May His grace and peace be multiplied to you and the church where you serve. We are already in the middle of April 2017. Time goes by so quickly and if we are not careful with how we use this precious commodity (time) we will surely have regrets that can never be redeemed again. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15–16).
By God’s grace we started this year with our feet running before it hit the ground. We are grateful that we are able to share with you some of our ministry activities, confident in your prayer support and that you share our joys and grief.
During the second week of January 2017 we had thirteen students from The Great Commission Camp run by Frontline Fellowship with us for four days to do some open-air and door-to-door ministry. We are always excited when ministries join us for evangelism in our communities. This was an opportunity for believers that are never exposed to our environment to learn how we engage our community with the gospel. We want to encourage churches, especially those part of the Sola 5 family to contact us if you would like to organise an outreach to us. It is a huge blessing to us and our community when believer saturate our streets with the gospel.
A Visit from HeartCry
Some of you may know that I have been privileged by God’s grace to be supported by HeartCry Missionary Society founded and directed by Brother Paul Washer. It was therefore a great joy to have Sean Reece, the Africa Coordinator for HeartCry, with us for a few days to experience first-hand what the Lord is doing through our ministry here in Bellville South.
He did some open-air preaching with us and also met with some of the gangs in our area. We even took him inside one of the drug merchant’s “stop-n-shop” drug dens.
We were really trusting the Lord that we would not be faced with too much violence while Sean is with us. The Lord graciously kept the violence at a distance from us. About an hour before Sean took the mic to preach at the open-air, a drug dealer got stabbed several times in the head, about five hundred metres from where the open-air was being conducted. We thank God that he survived and that the violence did not escalate from there. The Lord enabled Sean to preach with boldness and clarity. Amen!
After the open-air preaching we went to what is known as “Hell’s Kitchen,” because of its many gang activities, drugs, prostitution and human trafficking. A kind of funny thing happened as we approached a familiar gambling spot of one of the gangs. When they saw us coming their way, they all jump up and ran shouting: “Gattas, my broe, gattas!” which means, “Police, my brother, police!” Because Sean was the only white guy with us they thought he was an undercover cop. The police would usually come heavily armed and confiscate their money. Soon as they saw Quinton and myself they calmed down and returned. I just thank God they did not shoot first before they ran. Thank God for His grace. Sean was able to share the gospel with them.
These guys are young, but many of them are murderers and have been in and out of prison. Please pray that our ministry among them will bear fruit that culminates in their salvation.
We were also able to have Sean share with the gang members who were standing guard at the entrance of a “stop-n-shop” drug den. Oh, that the Lord would save these precious souls!
Each year on our church’s calendar is our month of evangelism. We used to do this every November, but we’ve decided to change it to February each year. Usually we would have open-air services every night of the month except Saturdays and Sundays. We would preach in four different locations in Bellville South, a week at each location, but this year we decided to change that approach. We decided it would be more effective and biblical to do one week of door-to-door evangelism and then do open-air preaching for a week in the same location. We would than do the same in the next area. We would only be reaching two locations, but it would be more effective. While we speak to people in their homes and on the streets, we also invite them to support the open-air preaching that will happen in their streets.
According to Acts, the disciples were thought to be drunk by some, because they heard them “speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11). It would be reasonable to assume that the disciples were sharing with individuals in the crowd “the wonderful works of God” and this sharing then was followed up by the public preaching of Peter to the crowd. We do not believe in formulas for evangelism, but we do believe that the Lord has given us strategies in His Word to follow. What is of utmost importance is that the gospel is clearly and accurately communicated.
We were also encouraged by the preaching of Paul Masemola, one of the deacons, in our church. It was his first time to preach at an open-air. Pray for this young man; he is a huge blessing to our church. Please pray that the seed that have been sown would bear fruit.
We are grateful to the Lord for blessing us with men and women who are eager to work for the Lord. I can say with confidence that the men and women in our church are always busy evangelising their neighbours, friends, colleagues and family. Evangelism is a lifestyle, not a programme, and it is evident in the lives of our members. Praise the Lord!
Here are some pictures of our members sharing their Christ-centred, gospel-focused testimonies.
March—Our First Membership Service
On 26 March 2017 we had our first membership service. After three years of discipleship, Bible study and looking for evidence of genuine conversion, we were ready to introduce the first members of Reformed Faith Mission Community Church. This was truly a day of celebration. The day was preceded by four sermons on what it means to be a member of the local church preached by Quinton.
