Author Archives: Elyse Seal

Small Beginnings

Tamryn, Elyse, Francis

The more I hear about ministries, the more I see that most big organizations started with people obeying God. That is how we started. When the COVID-19 Lockdown hit South Africa, people started to starve. My friends Tamryn Wells, Francis Dos Santos, and I knew we needed to do something. We knew people were starving, but we didn’t know who needed help. I don’t know if I have ever said this or ever will again but Thank God for Facebook! People started posting for help on our community group. We started with cooking and delivering meals every weekday. We also did some small food parcels for some and bigger food parcels for others who didn’t get cooked meals every day.

Cooked meals for the families.

 At any given time, we are helping about 30 people. There are a few regular families that we support with food and clothes as they try to rebuild from Lockdown. We also have people who pass through our help. Maybe they only need help for a month until they find a job.

Challenges emerged, and we were forced to be adaptable. In July, we had a COVID scare. All three of us were exposed to someone who had COVID-19. So we semi-quarantined. None of us got COVID-19 by the way. We lost our cook because she went back to work. So, we moved to more food parcels over cooked meals. Throughout Lockdown, people were extremely generous, giving what they could. Tamryn’s father was driving all over, even to the farms, and coming home with a truck load of food. Grocery stores were donating their just expired stuff with us (which they are still doing). Individuals were sharing what they could even if it was just one thing. As time went on, people were giving less and less until we had nothing coming in. Fran, Tamryn, and I took a week to ask the Lord if this was it. Was this only supposed to be for a season or should we continue? If we were to continue, how would we do it?

The answer came to us. We joined Tamryn’s dad’s ministry Reaching and Teaching. We had been partnering with him throughout Lockdown, mutually sharing what we received to help the communities of Kempton Park and Primrose (another suburb in Johannesburg). Our church has partnered with Reaching and Teaching for years, helping with school supplies for the school that was started in a township called Sebokeng. Every year the ladies knit and crochet hat, scarves, and mittens for the kids at the school.

To support the community of Kempton Park, we need about $2000 a month. This includes necessities for the families (food, clothing that we can’t get donated, over the counter meds) and gas money for the deliveries. Occasionally, we help with a GP doctor visit as many of the people we help have medical problems. We have helped with transport to and from government hospitals as well.

Last week’s deliveries

If you would like to partner with us, we need monthly donations, but we would happily accept one-time donations as you are able as well. You can donate by going to reachingandteachingsa.org and the go to the How Can I Help link. All donations go through Paypal. Unfortunately, to be tax-deductible, you cannot specify on the donation that it is for the Kempton Park outreach. Therefore, when you donate if you could send a message to me at elyse.j.seal@gmail.com or reach out to me via Facebook messenger and tell me:

  1. How much you are donating
  2. If it is a monthly gift or a one-time gift.
  3. When you gave

That will allow me to know how much we are receiving and organize it for our finance person at Reaching and Teaching.

In the weeks to come, I will be sharing the stories of our families as they allow. I will also be sharing updates and ways to pray for us and the families. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. We can even set up a call. You can visit our Facebook page too at https://www.facebook.com/reachingandteachingministries/

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

The Long Awaited Update

I have sat down to write this update several times, but up until now, there was still nothing to tell you except that we are still waiting. When COVID-19 hit South Africa in March, everything was shut down. South Africa slowly reopened over the last six months. First, we could come out for a few hours a day to exercise. Then, right as winter hit, the clothing stores opened. Clothing flew off the shelves as soon as it got there as we experienced one of the coldest winters in five years. School opened, then closed, then opened, then closed, then took a little break, and finally opened with strict protocols. Once barbers could open their doors again, there was a three hour wait for their services especially since only one client could come in at a time. I danced a little when we were legally allowed to visit each other again. I could have danced down the aisles when our church reopened too. On September 16th, we finally went down to Lockdown level 1. Immigration and international travel opened again.

Last Monday we went to an immigration consultant, we were told that we have two options. We can return to the USA and apply for Ryan’s critical skill visa there however South Africa is still restricting travel to high risk countries and as always, the USA is number one. We would have to get permission to travel to and from the States from a high up government official. We would also have to each have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of travel. The other option is to get a waiver and apply for the visas in South Africa. To do this, Ryan must have a job offer or contract and getting the waiver takes six weeks. Then we can apply for visas and permanent residence.

We are opting for the second choice because if we leave South Africa, we may not be able to return. Our current visas are valid until next year December, so we have time.

