How quickly this year is progressing. We are already in the third month and my prayer is that you are already spending yourself for the sake of Christ and his gospel.
There has been a huge focus on the subject of revival these past weeks, which is not a problem, but we should be careful that we do not get so swept up with the emotional euphoria that the media creates around speculations of a move of God.
Instead of focusing on a particular event—whether we believe it to be a genuine revival or not—we should be the ones crying out like Isaiah, “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence” (Isaiah 64:1).
It’s right for us to be vigilant and discerning, to warn and to encourage, but we should be more diligent in seeking God’s face with repentance and faith, showing greater commitment to the local church and faithfulness to prayer and the study of God’s word and evangelism.
Every great spiritual awakening has resulted in a huge emphasis on evangelism. Many churches have lost their zeal for evangelism. Some pastors do not believe that it is their responsibility to model what it looks like to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). Personally, I think it’s a pride issue. It’s as if our theological education and pulpit status has made us too professional for the work of evangelism. Yes, we preach the gospel from our pulpit, but to go where the lost is? That’s just not me! Well, it should be you! It should be you and the rest of the church following your example.
I like J. Mack Stiles’ simple and clear definition of evangelism: “Evangelism is teaching the gospel with an aim to persuade.”
Evangelism glorifies God through the teaching and proclamation of the gospel. It exposes man’s sin and need for forgiveness and inability to obtain it on his own. It points men and women to their need of a Saviour without whom they are doomed to suffer forever under the wrath of a holy God who is their Creator, whom they have rejected. The gospel reveals the lovingkindness of God the Father, who sent Jesus, his eternal Son to become flesh (John 1:14) and to live the righteous life we should have lived (Matthew 5:17) and died the death we should have died, taking upon himself God’s wrath, our punishment (Isaiah 53:5–6; 1 Peter 2:24). On the third day, he rose again overcoming death (Luke 24:6–7; Romans 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:54–56) and defeating the devil (Colossians 2:15) and, after appearing to his disciples, ascended (Acts 2:22–35) to be seated at the right hand of God the Father (Romans 8:34) where he ever lives to make intercession for all who comes to God through him (Hebrews 7:25).
Evangelism must be motivated by a passion for the glory of God. It is this passion for God’s glory that overflows in a deep love for lost sinners to be saved. God is glorified in the salvation of sinners!
If evangelism is “teaching the gospel with an aim to persuade” then it must be more than a program or an event. It must be a personal lifestyle and it must be the very culture of our churches.
This culture of evangelism is grown, developed, and nurtured in the local church. It is part of the worship of the church. Our Sunday church services need to be saturated with the gospel and its implications on those transformed by it. It is heard in the songs we sing, seen in the ordinances, proclaimed in our pulpits, and experienced in the way we practice church discipline and in our reception of new members. It must be the culture of our church that, regardless of the occasion, whether it be a wedding or a funeral, Christmas or Mother’s Day, the gospel will be clearly proclaimed with an aim to persuade.
The Maneville Family
This year started with an exciting development for me as a pastor. The church gave me the privilege of taking a three-month sabbatical (more about this later). This was obviously welcomed by my wife and has had a remarkable impact on our family.
My wife and I have grown in our friendship towards each other and I was able to do some things around the house and prove myself handy with a few things.
Chané moved out of the house and Devin will be moving the end of March. Tyran is finishing his internship as a graphic designer this year and has just turned 21. Nathan started at a new school in our neighbourhood. Noah also started a new crèche and we are trusting the Lord if all works out that he will be home-schooled from next year onward. Please continue for the salvation of our kids.
I am so thankful for the gospel influence of church members over our kids. I’ve been asked by one of my kids how a person would know if they are saved when they’re still struggling with sin. This question came when asked what the most difficult question is. It was a serious moment and an earnest enquiry. Oh, how I pray that it is a growing work of God in my child. Pray with me.
