I am hopeful that the past year was spent in service of our Lord and his church. The year went by so quickly, and I am convinced, looking back, that there was much more that we could have accomplished. However, I look back knowing that all that has been achieved was by the grace of God and through his providential care for his church.
I am reminded that he “works all things after the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).
2017 was wrought with all sorts of ministry and personal challenges (if ever the two can be separated), but I am well aware of God’s hand in it all. God has shown us much grace, and I can truly say that “underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut 33:27).
It’s been a while since I sent out a report, so please accept my apologies, but as I mentioned, it was a very eventful year.
Allow me to give a brief summary of events following after August 2017. (If you require reports prior to August 2017, I can make those available.)
September 2017—Our First Women’s Conference
It was with much prayer and contemplation that we decided to host our very first Women’s Conference. This comes as a result of our Pastors’ Seminars that the Lord has so graciously bestowed his blessing upon. The wives of the pastors have for the past three years been begging us to have a separate conference for them. We hesitated because we are committed to doing three Pastor’s Seminars per year and did not want another conference on top of this. These conferences are hard work, and require dedication, time and money, of which we are running low on as a church with only thirteen members.
We decided to do the first one as a trial run to see if the women would attend and participate. We also decided that we will not burden any of the churches for financial support. If the Lord is in it, then, as always, the Lord will provide. Much to our delight, the Lord provided and the women responded.
The conference was conducted in a “workshop” type manner, which was very interactive. We were privileged to have Therese Galage conduct the conference for us. Therese is the wife of Tim Galage, who is lecturing with me on Bible Institute of SA’s Christian Leadership Programme. He also runs a book reading programme for pastors in the townships.
Here are the topics that were handled during the conference:
- God’s word—a timely gift to you!
- How can I be educated and yet clueless?
- How do you know what’s true?
- Are you a healthy or malnourished Christian?
- How are you nourishing your soul?
- You probably know 2 Timothy 3:16, but do you really believe it?
- In what ways does God’s word influence your daily life right now?
For many women who attended the conference, this was the first time that they were so personally challenged with the word of God. God has definitely taught us once again that it is not by might, nor by power, but by his Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).
Sola 5 Conference 2017
What great excitement (coupled with a little anxiety for some) it was to have some of the church fly to Johannesburg for the Sola 5 Conference. For many, this was their first experience on an airplane and in an airport. Our members saved throughout the year for this trip, even though some of them earn so little. It was definitely a worthwhile sacrifice. To see ex-gangsters and ex-drug addicts board a plane for the first time was more than just exciting, but deeply spiritually rewarding as God was constantly praised for making this far-fetched experience possible.
The conference was a huge blessing to us, as it always is, but what amazed me more was the passion for Christ and his gospel in our church members as they started to meet with other brothers and sisters, eager to share what the Lord means to them. One of the families who hosted some of our church members had the gospel shared with her agnostic husband and atheist daughter, who actually went to church with her the following Sunday. What an amazing testimony! I thank God for the families that hosted our church members and for allowing us to just be ourselves in their homes. For those who have interacted with some of our church members, please continue to pray for them.
October 2017—Last Pastors’ Seminar for the year
As usual, our last seminar of the year was conducted in Afrikaans. This was the commitment we made with the pastors in our area since most of them are Afrikaans-speaking. We have a standing commitment from Newcastle Baptist Church that Pastor Japie Van Kampen will conduct this seminar in October every year until the Lord, through his providence, directs otherwise. Pastor Japie has become somewhat of a household name among us, and is much loved amongst the pastors. We simply love and appreciate this man and his family!
Our theme for this seminar was: “Reformation Reality—The implications of Sola Scriptura.” By God’s grace, the seminar was a huge success, with about four new pastors attending and almost all the regulars.
We have long been praying that the Lord would open a door for us on the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), and now we are seeing several students interested in our ministry.
We have had three students visit our Bible studies on Sunday evening, of which one of the ladies also joined our Women’s Ministry (the ladies are working through J. C. Ryle’s book, Holiness). Some students have also been visiting our Sunday morning services, but more frequently the Bible studies.
