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South Africa Work Report – December 2016 – Final Report

As this will be our final report on the work in South Africa, it will not have so many updates as it will have some thoughts on our time in South Africa. For those of you who have followed our work over the last four years, we thank you for your interest, prayers, and support. Your encouraging words, letters, cards, and gifts have made our work go smoothly. We are thankful to God for allowing us to play a small part in His kingdom in trying to turn people from darkness to light.

I went through my journal entries to try to figure out how many times I was privileged to preach and teach. Based on my information, from August 2012 through November 2016, I preached 797 times and taught Bible studies 2,041 times. I’m not sure what a normal schedule would be for a preacher, but that was mine.

Church at Masia

The church at Masia came into being on 10 March, 2013, with just a few of us meeting at the home of Eric Tshikovhi. We found many more interested in learning the word of God and putting their faith in Jesus Christ.

Working at Masia is probably the hardest spiritual (and sometimes physical) endeavor we have ever taken on. The battle against darkness was real. Trying to show people that there was a better way than the way of bitterness, malice, strife, jealousy, and drunkenness was a severe test of my patience. All of this has helped me to improve in several ways.

At the same time, seeing people who really wanted to change and live better lives was so rewarding. To see the power of God operating through His word in the lives of people was an amazing testament to the living power of this book we call the Bible.

Madzhie Bandela, my co-worker for these three years, helped in so many ways. He interpreted things I wrote into Venda, interpreted me when preaching and teaching, and helped me understand what the people were trying to tell me. I hope he is able to continue working there for a long time. He needs more financial help to be able to do this work.

I must add one more note: on 29 December, 2016, our sister Masindi Sithago went to meet her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. She was crippled, so we baptized her in a patio chair. We rejoice for her victory over sin and death realized through Jesus Christ. I believe, because of the work Jesus has done on the cross, that we will see her again!

The Prison

The work we were able to do at Kutuma-Sinthumule Correctional Centre was a unique opportunity. How often do you get to go into a place that houses 3024 individuals who might be interested in changing their lives? That said, it was always hard to see who wanted to change and who wanted to just get in your good graces so they could get something. Thankfully, God doesn’t require us to figure that part out.

During our time, we saw fifty-three men confess their faith in Christ and who were baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Most of these are still in prison though a few have been released. Sometimes we hear from them when they are released and sometimes not.

Prince Ramaira took over all the New Life Behaviour teaching in March 2015. Madzhie Bandela and Prince jointly do the worship services in the prison each Sunday.  Madzhie also teaches classes on Saturdays. It is good to see this work continue.

The Radio

In January 2016, Prince Ramaira and I started preaching on the radio together from a village called Bungeni, about 30 km. from Louis Trichardt. After March 2016, Prince started doing all the preaching and I just operated the controls and answered the phone.

When we first started, we had just a few calls here and there. However, a fairly regular study started at Chavani for a while. This looked promising but seems to have discontinued. Time will tell if it will start again.

A major success from this work was finding Mr. and Mrs. Tshavhalala, two Christians who stay at a place where there was no church. Now, they are meeting together with other Christians each Sunday, and I believe that a tent meeting will be held there in 2017 which will help them to grow and become more established.

This program costs R3000 per month. For now, we pay R1000. The church in Polokwane pays R1000. Other individuals are also helping and Prince is able to make the payment.

What work will continue and what work will end?

One brother asked me what work would continue with our departure and what work would end. Debbie and I are philosophically opposed to structuring religious work in such a way to where it needs someone else to run it, like another American. Therefore, we never started a work that required our presence for it to continue. We can say in good conscience that between Prince Ramaira and Madzhie Bandela, all the teaching work we were involved with can continue.

That said, it does not mean that they will do their work the same way or according to the same schedule. I told both Prince and Madzhie that they should do the work the way that works for them. Use their resources, study the word, and structure their schedules in a way that will allow them to be effective and not get burned out. I believe there will be a learning curve but they will succeed.
These men are also blessed to have Dave and Joanne Beckley still in South Africa to train them further. They have both been teaching for over forty years, so their valuable experience will help them further prepare for the years ahead.

Speaking of the Beckleys…

Speaking of the Beckleys, they are still in South Africa, working away. They are working with a new congregation in Polokwane, about 120 kilometres south of Louis Trichardt, but still living in Louis Trichardt. They go there every Sunday and Wednesday for worship and Bible study.

They are also having regular classes with Prince and Madzhie. They are teaching them Greek. I’m glad because I think it will help them with their English. When I took Greek at Florida College, it helped me understand more about English. They might even learn better Venda! Anyway, it’s good to see men who want to advance their knowledge.

