On a Lord’s Day morning, the members of the Elim Baptist Church meet at 9:00 AM (or round about then) at a government-sponsored crèche in the village of Rivoni about 25km to the east of Louis Trichardt, South Africa. Our assembly began Sunday morning services in January 2008 after having met in our rural home for nearly a year. The “our” is Seth and Amy Meyers, American church-planters since 2004 living and ministering in SA among the Tsongas, Vendas, and a smattering of Shonas.
Currently, we have 22 members and an average attendance of about 30-40 on a Lord’s Day. Most of the adults who have been baptized work in Joburg or some other city in SA, and thus, we only fellow ship with them a few times in a year.
We have written a Tsonga catechism combining the glory of Westminster, some Baptist distinctives, and the best of the Heidelberg. Our goal is to produce indigenous churches in the rural areas that love the five solas rather than the omnipresent juggernaut of prosperity theology.
About once per month, we send out a prayer letter regarding our ministry. Here is the latest instalment.
PUTTING DOWN ROOTS
After four hours in drizzling rain, the three young men and I who had braved the elements for this week’s work day finally succeeded in cutting the taproot from a thorn tree whose trunk was about 30 inches in diameter. This particular specimen was in the way of our property line so we remembered John the Baptist’s line and laid the axe to the roots of the tree.
I offered to provide lunch for all the workers since they did a good job under a diverse circumstances. For Harry (Harry has been worshipping with us for nearly a year now), I offered him the option of receiving a good lunch or a new Bible—but not both as a test. I was pleased when he chose the Bible which he received yesterday morning. Even before professing faith, he’s been as consistent as our most faithful church members for months at our workdays.
After Saturday’s workday, we met on the Lord’s Day to remember Reformation Day for the first time in our church’s history as well as experience the Lord’s Table. We have found that unbelievers can be specially drawn to Christ as they passively watch others partake in this unique picture of the gospel. I explicitly ask questions like, “What still holds you back from showing your faith in Christ publicly when these others have done so?”
Last week I was in Joburg retrieving our shipment from the US as well as visiting people in our church. In total, I saw four men, two of whom are members at EBC. All of these men are away from homes and families for months at a time while they look for a way to make a living in the city. We had good fellowship in Christ as we discussed whether each man was spiritually growing, slipping, or staying the same as before.
Currently, there are five teens who are considering baptism and five adults including two couples. In December, when college students and workers have returned for a few weeks, we have scheduled a baptismal service. As you pray for us this month, pray that God would cause the roots of those in this group to be firmly planted in Christ.
During October (21-23 October), we organized the African Pastors’ Conference again in Louis Trichardt. The conference focused on “Preaching Christ,” and though the attendance did not reach very far into the rural churches, we were pleased to see a half-dozen LBI graduates in attendance as well as another dozen or so serious pastors from different parts of South Africa and Zimbabwe. I had the privilege of addressing the men on “Preaching Christ in an African Context.” We hope the preaching and books were profitable to nourish the most vital root of a pastor’s pulpit ministry.
Wastemore Sarireni, a graduate of the Limpopo Bible Institute who was present at the conference, has started a church about 3-4 hours from ours in Zimbabwe. Though he was offered a full-time job here in SA, he chose rather to plant himself in his village to see a church bear fruit. Lord-willing next week he will preach at EBC as we consider taking him on for support each month.
AROUND THE FAMILY HEARTH
Amy is rejoicing that everything we shipped arrived safely last week, and I am rejoicing that I have a super-organized wife! There are still a few boxes of books that are awaiting the arrival of their new bookshelves, but the aside from that, the house is returning to normal. You can check out her blog for more details if my account is too Spartan.
And speaking of blogs, I changed hosts a few months ago which gave me a better domain name, but lost any email addresses of those who had been receiving my posts in their inbox. If you are interested in receiving posts on theology, missions, and culture in your inbox, please re-enter your email address.
In hope that we might be rooted in him,
Seth and Amy Meyers