Greetings in the matchless name of Jesus!
This update is long overdue. The most exciting news on this update is no longer “news” to most of you. The last two months have been filled with all sorts of emotions, from joy to jeers, delight to disappointments, yet in all these our King remains on his throne.
Sola 5 / Rezolution Conference
I (Newton) had a privilege to preach at the combined Sola 5 and Rezolution conferences. The theme was “Reforming Africa.”
As in most places this year, the conference was tied to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. There were over 600 people who registered. As I had asked for prayers, now I want to thank those of you that prayed. My sermon was “Race and the Reformation”—subtitled “The Cross-Cultural Message of the Reformation.”
This was a great time to feast from God’s Word through the speakers, including among others, our sending pastor Dr. Joshua Mack, Dr. Voddie Baucham, Chris Mnguni, Martin Dysdale, Seth Myers, and Ronald Kalifungwa. I think the conference went well. I had mixed reaction from my sermon. Some said, I did well to expound the text (Ephesians 2:11–22) but failed short to bring “penetrating” applications and I should have raised the “real issues.” There were some who thought I should have called others to repent for their sin of racism. I learnt that there are no easy ways of preaching about race/racism. The subject demands great sensitivity. And it is almost impossible to address this subject to everyone’s satisfaction. The subject affects different people differently. The best way I know is to go the owner’s manual. It is exciting to see what God is doing in South Africa.
The resurgence of Reformed theology is unprecedented, especially amongst Blacks. That is cause for celebration. But, will that make the real enemy of our souls join us in this celebration? And that enemy is not racism. In my estimation, racism is a symptom of a bigger problem. It is an attack on creationism, gospel, and ultimately an attack on God. There is need for healthy engagements on the subject for the cause of Christ in South Africa and beyond. The stakes are that high!
New Addition to the Family
No, it’s not a pet! As many of you know, Vanessa and I have not been able to conceive for about eight years. We have always loved, and still do love, children. And we resolved to have children through adoption. We adopted our firstborn five years ago in South Africa. After moving to Malawi, we thought we will grow the family by adopting more. But it turned out that it is way more difficult to adopt in Malawi than in South Africa, unless you are the pop star Madonna, who has adopted two in Malawi.
Vanessa and I never ceased to pray. Early this year we were planning to have her brain tumour treated either in South Africa or India. While we were trusting God to raise the funds—boom!—we discovered we were pregnant. Now, if you have tried to conceive for such a long time but couldn’t, that news is not a small matter. It is to us, a miracle of God. Relax! We are still cessationists!
During the pregnancy, we were filled with anxieties like, will she be able to carry the child to full term? Will the child be okay with Vanessa’s tumour? Neither were the doctors encouraging. They were raising false alarms. During scans, they told us the child is too small. Vanessa and I kept thinking, what does that even mean? Were some organs perhaps underdeveloped? Vanessa kept saying, “After delivery, our child will probably have to stay at the hospital in an incubator.”
On 27 September (just over a month ago), we were blessed with a healthy, bouncing, baby boy, weighing 2.7kg. Not the biggest baby, but for us this was delightful news as we had been told just over a week before delivery that the child was under 2kg. So, we had resigned that the child will not be ready to go home with us immediately after delivery. But, is anything too hard for God? We were discharged two days later. The boy is appropriately named Karabo, meaning “answer to prayer.”
Praise and Prayer
Thank you for the encouragements and prayers we have received during this time. We praise God for not treating us as our sins deserve. We are in awe of him.
Please be praying for us to secure Karabo’s travelling documents soonest. We had hoped to get a South African birth certificate since he was born here and Vanessa and I are permanent residents. However, we have been told that is “no more.” Children born to foreign nationals do not qualify for South African citizenship. This means we have to apply for a Malawian passport (which we have), and once it is out, we need to apply for his “relative’s” visa. This will enable him to exit South Africa legally and enable him to come back here with no problems.
This reminds us of where we were with the adoption process of our first child. Horror Home affairs in South Africa is a tool, I guess, to teach us patience and perseverance. We are longing to get back to Malawi and be with our church family. When the paperwork will be finalised is anyone’s guess. But we are hoping it will be “soon.” Please pray with us.
We remain humbled by your partnership in the glorious gospel. Please let us know how we can be praying for you.
Grace and peace,
Newton, Vanessa, Chisomo and Karabo!