The Beckleys also host four History and Geography of the Bible classes (four being the minimum) in their home for those who want to advance their knowledge of the Bible. One brother asked me if I thought these classes were useful. I think they are essential. Those who come have usually learned about the plan of salvation, the essentials about the church, and other first principals. Those who are from Zimbabwe and are preachers usually receive several visits a year from Americans who provide preacher training and help answer questions. However, this History and Geography class fills a void that perhaps many of us have in our knowledge. The course is based on Bob and Sandra Waldron’s book, “The History and Geography of the Bible Story” but several parts are dealt with in greater detail than the book can cover. So, our hat goes off to the Beckleys for this effort (and of course to brother Waldron and the late sister Waldron for their excellent work).

We worked well with the Beckleys. They have been friends, family, and coworkers all at the same time. We really were in-sync when it came to the work we were doing. We were usually working in different places, but were always working together. They shared their home and cars with us when we first moved to South Africa and helped us get started in a new place. We love them very much and will miss them.

The Move to Ireland

We made it to Ireland on 30 November, 2016. We immediately began the search for a house. So on 1 December, we looked at a house. On 2 December, we decided to accept that house, and on 3 December we were accepted to move into the house on 13 December. So, that part was done. We had to replace some furniture we sold in South Africa, and thankfully we have Ikea that allowed that to be done economically.

We have Liam and Henry starting at an all boys’ school called St. Corban’s on 9 January, 2017. They seem to be okay for their grade level for now, but it seems they’ll know what to do if they need any catching up. Charlotte starts at an all girls’ school called Mercy Convent also on 9 January 2017. They did not do as much checking on her abilities. Rosie will continue with the online school through the end of the year. At that time, we’ll decide what is next for her. Overall, we’re pleased with the situation.

The kids enjoy being able to walk the very large, open, green park at the end of the street. Liam and Henry have gotten involved in a regular soccer game with some other boys. It gets a little rough out on the field but no broken bones yet!

Irish law mandates that Debbie and I get our drivers’ licenses within 12 months of being here. I think that means by December, but it might be October. I’m not taking any chances! So, I passed my written test for my learner’s permit the other day and hope to have my license by February. I think Debbie will have hers in approximately the same time frame.

I saved the best for last. We are worshiping with the church at Knocklyon Road in Dublin. This is about a 20 minute drive for us, so it’s not far. The brothers and sisters have warmly welcomed us and we think we’ll enjoy getting to know them better over the years and finding our role as part of the church here.

Anyway, God is continuing to take good care of us. We have been blessed beyond what we deserve.

Debbie’s Family

Debbie and her family are still mourning the loss of her mother. I believe Debbie’s dad is still having a difficult time. He took a cross-country trip from Virginia to California to see his mother. He traveled (and might still be traveling) with some of our nieces and nephews. I’m sure a combination of being with family and getting away has been good for him, but please pray for him and the rest of the family.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading this longer-than-usual report. May God continue to bless you as you work in His kingdom and live in a way that shows honor for our Lord Jesus Christ. Please do not forget about the work in South Africa. Remember those we’ve left behind in your prayers.

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Posted by on January 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

South Africa Work Report – November 2016

Church at Masia

I preached my last lesson at Masia on 6 November, 2016. I preached about being born again from John 3. You might think of this as a strange lesson to conclude with, but the message of the cross is what we started with at Masia, and it was what I wanted to finish with.

I taught from house to house on 8 November, 2016. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone, but I know they will do well.

Madzhie Bandela and his wife Lugisani will continue working with the church on a full-time basis doing the teaching from house to house as well as working with the church on Sundays. He needs encouragement and financial support. His email address is madzhieb@gmail.com if ever you can email him.

Farewell at Divhani

Madzhie Bandela teaches two Bible studies a week for the church at Divhani. He teaches on Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. He has gone through Hebrews, 1 John, and some other books I’m not even aware of. Anyway, his work there has done the church quite a lot of good.

Madzhie asked me to visit Divhani to teach on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. They had a particular situation arise, and though they knew what the scriptures taught on this, he believed they needed a reminder and perhaps some help in some points of application. I hope my visit did some good.

The church at Divhani meets at the home of the Ramasindi family. After the Bible study, they gave me quite a nice send-off. They remembered that my favourite cake is carrot cake and got one for us to enjoy together. Now, at most gatherings we have visited where there was cake, the cake was usually only for the ones being celebrated. Those in attendance would not receive much cake at all. I’m not sure what the intent was here, but we all enjoyed a nice-sized piece of carrot cake.

We will miss the Ramasindi family and the church at Divhani. This church started on 17 March, 2013, one week after the church at Masia started. They have done such good work in hosting preacher training classes, tent meetings, and of course their regular Bible studies.

