Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Extraordinary Testimony of Michiah Lancaster

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

Tragedy at Newlands Dam
At 3:19pm on Sunday, 14 January 2018, American Missionary volunteer, Michiah Lancaster, drowned in Newlands Dam, Cape Town, South Africa.

Missionary Vision
21-year-old Michiah was in the country with his younger brother Isaac (18-years-old), for the Great Commission Course, after which they plan to travel through to Mozambique, to serve at a Mission there.

Sweltering Heat
It was a sweltering hot day and after ministering at a church in Bellville South in the morning, Michiah, his brother Isaac and some other participants of the intensive Great Commission Course took advantage of the only free time of the packed programme of the week to head off to Newlands Dam for a swim.

Severe Water Restrictions

The level 6 water restrictions imposed by the City of Cape Town municipal authorities has effectively closed swimming pools as it is illegal to top-up ones pool water levels. Therefore the swimming pool that would on other occasions have been available at the Mission, was depleted and the local municipal swimming pool at Newlands was closed. Along with many hundreds of other Capetonians, they went for a swim in the Newlands Dam. This dam is primarily for the South African National Parks Forestry Department wild fire services, for their helicopters to refill their large canvass fire buckets slung under the helicopters for containing forest fires.

Michiah Struggles in Deep
The dam is 8 meters deep (28 feet). Shortly after arrival at the dam, Michiah swam out into the middle of the dam and was then observed to be struggling by Kyle, one of the GCC participants. Kyle immediately swam over and sought to help him, Michiah was not saying anything and it appeared that he has swallowed water. Kyle called for help and immediately, Christopher, Calvin and other GCC participants swam over to assist, but by the time they reached the middle of the dam, Michiah had disappeared beneath the surface.

Desperate Attempts to Rescue Michiah
For the next hour, they frantically dived trying to find him in the murky and deep waters. Other participants of the GCC on the bank phoned for help from local police, Fire and Rescue emergency services and to the Mission.

Congestion and Confusion
As soon as I heard of the crisis, I raced over with my daughter Daniela and was astounded by the vast amount of traffic and large crowds of people who were at Newlands Dam. They were being evacuated as we were trying to arrive. The police had ordered everyone out of the water and away from the dam, so as to not impede their search and rescue efforts.

Rescue Efforts Mobilised
The station commander of Rondebosch police station was on site and she informed me that since the closure of the Newlands swimming pool, many hundreds were coming to this dam, especially on very hot days, yet SAN Parks, whose jurisdiction the dam was, did not have any lifeguards on duty.

Frustrating Delays
My son, Calvin and Brandon, another GCC participant, were still in the water, frustratingly urging police and EMS people on the banks to help. They were informed that procedure prevented them from entering the water. They had to wait for the divers’ arrival. South African Police Service divers and fire and rescue divers were enroute battling traffic to get to the dam.

Deep and Dark
As one Fire and Rescue EMS person said to me, if this was a clear swimming pool, such as at Newlands, they would plunge in, but this is an extremely deep and dark dam and their procedures required them to wait for the divers.

Double Loss
I found Isaac, Michiah’s younger brother, he had just completed a phone call back to his parents in Missouri. Incredibly, Isaac told me that 9 years earlier, when he was 9 years old, his elder brother, Timothy, had drowned in America.

Intensive Prayer

Several of the young women on our GCC were gathered on the banks praying intensely. Our men were physically exhausted from their desperate attempts to continuously dive and find Michiah.

Shock and Frustration
By now Michiah had been beneath the surface for over an hour! Some of our girls expressed shock at callous and thoughtless comments made by bystanders. Kyle expressed great frustration that while he was struggling to keep Michiah afloat, strangers swimming nearby had just looked and done nothing. All of our GCC men had plunged in and swam with great urgency, but they could not reach him in time.

Systematic Underwater Search
At approximately 5:20pm the South African Police Service Diving Unit and Fire and Rescue services arrived on the scene and began a systematic search across the dam. By 6:40pm Michiah’s body was recovered and brought to the surface.

Prayer and Gratitude
We all prayed with Isaac and then both Isaac and I went and shook hands with each of the divers and rescue personnel involved in the operation to personally thank them for their efforts. We then prayed with some of these rescue people by the vehicles over the body of Michiah and returned after 7pm to report the sad news to all those back at the Mission base.