I also had the privilege of counselling a young man (21) who is also a student at CPUT. He has been hospitalised and paralysed for two years after being robbed and stabbed in the back. He is currently walking very difficultly on crutches. He is a professed believer and shows signs of genuine conversion. He attends a Charismatic church on campus, but would like to visit our church and get involved in our Bible studies.
It was shocking to learn that he has never heard of the book of Job as I shared with him about the sufferings of Job. I have never witnessed any young guy get excited about Job as this young man. He exclaimed: “Everyone should know about Job! He knows what I’m going through! God is in control of all this. He did not reject me!” (I’m paraphrasing.) He got even more excited as I read Romans 8:28, another Scripture passage he never heard of. It’s for this reason that I hate the Charismatic movement. It does not teach people the Bible!
Please keep this young man in your prayers. I hope to get him committed to our church.
Ministry among gangsters
We’ve had the privilege of ministering to several gang members and we pray for a possible opportunity to start a monthly Bible study with some of them who have indicated that they might be interested in something like that.
Again, we’ve had a few shootings, of which the most gruesome was one of the guys that we shared the gospel with, who was shot nine times in the face. We were hoping to conduct his funeral, but his parents belong to the New Apostolic cult and would not allow us to be involved in any of the services.
A distant relative of mine was also gunned down in our area. We still don’t know why a hit was put on him. According to family members close to him, he was shot eleven times in the back.
A “new” gang has also raised its head in our community. These are guys that recently came out of prison that are now using the younger kids to revive an old gang (the Terrible Josters) that has been of the scene for more than twenty years. This will only stir up more violence and death in an already volatile area. Please pray for God’s intervention.
We praise God for his grace over the past three years. Pastor Quinton and Brother Theodore finished a three-year course through The Bible Institute of SA’s Christian Leadership Programme. This was a huge achievement, especially for Theodore, who dropped out of School in Grade 6, following after gangs, and who was in and out of prison, serving a ten-year sentence. God saved this drug merchant and gang leader. Look what the Lord has done! Both of these guys used to sell drugs on the streets of Bellville South, both were gang leaders, and both have obtained mercy from our great God and King. Now both are serving the Lord and taking the gospel to the same community that they once terrorised! What God has done for them he will do for countless more in our community.
We had a busy December as we had two close friends of the family pass away. Both were in their seventies and well-known in the community. Unfortunately, one of them did not know Jesus as Lord. We were privileged to conduct the funeral services of one of them and memorial services for both.
We continued with our Sunday morning services, weekly prayer meetings and weekly youth outreach programmes. As someone once said: “The church does not have the luxury of closing its doors for the holidays, because the devil does not take holidays.” We had a very fruitful December with all our people attending the services and the prayer meeting.
Sunday school Christmas production
The Lord has truly blessed us with a lot of kids who attend our Sunday school and Sunday morning services. They practiced hard to take part in our Christmas production. They had to memorise a lot of Scripture verses that formed the script for the whole drama. We are so proud of them and grateful for the teachers that showed so much patience and love towards these kids. Most of these kids come from homes where the dad is either in prison or on drugs, or an alcoholic mother, or both parents are drug addicts. You can imagine the joy we experience seeing these kids participate in a drama that exalts the first coming of Christ.
Our prayer meetings
The Lord has been truly blessing our prayer meetings as we see people weeping before the Lord in intercession for lost souls. Our prayer meeting starts 7:00 PM, and for the past two months our members have been praying to 10:00 PM and sometimes even 10:30 PM. I was told that it is irresponsible of me to keep the prayer meeting going for so late, but what can I, a mere sinner, do when God is busy with his people? I am trusting God for revival!
We are once again hosting the students of the Great Commission Camp for a two-day evangelistic outreach into our area. These are about twenty students from all over the world that attend the Great Commission Camp conducted by Frontline Fellowship. We have door-to-door outreach with a tract drive during the day and open air preaching at night. Please pray for this outreach and for the safety of all these students. We are always excited for such ministry opportunities that God sends our way.
We also have our month of evangelism in February which many of you are familiar with. Please keep us in your fervent prayers.
Please also continue to pray that the Lord provide us with a permanent place of worship.
On a final note: May this year be a year of repentance and a wilful determined practical dependence upon God for all those who profess Christ as their Lord!
Thank you for taking the time to read this report.
Soli Deo Gloria
Mario F. Maneville