Farewell at Tshirenzheni

During our first six months of being in South Africa, I preached for the church at Tshirenzheni. For another two years after that, I taught regular Bible studies on Friday and Saturday afternoons. It was a great time for me to grow close to men such as Edward Dongola and Samson Nemaname. It was also appropriate for us to go back and say goodbye to them. So, we traveled there on 13 November and I preached from Hebrews 3 about Christians being partakers of a heavenly calling, and how this should cause us to push on toward the promised rest.

The church at Maname, up the mountain from Tshithutuni, all came to be with us at Tshirenzheni. Samson Nemaname works with this church all the time. His work has had good results. He has baptized a few people and they are building a building.

After the service, the brethren gave us a bit of a send-off. They said many nice things, and gave us a gift.

Farewell at Mpheni (Elim)

Our work at Masia always took us past the nascent town of Mpheni. This put us into acquaintance with the Tshidada family, a family of Christians who worship with the church in Elim. I had the privilege of participating in many Bible studies, tent meetings, and radio work with the church at Elim.

The Tshidada family told me they wanted to have us over for supper on Thursday, 17 November, so they could say goodbye and send us off in style. We went there and the whole church was there. It was good to see families such as the Muswazi family with whom Prince Ramaira and I have had such a close relationship. So many nice things were said about us. They also had a nice gift for us.

The Move

On Wednesday, 9 November, our mover came to do the survey so they could give us a final quote for our move to Ireland. We asked them to come on 21 November to pack everything up. That seemed to be OK. However, the following day, they phoned us and said they had to start on Wednesday, 16 November, because they were booked for 21 November. What could we do? So, we agreed to that date.

The mover finally showed up the morning of 17 November, 2016. They bring a 20’ container that goes on a boat and load that container. They pack every item, label it, make a list, and put it in the container. It’s a full service operation. This is necessary in order to avoid issues with customs. We sold larger items that could be easily replaced in Ireland such as sofas, beds, and bookcases, but had to take our books (numbering about 1000) plus other stuff like that. Anyway, they finished up the afternoon of 18 November and our container should arrive in Dublin on 5 January, 2017.

We had a tremendous amount of help from several of Debbie’s friends (though they are my friends too, they are more her friends). We knew we had been blessed with many friends, but had forgotten how many. The Beckleys were very helpful in finishing up the move (more on that below) as well as Madzhie Bandela and his new wife, Lugisani.

Debbie’s Mom Passed Away

On the morning of 18 November, we received a call from Debbie’s dad that her mother, Diane Capalia, was rapidly passing away and that if we wanted to see her, we had to go immediately. We were in the middle of finishing up the move but immediately rearranged our plane tickets from flying on 24 November to London to flying on 18 November to Washington, DC. We threw everything into suitcases, jumped in the car, and drove to Johannesburg to try to get there in time.

As it turns out, Debbie’s mom had probably been brain dead or near to it from the time she went into hospital. So, by the time we arrived in Washington, DC, on Saturday afternoon, she had already left this life.

This has come as a complete shock to the whole family. Though her health had been in decline due to the long term effects of lupus and associated illnesses, we did not know that she was getting that much worse. Our kids were so upset by this and have cried many times over losing their grandma. She made a good effort to keep in touch with Skype and phone, always eager to talk to each child and to have a unique relationship with each one.

Debbie’s dad is having such a hard time. He is 52 years old (12 years younger than mom) and they had been married thirty years. Several of you reading this can sympathize with how he feels. He was just lost and heartbroken.
The funeral was on Tuesday, 22 November, 2016. I was asked to say a few words at the funeral. Debbie also shared some memories of her mother. Debbie’s dad also spoke and had a great tribute for Diane.

We were all able to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner together for the first time in several years. Debbie, her two sisters, Debbie’s dad, our seven nieces and nephews, plus our four kids, all had a great day together. It was what Debbie’s mom always longed for and she would have enjoyed it so much.

Please pray for all of us, Debbie’s dad, sisters, and nieces and nephews during this difficult time.

The Move (Part 2)

So, with this loss, we were also at a loss as to whether we should proceed to London as planned or to stay longer. Debbie did what good she could do in helping with her mother’s possessions, and we decided to fly to London on 25 November, 2016. We arrived the morning of 26 November. We went to London because the girls had a school trip for their online school to the Warner Brothers Studio just north of London. They had been planning this trip for many months. Charlotte sold cookies and other treats and Rosie sold scarves to raise money to make this part of the trip. They raised enough to pay for a one-way airfare from South Africa to London plus accommodation. We were very proud of them!

We stayed in London until Wednesday, 30 November, 2016. We are now in Dublin, working on getting a house, etc.

One more quick trip to South Africa

Because of our sudden departure from South Africa, I left several loose ends that must be tied up. I have one car I need to finish selling (so we can buy a car in Ireland). I have a few other things to get done. So, on Monday, 5 December, I’ll fly from Dublin to Johannesburg. I’ll return the following Monday to Dublin.

