The Secret of Abiding - Ladies Retreat
I am writing to you in the days prior to teaching for a ladies’ retreat. It will be three days filled with activities centered on the word of God. Our theme for the retreat is, ‘The Secret of Abiding’, with the sub-text being, ‘Who Do You Look Like?’ Over the last couple of months, my heart and mind continue to be drawn to these truths, which are found in John 15
This began as I was praying and preparing for a new ministry opportunity in our home church. As with so many churches, several programs and ministries waned during the Covid epidemic. Our pastor had a burden, along with some of the other women of the church, to start a new Ladies’ Ministry. The pastor asked if I would pray about taking on a leadership role in this undertaking. I knew this was an open door to share and teach the word of God. This fresh outreach has been met with great enthusiasm from the women and several of them have stepped up to take on leadership positions. So it has begun, and I am more than thrilled and thankful for this privilege.
As I prayed about what I should teach to introduce this ministry at our first gathering, I kept going back to John 15. Upon studying this chapter in John, I I realized as usual that His word was more for me than for anyone else, as I focused on the Secret of Abiding in the Vine. What a precious reminder of this tremendous truth, that if I abide in the Vine, (Jesus), He will abide in me. If we just grasped this truth for our lives, it would be enough to carry us through any of life’s trials and temptations, wouldn’t it? This is a grand and glorious truth, which belongs only to those who belong to Him. Furthermore, He will bear His fruit on the branch that is abiding in Him. What a promise! Oh, the thought, that my life can be a displayer of my Lord’s, being a conduit through which His life flows to produce His fruit! I am overwhelmed by this truth. Additionally, He continues by saying, the one who continually abides in Him, He increases His fruit. Notice the wording, He takes us from fruit to more fruit, and even to much fruit.
How is this possible? It is possible for this reason; within the vine, there is everything the abider needs to bear His fruit. It is all Jesus; and without Him, we can do nothing. We are to be a branch, which stays so intimately connected to the Vine, that it becomes sturdy enough to display His fruit. Then anyone will be able to recognize what kind of Vine it is.
Oh, the secrets of abiding as a branch in the Vine! The abider is given the privilege of displaying the fruit of overcoming obedience to His word, possessing a deeper and more powerful prayer life, an overwhelming pouring out of His love, and a confident, comforting, joy, just to mention a few. This fruit is His life flowing through His branch, which will begin to look more and more like the vine
During this time of heavy grief, it has been such a blessed source of encouragement and strength to be reminded of this great gift of abiding. Grief is such a shadowy and mysterious emotion. It can be described in a hundred different ways, yet, daily catch you unaware of its continual presence. I liken it to a type of subtle wind, which is always stirring about me. It doesn’t take much for the wind to increase into a little dust storm that begins to spin around in my heart. All the wind needs to intensify is a simple memory; a picture, listening to a song, cooking a familiar meal, or passing by a certain place, and especially difficult is special events, such as birthdays and anniversaries. Each one can heighten the wind dusting over the ground of my mind and heart. No matter how small or how large the incidents may be, at times that wind can suddenly spawn the swirling dust storm of emotions into a turbulent tornado. That vortex can easily draw up a whirlwind of emotions.
Yet, it is in these times, I become even more aware of my constant dependence upon the Vine. Oh, the blessed assurance of leaning more and more into the Vine, which is strong enough to handle any storm that comes against it. It is here where the grief can turn the loss into sweet and precious memories, and cause thankfulness to rise up in my heart and mind. Then the wind that begins to blow is now the wind of the love of my Lord and the joy and comfort of my salvation that remains for me to dwell in. Therefore, I know from where my strength comes from. I must be abiding in the Vine, for then I know that He will abide in me. Jesus, the faithful One, will produce His fruit, bringing good from the storms of life. Besides this, dear brothers and sisters, we are told in verse 8, “By this My Father is glorified that you bear much fruit, so you prove to be My disciples. What a privilege to be part of His Vine!
