You Came. 

As she sees me her face lights up. “You came” she squeals in delight. Of course I came. I said that I would. 

And just like that her delight is gone, given way to exhaustion and sadness. Her young teenage body scared and malnourished, so tiny and frail. And cold, so so cold. Goosebumps cover the large amounts of bare flesh. Her clothing skimpy and tattered. Her shoes worn through on the soles and blistering her child-like feet. 

She comes in for a hug, I wrap her in my arms and speak life over her. I speak words of love and truth. I hold her as a mother would, as I let go she immediately sinks into the embrace of Candice and rests her head on Candice’s chest, closes her eyes and whispers “I wish I could stay here”. I turn my back so she can not see my tears, Candice swallows her own tears down so this sweet child can not see our pain. 
Then the moment is over and she has to go back to “work”. And we have to drive away. 
Sweet little one we will always be there. We will always come. We will always love you. 

#onefuturefoundation #citysisters #durban #wearedurban #homelessnothopeless #knownbytheirlove #tospeaktheirtruth

What is required? 

The past few weeks have been quite a journey. Hudson fell very sick with not only a chest and ear infection, but also Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. Then during week two of his illness I also became ill. So three weeks of fighting sickness has been brutal. We are both on the mend but still a little weak.

Today is Wednesday and we were supposed to be feeding our homeless friends down at the beach front. I really wasn’t feeling strong enough and wanted to stay in bed but then something happened. We found out that due to unforseen circumstances we were not going to be handing out food today.

The morning was canceled. You know some times these things happen and that’s OK. But it didn’t sit right with us to just leave them all down there waiting for us without an explanation. Communication with the homeless is hard as they do not have cell phones, so Mart and I decided to drive down to let everyone know what the situation was.

And man are we glad that we did!!!

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As we pulled into the parking lot we were met by well over 100 people, all lined up waiting for their packed lunch. My heart dropped knowing that we had nothing for them other than our apologies, which to he honest felt really empty.

Due to sickness I hadn’t seen our people for three weeks and I was greeted by so many hugs I lost count. My heart was instantly lifted, and then I had to address them all, tell them that we had nothing for them…. I felt sick. How do I tell these people that we have nothing, that the food that they had come for was not actually there? So I just bit the bullet and told them, and the response that I got was nothing short of God.

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One guy stepped forward, and for a second I thought that he was going to let me have it, but he looked me straight in the eye and said this… “Yes we are hungry, but we are not here for the food. We are all here because we know that you love us and you will pray for us.” And EVERYONE nodded and agreed with him!
Cue tears and sobbing from me!!!!

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Mart looked at me and chuckled. And we both knew that this was conformation for us.
You see this morning we were both battling questions. I was feeling physically ill and emotionally drained, and yet we knew what was required of us.

Micah 6:8 “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

In a nut shell He requires our obedience, even when we don’t feel like it. He requires us to love, even when they are being unlovable. He requires us to SHOW UP, even when that “showing up” requires us to humble ourselves and let people know that we have nothing humanly to offer. You see its not about the food, or the clothes or the toiletries, its ALL about showing up. Being there. Sticking it out. Even when life is hard, uncomfortable, challenging or down right impossible. He requires us to SHOW UP. Its ALL about HIM and His LOVE. All He requires of us is to show up and He will do the rest.

Ministry is hard work. And often we get caught up in how we are feeling, how we are doing, we forget that our calling isn’t about us. Its about Him, His Kingdom, and the people to whom we are called.

Today a hungry homeless man reminded me of that. And for that I am beyond thankful.

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If you would like to support our family as we care for the most vulnerable of Durban then please visit our PayPal account at downseyluff@aol.com or you can go to our Just Giving account at http://www.justgiving.com/kingsroadchurch

Thank you for your kind support and prayers. We love you all.

Mart, Vash, Joe Jesse and Hudson. xxx

 

it’s raining. 

Today we hit the waterfront just like we do every Wednesday, to feed our homeless friends. As all of our Durban friends know, this week has been wet! VERY VERY wet! We have been in desperate need of the rain for a long time and so we aren’t complaining about the down pour at all. I’m probably the only Brit who loves this weather 😂 

But today as we stood in the rain, soaked to the skin, feeding our friends, I realized how desperate they are. 

Living on the streets is hard, but when having to face these kinds of elements too its almost impossible for these people. 

Men, women and children came for food today, each of them dripping wet. Each of them having to try and make a plan for money today, for food, for shelter.

Our carguard friends discouraged because no one comes to the waterfront in this weather, so they will make no money today. No money to take back to feed their wives and children. They feel like failures because they are just trying to care for their families and they can’t even do that. God sees your hearts sweet men, you are not failures. 
Individuals walking up and down the waterfront, selling stickers, homemade bath salts, pens, asking people for help, their pleas falling on deaf ears.  Keep going Marie, Pedro, Crystal, keep your heads high, don’t take their ignorance personally. 
Street girls trying to survive the only way they know how. The only option they feel that they have. Our hearts break as their tiny, soaking wet bodies try to shiver away the cold. They put on a brave face as as client pulls up, terrified that this will be the one who ends her short life. 
As I looked down I see bare feet, wrinkledand white from the rain, blistered and sore from walking miles every day with no shoes. I see their broken Spar packets, filled with their worldly possessions. A couple of wet t-shirts and a sodden blanket. Where will they shelter tonight? Where will they be safe? Will they get any rest?  
 As I run myself a hot bath and get out my cosiest PJs, my mind drifts to my sweet friends and all I can do is pray. 