Moving Expenses

We received a good amount for moving expenses in November. Several have helped us with this. However, we also had extra, unexpected expenses due to the trip to the USA. We could use help with some of these expenses.

Conclusion

Thank you all for your continued interest and support. Please keep us in your prayers.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

South Africa Work Report – November 2016

Church at Masia

Our building plans have been submitted to the municipality. Lutendo Tshidada has done a good job nursing this process along. We have been pleased with the good service Lutendo has given us.

I have not written about our brother Eric Tshikovhi in some time. He has been in jail for over a year now. I have not been able to go visit him for a long time. However, he seems more at peace in jail than he was in the community. We certainly want what is best for him, and urge you to pray for him and for his family.

The church has accepted our upcoming departure with some sadness. However, they thought Madzhie Bandela might also go, and that really disturbed them! They were happy to hear that Madzhie will stay with them.

Bible Study in Chavani

The Bible study at Chavani has really been steady!  We finished the Know Your Bible lesson 2. We started Lesson 3 (What must I do to be saved?) on 31 October. This gave me an opportunity to explain that it is Jesus and only Jesus through whom we can get back to God. No priest, pastor, prophet, pope, or preacher can take us to God! We must go through Jesus.

31 October was my last time teaching this class. They were also sad to see me go, and appreciated everything they had learned. Prince Ramaira will continue teaching this class starting on 7 November.

Church at Mbhokota

Prince Ramaira and I continue to study each Friday with the Tshavhalala family every Friday morning. We had a study about why the church collects money and how it must be used. Then, their grandson Lawrence Ngobeni was visiting. It so happens that he is the pastor of a church called Vharunwa Apostolic Church. So, we had a good discussion about speaking in tongues. Not surprisingly, Mr. Ngobeni does speak in tongues, or at least thought he did. When he found out he was either lying or was being deceived, he was quite surprised. Time will tell if he is honest.

We had a week-long visit from  Paul K. Williams and his son Zipho from 24 October onwards. Brother Williams went to Mbhokota with us on 28 October. He helped us explain the role of women in preaching in the public assembly (or lack thereof!). I think we finally got past some outstanding issues on this.

History and Geography

David and Joanne Beckley hosted a group of students from Zimbabwe to complete the fourth quarter of the History and Geography of the Bible course. This takes them through the life of Jesus all the way to the end of the New Testament. I taught a few of the classes during this series.

Normal Work Schedule

Time    Work
Sunday, 09h00-10h30    Worship with church at Mbhokota
Sunday, 11h00-12h30    Worship with church at Masia
Sunday, 17h00-18h00    Radio Program at Bungeni
Monday, 16h00-17h00    Bible class at Madombidzha
Tuesday, 11h00-12h30    Class at Doli
Tuesday, 12h30-14h00    Class with Mrs. Sithago at Masia
Tuesday, 14h00-15h00    Class with Mrs. Matidza
Tuesday, 15h00-16h00    Class with Sarah at Tshikwarani
Tuesday, 16h30-17h30    Study with Christians at Mabasa home
Friday, 09h30-11h00    Study with Tshavhalala family at Mbhokota
Friday, 11h00-12h30    Class with Muswazi family at Elim
Friday, 13h00-14h30    Visit with Mr. Malaka

Our Moving Plans

Our work permit for Ireland was approved on 21 October 2016. This was the a major step to ensuring that we would be able to move.

We have bought tickets to go to London on 24 November 2016. Before we go, we must still organize a mover for what we plan to take with us. We are still in the process of hiring a mover.

We have raised a third of the funds we need to make the move. Because of how quickly we realized we needed to make the move, we did not have enough saved to be able to make the move. However, it is vital for us to make the move before the end of this month so we can get the kids in school and get settled in. We would appreciate any help you can provide.

Conclusion

Thank you all for your continued interest and support. Please keep us in your prayers.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

South Africa Work Report – September 2016

Church at Masia

We have had further developments on trying to build a church building. The Makhado Municipality had been very slow about demarcating the piece of property on which we will build. I told Okter Nemudzivhadi, a local brother who has run a construction company for over thirty years, about our plight. The next day, he went to the municipal planning offices and raised Cain. The following day, the municipality demarcated the stand! We almost have our final building plan completed. Lutendo Tshidada, a local sister who has been educated in doing such plans, has been working on these for us. So, things are moving!

One of my chief worries in starting a building project has been that it would distract us from our normal work. So far, it has not and I have great hopes that, if completed quickly and with great certainty, it will be just a memory.

We did have to announce the intention to withdraw from our sister Paulina. She has decided to leave on her own but has gone into sin.

