Greetings in Jesus’ name,
“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants” (1 Corinthians 3:5a) Notice carefully it says “what,” not “who.” We know who a minister is: He is a man called and gifted by God to equip the saints so that the saints can do the work of the ministry. The stress is upon the “what” which places emphasis upon his functions and place in the Christian church. What is said of the pastor-teacher can be applied to any person involved in ministry: elder, deacon, missionary, Sunday school teachers, Bible teacher, small group leader, or whatever. There is a broad sense in which we are all ministers, and the minister’s function is that of a servant! Paul and Apollos, who had a high calling and very important spiritual gifts, were “servants” in the kingdom. A minister is first and foremost a servant of God and then a servant of the church. As a servant, he has no rights of his own and he is called to give his life to God and to others. “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:10). A servant gives up his rights to time, his desires, his ambitions, and, to some degree, his family to serve God and man. A pastor-teacher must believe God will bless his family in a special way if he is away from them in the cause of Christ. Ministers are not men of super status but of super service! A minister is a servant who gives and gives and gives to the cause of Christ and his kingdom and expects nothing in return.
It encourages my heart to see the growth doctrinally within the church. As we delve deeper and deeper into the word, many old practices are being refuted scripturally and, after much chewing and struggle, the lights are starting to shine brightly. Many are beginning to realise acutely that there is a whole lot more to serving a risen Lord than the occasional “Halleluiah, praise the Lord” and are becoming more eager to count the cost. In saying this, we have had some that, despite counsel and plea, have chosen to return to their Catholic roots. Please pray that where there has been gospel root, that this may continue to grow and flower.
There are also many positives in our two Bible studies. More than half of our Wednesday morning group are from other churches. Please pray that, as these folks grow in knowledge, they would seek out and attend churches that indeed do teach biblical truth, not only in the odd Bible study attendance. Our Thursday evening gospel Bible study is also steadily growing, both in the child and adult study. We were able to place Bibles into the hands of the children that have regularly been attending and they have been taught how to find their way around the Bible. The dynamic of the area is such that when something is happening in the community, word gets out, we now also have some of the Muslim kids attending. One Muslim mother scolded her son for attending, and when he told her that he learnt from us, to always obey his parents, she was quite okay with him attending! Please pray that these children grow toward Christ and that their parents see change in their children, so much so that many more visit us. The adult group is very interactive, and we are very encouraged by the questions. This group is a mixture of saints and unsaved, which not only has stimulated gospel questions, but also allowed saints to grow in confidence around answering those questions. We have one lady that arrived with a stone-cold heart through life’s severe knocks. She has been a regular and I am pleased that she has also started attending Sunday services. Please pray for fruit in these studies.
We are now preaching through 1Corinthians in our Sunday service. Our service attendance has become more regular and we have also seen some visitors. We are thinking of reshaping our online sermons, as these were never meant to keep folk away from church. Please pray for the church.
We are active with the gospel message in the community and trust the Lord for the harvest. Please continue to pray that we are ready and active. I have reunited with my two Malawian Muslim friends and will speak to this next month, as serious talk has only just begun.
Please pray for our community, as we have had many home invasions, at times with the occupants at home. This tends to happen with power cuts, as we in South Africa are encountering regular loadshedding. Please pray that the Lord cause true revival and a stable economy.
Ministry Opportunities and Involvement
We have come to the end of the third term at the Bible Institute of South Africa (BISA). The students have acquitted themselves well in their studies of the Pentateuch, but the break is short, and the fourth term of the year has already begun. They will study hermeneutics this term. Please continue to pray for these students to persevere, not only in their studies, but in the ministries that they are involved in.
I have not been able to visit the prison with my BISA colleagues for some time, but I am informed by them that our brothers in the prison are doing very well. Please continue to pray for harvest in prison, our diligent colleagues that are faithful in this teaching work, and the brothers that persevere in the Lord’s work from within the prison.
Thank you for your prayers, regarding the counselling at the school, which has taken on a limited success. I say limited because some situations at the school where highly successful and sadly some were left rather dire. Much of the success was largely due to the attitude of the parents. Please continue to pray that this gospel opportunity be fruitful, and for whole, God-honouring families.
I attended our Sola 5 conference in Johannesburg earlier this month, where we met with the brothers and had a wonderful time of fellowship and teaching around missions and church planting. There were also several new churches that joined the association. Please pray for strength and perseverance in our unity.
The Cramer Family
Michelle and I are missing our family terribly. We have not had our family together for a number of years now. Only Shelby and André are close enough (200km) for Granny and Grampy visits. Please pray that we may be together soon. We are, however, very grateful to the Lord for his hand upon our lives and continue to trust in him and him alone. We praise God for his sustaining hand, in our health, safety, and provision. Please continue to pray for us and our children.
- that I will be granted an extra measure of strength, discernment and patience, when doctrinal challenges arise;
- what, we as a light in a dark place, will shine brighter than ever before;
- that Matthew will continue to grow in biblical knowledge and wisdom;
- that we might have the privilege of witnessing gospel fruit;
- that a central building will be found for gathering;
- that we will remain safe during our outreaches;
- that marriages and families will know the presence of Christ, as many broken people emanate from these homes;
- that folk will be drawn to the word and seek out faithful churches;
- that our Bible studies will produce whole, knowledgeable Christians; and
- that the foreign African brethren in our midst will be given reprieve, as the government has intention of starting a process of deportation of all foreign refugees, closing bank accounts, etc. in December. Many of our brethren’s children in the church have only known South African life and have never been out of our country.
Thank you for taking time to read my report and for praying for us.
Yours in Christ,
Des Cramer (pastor)
Coastal Bible Church
Muizenberg, South Africa