Is Day Zero Coming?

Many of you have heard about the water crisis in Cape Town. Let me tell you…it’s real. Cape Town is experiencing one of its worst droughts in the past 100 years. The water is running out and “Day Zero” seems all but inevitable. Nancy and I wanted to quickly pass along some details to keep you informed and to also ask you to pray for the people of Cape Town.

Being a semi-arid climate (known as the 30th driest in the world), South Africa relies on the winter rainfall season to supply water to over four million people every day. Our water is supplied largely from the six major dams located in the Western Cape’s mountainous areas close to the city. The dams are normally refilled by rain falling, which happens during the cooler winter months of May to August. After the winter season we don’t get much rain and the dam levels decline during the warm, dry summer months of November to March, during which urban and agricultural water use increases.

How Can a City Run Out of Water?

At present, the dams are extremely low (about 25% full) from a drought that began in 2015. Even with all the water-saving measures enforced, dam levels are predicted to decline to critically low levels and the city has made plans for “Day Zero” to happen in May. Day Zero is the anticipated day that almost all of the taps in the city will be turned off. Public water will only be made available at approximately 200 sites scattered across the peninsula to those who stand in line for it.

As you can imagine the finger pointing and political pondering is all around us. Not wanting to enter that debate, the facts speak for themselves and it’s actually pretty simple. Since 1995, Cape Town’s population has grown from 2.4 million residents to an estimated 4.3 million in 2018. That represents nearly an 80 percent population increase in 23 years. During which time the dam water storage only increased by 15 percent. Couple rapid population growth with very little rainfall and you can see why folks are saying Day Zero is fast approaching. What about Cape Town’s government and planning interventions? Many here would pass along this simple but profound Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant an oak tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is today.”

How Do We Live With Less Water?

Here are just a few of the ways an average Capetonian conserves, uses, and even re-uses their allotment of 50 liters per person (13 gallons) of water a day.

  • Only flush the toilet when necessary. “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” That’s the mantra at home, work, school, etc.
  • Take infrequent and very short stop-start showers, i.e., quickly wet your body, turn off the tap, soap, then rinse quickly.
  • Collect your excess shower, bath and basin water and re-use it to flush your toilet or water plants.
  • Wait for a full load before running washing machines and dishwashers. Then, collect the rinse water for use in the garden or re-use it for the next wash cycle.
  • Use a cup instead of running water in the bathroom or kitchen when brushing teeth, shaving, drinking, etc.

Water vs. Electricity

You might recall that not too long ago we experienced an electricity crisis in Cape Town. But we are now finding out, that as horrible as it was when we experienced “load shedding” and our electricity was cut off for hours at a time, it’s not nearly as intense as this water crisis. Not having electric is inconvenient, however, running out of water to drink, cook, flush or bath is a catastrophe.

We’ve noticed that some of the big corporations and the rich are sorting themselves out. A large well-known hotel chain, which cannot afford to lose Cape Town as a major tourist city, is building their own desalination system so that paying guests can bath like there’s no tomorrow. Some others will truck water in from private companies.

What Will We Do?

Has God Forgotten Cape Town? You know he hasn’t! So, how can we pray? We will pray, “God, please send rain to Cape Town, and in the meantime help us to see you in the storm.”  We will use this as an opportunity to tell people about a great God who has not forgotten his people. We will be strengthened by trusting our sovereign Creator to a greater degree. We will invite people, as Peter did in 1 Peter 5:7, to cast “all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” We will keep on conserving water, understanding that our current water crisis in not a temporary phenomenon that will be resolved in a year or two – it’s a long-term reality.

All of this makes me think of crazy but faithful Elijah and his prayer for rain. How can you not love the story from 1 Kings 18 as God sends Elijah to deliver an important message to the fasting Ahab, “Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees.”  You know the rest of the story … all of a sudden, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!”  And the rest is history.

“But Some Doubted”

Have you ever noticed how those who were gathered around Jesus that day on the mountainside were feeling or the thoughts that were running through their heads and hearts when they first heard the Great Commission? Matthew records it this way… “And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.” (Matt. 28:17)

That’s right — Some were actually experiencing doubt (maybe even fear) in the midst of their desire to believe and worship the Savior of the world. I think that same kind of doubt can still easily capture our hearts, making us weary, defeated and even unwilling to personally attempt something as overwhelming as the Great Commission. And yet, here we are again, making goals for the year ahead and thinking about how we will accomplish the things we believe God has called us to do for Him.

