Living faith

Family serves together in the mountains of southern Africa

LESOTHO — When Jim and Teresa Flora think about their ministry in the mountains of southern Africa, they quickly think of how their children are involved. While the Floras rely on the prayers and encouragement of their three grown sons and families in the U.S., daughters Gracie, 17, Anna, 16, and Rebekah, 11, are part of each day’s work.

“We view our ministry as a complete family job,” says Teresa, who was called to missions as a child in Girls in Action.

On a typical Saturday when the family heads into a rural village in the country of Lesotho, Gracie reviews the Bible story she will teach, Anna makes sandwiches with the bread she baked Friday night, and Rebekah prepares for the games she will play with children.

When they arrive, the daughters engage the children while Jim greets a young pastor and Teresa, a registered nurse, checks on several villagers who have been sick.

As worship begins, the family joins the crowd sitting on the ground as Basotho children shove to sit in their laps. When it’s the daughters’ turn to teach a Bible story, they stand before the crowd with confidence to share God’s Word.

“They have some of their own ministries,” Jim says of the uniqueness in his daughters in using their gifts, like Gracie who took the initiative to learn and then teach simple sign language to the church family of a deaf girl.

“They do some discipling with teenage girls, they do storying in the village and they do a lot of baby holding and playing games,” Jim says of Gracie, who was adopted from India, and Rebekah, adopted as a baby from Haiti along with her biological sister Anna.

The daughters also are helpful when church teams come from the U.S. The logistics of hosting short-term groups is extensive, but Jim and Teresa say that they couldn’t reach these mountains for Christ without the support from various churches.

The girls’ faces light up as they greet volunteers and spend the days beside them in ministry — assisting in medical clinics, serving as guides in the villages and helping their new friends from the States navigate Lesotho’s harsh living conditions. Some days, that means helping set up tents to camp in remote villages or encouraging a reluctant volunteer to ride a horse up a steep mountain trail.

“We want to model for them doing things that you think you can’t do,” their mom says, “stretching yourself, being in the uncomfortable places and letting God bail you out. We want to encourage them to see God working that way in their lives.”

Lesotho just might be the perfect place for Jim and Teresa to teach such lessons to their daughters. The family lives four hours from the nearest grocery store. Trips to a city for supplies take all day, or sometimes several days if they get stopped at the border between Lesotho and South Africa. Roads are often flooded and some villages become inaccessible. Visiting rural villages means hauling camping equipment to stay the night.

Teresa has held babies as they took their last breath, and the whole Flora family has grieved the loss of friends. Starving children continue to break their hearts. Violence against women is a constant concern. Teresa confesses that a few moments have led her to say, “Lord, can we keep doing this?”

Yet the Lord continues to sustain them and renew their call, Jim says.

“We understand that time is short” in a nation with one of the world’s highest HIV and AIDS rates, Jim says. “[There] are people that we share the Gospel with from day to day that will not be here next year. So we work hard to be good stewards of the Lord’s time that He has given us on this earth because we do believe that it’s unacceptable that there are people who have not heard the story of Jesus.”

Jim and Teresa both confess that the hardest part of living in Lesotho is being far from family in the U.S., which now includes six grandchildren. But neither feels reservations about raising their daughters in a remote part of Africa.

They are careful in their daily life but they do not live in fear. They say their faith is strong that they are exactly where God intends for them to be, and they know their daughters are part of God’s plan.

“God gave them to us for a purpose, and we believe that part of that purpose is reaching the nations,” Jim says. For their family, going was the only option.

“Our prayer is this, that we could teach them more by going than we could ever teach them by staying.”

— by Marie Curtis | BP

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