Bible Study in Chavani

Surprisingly, I got a call from Angel Makhubele, one of the ladies instrumental in organizing this Bible study, telling me that the people were begging us to resume the study. This is great news and we have resumed our Monday studies going through the Know Your Bible course.

The Village of Shirley

Each week, I spend about thirty minutes with David Makhuba at Shirley checking his Know Your Bible course. He has also started coming with us to Masia. Furthermore, he also is accompanying us for our Tuesday studies. David is the #1 fan of our radio program on Hlanganani FM.

Through David’s efforts, I taught for fifteen minutes at Shirley Primary School at the invitation of the principal. It was great to see the enthusiasm in the little children.

Church at Mbhokota

We have managed to assemble for three Sundays straight at Mbhokota. Okter Nemudzivhadi helped one Sunday since he speaks Tsonga. David Tshidada and John Mashimbye from the church at Mpheni went one Sunday as well. John speaks Tsonga. We are making progress.

Prince Ramaira and I go there each Friday to study with Mr. and Mrs. Tshavhalala. We spent three weeks studying about women preachers. They do not understand why God would not allow a woman to preach to men and preach in the assembly even though Paul explains why. After all, is she not redeemed from her sins? At the end of the day, it has nothing to do with ability or intelligence—it is just the order God has put in place. My objections will not change that.

Lectureship at Vaalbank

Vaalbank is a community three hours south of us. Peter Mahlangu preaches in that area and has for several years. He asked me to participate in a gospel meeting they had from 23-25 September. I preached on Sunday, 25 September, on how to produce full-time preachers. I had only forty-five minutes though I had been promised an hour, so one-third of the lesson went unpresented. I then preached one of two sermons. My sermon was on using our opportunities while there is still time. There were about 60-70 in attendance. Debbie was asked to teach the children while I was teaching the men about preaching. She said her class went well, but that the children had never been taught anything. Quite an indictment against the Christians at Vaalbank!

Prison Work

Because of our upcoming move, I decided to completely pull out of the prison work. My last time worshiping with them was on 4 September, and my last class was on 17 September. I was not interested in a long goodbye, so this was sufficient. Madzhie Bandela and Prince Ramaira will carry on without me.

Normal Work Schedule

Time    Work
Sunday, 09h00-10h30    Worship with church at Mbhokota
Sunday, 11h00-12h30    Worship with church at Masia
Sunday, 17h00-18h00    Radio Program at Bungeni
Monday, 16h00-17h00    Bible class at Madombidzha
Tuesday, 11h00-12h30    Class at Doli
Tuesday, 12h30-14h00    Class with Mrs. Sithago at Masia
Tuesday, 14h00-15h00    Class with Mrs. Matidza
Tuesday, 15h00-16h00    Class with Sarah at Tshikwarani
Tuesday, 16h30-17h30    Study with Christians at Mabasa home
Friday, 09h30-11h00    Study with Tshavhalala family at Mbhokota
Friday, 11h00-12h30    Class with Muswazi family at Elim
Friday, 13h00-14h30    Visit with Mr. Malaka

Our Moving Plans

We are still trying to get to Dublin, Republic of Ireland, before January 2017. We want to get the kids enrolled in school. The boys very much need to be in school.

I applied for the work permit on 16 September. We hope to have heard by mid-October. Our hope is to have moved by the end of November, but recognize this might be aggressive.

We need help paying for this move. Let me know and I will share what I estimate our expenses to be.

Conclusion

Thank you all for your continued interest and support. Please keep us in your prayers.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

South Africa Work Report – August 2016

Church at Masia

A few weeks ago, the chief for our section of Masia (called Siawoadza) informed Madzhie and I that we can build a temporary building on the stand assigned to the church. This is because the Makhado Municipality has been slow to do their part and as the chief, he does have some power to authorize this. We are very glad for this. Our four-year-old PVC tent was never met to enjoy three years of continuous use.

I only preached twice in August. We were in Eshowe for the memorial service of Helen Williams on 7 August and were in Johannesburg on 28 August for our daughter’s sporting event. On 14 and 21 August, I preached from Mark 8:34.

I only helped for the first two Tuesdays of August. I have been teaching through Romans 12.

When I am not around, Madzhie Bandela does the preaching and teaching. He is doing very good work. I expect great things of him in the years to come. On 28 August, Madzhie baptized Marandela Manyama and Mukondeleli Thinavhuyo for the forgiveness of sins. They were regular attendees at the Tuesday Bible study on the Tshikwarani side of Masia and had been regularly attending church services. This makes six people who have obeyed the gospel from that side of the village. It is not a very far distance from the Siawoadza side to the Tshikwarani side, but when you are getting up in years, one or two kilometres can seem like 100!