Spotlight on Missions
South Africa - Mario Maneville
Let me introduce you to one of the pastors this ministry supports, Mario Maneville. Bro. Mario is one of the pastors and church planters you are investing in through your financial support and prayers. This is also one of the ministries, which is attached to the HeartCry Mission Society. Several months ago, I requested that Mario give us a few details of their ministry work so you would be able to get more familiar with their outreach endeavors. Unknowingly, HeartCry Mission Society had also chosen Mario’s ministry to be highlighted in their latest magazine edition. This is an obvious verification that the Lord wanted people to be vigilant in praying for our brothers and sisters serving in a very dangerous environment.
This ministry is in the middle of a dangerous community. Instead of moving away, they have chosen to build their church among the people. They are shining lights of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the midst of this great darkness.
Not only do they combat the evils of gangs and drugs, along with all of the other immoral acts that are involved with this type of lifestyle, they also must combat doctrinal defilement. The false doctrines of the prosperity gospel have infiltrated so many nations around the globe. Many readily receive these deceptive teachings because they offer false hope. Such false teachings can never produce sound results. Therefore, Mario is passionate about training and equipping pastors, especially those from Pentecostal and charismatic backgrounds. He is convinced that the clear exposition of God’s Word is the only means to free people from heretical movements. His great desire is to see healthy, gospel-driven churches planted in poor communities throughout the townships of the Western Cape and South Africa.
Bro. Mario in describing his purpose for having healthy churches, says, “Healthy means Holy”. A healthy church is a church that pursues holiness. This healthy vision for the church includes investing in the discipleship of men in the word of God. Then monthly they have begun a 3-hour men’s prayer meeting. Even though this church is known for it’s evangelistic zeal, one month out of the year is dedicated toward corporate evangelism.
Mario shares about such a move toward holiness. He states the following about a member who had been in open sin, “This was heart-breaking for the whole church. Several members tried to win this member back but to no avail. The situation was brought before the church twice before it became clear that the only recourse was ex-communication. This was a very sad thing for the church. But I rejoice in the Lord that He is at work in our church and even now He is pursuing that member. We continue to pray that the Lord will grant repentance.”
Also, this is a ministry of Evangelism. With a heart to reach out to their entire community for Jesus, they bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them. They reach out to gang members, drug dealers, prostitutes, and the deserted young people. They faithfully preach the gospel on Sundays praying that the Lord will bring sinners out of the darkness and into His marvelous light! But they also go into the streets and in homes with the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Because of precious people like you, Mario has been able to add a pastor to help in the area of Evangelism. His name is Theodore and he is an evangelist in their Gospel Worker Program. Mario adds, “He is such a help to me and an encouragement to the church. I love his zeal for the Lord and for the gospel. Theodore has an amazing testimony of saving grace. He was a part of a gang before being saved from his sin. Fifteen years ago he had shot a man more than ten times and left him for dead. However, the man survived. Now fifteen years later, Theo had the opportunity to ask that man for forgiveness and share the Gospel with him. That man, still limping from that encounter, responded by asking Theo to conduct a weekly Bible study with him. Theo wept as he told me how grateful he is for God’s grace, that not only spared him from taking this man’s life, but also, that God would work in such a way that this man would forgive him and then give him the opportunity to disciple this same man through the Gospel of John on a weekly basis.” Now friends, that is amazing grace.
It is amazing to see the diversity in their outreach efforts. They have an ongoing ministry to the poor and abandoned ones. A new ladies’ ministry has begun meeting once a month, along with small groups meeting weekly for discipleship study. Additionally, they have a senior wellness program. A Teen-Girl program has been instituted to teach the young women what a woman of God looks like. They are praying that the Lord will grow the Women’s Ministry in holiness and zeal for Him.
Mario also desires to equip men in the church training them in the word of God. He says, “I am convinced revival tarries, because the church is not desperate enough for it. Revival tarries because men, who are called by His name, are still busy playing with the selfish toys of little boys. It is time for us to man-up and to grab hold of the horns of the Alter until our hands bleed and God rends the heavens and comes down. I praise God for men who are willing to heed the clarion call of prayer.“
Church Ministry Reaching the Lost
Mario is the teaching pastor of Reformed Faith Mission Community Church in Belle South, Cape Town, South Africa. This is a culturally diverse and dynamic gospel- driven church. He is also the Mission’s Coordinator for Heartcry Missionary Society, as well as the S. African Cohort Leader for the Church in Hard Places Apprenticeship. He is passionate about training and equipping pastors for the work of the ministry.
