Brothers and sisters of the Sola 5 family,
Thank you for your interest in us expressed both by your reading this prayer letter and by your prayers.
As any pastor will know, summarizing the state of a congregation is an invitation to simultaneously be thankful for the half-full glass and to bemoan the half-empty one. The fact is that we have so much to be thankful for and we also have much to keep pleading with God about!
At first blush, any visitor to Brackenhurst Baptist Church will be encouraged by the Lord’s Day attendance. We have consistently been heartened by the steady stream of visitors, and challenged to engage these so that their visit will result in some kind of relationship being established that will lead to discipleship and formal membership.
The congregation has been stretched and matured through an extended preaching series by Doug through the first three books of the Pentateuch in recent years. We are currently nearing the end of Leviticus. In the evenings we are also being exposed to systematic expositions from Acts (Doug) and the Gospel of Luke (Christo).
Added to these impressions of health in corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, we are blessed by an atmosphere of expectancy and commitment to the prayer meetings. A good proportion of the members arrive before the morning worship service for the Family Bible Hour, in which we are currently making our way through the general Pauline epistles one chapter per week. The completion of this series will almost conclude our ten-year journey through the whole Bible!
Some two years ago we eventually made the switch from a centralized midweek Bible study to regional Grace Groups meeting in individual homes. We are generally encouraged by the sense that a large portion of the membership participate in and are committed to one such midweek group, and that, consequently, the general sense of fellowship and body life has been deepened and expanded.
God has blessed BBC with fruitfulness in the form of growing households. Our members collectively now have in the region of 110 children who are under the age of twelve! This has called forth greater commitment from all those involved in various age groups of youth ministry. Thankfully the congregation is also blessed with many Young Adults who gladly participate in such ministries.
We are also thrilled and grateful to report that God has blessed us with expanded facilities. We were able to purchase the property next door to our church building, and are in the process of transforming the structures there to optimize them for Sunday school and YP ministry. Certainly the extra property has sorted out our parking problem!
In recent years, we as a congregation have felt challenged by the whole subject of crisis pregnancies, abortion and adoption. God allowed a ministry to be established in which women facing unwanted pregnancies are counselled rather to keep their babies and if necessary make them available for adoption. These are still days of small beginnings for us, but we have been encouraged by a number of women coming for help and responding positively. The Van Meter family registered their home as a place of safety, and a number of families in the church are in various stages of formally adopting unwanted babies from various sources. A good number of people in the congregation, both young and old, have participated in a series of Choice Chains aimed at activating and informing members of the public regarding the horrors of abortion.
Pastorally, as would be the case in most congregations, we have been challenged by some situations of unemployment or under-employment, as well as lingering situations of domestic disharmony that call for wise shepherding. Thankfully we have been spared the painful partings due to emigration that some congregations in our country have faced repeatedly. One particular situation has presented us with both pastoral and personal challenges to our faith and ability to persevere in prayer, as a healthy forty-year old brother, Aurelio, has entered his eighth month of sedated coma following an unexplained illness involving epileptic seizure. For both Aurelio’s wife Melenie and their three children, as well as for the rest of the church family, this situation has called forth much earnest prayer. God in his loving wisdom has allowed this situation to persist.
At a time when we prepare to celebrate a significant twenty-year milestone in Doug’s ministry later this year, we also are aware of change and the opportunities/challenges it brings as Christo, in consultation with the elders, has accepted a call to the pastoral ministry at the George Baptist Church. This move will in all likelihood only transpire towards the end of 2014.
On the staff front, one other change we can report, in the wake of Leticia’s retirement, is the appointment of Jenny Anderson as office secretary. It is her friendly voice you will hear if you contact the BBC office on weekday mornings.
We are thankful for our Sola 5 partnership in the gospel. Please join us in prayer and thanksgiving for the following:
ITEM FOR PRAISE
- Our enlarged campus.
- Regular visitors to Lord’s Day worship services.
- Doug’s settled ministry spanning two decades.
- Retention of visitors.
- Eva’s Hope and finalized adoptions.
- Aurelio’s medical situation.
- Jenny Close as she settles in Vietnam.
- Christo and Maureen Beetge as they prepare to relocate to George and assume ministry responsibilities there.
Christo Beetge for BBC