One more note: school resumed in the Vuwani and Masia area on 5 August. We are thankful for a return to normality in that area. The children are glad to be back at school.

Bible Study in Chavani

This study has ended due to lack of interest on the part of the students. That happens sometimes. We start off with much enthusiasm then interest tapers off.

New Contacts at Shirley

When you drive from Louis Trichardt to Masia, you go through the town of Elim. When you pass through Elim, you go over a mountain. At the top of that mountain is a village called Shirley. David Makhuba from Shirley is a regular listener to our radio program. He has become close to David Tshidada, one of the men at the church in Elim. David asked me to come up to teach him. When I went there, I gave him the Know Your Bible correspondence course in Tsonga. He has done well keeping up with it. He then took me to the secondary school. The following Friday, I was asked to speak to their 250 students for about 10 minutes. I can say a lot in ten minutes since I have the Word of God! I gave each student a copy of Lesson 1 of the Know Your Bible correspondence course in Tsonga. Pray for this effort.

New Contact at Mbhokota

Mr. Tshavhalala, a man from Mbhokota, heard us on the radio and contacted David Tshidada. David told Prince Ramaira and I to go see him. David works every day and works long hours, so he does not have the flexibility that Prince and I have during the week. So, we went to see him.
As it turns out, Mr. Tshavhalala and his wife were baptized years ago while attending the church of Christ at Diepkloof, next to Soweto near Johannesburg. He had been attending the church in Mpheni (Elim) but taking himself and his whole family each week by taxi is expensive. Imagine taking 400-500 rand each month of a 1400/month pension just for transport for church! Now, one may argue that he should sacrifice for the Lord, and I do not disagree with that, but isn’t there a better plan?

Mbhokota is one of those areas where the gospel has not been preached. It is about 15 km. east of Elim, and 10 km. east of Shirley. We would consider it a target area for the gospel. The gospel needs to be preached in this place. So, Prince and I suggested to Mr. Tshavhalala that he worship at his home, and that some of us come and help him with preaching and the Lord’s supper. He seems to have agreed to that, so I think we will start on Sunday, 11 September. I spoke to David Tshidada, and he has agreed to help with this effort. I will do what I can while we are still here. It is a work in progress, so we’ll see what can be done. Pray for this effort!

History and Geography at the Beckleys

As mentioned in previous reports, the Beckleys teach men from Zimbabwe for two weeks at a time every few weeks. The basis of the course is Bob and Sandra Waldron’s book, “The History and Geography of the Bible”. David and Joanne have expanded on this work and have made it into a two-week boot camp, taking it in four quarters. It’s quite a good course and very rigorous.

This time, I did more teaching than I normally have been doing. My main task was to go through the kings of Judah and Israel during the Divided Kingdom and to go through the period between the OId and New Testaments (the Silent Period). I think it went well. This particular quarter is very tough because the Silent Period relies on learning history outside of the Bible. If one has not had a good foundation in history, this can be difficult. That said, the men did very well.
Normal Work Schedule

Time    Work
Sunday, 08h00-08h30    Worship in the Green prison
Sunday, 08h30-09h00    Worship in the Blue prison
Sunday, 10h00-11h00    Bible class with church at Masia
Sunday, 11h00-12h30    Worship with church at Masia
Sunday, 17h00-18h00    Radio Program at Bungeni
Monday, 16h00-17h00    Bible class at Madombidzha
Tuesday, 11h00-12h30    Class at Doli
Tuesday, 12h30-14h00    Class with Mrs. Sithago at Masia
Tuesday, 14h00-15h00    Class with Mrs. Matidza
Tuesday, 15h00-16h00    Class with Sarah at Tshikwarani
Tuesday, 16h30-17h30    Study with Christians at Mabasa home
Friday, 09h30-11h00    Study with Mr. Tshavhalala at Mbhokota
Friday, 11h00-12h30    Class with Muswazi family at Elim
Friday, 13h00-14h30    Visit with Mr. Malaka
Saturday, 08h00-09h30    Class in the Green prison

Some Needs that Have Arisen

We have a couple of needs that have arisen for the work here for which we are asking help:

1.    Madzhie Bandela uses a bakkie (pickup truck) each week to transport people to and from church. We have used an old 1991 Nissan Sani for this purpose for some time, but that bakkie (pickup truck) just cannot do the work anymore. We have spent quite a bit on repairs. Its real purpose is for the work in Zimbabwe anyway, and I believe it will go there to stay from now on. We want to replace that bakkie (pickup truck). I believe the cost will be $8000-$10000.
2.    The brethren in Mozambique have suffered with lack of food due to drought. The situation in Mozambique is a dire situation. The political situation is bad, with a potential civil war brewing in that country. Our brother Arao Uchaio does his best to preach the gospel as well as helping his brothers and sisters with food. If you can help, please let us know. David Beckley is more familiar with the current status of the situation, and can help us keep up-to-date.