The day was made even more special with a visit by Dr. Karl Petersen from Bible Institute of SA (BISA) and eight of their students. Thirteen believers were taken into membership. Please pray that these precious people will continue to grow deeper in their devotion to our Lord and that they will remain full of zeal for their Master.
We are fast approaching our first Pastor’s Seminar for the year on 29 April 2017 with Tim Cantrell. The theme for the seminar is “Paul’s Message to Pastors.” We already have close to eighty people confirming that they will attend; these are pastors with their church leadership. We estimate about 26 churches will be represented. We are once again grateful to the Lord for the contributions that came in from Sola 5 churches. We are able to finance two of the seminars for the year. We trust the Lord for His provision for the last seminar which will be in October. We thank God for providing credible men to teach these seminars. Tim Cantrell (29 April), Victor Kuligan (22 July) and Japie Van Kampen (14 October). Please keep these faithful men in your prayers.
We are also grateful to the Lord for Christian Book Discounters that has once again sponsored us with excellent books for the pastors and Literature4Africa for always providing us with Bible study materials for the pastors and their churches. Please pray that more pastors will attend these seminars and that they will return to the Bible as their only and final authority.
Ministry to the Somalians
Bellville has the largest concentrated Somali population in South Africa, with close to thirty thousand Somali refugees making their home here. As a church, we’ve been praying for the Somali people in our area for over two years now. Somalians are an unreached people group. God in His wise providence has chosen to send the largest group of them to our door step. There is currently no focused effort by any church to reach them with the gospel. We’ve been praying that the Lord would give us wisdom as to how to go about reaching them. We believe our prayers has been answered in the form of a missionary, Alan Profitt. Alan worked among Muslims for years and is now teaching Muslim evangelism for BISA’s Christian Leadership Programme.
He recently felt a call to start an outreach programme for the Somalians in Bellville through teaching conversational English to them. He reached out to our church for support and the rest is history. Currently, he is training some of our members every second Saturday, and after training they go to meet some Somalians to build possible friendships and to invite them to the English classes. They already met with the Somali imam who is happy about the idea of English classes. Please pray for this new ministry that the Lord would grant us favour with the Somali people and that we will find a suitable venue to conduct the English classes.
What a privilege it is to study the Bible with hungry souls. For the past few years we have dealt with various aspects of the Christian faith. These would include the attributes of God; it took us a year to work through the discipleship booklet sponsored to our church by Brackenhurst Baptist Church; we worked through the doctrines of grace for about six months; and we are currently walking through the book of Romans. We conduct our Bible study classes on a Sunday evening at my parent’s home, because we only have the school hall on a Sunday morning for our services. Pray that the Lord would provide us with a permanent place of worship.
Our Sunday school has also seen some growth with new kids joining. We are also grateful to the Lord for adding more Sunday school teachers to this vital ministry. What makes it challenging is that most of the kids that attend our Sunday school are kids whose parents are either on drugs or in prison or alcoholics. This means that we cannot rely on parents to help kids with home assignments and we need to fetch them at their homes otherwise they won’t be able to attend. We would be able to accommodate much more kids if we had proper transport. Please pray that the Lord would help us to acquire a combi and that more of these kids’ parents would visit the Sunday services on a regular basis. Also pray that these kids would come to faith at an early age. In our community, very few kids live to see their 21st birthday, due to gang violence. We are also grateful to Goodwood Baptist Church for providing us with some of their Sunday school literature.
There are much more I can mention about our ministry in the community, but it would make this report far too lengthy. Please keep praying for Bellville South and our church. We are trusting God for great things.
I’ll conclude with the most excellent news of all: Our dear brother Donovan is probably the most loving guy I know. Anyone of you that has visited our church would know him. He loves the Lord and he loves people. This guy use to be a notorious gangster who use to rob old people from their pensions. He and his wife use to be drug addicts, which caused them to lose their eight kids to social services. The Lord saved this man and delivered him and his wife from drug addiction, and restored his kids back to him. His wife was a Muslim and for the past three years we’ve been praying with him for the salvation of his wife. The ladies often visited her and shared the gospel with her.
On Good Friday, she made a profession of faith while listening to the sermon. She says the Lord has changed her life! We are overjoyed. Rejoice with us and keep her (Siyaam) in your prayers.
Thank you for taking the time to read this report.
“I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Revelation 3:8).
Soli Deo Gloria
Mario F. Maneville
Reformed Faith Mission Community Church