For the first time in almost ten years, I now also know what it means to be on a sabbatical. I used to frown upon the idea of taking a month off, not to mention three months of complete ministry shutdown? The idea seemed preposterous and bordered on laziness … so I thought.
Being the only elder, I was definitely heading towards burn-out, feeling overwhelmed by the demands of ministry and family, and feeling alone throughout it all. Hopefully one day I’ll write about this. All I can say is that I’m grateful for a godly, praying wife and a church who granted me the privilege of a sabbatical.
The first month was not easy as I had to be weaned off ministry activities and allow those who have been called to take charge while I’m gone to lead.
Psalm 131 describes my state of mind at the moment:
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvellous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.
I needed this! My family needed this. The church definitely needed this. I needed to get my priorities right and I needed to take a step back and get a better biblical perspective on things again.
During these past couple of months, I’ve grown much closer to my wife. We’ve been reading every morning through James, 1 Corinthians, Esther, and the Psalms, and two other books: The Christian in Complete Armour and Revival Rain. Our prayer time together has been sweet with no rush to go anywhere or to be anywhere. My personal prayer time with the Lord has also been much richer.
As pastors, we can become so hammered down with ministry that our prayer life is only interceding for others and for the needs of the church, which is right. We should have the burden of the church lay heavy on our souls, but not at the expense of presenting ourselves before the Lord. That’s what the priests had to do. They first had to present themselves blameless to the Lord before they could bring the needs of God’s people before him.
It’s been good for me to be alone with the Lord. It has been humbling, heart-breaking and thirst-quenching.
I praise God for the men he has blessed our church with. These past two months has had a profound impact on the growth of the church leadership as these men has stepped up and led our church with godly fear.
I’m grateful to the pastors in our fraternal who are preaching and allowing me to ask trusted leaders from their churches to fill our pulpit. I am more encouraged by some of the men in our church whom we are raising up as future elders and church planters who are filling the pulpit and getting constructive feedback from the members. Christ is indeed building his church.
I continue to trust God for more elders. The Lord has blessed us with faithful men that are eager to serve and to learn and who loves the saints. I have much hope for the future of this local church.
I return beginning of April and am very excited about what the Lord is doing. Pray for me that I remain faithful and that the Lord grant me wisdom to lead his church with godly fear while watching my own life.
Our Month of Corporate Evangelism
For almost ten years we have set aside a month in the year where the church commits to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to those in our community. We call it our Month of Corporate Evangelism, because besides the weekly evangelistic efforts of some of our members, this is when the whole church takes the whole gospel to the whole community.
We do not have an outreach team. The church is the outreach team. It has been great to see young Christians with the support of more mature believers articulate the gospel with boldness. It helps when the members of the church are taught the gospel and how to present it. It’s better when they also see how it is done and then do it themselves with the support of fellow believers.
I am convinced that evangelism is the responsibility of the entire church not just a few members. It is the responsibility of elders to equip the saints for the work of ministry and that equipping involves modelling how it is done in order that those whom we lead can imitate us (2 Timothy 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:5–7) so that it would also be said of us, “Your faith in God has gone forth everywhere” (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
What a joy it has been to see some of those whom we have shared the gospel with visit our Sunday morning services. Being on sabbatical I had to secretly make my way to some of the streets to “rebelliously” join some of my brothers and sisters and even had opportunity to share the gospel with some gang members.
Kids Ministry After-School Program
Between the agers of nine and thirteen years, a child has already committed a violent crime in Bellville South. The youngest child to commit a violent crime was a six-year-old, who stabbed a nine-year-old in the neck for only R1.
From the age of six, we only have five years to reach a child before he joins a gang or commits a crime. If not for God’s grace, most of these kids will be on drugs, in a gang, and committing crimes within three to five years.
I will never forget the day when Quinton and I had to physically restrain a young man with a gun wanting to revenge the killing of his thirteen-year-old brother who wanted to shoot another teenager, but his gun jammed and he got shot through his head. Our kids are in trouble! They need the intervention of a church that will reach them with the gospel message and show them gospel love.