It’s common to set goals without an accountability system in place to “keep our feet to the fire.” Not so with ABWE missionaries. Each year we have an official (yes, mandatory) evaluation of how the previous year turned out. It’s a great time to reflect and thank God for all He has done, and in some cases, consider the goals that weren’t accomplished and ask why not? Then, we record new goals for the year ahead.

It can be a daunting process, especially if we are really stretching ourselves and asking God to do something really big!

Here is a brief summary of our 2018 goals and how we believe God is leading us. 

  1. Church Planting: Tom will come along side Wade McComas in a supportive pastoral role at Mountain View, Hermanus, while continuing to lead the MV Church Multiplication Team.
  2. Multiplying Missions: We will further develop our partnership with our Brazilian colleagues and take actions steps to open Mozambique as a new field for ABWE.
  3. Mobilization: We will attend ABWE’s 24-Hour Demo and Candidate Seminar, Host Three Short-term Interns, Speak at the Next Gen Leadership Conference and be mentors to several Next Gen leaders.
  4. Team Building/Leadership Training: We will host the ABWE Regional Directors from Africa for a conference, as well as host the first Southern Africa Team Leaders Advance.
  5. Professional Training & Development: We will complete Biblical Counselor Training and become certified counselors.
  6. Shepherding/Soul Care: We will pray for and “be there” for our missionary families, providing encouragement and help while also challenging them toward ABWE’s mission… Fulfilling the Great Commission by multiplying leaders, churches and mission movements among every people.”

If you’re still reading this – thank you… you’re amazing! Thank you for being highly engaged, supportive and for walking the journey with us. You might be asking yourself the same question we are asking, “How can all these goals be accomplished this year? Every year we say that, and every year we face the future with a certain amount of doubt.

Having just reflected on the goals we set for 2017 this time last year, (so daunting at the time!) we saw that by God’s grace and in His strength we were able to report that each one was accomplished! But what will happen this year? How will God lead us in the days and months ahead? Are we crazy or faithful? Sometimes they look the same!

Having said that, we are trusting The One who has the plan in hand. He promises never to leave us or forsake us and we are committing our plans to Him. Proverbs 16:9 says “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Psalm 37:4-5 says “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act.”

A W Tozer’s quote says it well, “I take refuge in the fact that while I don’t know everything, I do know Someone who does!”  Thank you for your partnership and please let us know if you would like more information about how to engage in helping with our goals for 2018.

A Christmas wish and our “minimalist tree”

Nancy and I wanted to pass along a special Christmas greeting to you, our partners in ministry. Thank you for such a wonderful year together and it is with much anticipation that we look forward to 2018! We have a couple of exciting things to tell you about for the New Year and we’ll do that in our January post. For now, we just wanted to say Merry Christmas!

About the picture… this is just down the road about one kilometer from where we now live in the community of Hermanus. It’s where we do life and church planting while also leading our Southern Africa ABWE teams and missionaries. The Christmas decorations in our community… well, they very much reflect the simplicity of the season here. The malls are decorated in splendor, however, this neighborhood tree made us chuckle. We call this our “minimalist tree.” After all, how many Christmas trees do you know with only one bulb and an old CD hanging from the tinsel? But then again, who’s really looking at the tree with the ocean and the mountains this close by?

The Christmas season has also given me as well as the other Mountain View pastors the opportunity to once again preach our “Anticipation Series.” This is always a highlight for our churches as it is a revised version of what some refer to as Advent. Our four words this year are glory, light, grace, and truth. What a joy to preach the Gospel and retell the unforgettable story of our Savior’s birth.

Merry Christmas and all our love to you and your family!





Grateful, Thankful, Blessed…Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Wolfs in South Africa. Some dear friends of ours came for a visit this year and gave us this plaque.  It now sits on our coffee bar and comes with a daily reminder of how grateful, thankful, and blessed we really are. This month’s blog comes with a video update as we praise God and give thanks “always and for everything” (Eph. 5:20) this Thanksgiving season.

Thanksgiving Day is an American holiday, and as such, it is not celebrated in South Africa. However, there is always a reason to celebrate God’s goodness and to say “thank you,” to our friends and ministry partners.  You are such a blessing to us.  Happy Thanksgiving!




“Ministry Partners, we have a problem!”