Our Plans

Our plans have taken an unexpected turn. As we mentioned in previous reports, we are leaving South Africa. We were trying to locate to the United Kingdom, but were unsuccessful in making a reasonable plan.

Instead, we turned to the Republic of Ireland. I contacted an IT firm in Dublin, Ireland, a few weeks ago. We had a phone interview, and they made me an offer. I have accepted their offer and start working there on 3 January, 2017.

Pray for us as we make our preparations for our move. I expect to have a work permit sorted out within the next few weeks. We are working on housing, etc. Pray for our family as we make this transition, and pray for the brethren here.

Conclusion

Thank you all for your continued interest and support. Please keep us in your prayers.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

South Africa Work Report – July 2016

Church at Masia

There is not much for us to report this month. Attendance is steadily around 45-50 each Sunday. We still have some who do not attend the way they should, but others attend even through inconvenience.

One lady has decided to attend the Lutheran church. When we asked her why, she told Madzhie and I that someone from that church told her when you pray to God, He will give you whatever you want. This lady has suffered many setbacks, some of her own making, and the devil has used these to draw her away from God. Pray for her to wake up from her deceit before she is terribly disappointed.

I finished a series from 1 Corinthians 1 about human wisdom versus the wisdom of God. I then preached about the salvation of Rahab and the salvation of Naaman. I finished the month with a sermon on Psalm 146.

I missed several Tuesdays in July, but Madzhie Bandela continues to do a good job doing the teaching when I am not there.

The Muswazi Family

About four months ago, David Tshidada, who worships with the church at Mpheni, called me and asked me to start teaching at the home of the Muswazi family, neighbors of his just over the hill. Prince Ramaira and I started to teach Mrs. Muswazi in March 2016. From that time, we have visited once a week most weeks.

About a month after we started, Mr. Muswazi joined us in our studies. At first, he was angry at his family for not wanting to go to church but being willing to study at home. After he started to hear the teaching, he wanted more. In fact, he started attending church with us at Masia as well as our Tuesday studies.

On 10 July, he did not attend with us at Masia, but he attended at the church at Mpheni (right across the street from him). On that day, at the age of about 75, he was baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

At first, his wife and daughters would not come with him to church. Masia is about 30 km. from Mpheni. However, once he started to attend at Mpheni, his wife comes every service and even his daughters sometimes! I expect more good news very soon!

Bible Study in Chavani

Due to several issues with weather, we were not able to have our studies most of July. We met one Monday afternoon and continued our study about sin from the Know Your Bible correspondence course. Takalani Mashau, the man who had been translating into Tsonga for me, had to stop due to a change in work situation.

Shannon Martin Visits from America

Our month was brightened by a brief visit from our friend Shannon Martin who lives in Madison, Alabama. She and Debbie grew up together in Orlando, Florida, and have been friends since the age of 11. Shannon first invited Debbie to church many years ago, at which time Debbie heard the truth and believed.

Loss of Helen Williams

When I was in Eshowe at the end of June, Helen Williams, wife of veteran preacher Paul K. Williams, fell ill with an infection. She was admitted to the Garden Clinic in Empangeni, near Eshowe. While there, her condition became gradually worse. On 27 July, she passed from this life.

David Beckley and I drove to Eshowe on 26 July to be with the Williams family. We did not stay long, but hope our brief visit gave some comfort. Sister Williams will be remembered on 6 August, 2016, in Eshowe.

Normal Work Schedule

Time    Work
Sunday, 08h00-08h30    Worship in the Green prison
Sunday, 08h30-09h00    Worship in the Blue prison
Sunday, 10h00-11h00    Bible class with church at Masia
Sunday, 11h00-12h30    Worship with church at Masia
Sunday, 17h00-18h00    Radio Program at Bungeni
Monday 13h00-14h00    Bible class at Chavani
Monday, 16h00-17h00    Bible class at Madombidzha
Tuesday, 11h00-12h30    Class at Doli
Tuesday, 12h30-14h00    Class with Mrs. Sithago at Masia
Tuesday, 14h00-15h00    Class with Mrs. Matidza
Tuesday, 15h00-16h00    Class with Sarah at Tshikwarani
Tuesday, 16h30-17h30    Study with Christians at Mabasa home
Friday, 10h00-11h30    Class with Muswazi family at Elim
Friday, 12h00-13h30    Visit with Mr. Malaka
Friday, 16h00-17h00    Class with young people at Elim
Saturday, 08h00-09h30    Class in the Green prison

Conclusion

Thank you all for your continued interest and support. Please keep us in your prayers.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

South Africa Work Report – June 2016

Church at Masia

In the Vuwani area, in which Masia also resides, the schools are still closed for an indefinite period of time. At present, it seems like the schools may not open again this school year (which normally ends in December). The current issue is that the courts have refused bail to those accused of burning down schools in the area, and this has caused the community leaders to continue the shutdown of schools. Every student from Grade R through Grade 11 may have to repeat their current grade.