Our church is located in a poor suburban neighborhood having only a few middle- income households among them. Belle South is notorious for gang violence and is rated as one of the most progressive gang-infested areas in the Western Cape. An outbreak of gang shootings, drug deals, prostitution, and other crimes are a norm in this community. Due to the high levels of drug and alcohol abuse, the community has a low mortality rate and high arrest numbers, leaving a large amount of the youth to raise themselves. This has resulted in the youth joining gangs and prostitution rings as early as 12 years of age. Therefore, our aim is to reach our community for Jesus.
A LIVING SACRIFICE AND A DYING SAINT
As a pastor, Mario leads his flock in the preaching and the doing of God’s word. Recently, Mario was willing to put his own life on the line in dealing with a gang issue as he attempted to help someone get out of a gang. Through much prayer and nothing less than the protection of the Lord covering him, his life was spared. Being willing to be involved in this critical matter, it gave Mario an opportunity to share the gospel in the midst of a den of thieves and murderers. This could have possibly been the only time these lost men would ever hear about Jesus. This is one of those times when we will probably not understand how the Lord used His truth. One thing is evident; it has built up the faith in the lives of many of the children of the Living God.
Additionally, Mario and his church are faithful to reach out to the family of God. As you read this next story I have chosen to share with you, I pray it will encourage you as it has me. Mario tells of a young 24-year-old lady that came to Cape Town to stay with her sister, during her 2-month break from school. She had the same dreams as most young ladies, ‘finishing her studies, getting a good job, finding Mr. Right, and getting married’. However, during her visit, she began to experience some health issues complaining of stomachaches. She was diagnosed with stage- 4 cancer. Naturally, I went to visit with her and preparing myself to be met with high emotions and the ‘why me’ questions. But I will never forget that first conversation. I found her to be calm and full of confidence in her sovereign Lord. She said, “When I came to the Cape I had no intention to stay. But then I started attending the church and the Lord saved me. I was taught about the God that is sovereign and that we should do all things for His glory. If He has decided that I must get cancer, then it is for His glory and I am okay with that. I know I am still young, but why not me? God is in control of this.” She suffered and endured so much great pain. As I held her hand she told me, “Pastor, I am suffering for Christ, I want to suffer well. I am suffering for His glory.” That day, my wife and I stayed with her, and as I left I wept that she was in such pain, but more than that I was weeping at the wonder of God. Now, she stands in His Presence. This is amazing grace!
Please Pray for the Upcoming Opportunities
- October 27-29........Ladies’ Retreat – Baptist Retreat Center – Elberta, Al
- Weekly Bible Studies and Discipleship of Ladies
- Ladies’ Outreach efforts in November and December
- Ongoing work on the book of Ed’s Material – This task is going well. I am working diligently toward this project. I have been receiving great counsel in helping me move forward on this venture.
- We are posting Ed’s devotions on Facebook both on EdandDianne Lacy and Ed Lacy Ministries Facebook pages. We are receiving great feedback, especially from the ministry page.
In this newsletter, I have highlighted just one of the ministries, which we partner with. With your gifts of love, prayers, and financial giving to Ed Lacy Ministries, we are able to reach others around this globe with the life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ. I stand amazed at the grace of God, which continues to enable us to be a conduit of assisting in His kingdom work. Mario and the other pastors that we join would love to thank all of you personally. But we will probably have to await heaven for those introductions. Until then, I pray that these words about the work going on in South Africa will strengthen your walk with the Lord. We are on a mission with our Lord, and the gospel needs to be heralded here and abroad. However, I can honestly testify, I am so thankful for you and your willingness to be co-laborers with this ministry. I cannot begin to express to you what a blessing you have been in my life and the lives of others. Thank you for loving the Lord and for your love and care for me throughout these days. The Lord has left us here dear friends for such a time as this, dear friends. Let’s strive together toward the mark of the high calling.
Because He Saves,