Tom’s farewell address and church challenge

You probably remember the quote, “Houston, we have a problem” from the 1995 film Apollo 13, but did you know that wasn’t actually what the real Commander of the Apollo 13 mission, Jim Lovell, said? Over time, this modified quote has become an idiom for situations where something is out of whack, not right, a “bit off” in some manner. Well, life here has felt a bit like that for us recently!

First of all, we haven’t written a Blog update since the end of July – oops! That should be your first indication that something is slightly off because we haven’t missed a month since we started the blog in July, 2011 – that’s six years running!

Pastors Dave and Tom and the new Lead Pastor Mark

Without giving you a list of numerous excuses, let me just tell you what’s been happening. After returning from America in late August, we went straight into gearing up for celebrating Mountain View’s 15th Anniversary. Nancy and I joyfully graduated our first church plant in Somerset West, turning the ministry over to our dear colleague and national Pastor Mark Osborne. It’s what we have been working toward for a long time, and we’re delighted it’s finally happened. Pastor Dave Drullinger will stay on at the Somerset West church while also leading our Ministry Training Centre.

Pastor Tom and Sue Wright

It was a wonderful month-long celebration, and we were able to host our sending church pastor, Tom Wright, who came to speak, as well as his wife, Sue. I guess one other reason it’s felt a bit off lately is that it’s been really hard emotionally for us to leave our church and the people we love in Somerset West. Even now as I write and reflect, I feel like there’s a part of my heart that I’ve left somewhere else.

The good news, however, is that we get to do it all again! That’s right – we are actually still unpacking from our move to Hermanus where we’ve joined the McComas family to help with another church plant. Hermanus is not an unfamiliar place to us – we’ve been commuting in and out each week for over two years. But living here is different and in many ways, it feels like we’re starting all over again. Hermanus is only a one hour drive from Somerset West, but the two towns couldn’t be any more different. It’s exciting to have a fresh start, and yet, the move itself feels overwhelming, as with church planting, often the hardest days are the early days.

The church building and parking lot completed

Having said all that, what we really wanted to write about this month is less about us, and more about God and you. First, the Wolfs didn’t plant a church…God did. That’s not false humility – it’s a reality. Secondly, God used you far more than you’ll ever know, at least until Heaven, that is. We want to say, as passionately as we possibly can and with all of our hearts,  thank you!!! Thank you for investing in us and in God’s call to reach the nations. We have an amazing and very giving family, as well as wonderful supporting churches and dear ministry partners who’ve bought into the vision of planting churches in South Africa.  When you look at some of the pictures we’ve posted, remember…this is how God used you. So, are you ready to do it again? Please say yes!

Oh, by the way, did I tell you that in the midst of all this Nancy and I had to leave South Africa for a week due to South African visa problems… and… we held the Southern Africa Regional Conference where we hosted guests from America and all the ABWE missionaries serving in South Africa.  Well, I guess that’s a post for another day! See, we’re already planning the next Blog post. Guess that means, we’re are back on track! Houston, all is well!

Think before you speak!

How many parents have ever said to their kids’ something like this? “Eat your supper, honey. Do you know how many kids in Africa are starving and would love to have what you have to eat?”

I admit to using this phrase many times when our girls were little and we were still living in Columbus, Ohio. And then we moved to Africa…and guess what? That comment came back to bite me!

I vividly remember a particular evening when one of our daughters, the one who was not particularly impressed with the food that I’d prepared, looked at me and said, “Mom, remember when you used to say there were starving children in Africa who would love the food we had? Well, we’re here now. Can you feed one of them this?”

You chuckle, but have you ever made a statement related to someone else’s situation, only to realize later how those same words related to your own circumstance or reality?

So here’s our reality:  We live in a time when immigration laws, no matter where you live, are a hot topic and many people live in fear of being deported or refused entry to the country where they desire to live, work, and for us, serve.

It truly begs the question, who is really making these decisions on our behalf and is God still on His throne? Personally, our own visa renewal documents are “in process” in the midst of a climate where missionaries are being declined, some have been deported or refused entry to South Africa, while others have gone through the process without a hitch. The interpretation of the current laws and the decision to put the coveted approved visa sticker in a passport would seem to be in the hands of “the man behind the desk.” This isn’t unique to our situation. It’s the reality that missionaries around the world are facing regularly.