As the late Winston Churchill said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” We have tried to make the best of the situation by having some special classes. I taught on the parable of the Sower one day and on two other days taught an introduction to the book of Psalms. I usually try to use these classes to study things we may not get to cover in our regular Bible studies.

Solomon Khameli, a brother who is chronically ill and therefore not able to work regularly, has needed help buying food. The church decided to buy him some food each month until he is old enough to get pension in February 2018. This is a step in the right direction for the church. I remember a time when making such a decision would have caused fighting and division in the church. However, the church unanimously consented to this decision. The love of God is starting to grow among us (1 John 3:17).

On 8 June, we baptized Pious Rakhwadzi, an old man from the other side of the village, for the forgiveness of sins. He has been blind for several years due to an accident, so sometimes he looks like he has been sleeping. At other times, it looks like he can see you.

I think old men like to “yank the chain” of younger men everywhere. This old man is no different. I have usually spoken to him in Venda or have used an interpreter in speaking to him. The day I baptized him, he revealed that he speaks fluent English but spoke to me only in Venda so I could learn! Yep—he’s an ornery old fellow!

Bible Study in Chavani

As expected, attendance has tapered off but we are still at around ten students. We are going through lesson 2 of the Know Your Bible correspondence course. My new translator, Takalani Mashau, is working out well. His Tsonga is not perfect but seems to be acceptable to the students.

Lectureship at Tshiozwi

16 June is one among the excessive number of public holidays in the Republic of South Africa. This particular holiday commemorates the student uprising in Soweto (southwest Johannesburg) in 1976 against mandatory Afrikaans language education for all South African students. Hundreds of students died after being shot at by the police. A sad day for South Africa…but a day for good news to be preached! The church at Tshiozwi organized a one-day lectureship with several preachers participating. I preached about the growth of the church from the book of Acts.

Preacher Training at Eshowe

The church at Eshowe and I seem to have come to a nice arrangement. They loan us Joel Williams and Mzwandile Gaza in December, and the Venda brethren loan me at other times. At least that’s how it has worked the last two years!

From 27 June – 30 June, I participated in the preacher training school hosted by the Eshowe church. Paul K. Williams started each day with a class about sermon construction. I continued with an hour-long class on authority. After that class, Mzwandile taught 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, pulling out practical lessons for preachers and for disciples in general. Before lunch, we spent some time taking questions and helping the young men construct sermons. After lunch, I taught an hour on evidences and an hour on other subjects such as answering religious error. We then took questions and offered more help on sermon construction.

I preached the Sunday before the preacher training on causes of religious division from 1 Corinthians. I also preached Monday night on the growth of the church from the book of Acts. Other young men preached Tuesday-Friday nights. For all of them it was their first time preaching a sermon. While there is definite room for improvement, truth was presented clearly and scripture was used. So, they are off to a good start.

There are two observations I can make from this week:

1.    Getting people to read their Bible is like pulling teeth. People want easy answers requiring little work on their part. Telling them to go read a few chapters in their Bible is not what they want when they ask for answers, but it must be our approach to answering questions.
2.    Our students learned some things about time management. We had a bit of trouble staying on schedule but it improved toward the end of the week.

Normal Work Schedule

Time    Work
Sunday, 08h00-08h30    Worship in the Green prison
Sunday, 08h30-09h00    Worship in the Blue prison
Sunday, 10h00-11h00    Bible class with church at Masia
Sunday, 11h00-12h30    Worship with church at Masia
Sunday, 17h00-18h00    Radio Program at Bungeni
Monday 13h00-14h00    Bible class at Chavani
Monday, 16h00-17h00    Bible class at Madombidzha
Tuesday, 11h00-12h30    Class at Doli
Tuesday, 12h30-14h00    Class with Mrs. Sithago at Masia
Tuesday, 14h00-15h00    Class with Mrs. Matidza
Tuesday, 15h00-16h00    Class with Sarah at Tshikwarani
Tuesday, 16h30-17h30    Study with Christians at Mabasa home
Friday, 10h00-11h30    Class with Muswazi family at Elim
Friday, 12h00-13h30    Visit with Mr. Malaka
Friday, 16h00-17h00    Class with young people at Elim
Saturday, 08h00-09h30    Class in the Green prison

Update on our situation

In our last report, we stated our intention to leave South Africa either later this year or the beginning of next year. We have not made any specific plans yet but continue to explore all options. Please continue to pray for us!

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2016 in Uncategorized