Andy Ickes sensed the Lord’s guidance many times before, during and after his trip to South Africa.
Ickes, pastor of College Acres Baptist Church in Wilmington, led a mission team, which left for Durban, South Africa on June 19 and stayed about two weeks.
Eight team members worked with College Acres’ partner church, Austerville Baptist Church in the Wentworth community, and the True Love Waits organization in South Africa.
True Love Waits, a program created by LifeWay Christian Resources, encourages teenagers and college students to make a commitment to sexual abstinence until they are married.
Two of the College Acres team members — Angela Hewett, an art teacher at a Wilmington high school, and Ickes’ son Corey, a junior at UNC-Wilmington — stayed in Durban an extra month.
“It’s been really neat to see what the Lord has done,” Andy Ickes said.
College Acres started the partnership with Austerville about two years ago. Later, four church members went to find out what people in the area needed most.
College Acres had worked with the church in 1999 when the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina had a partnership with Baptists in South Africa.
In November seven church members led sports camps in the area.
“With each trip, the Lord has shown us more,” Ickes said.
After the team gave its report about the November trip, Ickes said he started praying that the Lord would direct the church to a need that would more closely connect the gospel with life.
In South Africa, 85 percent of people say they are Christians, but their behavior doesn’t always match those statements, Ickes said, “just like being in the States.”
About 40 percent of people in Durban and 20 percent of people in South Africa have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and Ickes began feeling the church should focus on purity and abstinence.
“Very few people over there have not been affected in some way by HIV/AIDS,” Ickes said.
Later, Ickes started sensing in his prayer time that the church would send a young lady to work on the field in South Africa.
Just before Christmas, Hewett came forward saying she felt the Lord wanted her to go to South Africa.
They prayed together and agreed it would be for the summer.
When one of the men in the church learned the emphasis in South Africa would be on purity and abstinence he connected Ickes to his sister-in-law, who had taught about abstinence in Bolivia.
When Ickes talked to her, the conversation turned to spiritual warfare and Ickes started praying for a young man to accompany Hewett.
Ickes talked to his son about it and he agreed to go.
Ickes contacted the International Mission Board about possible resources for the team to use while they served in South Africa.
Cindy Schirle, who worked for True Love Waits in South Africa for two years, came and trained the College Acres team.
Before the team left, Ickes preached a sermon using the main points of True Love Waits.
After the service, a senior adult told him the sermon should be preached in every church in America.
“It’s just a message that everybody needs to hear,” he said.
While in South Africa the team made presentations at four schools and spoke to about 1,200 seventh graders, Ickes said.
Team members also made a presentation through an interpreter to a camp for Zulu youth and held a youth night for a number of area churches.
The people in South Africa connected with presentations about True Love Waits, Andy Ickes said.
“They have seen the devastation of sexual sin,” he said.