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

 

 

 

 

prayer

Yesterday we fed our homeless friends, built relationships, loved on the vulnerable. Then @nicmaurel rolled her ankle badly and our car died. 

The enemy HATES what we are doing. He does not want to see our city restored. He does not want us to love the broken. 

Our families are living by faith, trusting for our Fathers provisions. Please stand with our two families as we walk in the calling placed on our lives. Please continue to pray for provision to come. Please pray for healing for Nicole’s ankle, for the pain to go and swelling to go down. 

Please pray for a new car for us that we can call our own and that is in good running condition. 

And please pray for the four of us who have committed to help bring restoration to our city and her people. 

Donations to PayPal account : downseyluff@aol.com

just be. 

I’m climbing into bed broken. My heart shattered more than usual. Candice and I have just spent the past few hours driving round town looking for some of our missing girls. We didn’t find any of them. We did however find so many new ones. Walking the strip in their heels and short skirts, parading for potential clients. Our hearts heavy we drive into the center of the city and stumble upon a secluded spot where there is a hidden “shelter”. Seeing one of our ladies we get out and start a conversation with everyone who would listen.

I start to talk with two young guys, Jaque and Sean. Both so sweet and funny, eloquent and smart. My tattoos were the conversation starter as usual :)🙈 and as I share the meaning of each they soon realize that I’m not like most other “church people”. They were very open with me and something started to really tug at my heart, I knew something, but I couldn’t figure out what it was that I knew. Something nagging in my spirit. Something drawing me to these young guys. Something not right, but not in a scary way, in a deep maternal aching way, what was it?

They excused themselves as they “had somewhere they had to be” and they left. A part of my heart left with them. Candice and I got in the car shortly after their departure and headed back to the waterfront to find our girls.

As we pull onto the strip we see Jaque and Sean “working” along with the girls. At that point I knew what my spirit already knew, had already been warning me. These beautiful boys were sex workers. As we drove past my heart shattered as I tried to contain the gut wrenching sobs that needed to come.

We start to head out of town but Candice knows me well enough to know that I needed to go back to them and let them know that they are loved. So she turned the car around and we went to park.

We get out of the car, take a deep breath and head over to the bench that they are leaning on.

They were genuinely happy to see us and as we sat in the bench with them their stories come tumbling out.

So much pain and loss. So much hurt and fear. And now a life of abuse in order to survive.

An hour later we left. Left them to make money. To survive.

#onefuturefoundation

if you would like to support our family and the work we are doing please do so at http://www.justgiving.com/kingsroadchurch

Thank you!

He’s a good good Father. 

Well what a Merry Christmas we had!! Three days before Christmas day we moved into our new home! What an amazing gift.

We wanted to say thank you to everyone who helped to make the move possible, and thank you to everyone who prayed for us and held space for us.
We still have a lot of unpacking to do but it already feels like home. The children are so content and for the first time in almost a year we can all sleep knowing that we are safe and secure. What an amazing feeling.

We are all finding that the stress and sleeplessness of the past few months is finally being put to rest and we are loving the sense of freedom that we are feeling as a family.

We have so much space we dont have the furniture to fill it. After our home invasion last jan we had to give away the majority of our belongings as we were moving into a tiny cottage and there was no space to put anything or store anything.
The few things that we did store at our last place were stolen 😥.

So now we find ourselves needing to rebuild our home. I’ll be hitting the second hand stores hard over the coming weeks. :mrgreen: 

Tomorrow our One Future Foundation team are going to the streets to feed as many people as we can. Now that we are living in the city we are realizing just how extreme the homeless situation is here. Even driving through the upper class neighborhoods there are so many people sleeping in doorways and under trees. So many going through the garbage bins and begging at the traffic lights.
On Christmas morning Mart went in search of a jar of cranberry sauce, he stopped at a traffic light and a young girl, around 12 years old was begging. He had no cash, so he went to the grocery store and bought her a bag of food, including a roastsd chicken. Everything within him wanted to pick her up and bring her home. But we can’t. So we pray that this dream we have of having our own building for OFF becomes a reality this coming year. A place where girls like her can come and be fed and loved and cared for.

As 2016 comes to a very welcome close we are excited to see what 2017 holds for our family, friends and the ministry. 

As always we love and appreciate each of you, your love and support keep us going. 

Much love and anticipation. 

the Downs family. Xx

To support our family please donate to PayPal account downseyluff@aol.com

or http://www.justgiving.com/kingsroadchurch  UK tax payers will be able to increase their giving by us claiming the tax back