I praise God for making it possible for us to start an after-school kids’ program with kids aged 6–13. Thanks to our partnership with Mosiac Church in Florida whose missions pastor shared our burden to reach our vulnerable kids for Christ.
We currently have 22 kids enrolled and trust that as this program grows more kids will be exposed to Christ and his gospel and less will end up in this cycle of violence and abuse. Please pray for these kids.
A Mother’s Death becomes God’s Means of Grace to Her Son
Even before God blessed us with our own building, our church has always conducted funerals free of charge. We are known for burying the so-called “scum” of Bellville South. There were times when we agreed to bury people that the community and some “churches” said deserved to be thrown in a hole like dogs. We believe that everyone deserves a dignified funeral, because we were all made in God’s image and every funeral is an opportunity to proclaim the glorious gospel to people who might not otherwise hear it.
Of course, not everyone we bury is part of a gang. Recently we conducted the funeral of Cohen’s mom. Cohen is a member of our church and in our pastoral internship. At the funeral Cohen’s younger brother came under conviction and could not sleep for days. Three days after the funeral he made his way to Theo and confessed his sin and need of Christ and made the good profession. He has for the past three months been coming faithfully to be discipled by Theo with a hunger for God and his word.
This young married man was supposed to be ordained as a deacon that same week in the cultic new apostolic church where he was a member. But God…
God is glorified in the salvation of sinners. This has been our mantra for the past ten years and the reason why we are deliberate about growing a culture of evangelism in everything we do.
What a joy to hear the gospel preached, clearly and boldly to hundreds of people at funerals with people who might not otherwise hear it. We have preached the gospel to thousands of people in 2022. We have conducted around eighteen funerals reaching close to four thousand people with the unadulterated gospel. We have had Rastafarians, various Pentecostals sects and different cults attend funeral services that we conduct as a service to our community free of charge. The condition is that only we preach at the funeral. Please pray for those attending and praise God for allowing us such a platform for Gospel proclamation.
Newcastle Annual Pastors’ Conference
We are grateful that we can conduct this annual pastor’s conference through our partnership with Imprint and HeartCry. This year we had less pastors in attendance than we had last year, but we certainly had a better response. Many seemed under conviction with some of them confessing that they need to get back to God’s word and that they have been doing things in their own strength.
It was a joy and such an encouragement to share the platform with pastor Japie Van Kampen whose church has been hosting the conference for more than ten years. Please keep him in prayer as he continues graciously his fight against cancer.
Preach the Word!
Thanks to HeartCry and Church in Hard Places, I was privileged to attend a Word Partners workshop on expository preaching with our two pastoral interns, Theodore and Cohen and with my fellow cohort leaders from Malawi and Kenya. This was indeed an exciting time of digging and discovering the gems in God’s word.
Word Partners invests in the same group of dedicated pastors through a series of highly relational, interactive, and transferable workshops, for twice a year over several years. And as a pastor completes the training, he’s being equipped to train others, multiplying the impact of God’s word around the world.
Prayer and Praise
1. We thank God for another successful month of corporate evangelism. It is always a joy to see our church sharing the gospel to drug dealers and gang members and anyone they can talk to on our streets. I have been blessed to hear some of our new members articulate the gospel clearly.
2. Pray for those who heard the gospel and for many of those who visited our Sunday services because of the outreach. I was so blessed to see one of the drug addicts in our Sunday morning service. Please pray for her.
3. For the past three months, our community has had a bit of peace from the violence that is so prevalent in our neighbourhood. Praise the Lord for such mercies.
4. We started with an after-school kids’ program to keep kids off the streets and teach them about Christ. Pray for the success of this program. We currently have 22 boys in this program.
5. Pray that the Lord will provide means for the same kind of kids’ program for girls.
6. Ask God for wisdom and guidance as I make my way back from my sabbatical.
May the Lamb get the reward for his suffering!
Mario F. Maneville (Pastor-teacher)
Reformed Community Church