Extraordinary Testimony
At this point several testified of what Michiah had said at the Bellville South Church that very Sunday morning: Michiah had testified that when he was 12 years old, his elder brother, 17-year-old Timothy, had drowned. This brought Michiah to surrender his life to Christ and he read Romans 8:28-30. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

Faithful Witness

Everyone on the course testified of Michiah’s extraordinary faith, joy, humility, servant-heart and what a blessing he had been to us all. I recalled the testimony of Faithful, in Pilgrims Progress, who after dying in the Lord was seen take up by chariots of fire, direct to the Celestial city, while Christian continued on the narrow way, rejoicing in Fithful’s life, witness and steadfastness, being faithful unto death.

Much Fruit
When later on that evening, I spoke with Michiah’s parents, Seth and Victoria Lancaster and some of their other children, they shared John 12:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” Our Lord in His Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, reminded us that the Lord sows His sons into the world to bear good fruit.

Parables of the Sower
Most people know the first Parable of the Sower, Matthew 13:18-23, where we are the sower, the Word of God is the seed and the field is the hearts of people. However, there is a second Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:24-43). In the second parable of the Sower, God is the sower, the sons and daughters of the Kingdom are the seed and the field is the World. We must put down roots where God plants us and we must bear fruit. “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the Kingdom…” Matthew 13:37-38

Life Purpose
On Michiah’s Application Form under his Life Purpose, he wrote: “Using every life’s breath for the glory of God. Our life is short. So we must do all that we can for His glory and nothing else.” “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15

To Glorify God and Worship Him Forever

In answer to the question: What is God's ultimate call in your life? Michiah answered: “Giving Him glory! The fear of the Lord has called me to be a missionary. I am daily waiting on Him and seeking to do all that I can for His glory.” Previously, Michiah has been involved in missions to Mexico and Mozambique.

Mission to Africa Must Continue
Michiah parents as well as Seth and Victoria Lancaster made clear to me that they wanted their son’s body to be buried in Africa and they do not want their younger son, Isaac, to cut short his mission to Africa. They want him to complete the Great Commission Course, which he is eager to do and to continue on to complete the planned mission to Mozambique. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

Memorial Service
Accordingly we will be conducting a Memorial Service for Michiah Lancaster at St. Thomas’ Church, 61 Campground Road, Rondebosch at 10am, Thursday, 18 January in Cape Town. All friends of the Mission, or of the family, or any of those involved in Emergency services search and rescue attempts will be most welcome to participate in this memorial service where we will celebrate the life and testimony of Michiah Lancaster.

We Do Not Mourn As Those who Have No Hope

Of course, this has been a traumatic experience for all of us in the Mission and for all the participants of the Great Commission Course. However, the calm and confident faith of Isaac and his family has set the tone and no one has sought to cut short their time of missions training and outreaches with the Great Commission Course. Isaac is determined to complete the course and his mission to Mozambique and our team has been bonded together, with even greater intensity. Last night, Monday, 15 January, we climbed to the top of Lions head and held a time of prayer and hymn singing, praising God for the life of Michiah and praying for many to be brought to Salvation in Christ as a result of his testimony.

Thanks Be to God Who Gives Us the Victory

On Sunday night, we read 1 Corinthians 15:12-58. The concluding verses give us our marching orders: “…Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:54-58.

Yours for the fulfillment of the Great Commission

Dr. Peter Hammond

Frontline Fellowship
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480
Email: mission@frontline.org.za
Website: www.FrontlineMissionSA.org

Monday, 15 January 2018

Michiah Lancaster - A Tribute

Michiah Lancaster. Servant, Warrior for Christ and  beloved son went home to be with his Father in heaven Sunday. His tribute, written by his godly Mama is below

Above all his passion was his relationship with Christ. He helped teach a Bible study every week in a local coffee shop with his brothers and he loved people. He was very social, and was hurt when he saw someone he loved making self-destructive decisions.
  He was worked hard  building houses from the ground up. Roofing, plumbing electrical...people commented on his work ethic. Michiah Lancaster was even a manager in the construction company, with a Christian owner & boss who treated him like a son. A photography lover, horse lover and a singer who loved music and nature's beauty.
He loved missions and hoped to serve God overseas and had given his testimony on Romans 8:28 on how we can trust God with everything, no matter how bad it looks, explaining how his older brother Timothy's death impacted him to be a soldier of Christ the very morning of his death. Sunday afternoon some of the guys decided to swim across. Its a forestry fire fighting pool to fill helicopter equipment. Michiah lost his strength and despite efforts from friends, disappeared. His brother was there and saw it happen. But God has already used this for good in many lives, God has saved at least two we have heard.