We have been asked time and time again, why are you staying in South Africa? Wouldn’t it be easier to move back to the USA? Yes, it would but both of us have a strong feeling that God is not done with us here in South Africa. We miss you all dearly especially our family, but we need to be here. Our ministry here has changed but it is not done.

In our last letter, we told you that Elyse and some other women in our church were helping the needy in our community. What started as helping one or two other families has become a full-blown ministry over the last six months. We are helping ten families now. The number waxes and wanes as people get back on their feet or lose contact with us. We help with food parcels and cooked meals the most. We also help with clothing and transportation. We have taken people to the hospital for treatment and even paid for some doctor appointments. We raised money for rent for an elderly gentleman who was in a bad and dangerous position. We raised enough to pay rent for a year. We have helped a little with gas money for a lady who needed to get back and forth to court. We are trying to find housing for a homeless man right now. We are also helping a family protect a woman and kids from an abusive father. We connect with other Nonprofit Organizations and support each other. We have become a community with these families, some more than others. Some of the ladies have started cooking with us. Some are giving of what they have and collecting donations for others. The helped are becoming the helpers. We are joining with a friend’s NPO so we can be legitimate. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am going to be fundraising again. Many of you have reached out to me in the last six months and given before I even asked. Thank you. Your donations and prayers kept us going. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing the stories of the people we are helping as they allow. Walking with these people has broken me. The people we are helping have broken and painful paths that have led them to us. But our God is one who heals and restores.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Mandela Day

Nelson Mandela photo

“Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes. We would be honored if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace, reconciliation, and cultural diversity.”

This is the Mandela Day campaign message. Every July 18th, South Africans come together and do at least 67 minutes of community service. This year everything has been about COVID-19 alleviation. People were passing out cooked food, food parcels, masks, and sanitizer all over South Africa.

Some members of Sonrise Church and I have been delivering cooked meals and food parcels to people in Kempton Park since April. We have networked with several NGO’s in our community to help people in need. So, when one of our partner NGO’s stepped up and said it wanted to feed 1800 people on Mandela Day, we pledged to feed 100 people here in Kempton Park.

We ended up feeding around 160 people. Three of our local ward councilors (elected officials who serve the community and have supported us with other problems) came to show us support. Some of our students from Sonrise School (Ary and Owen’s school) helped with preparing and serving the meals to get some community service hours. We even made it into the newspaper. You can find the article here: kemptonexpress.co.za/293337/multiple-kempton-entities-took-hands-on-mandela-day/

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

June 2020 Prayer Letter

I wish this letter had more solid details of our future. However, like many of you, our lives are up in the air right now. We are in a time of waiting.

These last few months Ryan has been finishing up projects and preparing to hand them off. He has been applying for jobs and having interviews. However, immigration is still shut down completely so we cannot get new visas yet. The situation in South Africa is uncertain. In September, our current visas run out; so we have a short-term plan for June and July. In August, Immigration is supposed to re-open, however that is not definite. We will re-evaluate our situation in August to see where God is leading us. Our desire is to stay in South Africa. We have most of our paperwork together. We are just waiting and trusting God. In the interim, Ryan is allowed to do freelance work for American companies. God has also blessed us recently so we should not be in need from June to September. God keeps proving to us day by day that he is going to take care of us in these uncertain times. He is our surety, not money.

A trunk full of groceries thanks to generous donations!

Since Lockdown hit on March 27th, Elyse has been helping out the community by buying food for people in need. She usually buys food for 5-6 families every week. She also donates to a friend’s charity who is feeding around 300 people a day. Another one of Elyse’s friends has connections to hear of people’s needs. Elyse has been collecting baby clothes, baby supplies, food, and other necessities from people to give to the poor. Elyse and Ryan have both driven people to and from the hospital as needed. Don’t worry. We are being sanitary and safe.

Ary and Owen’s Corner

Aryanna and Owen ready for our morning walks.

Ary and Owen are adapting to being at home all the time. Since May 1st we have been allowed to go on morning walks. That has helped their cabin fever. Ary and Owen are both doing well in home-school. Ary’s teacher tries to send two videos a week however she has a lot of technical issues so Mommy has been coming up with a lot of school ideas. Ary likes wearing a mask but Owen does not so when we go out he has a face shield.

Stay in touch!

Thank you for being part of our team these last 11 years. We appreciate your prayers, support, and encouragement. We keep getting asked, “what if I still want to support you?” Donations to TWR will no longer reach us. It will go to general TWR funds. We are not in need so if you do want to keep supporting us, we will use that money to help people in our community struggling to make ends meet because of COVID-19. Please message us privately if you want to do this.

