Good afternoon all,
Please find an end-of-year report from Sammy Leballo and Moletsane Baptist Church in Soweto, South Africa.
The ministry highlight of 2022 was certainly the church’s Systematic Theology Course.
“The one who says, ‘I have come to know him,’ and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps his word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in him: the one who says he abides in him ought himself to walk in the same manner as he walked.” (1 John 2:4–6)
My wife is committed to sewing, which illustrates how the recurring word throughout the week serves as our pattern. To make a dress, you first need a pattern of how to cut and sew it. Just like a dress, which is cut and sewn according to a pattern, so our lives are and should be a pattern for others to follow. All the time, in every way, in all of life, God challenges his children to be an example of godliness to others.
Matthew Henry said it well, “Come up as close as you can to my example in those instances wherein I endeavor to copy after Christ’s pattern. Be my disciples, as far as I manifest myself to be a faithful minister and disciple of Christ, and no further. I would not have you be my disciples, but his.”
This has been a scary and intimidating challenge so difficult that I know certainly that I can’t possibly meet it on my own. I heavily felt the pressure when few brothers came to me and requested that I disciple them and I gave all sorts of excuses and they gave all sorts of reasons why I should. I remember one brother even said, “It’s appropriate to seek to imitate you as you imitate Christ.” I agreed to engage in personal discipleship with some of these brothers, but a decision to start to a systematic theology class was then birthed.
I knew from the beginning that this wouldn’t be a class only for them but also for me and, more specifically, I prayed that God would use this to grow me in character and conduct. I asked that he would help me personally to submit to the transforming work of God’s word and Spirit. Not only did I desire and experience growth, but so did the saints who attended and finished the course.
We have experienced God’s Spirit taking God’s word and maturing God’s people through our steady and robust discussions for the spiritual growth of individual believers, which resulted in the growth of Christ’s body. I hope and pray that the saints will increasingly think and act in accord with God’s will as one continues to mature in the Christian faith.
Below is some of the feedback received from the saints.
Neo Ntsana: “I particularly enjoyed studying about the validity of God’s word—bibliology. This was my highlight of the class for the most part. It has really put God’s sovereignty into perspective for me. For if we are to believe what the Bible teaches to be true, then we must first believe that what is written in it is accurate and has truly been preserved from the beginning of time until now for our salvation. The chapter was initially challenging to grasp but eventually made sense. It has greatly encouraged me to have an even deeper appreciation of the fact that God does not need anything else to prove himself to his creation but his Word alone. His Word is absolutely fundamental to everything that we can perceive. All the other chapters really stand and exist on the foundation of Bibliology. I have thoroughly enjoyed the class; It has been remarkably helpful.”
Maja Moloi: “I’m inspired by chapter 3 of systematic theology (Bible Doctrine) that God is one and that God is God the father, the first person of the Trinity. There is only one God but also refers to each of the three persons of the Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—as equally divine to express that He is the mighty, great, and powerful God, even nature and creation prove his existence.”
Michael Mosesi: “What stood out for me was my need to study God’s word. The class as a whole was compressive, informative, eye opening, draw me closer to God’s word. I got to see how little I knew about the God I worship, given an opportunity to defend the gospel I would fail. The study of theology is not for pastors and elders only. But a responsibility for all saints, as children of God we ought to know God. Be able to defend the gospel faithfully. God is glorified when we seek to know him. The world is in need to know God, and this class has given us the tools to equip us that we may grow in knowledge of him. To grow in knowledge of God is not an opportunity to stand out and be puffed up with knowledge, but is an opportunity to represent God to those in need of him. God cannot be fully known, or fully understood by man as he is finite and his thoughts are too deep for us to grasp. Hence, we approach theology with humility and prayer, knowing we study about God to make him known.”
Broom Mwase: “What I got in this course was the effectiveness of fellowship. Here you are after a church service continuing with a study of God; that closeness, the unity of togetherness. The rest of the church members have gone home, but that hunger to know God better and to know your one another on a spiritual platform keeps you going. The course compels you to read the Bible more at home. The only challenge I now face is to be a doer of the word. When I come across a test I always say, ‘If Jesus was here, would have he have responded the way I did?’ This cause me to be humble in many ways.”
Please be kind to pray with us:
- that our love for God, his word and people will abound more and more;
- that we will desire to walk in obedience and holiness;
- that we will not think more highly of ourselves than we ought but have a desire to glorify God; and
- for next year’s equipping class, which will focus on Practical Theology. Our desire is to equip the saints with biblical knowledge to be able to live the truth, defend the faith and equip others.
There are no words enough to convey our appreciation to Brackenhurst Baptist Church for their gracious provision of tables, Antioch and Living Stone Bible Churches for supporting us with Biblical Doctrine books. We appreciate your partnership with us in the gospel.
“And for this reason, we also thank God without ceasing that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also is at work in you who believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
As we look back on the past year, we can see the many ways in which God has blessed. Each year has its own hiccups. However, the Lord guided us through all. As we look ahead to the new year, we can have hope and confidence that God will continue to be with us and lead us on the path that he has for us.
We thank God for a constant flow of new visitors and numerical growth in our membership. In 2021 we averaged 45 adults and that number increased by 35% in 2022, bringing our average attendance to 70 adults and 30 minors. Historically, our church has been very small congregation with programs of ministry suited to a small congregation. But with the number of new members, newborn babies and children, we are now having to discuss the good problem of space.
We recently met as elders and deacons to discuss whether we should consider the expansion of our infrastructure in order to facilitate growing attendance or look into church planting/ strengthening opportunities. We are of the same mind that we do desire not only a self-governing and self-propagating church but also to be a self-supporting, and therefore, to reach such we may need double or more of our current membership and will need to modify or expand our building. However, we are submitting ourselves to the sovereignty and guidance of the Lord. We can have hope and confidence that God will continue to be with us and lead us on the path that he has for us.
We also praise God for the increase in finances. Though a small percentage, it is encouraging. Our church members are learning to be faithful, generous, and deliberate about supporting the Lord’s work. We have been challenged by our members to teach at least quarterly on the subject of biblical giving in the context of the church. Please do pray with us that we may be faithful and sacrificial in our giving.
We also thank the Lord for your partnership with us in the gospel. We thank you for your prayers and financial support. As always, your generosity and partnership is much appreciated. As we continue to take baby steps toward self-sufficiency, we covet your prayers and a continued support until that time when we can walk on our own.
Yours in Christ,
On behalf of our Eldership