The annual Sola 5 conference is now over, but fond memories remain. Eastside Baptist Church has been privileged to host this Association of God Centred Evangelicals in Southern Africa for the second time since its inception in 2005. Since the conference invites member churches from across the SADEC region (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, South Africa and Namibia) the challenge to organize such an event is formidable—particularly in terms of communication. The Zimbabwean delegation made up of seven, led by Joseph Soko, was eventually unable to come. We really missed those dear brothers and sisters. Despite a number of last minute cancellations we had a full house.
It needs to be said again and again that this fellowship of churches is unique! Where else do you find such co-operation among churches coming across from a number of nations and borders? This takes commitment!
Our organising team led by Doug Reissner, Liz Walters, Niels and Bente Bernstein together with dedicated help from many church members ensured that eventually every visitor was housed, fed and fetched for the meetings. Most people were housed by members of our churches. Some were placed in guesthouses, the accommodation which was paid for by members of the Windhoek churches. The meetings started on Thursday evening and ended on Sunday with lunch after the morning worship.
The Sola 5 steering committee led by Peter Sammons from Germiston Baptist Church chose as our theme this year the subject of “Gospel Tolerance.” Six speakers—Jeff Gage (Free Grace Baptist Church, Boksburg), Tim Cantrell (Antioch Bible Church, Johannesburg), Isaac Makashinyi (Emmasdale Baptist Church, Lusaka), Erroll Wagner (George Baptist Church, Western Cape), Chris Woolley (Midrand Chapel, Gauteng) and Joachim Rieck (Eastside Baptist Church, Namibia)—were allocated to handle various aspects of this subject. The substance of the addresses given was meaty and well received. The audio recordings are available on the website.
Missions reports were heard from the various regions. It is clear that this group of churches is actively spreading the gospel in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Zambia reported that the planning of the Africa Christian University (in Lusaka) is progressing well (see the ACU website at http://www.acu-zambia.com/). Ray Warwick, dean of the new University spoke passionately about the aims of this unique University.
A new initiative is underway in Malawi as Newton Chilingulo (sending church: Living Hope Church, Pretoria, S.A.) aims to return to Malawi to engage in church planting in Lilongwe.
South Africa, Namibia and Swaziland all reported pleasing progress in church planting, and in pastoral training efforts.
Two churches joined the Sola 5 on this occasion: Heritage Baptist Church (Johannesburg) and Elim Baptist Church (Limpopo Province, South Africa).
There are a number of churches seeking affiliation with Sola 5 at this time, and for this we are very pleased. It should be stressed once again that Sola 5 does not aim to be a denomination. There is no distinctive head office and no distinctive leader. The steering committee annually rotates among the member churches. This year Jeff Gage from Free Grace Baptist Church (Boksburg, South Africa) will be our chairman. Hein Strauss our extremely efficient and able administrator for the last nine years asked to be released from his duties at this time. The annual business meeting gave him a well-deserved standing ovation. The business meeting then appointed Kobus van der Walt and Jeff Gage to take over Hein Strauss’ work.
Sola 5 is an association and a fellowship of likeminded churches, existing for the purpose of sharing resources for the sake of the progress of the gospel. This association only works if churches are committed to real relationships with one another. The greatest benefit that we have from this association is one another!