Greetings, sisters and brothers,
At the start of this year, I did a lot of reflection on the year that 2019 was. This reflection reminded me of a book I read many years ago. The book is by Dr Gary E. Gilley, and the title is This Little Church Stayed Home.In it he explores the temptations of many churches to give in to modern trends and give up fidelity to the Scriptures. He calls us to remain faithful to sound doctrine and make the word of God paramount in our lives and in the life of the church.
This became my prayer for Hope Bible Church for the year 2020 and beyond: that this little church will not go to market but would stay home. Staying home is tough. It means doing the same things over and over, until Jesus calls us home. I am thankful for a little church that wants to stay home, a church that gathers corporately every Sunday to hear the same gospel message that saves the lost and edifies the saints. The gospel remains of first importance to us.
This time of reflection resulted in the Lord impressing on my heart for us, as a church, to focus on gospel-life in the church and gospel-life in the world. For living out the gospel in the church, we are embarking on a study through 1 Corinthians together; and for gospel living in the world we are embarking on a study through Ecclesiastes. These two are the main preaching series in the church. I will be preaching through the former and the men will be preaching through the latter.
Pictured here is Clive. We saw Clive read the Scriptures for the first time this year. He has been an adherent for a while now. It was good to see the Lord use him to do Scripture reading for the first time, adding to the number of the men who read. This means eight men in a small church of 21 members.
In the evening of every Sunday, for our prayer meeting, we have begun a series looking at the “whoever” proverbs in Proverbs. They are clearly seen from the ESV translation. They are for practical living, because part of the Great Commission is “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Our evening service is a prayer meeting, where we pray for the needs of the church and missionaries every Sunday. We have a special “mission focus” each week.
On 12 February, the church voted to adopt its own constitution. This means Hope Bible Church is now a fully constituted church. We praise the Lord for his goodness. The process of constituting began while Richard, the pioneer, was here, so he is the one who was mostly used by the Lord to guide us and laboured very hard for us to be constituted, so we thank the Lord for him. What we are now praying for is to appoint elders from within HBC—and deacons.
I have been encouraged by reading the book of Acts. The life of the apostles and other believers in this book is a challenge for all of us in the church today. They lived sacrificial lives and they prized the purity of the church highly.
Our family is busy. We praise the Lord that home-schooling our children is starting to take shape. Besides the books, we have started doing extra mural activities with other home-schooling families in this small city of Bloemfontein. It is not easy to home school in this city, but we are managing by God’s grace.
- Pray for conversions and for people to stay on at Hope. Seeing that it is the beginning of the year, we have many visitors who come every Sunday, but unfortunately many of them do not stay.
- Pray for the young adults to commit themselves to the church.
- Pray for elders and deacons.
- Pray for the women’s ministry to thrive.
- Pray for this little church to stay home.
Grace and peace to you,