Can you help us to help them? Can you make a difference in just one persons life? The answer is a resounding “YES”!! 
We are in desperate need of…

Waterproof clothing,

Blankets,

Shoes for men and women, mainly sizes 7,8,9 for the men and 4,5 and 7 for the women. 

We need clothing and hats.

Bags for them to put their items in. 

Toiletries.

Towels. 

Pop up tents. 

If you can help please let us know.  

#whatsondurban #makedurbangreatagain #onefuturefoundation #wearedurban #bethechange

Durban Visit

My parents have just returned to the UK after two weeks with us, this is a guest post written by my Mum

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I wish I could have taken more photos of the people we met on our trip, of the inside of the shelters where most of them live. It just wasn’t safe/appropriate. This is Lizelle, this visit she was pretty sober, the first time I met her she wasn’t. She was my tour guide, showing me her bed, down thru the room past sleeping bodies and even into the showers. All the time @candiceede was walking behind me whispering over my shoulder that I would be fine but not to touch anything . On our second visit Lizelle told us she was pregnant and so planned to leave the shelter and return to the Township and her family. Hopefully she makes this move.

preach

When I say it was an honour and privilege to meet and pray for these people I mean it. I have just been reading in Mark of Jesus praying for the sick and casting out unclean spirits. As I prayed for the sex workers both female and male, my heart ached for them and angered at what mankind had done to them. To be able lay hands on their heads, to lead some in prayer for repentance, to hug them close with the love of Jesus, was certainly an honour and a privilege. I am immensely proud of One Future Foundation for the work they are doing and will continue to do even on their darkest days. If you would like to help support the Downs family please visit www.justgiving.com/kingsroadchurch

anger

Tonight I got angry. It burned deep within me. Like a smoldering ember that is caught by a wind and engulfs a field of dry grass. 

It hit me hard. I wanted to scream, and hit and throw things. 

I wanted to scoop up the barely teenage sex worker and bundle her up in warm dry blankets. I wanted to feed her, she was so tiny and so hungry. I wanted to hold onto her and assure her that life was going to be better. 

And I couldn’t. 
And so I was angry. And that anger fuels the fire within me. That fire that will love unconditionally. That fire that will sacrifice and lay down the things that need to be. 
That fire that refuses to stay silent. 

That fire that comes directly from the Throne Room of Heaven. 

One day sweet girl your life will be better. Because we won’t quit until it is. 

#onefuturefoundation #durban #durbanwaterfront #rain #livingbyfaith #livinginafrica #missionarylife #wearedurban #iheartdurban

our fight

This past week I’ve been sad, frustrated, angry and hurt. I’ve had people tell me that I’m stupid and ignorant. I’ve been told that I’m not a “real” Christian. I’ve been asked how I can be so pro-womens march and be proactively pro-life. 

Here’s my answer. Daily I spend time with women who have had 100% of their human rights stripped from them. Women who have been abused by man and by the system. Women who have been attacked, raped, molested and abused by men and then told by the system that they ask for it.  Women who have no voice. Women who have no chance to truely live and no choices in their daily existence.

And as long as these women exist, as long as there are women who have no rights, I will NOT be silent. I will NOT tone it down or reign it in. I will NOT compromise in my fight for them. 

You can say what you like about me, water of a ducks back, but do not for a second think that I will not defend those to whom I have been called. 

Those of my friends who are with Mr Trump, that’s OK, I love you and respect you. All I ask is for the same in return. 

We are ministering on the front line of human/women’s rights and we see what so many do not. 

Oh and P.S unless you are proactively pro-life, you are not actually pro-life. There is a MASSIVE difference between anti abortion and pro-life

 PEACE. XX

P.P.S…. If you want to donate to our quest to purchase menstrual cups for our ladies please send you $ to PayPal account downseyluff@aol.com and add the note “cup”

#womensmarch #humanrights #womensrights #justsayin #notmypresident #livinginafrica #homelessnothopeless

where we are at

We have been asked by a number of people to write a post explaining just what we are doing, where we are doing it and what where we see God leading us.

As most of you know, we have been here in South Africa since 2004. We met and worked together in New York with Metro Ministries for 7 years. Martin had spent time previously to that in South Africa and knew God was calling us here. We were married in 2003 and spent a year in the UK before moving here. We knew God had called us to work with the poor and disadvantaged in the beautiful country.

And that is what we have been doing since we arrived in 2004. We began working with orphans and those who were caring for their orphaned grandchildren and over the years this has always been a part of our ministry. Although we have taken on other aspects of working with the homeless, sex workers and other vulnerable people along the way.

