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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: May 13, 2016.

Sonoma Christian Home reports good news from South Africa: there is restoration and hope happening for many there!

Living Hope is a feature-length documentary film that tells the inspirational story of John Thomas and those who have come alongside him to fight poverty and disease in South Africa, especially Leonie Rustin, and Joey Lankford. The movie, filmed in a visual style comparable to a National Geographic feature, takes viewers on a cinematic journey to Cape Town, where they follow alongside a group of remarkable individuals who have devoted their lives to serving the poor.

The adventure began in 1999 when John Thomas, a pastor of a local church in Cape Town, South Africa, realized that an entire generation of his neighbors could soon be lost to HIV/AIDS, and poverty. The actions he took changed the region and attracted the attention of foreign dignitaries, rock musicians, and U.S. Presidents.

Living Hope provides glimpses of the joy, heartache, and passion of missionaries in Africa. It is narrated by Dove Award winner Joel Smallbone of the band, For King & Country. The film also features former White House Press Secretary and FOX News host Dana Perino, as well as Grammy Award winning musician Michael W. Smith.

Joey Lankford story, in his book Fulfilled, has shared how he has come to “stand on the shoulders of John Thomas and his amazing work in South Africa. Sonoma Christian Home exclusively interviewed Joey Lankford about the new documentary Living Hope, now available on DVD. SCH Editor at Large Dr. Diane Howard reports.


Living hope Joey Lankford in South Africa; Photo Courtesy of Relevant.

Joey Lankford in South Africa; Photo Courtesy of Relevant.

SCH: How did God first call you to work in South Africa?

JK: I grew up as the son of a pastor. I developed a successful family-owned business in respiratory care. I had it all. We had children of our own, but also decided to adopt. So we went to Ethiopia to adopt a child. I would have died an empty man had I not received a calling from our Lord. Over a weekend in my barn (a kind of man cave), I spent time with our Lord in His Word. He waited until Saturday evening for me to be fully serious, and it was then that He led me to international work.

I did not look or sound like a missionary. I was not theologically trained. I had no college degree. It was like the Truman Show. I had a dissatisfied feeling. But if God can use me, He can use anyone.

SCH: How did God end up using you to further his mission?

JK: Living Hope came first in 2002, and after that I started working with radio broadcasting. In 2014, my book Fulfilled was published. Living way is another program I worked with, as a part of Living Hope. As one of the many ministry arms of Living Hope it provides training for the jobless.

SCH: How is God is showing Himself through this work?

JK: God is teaching us what His abundant life is really all about. It is not about stuff. It is about being fully relational, and fully engaged. Our work is demonstrating the need to train, equip, and cultivate.

living hope documentary

Joey shared that he had what many people want in life: the nice house, the nice family, and the nice salary (not to mention the nice stuff that goes along with it). But he found that a nice life also comes with a big hunger for more. He began to realize he was feeling drained, empty, and frustrated just trying to keep up.

After the Lord lead him to international work, Joey exchanged a comfortable life and running the family business in the Nashville suburbs, to engage in mission halfway around the world. The Lankfords left behind extended family, friends, and the familiar towards a calling to economic development among South Africa’s poorest communities. See videos of their story and work.

Joey Lankford’s book Fulfilled is about his family’s daring plunge into freedom, not by running away from it all, but by running directly into total surrender to God. Joey Lankford and his family have found that in order to gain it all, we must be willing to lose it all; that is, in order to really live, first we need to die to ourselves.

Through their service and work of restoration, the Lankfords and their colleagues have been able to spread the eternal love of Christ to those who may have never even heard His name spoken before. The life the Lankfords have found has been one that is full and fulfilling, a life spent in wild pursuit of God that has brought living hope to many.


Written by Diane Howard, Ph.D. (Performance Studies),

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