Let me just add after that testimony, the family is still praising and even asked me to pray for the man who tried to save him. This is the peace that passes understanding that only the Holy Spirit of God can bring

The pool where he met his Savior

three hours before his going home

Friday, 10 November 2017

In remembrance

Last month the Atlanta City Baptist Rescue Mission lost a great man. Mr John Odom. Though he had two degrees and could have taught at any college or university in the country, he chose to stay and teach in a homeless shelter and dedicate 10 years of his life to it.
  Had it not been for his toughness as a disciplinarian, I would have likely not made it through the program. He commanded and demanded respect. Those who did not give that to him, would get reminded exactly who was in control and it wasn't them. Or me. Oh yes I had to be reminded a few times, even though I generally didnt dare put a foot wrong. Yes he was tough, yes he gave me a hard time but I needed that. I am grateful for the time he spent at the Mission and the time he spent with me. He'll be missed but he is definitely in a better place. With his Savior. We'll meet again up there

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Mind of Satan

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and ran across a horrific article. It seems a British woman stamped her toddler to death. I was all prepared to mentally rip her to shreds, call her filth, suggest she be crucified and more. All of the sudden clear as a bell I seemed to hear one word. Hater. Of course there was no actual voice. It was the Holy Spirit. Now i'm not saying I was wrong to be appalled at such sickening and revolting behavior. Righteous anger was certainly called for. So what was I being told? Quite simply as someone who can be sarcastic and even hateful and insulting I was no better. The moment I start thinking a person is less than a precious creation of God, I start on the road the thinking like satan. The first hater in the universe
  So what of the picture I have? It's simple. Satan is an expert at lying, twisting the truth and lulling us into a false sense of security. While I may be justified in being angry at a wicked woman, that does not give me license to extend that to someone who does something silly and wonder what their mental malfunction is. Not if it means I also degrade them in my mind though it's perfectly normal to recognize the silly things people do. We frequently have to in order to stay safe.
  God is love. Hate is not a part of Him unless it is sin. Even then He loves the sinner and is not willing that any should perish but all should come to repentance. So that's the latest stomp the Holy Spirit gave me - at work of all things  

Friday, 20 October 2017

The modesty debate - a personal perspective

This post will be in two parts. First what I believe. Second why. This is not your regular post. This is my personal experience.

The distinction between genders is assumed in most Christian circles. It is accepted that both male and female are biologically different, think differently, and have different God given roles. However these are being eroded rapidly. While the world thinks they can change genders and identify as whatever they want to (including a cat), we've sanitized this. 
  Lets start with a definition. Let’s take a look at what it meant.
Websters 1828 definition of MODESTY

, n. [L. modestia.] That lowly temper which accompanies a moderate estimate of one's own worth and importance. This temper when natural, springs in some measure from timidity, and in young and inexperienced persons, is allied to bashfulness and diffidence. In persons who have seen the world, and lost their natural timidity, modesty springs no less from principle than from feeling, and is manifested by retiring, unobtrusive manners, assuming less to itself than others are willing to yield, and conceding to others all due honor and respect, or even more than they expect or require.
2. Modesty, as an act or series of acts, consists in humble, unobtrusive deportment, as opposed to extreme boldness, forwardness, arrogance, presumption, audacity or impudence. Thus we say, the petitioner urged his claims with modesty; the speaker addressed the audience with modesty.
3. Moderation; decency.
4. In females, modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is used also as synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners. In this sense, modesty results from purity of mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle. Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor.

