May 2013 and it is hard to believe that it is almost eighteen months since we relocated to our new “home” in the heart of Boksburg. We are grateful to the Lord for his provision of a place to worship in a historical building, “Die Klip Kerk.” Not only is it a beautiful building but the truth is being proclaimed from this more than century old pulpit.
Since moving to the area a number of new ministries have been started, including a Wednesday evening Bible study at the church and a regular outreach ministry to the immediate and surrounding neighbourhoods. The outreach is done on a Saturday afternoon. Members comb the streets handing out leaflets, chatting to residents, sharing the gospel as they are afforded opportunities and inviting people to attend the worship services. The children are invited to play games in the park opposite the church and after an hour or two of fun and refreshments the gospel is shared with the children and any adults who may have brought them. They are encouraged to attend our Sunday school. The Lord has encouraged us in this ministry as a number of people living in the area have found a spiritual home with us and the Sunday school has seen some growth.
We have had our share of joy and sorrow over the last eighteen months. We have had two deaths, two weddings and a birth but we have had the privilege of witnessing the work of God in the lives of a number of people in conversion and baptism, and inclusion on the membership roll. “Disciples making disciples.”
Preaching and teaching God’s word remain at the centre of our church’s life. Free Grace is a church that seeks to cultivate a love for the Lord, obedience to his word and a love for and commitment to his people, which then spills over in a desire to reach the unsaved. I have included some testimonies from some of our members (and soon-to-be members) for your interest and to the praise of our Lord.
“THE BENEFITS OF THE CHURCH IN MY LIFE”—WRITTEN BY JOSHUA LUUS, AGE 13
I have discovered that the church can be beneficial in many ways. Although many say, “Why go to church when you can sleep in and watch TV?” I have to say the church will really help you as it has helped me.
The church will provide you with wisdom, blessings and, best of all, the gospel. One reason the church is beneficial to me is that the church provides me with wisdom. Wisdom has helped me during the days to make the right decisions at school and with teammates. Another reason why the church is beneficial is that it is full of blessings. Most of the time when I arrive at church I get very excited. Why? I can’t wait for how God will bless me through the teaching of his word. I also get the gospel through the teaching of his word. The gospel is the most important of the benefits of the church, because that is how I got saved. The gospel is the whole story of Christ (his birth, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension).
Clearly the church is beneficial in many ways. For those who are seeking wisdom, blessings and the good news (the gospel) the church will help if they are a God-fearing church.
“ENCOURAGEMENTS FROM THE ZIMBABWE MISSION TRIP AUGUST 2012”—WRITTEN BY RACHELLE LUUS, MARRIED TO JHAN AND MOM OF THREE CHILDREN
On our mission trip to Zimbabwe in August 2012 there were three things I observed that have encouraged me in my walk with the Lord. They are the commonality of the Body of Christ, Zimbabwe is hungry for the gospel, and only the gospel can and will transform anybody.
Firstly, the commonality of Christians. We were twenty people from three different churches yet we all felt at home with one another. Like the body that Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 12:12, we worked well together. We had one common goal (i.e. spreading the gospel); therefore each person did his or her share with eagerness and without complaint.
Secondly, the people of Zimbabwe are hungry for the gospel. They were, almost without exception, warm, friendly and hospitable. They listened gladly to the gospel, testimonies and asked questions. When given a copy of John’s Gospel, they would take it with both hands. It seems their field is white for the harvest (John 4:35).
Lastly, I think only when we realize our utter dependence upon Christ can we be transformed by the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:16). As people we have to come to a point where we are desperate for truth—tired of lies, before Christ can transform us. I think Zimbabweans are at this point.
What has encouraged me as a daughter of the Most High is that God is at work everywhere. He will build his church regardless of circumstances (in spite of circumstances), and I get to be part of the building process. Not just another brick in the wall.
TESTIMONY OF JOSEPH GAGE, AGE 19
When I finished high school in 2010 I knew I had to take a gap year in order to earn some money for my studies. I also needed a car and some time to sort out my matric paperwork from overseas. I found a job I really liked even before I was finished with high school. I applied for the post I wanted and got the job on a two year agreement.
The name of the company where I worked is Camp Discovery. It is a leadership and adventure centre for school, team building and other similar groups located 60km north of Pretoria, just into the bush of Limpopo . I became a facilitator there and my responsibilities included writing programs for groups, basic maintenance on activity equipment and taking groups for activities such as game drives, obstacle courses, archery and air rifles. It is a really well managed place with incredibly high standards in service and product delivery.
I was forced to adapt to living away from home and my family for these two years (I had around eight off days a month). I also had to conform to the high standards and uphold them and improve upon them to the best of my ability. I had up to that point hardly any responsibility compared to what I had there. I managed, by God’s grace, to excel there and I became the head training facilitator and for the last four months of my career there I was the assistant manager. Through all of this I learned and grew more than ever before in my life. Added to that I met literally thousands of people and was able to share God’s Word with many of them. Camp Discovery will always have a special place in my heart because of my experiences there.
But there was one thing I left behind for those two years which was difficult for me. I left my church family behind. I was hardly able to attend one Sunday service a month with my off day situation and I also missed out on many young adult meetings, Bible studies and other church events. Whenever I did visit my church I just felt as if it was the best place to be.
I have been attending Free Grace Baptist Church since 2000 and although it has never really been a large church in numbers or one about which you always hear amazing stories, I still love my family there. Every week I have my spiritual batteries recharged and I am always blessed by the meetings and ministries.