We will not be sending out any more physical newsletters but we will continue to write in the blog and send out e-mail updates.

It has been an adventurous 11 years. Thank you for sticking with us and for your commitment to Kingdom work. We have appreciated your prayers, support, and encouragement.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Corona Virus in South Africa

It’s Day 30 of our 35 day (at-least) Lockdown. Like the rest of you, we were keeping an eye on COVID-19 since it started spreading around the world. On March 15th, Owen’s birthday, President Ramaphosa addressed South Africa talking about the seriousness of the situation and instituting social distancing. Therefore, we postponed Owen’s birthday party. Soon, it was obvious that this party was not going to happen so we celebrated as a family. Later that week, Ryan started working from home. His “office” is set up in the garage.

On March 23rd, President Ramaphosa addressed the nation again and announced a 21 day national lock-down would start on March 27th. That week lines were long in all shops. Everyone was ready to batten down the hatches for lock-down. The president urged people that grocery stores would remain open and stocked but people were panic buying anyway. We started seeing limits on certain things such as rice, canned beans, tuna, and oil. Then on April 15th President Ramaphosa announced the locked was to be extended for an additional 14 days. Then on April 23rd he announced that on May 1st the lockdown would only lift slighlty to a “stage 4” that will allow just a few more business sectors to open. For many, the lockdown will last far longer than 35 days.

I know that most states have a stay at home order but South Africa’s lock-down is serious. We are not allowed to leave our property unless we are going to the hospital, bank, grocery store, pharmacy or to work for an essential service. All other stores are closed. We are not even allowed to be in the common area of our complex except to take our garbage out to the road and to get in our cars. All schools are closed. Ary’s school has started some online schooling. Many families do not have computers or wifi so e-learning may not be an option for every family. I go out once a week to go grocery shopping. Most people are walking around in homemade masks. I have seen police blockades where the police are stopping people at random to inquire about why they are out of their homes. Police are also patrolling  high density areas to make sure people are obeying the lock-down. Tension and fear are in the air. Many people have lost jobs. Many people here live week to week if not day to day so many people are suffering.

The news is not all bad though. While each of us is struggling to accommodate an abnormal life, we are becoming closer as a church and family. We have been doing some special things together as a family such as camping in the back yard, doing special events for each day of Holy Week, baking cookies for neighbors, and movie nights. We have been doing a little homeschooling everyday too. We have been spending more time praying and reading the Bible. We have been finding ways to communicate and encourage one another. We are separated from each other in body but not in spirit. The church in South Africa has really stepped up to help the poor in our area. We have been told of needs for food and essentials and people have enthusiastically replied and given to people in need. Women who are about to give birth are especially in need as they cannot buy clothing. Many people have been digging into their closets and finding essentials for these new babies. We had one family absolutely speechless after we delivered food and baby supplies to them. All they could say was, “How is it that you can be so generous? Who are you people? God bless you.”

Some of our donors have donated money to us to help people who are starving. Every week when I go to the grocery store, I look like I am panic buying, I have so much food. Usually I can get enough for six or seven families. We have people who we specifically help and an organization that is in a sketchy neighborhood that helps feed the community. This organization went from feeding 20 families a week to just over 300 people a day. They still have to turn people away because they are out of food. So, to my donors who have sent money for that purpose, thank you. If anyone would like to pitch in as well, please message Elyse on facebook or email one of us.

So what does this lock-down mean for our future? Honestly, we don’t know. Our desire is to stay in South Africa but at this point everything is unsure. We have background checks floating around somewhere being processed or waiting to be processed. Our flights to the United States in June were cancelled. We are waiting until after the lock-down to buy new tickets. We, like many people, are sitting in limbo. We are trying not to be anxious and trusting God for each day.

You can pray that all our paperwork comes through for visas and that Ryan can find a job in South Africa.

Please pray for the poor in our country who have nothing right now and are confined to a small space together in this lock-down. Pray that communities will be brought together to help and encourage one another. Pray that we can be a blessing to our community. Pray that we will speak the name of Jesus boldly in this time.

Pray for our anxiety. We are saying, “I believe. Help my unbelief”

Please contact us about how you are doing during this time. Write back to us and tell us how we can pray for you.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Riots and Protests

Burned and looted buildings. Tires on fire. Angry shouts in the streets as protestors stand on one street and the police stand on the other. People having to evacuate banks and malls because the riot is coming their way. Streets blocked by buses and taxis. These were some of the sights of Kempton Park and Johannesburg in September.