As there are clearly defined differences in the roles of ladies and gentlemen as well as biological differences and even differences in the way the genders think, it is clear God intended them to be quite distinct. Two different genders, two different roles and two different styles of clothing. To remove the barrier is akin to saying we know better than God! Since at least medieval times in western culture women have always worn skirts. The custom of women wearing pants was inaugurated and promoted by liberal-minded people, particularly feminist agitators, intent on discarding Christian traditions and altering people's understanding of Christian values. The skirt-pants issue had become established within Western civilizations, including Christian culture, as one of the main differences between men's and women's clothing. Nowadays, if women are "dressing to kill" these days, there is no doubt that they have succeeded in killing the morals of men by wearing provocative styles, particularly midriff-baring tops and how-low-can-you-go jeans. Some ladies appear to have been melted down and poured into their garments. Why would any lady who has any dignity wear a garment that brings attention to her form and not the God who created her? Why would any lady wear a garment that draws attention to the most intimate parts of her body that no male should even be thinking about? Dogs don't care and wander about with their backsides splayed out for all to see and that's where they sniff. Modern day ladies wander about the same way with guys heads turning all the time. What's the difference? Ladies often say they wear pants because they are more comfortable or convenient for getting in and out of cars, warmer in winter etc., and shorts because the weather is hot.  However, with a little of the ingenuity and resourcefulness for which ladies are famed, a judicious combination of articles of apparel can be chosen from among the contents of a woman's wardrobe to enable her to wear skirts for many occasions - windy days and sub-zero temperatures, cycling, hiking, and riding side-saddle, for instance - all without the need to wear pants. There are some sporting activities which cannot be done in a skirt and so must be out of bounds for women. Sacrificing convenience and freedom is not easily done, but if a more restricted lifestyle for the sake of modesty and propriety is the path of greater holiness, it is also potentially one of greater sacrifice and will bring its rewards in increased graces. Remember, you are in the world to represent your King.
  I'm not leaving guys out. Not by a long shot. Why may I ask do guys think they can wear skinny jeans, showing off what they have, body build, then parade around strutting their stuff? If you think females are not visual to some degree, you'd be very wrong. Woman can lust just as easily as a male. I'm sure there are many things guys do that we don't think about but cause problems. Because of that, we need to be educated as well. 

Now why do I believe all this? Well as a guy, I have to admit to struggling with lust many times. Furthermore, I would cause an internet filter to scream with some of the sites I used to frequent. Where did this start? Temptation. Satan and my own sinful nature. Of course there is never any excuse for visiting adult sites. It's always sin and always avoidable. But there is something else that has a huge impact. wearing clothing that hugs the body and when one wears a garment, unsuitable for their gender or wears something that reveals too much it causes me all kinds of issues. Not to mention basically all other males within eyesight. I'm supposed to think of a lady as a fearfully and wonderfully made creation of God and i'm given eye candy to look at? That's totally not beneficial.
  Let me close with this. Whether you're male or female, respect your bodies. Don't give the opposite gender cause to struggle. Don't give them more than they have the right to see

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Justice and Mercy vs Fairness

  • Justice is based on the universal, unchangeable principles of God's Word
  • Fairness is based on the variable customs of society and the changing will of man

  • Justice establishes guilt when God's standards are violated
  • Fairness tries to remove guilt by lowering standards

  • Justice and mercy are based upon a personal responsibility to a holy God and will produce revival in a nation
  • Fairness is based upon personal rights and will produce rebellion

  • Justice and mercy are based on eternal values. 
  • Fairness is based on protecting temporary values
  • Justice is the expression of God's wisdom for our nation and it's application will lead to prosperity 
  • Fairness is the expression of human reasoning for a nation and will lead to financial ruin
  • Justice is impartial and it's objective is non-emotional
  • Fairness is partial, subjective and is based on arbitrary emotional considerations

The notes above were taken from my notes at the Atlanta City Baptist Rescue Mission sometime in late May. The teacher has requested that neither his name nor his picture be placed online. 

What can I learn from this? The idea of my rights are anti-God, prideful and as that was the sin that brought Satan down, it is quite accurate to say the idea of demanding rights is having the prideful mind of Satan. To use fairness with regards to myself is to rely on human reasoning above that of God. It's actually impossible to be fair if they are based on variable customs and changing will as fairness requires people to be treated equally. Which isnt going to happen if peoples opinions always change. Therefore the only thing that is fair is justice

Monday, 2 October 2017

How precious is the Bible to me?

The following news article popped up on my Facebook feed.


At first I wanted to preach. Some great post asking if we would do this. But wait.
Would I? I don't even read the Bible as much as I should and I wanted to preach to others? Would I take machine gun fire so severe my body would be unrecognizable and mutilated? How much would I suffer for Christ as He suffered for me. I don't know but unless I tighten up and get a grip, probably not much considering I barely even know how to love Him.