AN OPEN LETTER FROM MICHELLE TESSENDORF
AUGUST, 15 2017
Generous Foresight that has Truly Encouraged Mike and Me
The life that Mike and I set out to live over three decades ago was to lean into this portion of scripture in Galatians 6: “But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.”
Living to please the Spirit has seen our lives intertwined in God’s incredible story.
After twenty years of pastoring amidst physically poor and marginalized people in South Africa, we spent the following ten years shepherding and serving Pastors who continue the work amongst the poorest of the poor. This has been our long obedience in the same direction. It is still our honor to be found doing exactly this. As hundreds of pastors have been added to our fold, modern technology has enabled us to remain close even when we are afar.
So, how do we avoid doing the same work, over and over again? The solution is development…
There is a story that I like to tell that speaks to the value of development:
A people group lives contentedly along the banks of a river. They have built their small homes near the life giving water. Except that a great storm comes. The river swells and the banks overflow, destroying their homes and washing away all they possess. What then is our response to be? Firstly, we come with relief. We provide temporary housing in tents and we distribute blankets and food. When the storm subsides, we help with reconstruction of their homes. In all this we have done good. Except that a few years later the storm once again comes and once again washes away their homes. Our relief and reconstruction is then needed again. So, how do we avoid doing the same work, over and over again? The solution is development – to help the people reconstruct their homes on higher ground and to help them access the water from the river via pipelines. Then we need to teach them how to service these pipelines when they break. We also need to respectfully and prayerfully address the superstitions and habits and culture that tie people to the riverbanks. This then is development. Next time the storm comes, we do not have to come back and repeat our relief and reconstruction over and over again. Development has taken place and people are able to take responsibility for their own safety and future.
The ministry of Orchard: Africa certainly provides relief and reconstruction. But the most important aspect of our work is our development work. This happens through the Orchard Network. It is here that over 600 church leaders are developed. It is here that skills impartation, mentoring, equipping and pastoring of pastors takes place. It is here that the long, hard work of developing people happens.
I must be honest and say that one portion of the scripture I mentioned above … So let’s not get tired of doing what is good, has significant meaning. There have been times when we have been tempted to become tired of this development work … mainly because we often do it alone. It is not tangible like relief so in the ‘invisibleness’ of it, not many see the work nor fully comprehend its’ absolute necessity and significance.
Why am I telling you this? We have received a grant that will match dollar for dollar up to $30,000 to be used in our work through the Orchard Network. The foresight of this gift is so encouraging to us and we are truly grateful. When disaster hits, like recently with the storm in the Western Cape of South Africa, we have seen such generosity and immediate action in our relief work. How very blessed we were with this outpouring of love from our partners.
However, this matching grant of $30,000 is special because it is for development; for work that is not immediately seen but, rather, that has long-term outcomes. We are tremendously encouraged to continue pastoring our Pastors, to continue developing them and their communities and to ultimately see many of them get beyond needing relief from outside and see reconstruction and development happening from within.
I humbly ask you today to help us reach our target of $30,000. Every dollar you give to this campaign will be matched, doubling your gift. There is just one condition to this grant – it will be matched by September 30th. We have just over six weeks to reach our goal.
Thank you for reading through to the end and for prayerfully considering your role in this part of our story in God’s story.
Mike and Michelle Tessendorf
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
Double Your Impact
Partner with us to develop the future of the Orchard Network by September 30th and your donation will be matched dollar for dollar!