“God is still on His throne, we’re still on His ‘footstool,’ and there’s only a knee’s distance between.” (Jim Elliot)

When speaking of this situation recently in his Regional Director’s Update to our missionaries, Tom actually referred to this statement when he said, “God is great and He is still on His throne.” However, what if the next missionary application is declined — does that mean this confident declaration is not true? No, certainly not. What about those working to gain entrance into limited access countries to carry out the Great Commission? Who is in control of that decision?

In all of this, I must admit, in my human desire and frailty I fight worry and I’m tempted to doubt. When I think about receiving an adverse visa decision and all that means, tears immediately spring to my eyes and I quietly declare in my heart what I truly believe…Yes, God is still on His throne! We truly believe that God is sovereign and in control of all things. He is in us, with us and for us!

Unlike my comment to our girls about food and the starving children in Africa, this statement about God will not come back to bite me. It’s more than a cliché or a cheeky little phrase used to encourage others in a difficult situation. It’s our hope. It’s our peace. It’s our reality.

So as you read this latest post, won’t you even just pause and pray for us?  God desires to hear from us and prayer makes a difference. Then, before you also make this commonly used statement — Think before you speak, and remember, God IS still on His throne!

Wingman for the General

“Okay, I’ll be your wingman. Let’s roll!” That was my self-appointed proclamation as General Loren Reno arrived in South Africa and we began our tour, providing leadership training to ABWE missionaries as well as South African pastors and ministry leaders.

Having served 38 years in the US Air Force, and now in his leadership position at Cedarville University, God has uniquely prepared General Reno to speak into people’s lives and help them develop as leaders. I was all set to go, but little did I, as a civilian, realize what the role of “wingman” would really mean and how I much I would personally be shaped by having a retired three-star General speak into my life.

I love the way WWII Ace Colonel Gabby Gabriski speaks of a wingman, “I look after my wingman. He looks after me. We work together. We fight together.”

Three significant things happened while General Reno was in South Africa.

Portrait taken by HAF/IMMP

First, various leadership training seminars were held where General Reno used the Scripture and his life and military experiences to show us how to develop a Personal Leadership Model. This comes out of his new book titled: 10 Leadership Maneuvers: A General’s Guide to Serving and Leading.

As the General’s wingman, I had the privilege of seeing the transformation of men and women who walked away feeling renewed in their passion to excel and equipped to become even better leaders in the areas where they serve the Lord.

Second, I was challenged, not only in my desire to see more leaders equipped, but also in my desire to grow as a leader. Here’s what God put on my heart as I worked through General Reno’s steps to developing a Personal Leadership Model. Mine grew out of a treasured verse where Paul fervently instructed his young protégée and friend, Timothy, to Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Tim. 2:15

Tom’s Personal Leadership Model – From 10 Leadership Maneuvers with Gen. Reno

  1. Lead with a Passion for a Person (2:15a) Keep Jesus First. 
  2. Lead with a Passion for a Plan (2:15b) Stick to the Mission. 
  3. Lead with a Passion for a Pace. (2:15c) Let God’s Word Guide.

Third, and highly meaningful to me personally, were my one-on-one times with General Reno. Some came while on the go, driving to another city or communicating in-between seminars, while others were planned and intentional. Shortly after General Reno arrived, I asked if he would take note of what he observed of me in my various leadership capacities and then speak into my life on those matters…both the good, and the not so good.

Throughout his visit, I saw him journaling a lot, and it was on the last day when just the two of us sat alone at the Cape Town Waterfront, that his journal came out and the General debriefed with his South African wingman.

Frankly, I was taken back by his swift ability to perceive, his keen sense of intuition, and the deep insights that he authentically and thoughtfully communicated with me. The General’s ability to grasp the details quickly, accurately assess the terrain, obstacles, challenges and resources was off the charts. I am forever grateful for that special time and believe I am becoming a better leader as I apply what we spoke about. Few people have spoken into my life the way he did in the short 12 days we spent together.

I learned a valuable lesson that I believe applies to all of us, but particularly for those in leadership roles. It is way too easy to isolate ourselves and avoid accountability when we all so desperately need it. The struggle can be that we are too busy, too insecure, or in some cases, not proactive enough to invite someone like a General Reno into our lives and allow them to get close enough to help us. Real spiritual and leadership growth happens when we listen to God as He speaks and then allow ourselves to be real and intimate with a godly individual who can help shape our personal development. I will be forever grateful for the General’s investment in this wingman. May the impact made on my life and leadership, as well as our ministry partners in South Africa, bear much fruit to the glory of God.