Protests, riots, and strikes are common in South Africa. You are prepared for them but you also don’t take a lot of notice to them unless they are close to you. Then you get out fast. People don’t pay attention to what people are protesting about because they are too focused on the violence that is done. The protests and riots achieve nothing positive. This month people have been protesting businesses hiring people from other African nations over South Africans. There are a lot of complexities to cause the tension; however, during this protest, I did not see evil men who wanted to hurt this country. I saw desperate men who just want to survive and feed their families. Please pray for these South Africans that they can find jobs to care for their families. Pray that as a country South Africans will help their neighbors. Pray against prejudice.

The other protest that happened is a protest about violence against women. Domestic violence is rampant in South Africa. There has also been an increase in kidnapping, raping, and killing women. There has been an increase in abandoned babies and young unmarried women being arrested for these abandonments. People are standing up and saying this must stop. Women need to be respected and valued. Please pray that as we can be part of that change. Pray that we can help women in need. Pray that our Women of Hope programs and prayer groups can help women hear the truth of Jesus and encourage one another. Pray for the hearts of men in this country that they would hear and accept Jesus. Pray that they would start seeing the women as God sees them: as precious daughters and valuable pratners.

Posted in Blog | 1 Comment

Hospitality

This term in South Africa has gone quite different than I expected or wanted. When we were on furlough last, I told you I was going to be more involved with TWR and writing more programs. I wrote one program and it was a stretching and encouraging experience. However since I completed that program, my skills have not been needed at TWR. I was frustrated that my plans fell through but after my sulking was done I started asking God what He had in mind for me in ministry. I love my children and love caring for them but I was also looking to do more. God has slowly been growing me in the area of hospitality. It took me surrenduring my plans and putting my “yes” on the table; to listen to God each day and go in the direction he leads; to take the next right step and have that be enough.

There are a lot of beggers on the corners of the roads we drive. There are so many, we don’t know who to help so a lot of times we don’t help anyone. One day while driving to the grocery store, we passed an old man. I felt a stirring from the Holy Spirit to give him food. I got extra food for him and the next day went to give him my little bundle. I couldn’t just give him the bag of food without blocking traffic so I had to park my car and get out to give him the food. This also meant I had to talk to him. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to say and truthfully I can’t remember what I said but we started getting to know each other for a few minutes. The next week I gave him another bundle but this time the Holy Spirit told me to invite this man and his room mate to our home for supper! Invite over a complete stranger? You must be hearing wrong. But that thought wouldn’t leave my mind and the feeling of urgency to do so. I first asked Ryan to see if he was ok with it – if he wan’t, that would let me off the hook… but he was ok with it.

God told me that we should be inviting the poor, the sick, the ousiders, the unwanted to our tables. I was an outsider and He invited me. I can now sit at God’s table and enjoy his food and presence. Being hospitable to these people is a way to show them the love of God. It is the way Jesus ministered with people most of the time. I decided to follow Jesus’ example. I invited Fred over for supper. Nothing magical or exciting happened at that supper. We got to know each other better and shared a yummy meal together. Ever since then, when I bring Fred’s package we sit and chat about our week for about 10 minutes. We will definitely be inviting him and others over again.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

The Persecuted Church in Nigeria

My dear friends,

Our brothers and sisters in Christ in Nigeria need your prayers.

Church leaders in Nigeria report that 6,000 Christians, mostly women and children have been murdered since January. According to Open Door, which is a charity that provides aid to Christians who are persecuted for their faith, Islamic radicals who are allied with Boko Haram are “descending on the villages in the night or in the day and carry out cruel attacks against innocent people, including women and children.”

There has been an outcry to the government to stop the slaughter but so far they have done nothing. Appeals have been sent to the United Nations as well. Many people are fearing that Nigeria will become a county of genocide comparable to what happened in Rwanda in 1994.

My words can not fully convey the desperation of the situation in Nigeria but here are some stories that can help. https://www.hudson.org/research/14792-an-unrecognized-genocide-in-nigeria

How can we help our persecuted brothers and sisters?

Pray.

Pray for God’s protection over these people.

Pray that people would not fall away from Jesus because of fear.

Pray for the people carrying out the attacks that they would be stopped. Pray for God to convict their hearts. Pray that they would be saved. God did it for Saul. Why can’t he for Islamic radicalists?

