when I received a WhatsApp stating that a military intervention had just taken place in Zimbabwe. Upon our arrival at the airport in Harare, we were greeted by a host of army soldiers. The city, normally bustling with people and roads jammed with traffic, was eerily quiet. As we drove through the city, our host said that Zimbabwe had never experienced anything like this since its independence in 1980. Continue Reading

The God Initiative – Isaiah 59

Presently, there are countries around the world who are facing political challenges that have the potential to incite violence, instill fear, initiate instability, and bring the social and economic welfare of their country to its knees.

In Isaiah 59 the prophet spoke of the moral breakdown of Jewish society. Sadly, justice was far away, righteousness stood at a distance, and truth stumbled in the streets. There was no one calling for justice nor was anyone pleading the case with integrity. Instead, they relied on empty arguments, lies, and trouble that gave birth to evil. It was not that God’s arm was too short to save or his ear too dull to hear, but he was appalled that there was no one to intervene. As a result, he had to take things into his own hands using his arm to work salvation, and his righteousness to sustain him. Continue Reading

The Rest of the Story

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25)

I read these quotes recently:

“Life is like a book. Some chapters are sad, some are happy, and some are exciting. But if you never turn the page…you will never know what the next chapter holds.” www.dailyinspirationalquotes.in/2016/04

“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.”
www.lovethispic.com/image/298172

Some people never turn the page because they live in fear of what the next chapter may reveal. Others are stuck in the past because they keep re-reading the last chapter and as a result, never experience the good things God has in store for them. If we never turn the page and just keep re-reading the last chapter, we can prevent God’s ability to heal the pain, hurt and distress of our past. Continue Reading

One Week Later

Just a few weeks ago, I asked a young waitress in Nairobi, Kenya if she attends a church. Her response, was shockingly honest, as she told me that she had put Jesus and the church on the shelf, at least for now.

David Kinnaman, in his book “You Lost Me,” suggests that “The dropout phenomenon is most accurately described as a generation of Christians who are disengaging from institutional forms of church.”

Before we are too quick to pass judgment on the generation of 18-29-year-olds, know as Mosaics or Millennials, take a look at the twentieth chapter of John’s Gospel which describes Christ’s post-resurrection appearances.

Continue Reading

Coming to a place near you…

The 2017 calendar is quickly falling into place. Below is a schedule of our travels to date. It is our hope that we will be able to connect with many of our friends and supporters throughout the year.

So many of you tell us that you follow our schedule and support us with your prayers. Please know how much we appreciate and count on it.

Where you see TBD (to be determined) next to a Sunday means that we are available for ministry. Please feel free to contact us by email at dmann@paoc.org if you would be interested in having us come to your church.

Here is our itinerary for the rest of the year.

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