Having missed out on all of that for two years I was incredibly excited to return at the end of my Camp Discovery career. I have been back since February this year and I have never been more excited about it. I feel like I missed out on a lot during my two years at Camp Discovery so now I attend eagerly as many meetings as I can. Added to that, I have my fellow members of the Body of Christ around me all the time to pray with me, to share burdens with and to fellowship with in Christ.
The local church is the centre of my life as it is the core of my service to and relationship with God. I am truly blessed to be a part of the loving family of the body of Christ which will one day worship Him forever and always in heaven.
TESTIMONY WRTTEN BY TRINA HURRICHAND, MARRIED TO LINESH AND MOM OF TWO DAUGHTERS
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary and they will walk and not grow faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
My husband, Linesh, and I never understood fully the value of this Scripture verse until May 2008 when we found ourselves learning first-hand how to trust God. With a toddler and another baby on the way we had to put our trust fully in the Lord when Linesh lost his job. With every month that passed by and no income coming in we found ourselves learning how to trust God for provision, and never once in that two-year period did we ever go hungry or be without a place to live.
In July 2010 God answered our prayers and Linesh got employment in Pretoria, but this meant that he had to leave me and the girls in Newcastle and go away for training for a year. Once again we felt like we were thrown into a world of chaos. I was devastated and felt I could not function without my “rock.” As the months passed by the Lord taught me that I was not alone and that he was with me. The Lord became my rock. I prayed for Linesh to excel in his studies and even under the most horrible conditions, he graduated Cum Laude in 2011. God is faithful. He supplied all of our needs.
We now faced a new challenge. Linesh was told he had to relocate to Kempton Park. We had no money to move our belongings and no place to live. We were yet again in a situation which seemed impossible. Against all odds I knew God would provide. I remember falling to my knees and thanking him that he would provide us with a new home and reunite our family. We were down to four days and still did not have a solution or answer from God. We spoke to our pastor and asked him to send an email to the churches on the East Rand area enquiring if anyone could assist us and we continued to pray and trust God. We finally got a call and a member of Free Grace Baptist Church had a place that we could use temporarily.
God had not only given us a place to live but provided us with a place to fellowship and grow in God’s word. Our new church family has filled a gap in my life since my having to forsake my Hindu family to follow Christ. The teaching we have received, focused on God’s holy design for our lives, has meant we have begun a new journey with the Lord. I have found myself inspired by the older women of the church and encouraged to strive to be a godly wife and mother, enabling our family to be even more closely knit together.
THE OMELO FAMILY’S TESTIMONY (NEW TO FREE GRACE)
This journey started last year towards the end of the year after having moved to Boksburg from Port Elizabeth. I had moved up to start working for one of the biggest international companies having worked and lived in PE ever since. Back home I had stopped going to church in 2009 since I thought all the churches around were infiltrated with the Charismatic or Word of Faith teachings. The ones with sound teaching were distances away, and I didn’t have a car at the time. My wife, on the other hand, had been in Johannesburg since her tertiary life and had been rooted in one of the big mega churches in Randburg.
Having moved up to Johannesburg it gave me a lot of hope that among the numerous churches available I would surely find one that could be my spiritual home. So, as soon as I got here, I hit the web, browsing carefully through the statements of faith of the churches I could find to determine whether they would be worth my visit. Initially I would skip the Free Grace Baptist Church web page just because of the Baptist tag. I was not sure what it entailed. After being disappointed with the kind of churches I came across, I decided to have a look at what this Free Grace Baptist was all about, especially since they mention something about the Solas. I was happy with what I read from their statement of faith and decided then that I would pay them a visit. When I did go to the church one Sunday morning, I told myself right then that the type of teaching I was listening to was worth much more than that one visit, not caring about the Baptist tag. I brought my wife over for a few visits before our wedding in December, and to my surprise and delight, she was also happy with what she heard and had no problems switching churches after we would be married.
We have been attending here as a family since we got married and our lives have been blessed in a way we can’t explain. We think that the church is an example of what a true church ought to be; i.e. sound biblical teaching, a pastor who is selfless but has God’s glory and passion for Christ as agenda, leaders and shepherds that deeply care for the flock, everyone knows and cares about one another, and many more. We have also made it a point to take advantage of all the available opportunities that would be there for our spiritual growth, be it Bible studies, fellowship, giving, marriage counselling, outreach or anything that comes our way that ultimately exalts Christ Jesus and glorifies God.
We have ever since seen God at work in our lives both individually and also in our marriage. I am seeing my life goal (Christlikeness) getting to motion in a determination that I have never seen in the past, thanks be to God for the preaching that is designed not to feed my fleshly lusts and greed or to make me feel good. I am witnessing a significant spiritual growth in my wife, seeing God working a sanctifying work in her as well, as observed in a change in many areas of her life. There is lot of what she believed that would concern me, but she now refutes and rejects. There are so many other things that we continue to marvel at ever since we were exposed to this church and its sister churches that we would visit when opportunity comes. We thank the Lord, Christ Jesus, for his sovereign providence to have orchestrated our being part of this church.
In conclusion, we truly praise the Lord for his steadfast love and keeping power, thankful for all his blessings and all the opportunities of service through the various ministries of our church. We are confident that he will help us to persevere and to stand fast as we face the challenges that lie ahead. Our desire is to be salt and light in the community in which he has placed us.