TWR is building a powerful 200,000 watt transmitter that will be able to broadcast into all of Nigeria plus some of the surrounding countries like Cameroon, Niger, and Benin. We hope to have programs broadcasting by the end of 2019. There is hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Please pray the people would hear the message of the gospel and believe. Pray that our programs would encourage the believers in Nigeria.

Do you want to do more? Give to the TWR Oasis Project or to Open Doors. You may not be able to go but you can support those who can.

Posted in Blog | 2 Comments

Cyclone Idai

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e9/Idai_2019-03-13_1052Z.jpg

Many of you were hit with a cyclone bomb with wild blizzards and terrible flooding. We are sorry to hear of the destruction that the storm left in its wake especially for those of you in Nebraska. We have been encouraged by the stories we have heard about how people are pulling together to help each other. Please know you are in our prayers.

At about the same time, Africa was also hit with a terrible Category 3 cyclone. Cylcone Idai hit Mozambique on March 14th but it also affected the countries of Malawi and Zimbabwe with storms and flooding. South Africa even had some power outtages due to Idai. This storm came out of no where and no one was prepared for it. The official count so far is about 1000 dead but so many are missing that we may never know how many people died in the floods. Searches for missing people have been called off so they can care for the living.

Cylcone Idai destroyed about 100,000 homes, about 1 million acres of crops, and washed out many roads. People in the port town of Beira in Mozambique were clinging to rooftops and trees even a week after the storm hit. People are struggling to find food, clean water, and shelter. To make matters worse, cholera has spread among the crowded survivors. 1400 cases have popped up in the last week. Rescue workers and relief organizations have flocked in to help but there is so much need and not enough help.

TWR’s shortwave and AM broadcasts have not been disturbed as we broadcast from Swaziland. We are still sending out a message of hope to our listeners who desperately need to hear it in their time of despair. Pray that our listeners will hear the hope that is found in Jesus and will turn to him.

Some of our local ladies who are a part of our Women of Hope ministry have started a collection of blankets, clothing, non-perishable food, and money to send to other Women of Hope groups in Mozambique.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Shine as Lights in the World

What do we like to complain about most?

If you live in South Africa, the answer is load shedding. You can complain with everyone and anyone about load shedding and they will happily join in bashing the company who provides electricity to all of South Africa.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with load shedding, it is when the power company turns off your power for a couple hours during the day on a rotating schedule so that the system doesn’t crash. However, even though the company puts out a schedule for when the power outage will happen in your area, they do not follow the schedule that they put out. You never know when your power will go out and for how long it will last. Fortunately, it usually only lasts a couple of hours.

A week ago while I was reading my Bible, I came across Philippians 2:14 ” Do all things without grumbling or complaining” The Holy Spirit brought to my attention that when I speak to people, whether I know them or not, it is easier to complain about load shedding, the weather, the government ect. Yes, those things frustrate me. But instead of always dwelling on them and complaining how hard it makes my life, maybe I should be thankful that I do have electricity most of the time. I should be thankful that I can store a month’s worth of meat in my freezer because I have electricity. I can have a fan running in my kids’ rooms because I have electricity. I have the money to go out for dinner on those rare occasions when we don’t have power and I can’t cook a hot supper. I have a place to charge my phone so I can communicate with people especially my family across the world. I never think to thank God for electricity when it is always on but now that it turns on and off, I am more conscious of the blessing I have.

Instead of complaining, I choose to be thankful and satisfied with what I have. I am also starting to be prepared for when I don’t have it. The power going out in the morning is exciting to the kids now because it means we are taking a walk to the playground with a snack. I now make sure I have a meal on hand that can be made without cooking until we can get a portable gas stove. We have a lantern and candles if the power goes off at night. The power going out is also a blessing because it forces us to be creative and spend time together and with others around us.

Also speaking positively about these kinds of difficulites to others makes you different. You are not joining the crowd in complaining. It is just one of the ways you can ,”be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,” which is Phillipains 2:15.

In a time when we celebrate the Light of the World coming to us. Let’s share some of that light. Let’s show people the joy in our lives in spite of troubles because we have Jesus in our lives. One small way to do that for me is not starting a conversation with complaints but with goodness and the blessing in the weather and load shedding.

Merry Christmas from the summer in South Africa. We love you all. I hope you experience the blessing of the season where we celebrate God’s greatest gift to us: Jesus.

Posted in Blog | 1 Comment
  • Login

    Post Comments without having to register on The Splrk. Use Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo! or Wordpress.com
  • Sign up for our e-Updates

    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!