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August Update: Covid update, Changes in Eswatini,
Randy turns 60, Ministry for the Brennans!

August Update 2020


Hello from Eswatini!
 
We hope and pray this update finds you in good health and finally being able to spend time with family and friends. These are very interesting times that we are living in ……. you could say they are unprecedented!
 
Here in Eswatini, we are still in partial lockdown. Some aspects of the economy have opened up very slowly which has helped to create a new normal. Grocery stores, gas stations and most retail outlets are operating as normal. The schools have gradually opened up by adding individual grades over time, to allow for social distancing and proper hand washing routines. Other aspects of the economy like tourism, have been completely devastated. The tourism industry will pick up once the international borders are open in South Africa, that is yet to be determined and some reports say 2021!
 
The number of COVID cases in Eswatini are 4,225 and deaths are 85. It appears that we have reached the peak and the number of new infections per day is declining, which is a huge answer to prayer!
 
Despite the challenging times, we have seen amazing changes happening in our little country of Eswatini. It is always easy to say what is going wrong, but we choose to see the good things happening and praise the Lord for what He is doing!

Changes in Eswatini

Some of the positive changes that are happening in Eswatini today,  we believe are a result of changes that took place in key government positions back in 2018.  I remember sharing back in December of 2018 that we sensed there had been a shift in the spiritual atmosphere here in Eswatini. 
The reason being …… answered prayers regarding changes in key
government positions in the Kingdom of Eswatini.
 
Key positions in government are actually chosen and appointed directly by His Majesty King Mswati III. His Majesty King Mswati III, appointed Mr. Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini as the new Prime Minister, which means he is second in command to the King.  Mr. Ambrose Dlamini is a born again Christian and is outspoken regarding his faith.
 
In addition to that appointment, His Majesty King Mswati III appointed 15 new Ministers to his Cabinet and 5 of them are born again Christians.
“The kings heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.”
~Proverbs 21:1
 We know that the Lord is the one who is actually making these changes.

Fast Forward to May 2020

If we fast forward to mid 2020, we are seeing changes in Eswatini that we believe are a result of changes within the government from October 2018. Having Christian people appointed to government positions changes the direction of the nation!
 
Food Distributions by Government
 
During the COVID pandemic, we have seen an outpouring of care and concern for the Swazi people. Millions of Emalengeni have been donated to help feed the poor and destitute in the nation. Some of the money has come from the Eswatini government, some has come from businesses within the country, some from wealthy Swazi businessmen and other donations have come from international sources.

On-Line Classes for Students
 
Since lockdown began, the Government has taken some classes on-line for students to continue their education. They are using You Tube, TV broadcasts, national radio stations, as well as the local newspapers to continue to educate as many of the students as they can. Many private schools have also gone to online teaching for those students who have access to the internet. This is remarkable!!!!
 
Relief Fund & Unemployment Insurance Fund
 
For the very first time ever in Eswatini, the Government has created a fund called the "Relief Fund" with E25 million for workers that have been laid off. There has also been an Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) that has been established for the very first time, in the Kingdom of Eswatini.
 
 
I share all of this to say, that even though things are very difficult for so many in Eswatini, there has been an outpouring of assistance by government, organizations and individuals, to try and alleviate the suffering of the poor; to help the unemployed; and to make long lasting policy changes to help the Kingdom of Eswatini recover from the devastation caused by the COVID 19 pandemic.
 
We Praise the Lord for all he is doing to care for the people in this nation!
Randy celebrating his 60th birthday on July 26!

Our Ministry

Just as life looks completely different because of COVID, so does our ministry here in Eswatini. Because of the limitations on the size of group meetings, the length of time you are allowed to gather, and the requirements for contact tracing, the bible schools and church plants have been put on pause for the time being.
 
As you know, we have been distributing food to the Pastors that we have been planting churches with. As the economy has opened up and some people have returned to work, and with the food distributions by government and other international organizations, the demand for food parcels has been less and less over time.  
 
So we continue to ask the Lord,
“Lord, what can we do ... how can we be used by you during this time?”
 
The Lord in His kindness, has been speaking clearly to us about the ministry we are to be engaged in now ... during the time being ... until we start bible classes and church plants again!
A Face and a Name!

The Lord started speaking to Randy at the end of March. Over the period of about two weeks, the Lord kept bringing to mind Peter Kopp, an acquaintance of ours here in Eswatini. He and his wife Mary Jean, are also Americans and have been doing ministry in the rural areas for almost 30 years. We know them to say hello, but haven’t spent time with them because they live two hours away.

Randy sent Peter a quick message, and didn't here back from him at all. So we sent the same message to Mary Jean:



 

Peter eventually responded by saying..

By God's abundant blessing, I am doing well and very thankful for that.""Greatly encouraged to hear of God's speaking on my behalf, and of your faithfulness in prayer. 
~Peter
To make a long story short, Peter had gone to the States in February and ended up getting “locked down” in the United States and was unable to leave and return to Eswatini. Mary Jean, his lovely wife of 49 years, was stuck here in Eswatini running the ministry by herself. Our hearts went out to Mary Jean, so we set up a time to go and visit her, to encourage her, pray with her and bring her something special from the grocery store.
 
Since we were in ‘hard lockdown’, we could not travel between regions within the country, so we had to wait until travel was opened up. So by the end of May, we were free to travel to visit Mary Jean. We had a wonderful visit and spent time walking around the farm and were amazed at what the Lord was doing there.
 
Here is a summary of what happens at New Life Children’s Homes:

There are four homes with 34 children,  a small commercial farm with ten employees,  40 head of cattle, up to 2000 broiler chickens at various stages of growth, a piggery with close to 50 breeding sows and up to 400 grower pigs, an abattoir for pigs and another for chickens, vegetable seedlings, moringa, plus several smaller components. There is also New Life Primary School!
Needless to say, there are A LOT of moving parts.

We also continued to pray that Peter and Mary Jean would be reunited soon.Randy and I returned to our home in the city and continued to pray for Mary Jean, that the Lord would sustain her and strengthen her and help her to bear up under running the farm solo.
 
As the weeks continued, we were delivering food to the pastors, but the thought of the farm continued popping up in our minds ………  so we asked the Lord,
“How do you want to use us Lord?”

So in mid June, we called Mary Jean and said we continue to think about the farm, and she said, “I continue thinking of you two as well.” So we planned another visit for early July for a longer period of time.
 
As we prayed and talked, the Lord made it clear that because we have made ourselves available to Him and said ‘yes’,  for the time being, we would be helping at the farm so Mary Jean could join Peter back in the States. Their plan is to return to Eswatini as soon as international travel restrictions are lifted.
 
So Mary Jean caught a flight back to the United States July 12th
and has been reunited with Peter!
 
We have loved our time at the farm. We are usually there 3 to 4 days a week, and back in the city 3 days a week.  The farm almost runs itself! Some of the workers are children who have been raised there, and are now in leadership positions!

We continue to keep in contact with the pastors we have developed relationship with. The church plants will continue to move forward once the restrictions are lifted, and the exciting part is we can do all of that from anywhere in the country!
 
Here are some pictures from our time at the farm!
 
Prayer Requests:
  • Pray for all those infected with the Covid 19 virus, for healing in their physical bodies.
  • Pray for those people on the frontline; doctors, nurses, EMT's, school teachers, and all those operating essential business ..... that the Lord protect them from getting sick.
  • Pray for heavenly wisdom for the leaders of the nations, as they try to prevent the spread of the virus, and at the same time open up the economies.
  • Pray for us as we help at the farm, that the Lord give us wisdom and insight!
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