It has been a long while since we last wrote to update you about what the Lord has been doing in Bloemfontein. Notwithstanding this, we know that you have not ceased praying for us. Thank you for your fervent prayers. After reading this brief update on my family, trials, work, and blessings; please continue to pray for us.
The Lord has been good to me. He has pruned and sanctified me through the difficulties that we have been going through at church. I have been reading through 1 Corinthians asking the Lord to help me to not be like the world personally and as I lead the church. I have also been trying to blend my academic reading with devotional life. In these past two weeks, I read a total of 63 academic books, articles, and theses on 1 Corinthians. My mind and soul were engaged.
Life in my house this year is going to be tricky. Keitu resigned from the part-time teaching job she had to focus on home-schooling full-time. Home schooling has been going well. I particularly enjoy the theology time that my kids do. It involves the singing of song and Bible discussion with Keitu.
My two nieces and my sister now live with us. My brother-in-law lost his job in Johannesburg due to being retrenched from South African Airways Technical (SAAT). If people ever felt the impact and effects of corruption and state capture in state-owned enterprises, it has hit home for us. Please pray for us. We are now eight in the house. Please pray for my brother-in-law and sister to find permanent jobs to be able to support their family. Praise the Lord that they are Christians, and so the gospel helps them to handle these things well by glorifying God through trials of life.
Trials: Hope Family
During the last time I wrote to you and now, our church went through the most difficult season yet. Personally for me, it was the toughest pastoral issue I’ve had to deal with. This is because it involves people I love and care about. It was extremely painful as I had high hopes for the man I thought I was training for the eldership in the church. Unfortunately, this man and his betrothed subsequently resigned from the church, leaving the church in pain and leading an unhealthy example of how to leave the church. Notwithstanding this, I am grateful for brothers who came alongside me and gave me helpful and encouraging counsel.
Although this was an intense, and extremely trying time, it seems as if God is purifying his church and relieving us of heartache. Not to be taken lightly, but texts like 1 John 2:18–19 and Hebrews 6:4–6 help us evaluate some of the difficult people in the church.
The men in the church helped to do 1 Timothy 5:19 in this case. They extended tremendous care, love, and patience to the man. I tried my best to shepherd the church by preaching through Philippians 1:27–2:30 (about thirteen sermons in total) and applying Titus 3:10 to this particular case we had in the church. I had no plans to preach through Philippians at the time this matter came up. I was in the process of studying it to preach it in the future, but I felt the Lord drawing me towards it so that his church may be helped and protected. Everyone enjoyed this short series. Many people were particularly challenged by Philippians 2:14–18, which they found not only timely for the church, but corrective personally. Grumbling and disputing were sins so near to all of us in the church. I hope the Lord has sanctified his church.
Work: Hope Family
This has uncovered a lot of work that we have to do at church. This work involves preparing well to deal with people we accept as members in the church. We have a particular challenge of commitment and meaningful contribution in the church; both from a few members and adherents. We have identified this and the faithful members are working on strengthening the weaker (1 Corinthians 12–14).
It also involves having some kind of wedding policy for future couples and the church to prepare properly and to ensure that weddings and marriage serve their purpose of glorifying/honouring God. Praise God for lessons we learn through trials.
Blessings: Hope Family
Besides all of the above, people who remain at church are encouraging and a blessing to serve. I asked the Lord to help me to not neglect them or feel as if everything is bad while there are people who are serving faithfully. It was a sin and weakness the Lord uncovered in me, that I neglected serving with a happy heart as 1 Peter 5 and Hebrews 13:17 exhort me.
There are many people who serve the Lord well at our little church. They carry the burden with me. They bring joy to me as their pastor (Philippians 2:2). You will notice in the pictures that one of them painted our hall with bright colours to make it look fresh and lively. In addition, at the back of the hall, this member wrote, in beautiful font, 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and teaching.” This is my favourite verse, so it is a fitting reminder to all the men who stand in the pulpit to preach ever Sunday.
Pointed Prayer Requests
- Please pray for the upcoming AGM on 23 February 2022. This is the hardest general meeting of the year, especially because this is where the budget has to be tabled and passed. In this regard, please pray for the Lord to increase our finances. We are beginning to feel the pinch of many factors that are contributing to the decrease in financial contribution to the church (people leaving and lockdown impact, among others).
- We still see a number of students visit the church every Sunday. Some of them are interested in taking membership, but their commitment in attending to the means of grace is waning.
- Pray that the Lord would will someone who is able to play the piano or any musical instrument to aid in worship. Our only piano player has left under the circumstances briefly explained above. In this regard, pray that the people will not be discourage and will use their voices, the most important instrument God has given, to worship him, to sing to the Lord heartily.
- We are going to unveil a new name of the church soon. This is because we could not retain Hope Bible Church when registering the church. Pray that God would use this new name to his glory.
- Pray that commitment will improve to ease the burden on the faithful. Please pray for people to work hard and contribute to life in the church, and not just be consumers of the means of grace.
- Thank God we still have a Bible study on Wednesdays and prayer meetings on Sunday evenings, but we need to see more people attend.
Grace and peace to you,