Until last January we have always been greatly blessed by having properties loaned to us that have been on the market,  in return for us keeping and eye on and looking after those properties. As many of you know, last January, the farm that we were living in was broken into in the night, we were robbed and physically hurt. We had to move out of that property due to the owners not being able to afford to secure it. Friends who we were renting our car from, offered us a property on their land that had just become vacant. We therefore began to pay rent on top of the car payments, this was a new venture for us. We were very grateful for having a roof over our heads but the place was very small for a family of five and we knew it would only be a matter of time before we would need to find somewhere else to live. We had to keep a lot of our belongings in a shared garage as the house was too small. We only discovered when we came to move that much of what we stored had been stolen. The area, although supposedly ‘safe’ was a target for many break-ins during the time we were there. This caused much stress particularly for me and the boys, who we were home schooling and therefore spent most of the time in the house.

All this time we were praying for Gods guidance, we both felt that we weren’t really spening time doing the ministry that God had called us to. The shelter where I had worked so much in the past was too far to make regular trips to, petrol isn’t cheap and we needed the money for rent etc.

Then a few months back we were contacted by some long term friends of ours, Marc & Nicole. We had been in church with this lovely couple some years back and then both families moved away from the area and although we kept in touch we hadn’t met up for a few years.

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They contacted us and asked to meet up. Basically, Marc & Nic were planning on moving back to the city and follow the calling that God had put on their hearts to see the city of Durban restored to Christ through love, every thing they told us during that meeting was exactly what God had laid on our hearts over the years.

They planned on church planting in Durban as part of the ministry of One Future Foundation www.facebook.com/onefuturefoundation and would we like to be a part of this church and ministry?

We, of course, prayed about this but knew immediately that this is what God wanted us to be a part of. Our hearts are full of excitement for what God has planned.

We began going out on the street of Duban every Wednesday to meet and build relationships with the homeless and vulnerable. On Sundays we meet together as a church and have seen many of the people we reach out to during the week, come along and join us.

If you scroll down through my blog you will read some of the stories I have posted.

Our vision is to ‘Feed the homeless and vulnerable, building relationships with those people including the sex workers. Providing clothing, food and hygiene products. While restoring the city to Christ through love.

So back to our family, just before Christmas our friends who we were renting from told us that wanted to renovate the property and would need us to vacate by January. This didn’t give us much time to find somewhere else but of course God doesn’t need much time. All the odds were against us To be fully involved in the ministry we needed to move closer to the city, this brings with it a higher rental, we dont have a regular income which landlords like to see and other people were interested in the flat we liked. But God came through and we moved in just a couple of days before Christmas. The flat is spacious and has a garden.

The next thing we needed to sort was schooling for the boys, we have been home schooling them for a few years but as they are getting older, and it was clear that Jesse has some extra educational needs, we knew we were limited in how beneficial we were being as home educators. Also for us both to be involved in the church and ministry, it would be easier if the boys were in full time education.

The thought of finding and paying for a school near the flat was daunting, we had a meeting with a head teacher who didnt have spaces but was really helpful in organizing an assessment for Jesse. I then bumped into an old friend whilst out shopping, and one thing led to another and we were offered full bursaries for all three boys and a great school!

We are so thankful to God for His provision and to all of you who so selflessly helped us financially, to get together the deposit for the flat and with moving expenses.

Our future hope is to return to the UK, for our boys to be part of our extended family and to be able to spend time with their grandparents, uncles, Aunties and cousins. But realistically we know this is going to take at least two years, laws for adoption have changed since we adopted the boys, our paperwork is taking ages to get sorted and time just goes by. In the mean time we know that God has called us to this beautiful city and to the lives of those who we meet every week on the streets, some we have known for years, some we are just beginning to get to know, all needing the love of Jesus in their lives. Church planting and ministry building excites us both, we know God is in this and we are enormously privileged to be doing it with great friends.

So how can you help to be a part of this work? Well we need your prayer support. I mentioned earlier that we rented a car from our friends car hire company,  well yesterday that car broke down and the company have decided to sell it as they have all their other cars. So now we are without a car and without the means to buy one and  that means the boys are unable to get to their new school which they are absolutely loving.

So our prayer requests are as follows:

For a car that will suit our family needs, big enough for five of us to be able to travel together.

A regular income to cover our rent and other outgoings.

We have a small number of regular supporters, for whom we are really thankful,  it would be so helpful if we could build up a number of regular givers so we can budget around what we receive in each month.

We have a Just giving page hosted by my parents church, which offers a tax back payment on every gift from UK tax payers www.justgiving.com/kingsroadchurch this website gives the option to make one off gifts or to make regular monthly gifts, to the right hand site of web page under the ‘donate’ button. On tax back giving a gift of  £10 will increase to £12.50

We have a PayPal account under the name downseyluff@aol.com this is free for our donors who are not in the UK. 

We also have a Stewardship account which is a Christian organisation and offers the same tax back giving. Or we have a UK bank account. The details for Stewardship and bank account can be got from my mum at lindsey.toms57@gmail.com

We want to thank you all for your continued love and support for our family and for the ministry that God has called us to.

Martin, Vashti and the boys xxxxx