Dear brothers and sisters,
Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We thank the Lord for his sustaining grace in the life of Hope Bible Church. We are fortunate to have a number of men who are very involved in the church and committed to the church. In the past three months, we have given them increased opportunities and serving in areas such as leading services, giving children’s talks on Sunday mornings, leading young adults and helping with our discipleship groups.
Some time ago, we had reported that there was a decrease in attendance, but we praise the Lord that we can report that we have been encouraged to see a slight increase in attendance by members and regular visitors. The number of new visitors to the church has also increased in the last two months. We have also rolled out a personal discipleship initiative during our Sunday morning prayer meetings where we focus on how we can encourage, support, and better pray for people attending the church. The rest of this letter will provide more details on various aspects of the life of the church.
My wife and I have been doing well in the Lord. One of the things we praise the Lord for is that we, together with our children, enjoy good health. Except for me, when they are ill, they usually require a pill or rest to recover. I have chronic migraines but by the Lord’s grace it is only once in a while that they put me down. I have tried a number of doctors and none have helped. They find the headaches inexplicable, but nonetheless the Lord has enabled me to keep going, which is why I can say I enjoy good health. My devotional on Habakkuk has been greatly encouraging. I have been complaining to the Lord like him, and so the Lord is helping me to live by faith and trust in his mysterious yet wise, sovereign ways.
Keitu is enjoying the staying-at-home momming, and home schooling Warona. Warona is a joy to teach. She plays a lot, and enjoys playing, to the point you would think that she is not learning anything, but surprisingly she absorbs everything thing she learns. Just yesterday I was doing brainy blocks with her and she put together blocks I struggle to figure out how to put together. She also enjoys church and spiritual things a lot. She enjoys her devotionals with her mom. Tikvah is just a joy to have around. He requires not much attention. He uses the entire house as his playground.
I concluded my part time engineering services with the company I did contract work for at the end of October and plan to spend time in serving the church as best as we can. I am grateful to the Lord for having given me this part time job as it has enabled us to see the work here at Hope come off the ground, especially during the inception years.
The Lord continues to be very gracious to me. I recently read through the prophet Jeremiah and have been struck by how the Lord continued to extend mercy during a time of judgement. I have also been encouraged reading through J. C. Ryle’s book, Holiness, with a brother in the church. I enjoy singing hymns and songs with the Lord’s people and my brother Tsholo has a knack for digging out wonderful congregational hymns to sings. Recently, with the suggestion of brother Ernest, he introduced us to “My Worth I Not in What I Own” (“At the cross”) by the Gettys. Listen to it here.
The last two months have been busier than usual in the life of the church. In addition to all our normal meetings, we had to arrange two African Pastors Conferences (APC). We usually only have to do a conference here in Bloemfontein but this year we were asked to start another conference in Botshabelo, which is about 60km east of Bloemfontein. These conferences are meant to equip and support the teachers and leaders of local church. This year’s conference theme was “The Defining Features of a Biblical Church.” The conferences leaned quite a lot on the kind of content covered in Mark Dever’s book 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, and in fact the book itself was given out as a free book to all the delegates. A number of the folk in the church worked really hard to make the conferences happen.
Tsholo has been making steady progress preaching through the book of Hebrews on Sunday mornings with Richard filling in here and there concluding his series on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. We recently came to the end of our evening service series entitled, “Why We Believe What We Believe.” We trust this was helpful to the people. We hope to start a new series on thematic prayers in the Bible during the month of November. We continue with our Wednesday Bible study series in the Gospel of John. This has been a very enriching experience to get to know our Saviour better through the testimony of his beloved disciple John. The Young Adults have concluded the study of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith and have started studying Kevin DeYoung’s Taking God at His Word.
Since our last newsletter, we had two fellowship meals and a “braai and song” evening. With these meetings we wanted to be intentional in providing opportunities for relationship building and sharing of testimonies as a way to edify and build up the church in addition to our public teaching ministries and personal discipleship initiative.
We continue with our Saturday street evangelism ministry and recently we went out on a Friday evening as part of our YA meeting into our neighbourhood to share the gospel. The Lord has given us so many opportunities to share the gospel with strangers over the years. More recently, we have handed out thousands of our own gospel tract, “Are You Saved?” Please pray with us that the Lord will grant us conversions. We really need to see the lost saved.
Sunday discipleship has become a strong feature of our ministry over the last two years. We currently have two groups running. The first group is for newcomers to the church and we take them through basic discipleship lessons. The second group is meant for those who have completed the first course. We are currently going through the spiritual qualities of a maturing Christian. We are indebted to Brackenhurst Baptist Church for allowing us to use their discipleship material.
Our Monday men’s group continues to meet to evaluate our worship services and the preaching we hear with the intent to help one another improve in the way we serve in the church.
Please continue to pray for us as a church. We really need the Lord’s hand of blessing upon us. The Bloemfontein context is challenging, with nominal Christianity, the prosperity gospel, and racial prejudices as the order of the day. We are a small church and pray that the Lord will grow us spiritually and numerically so that we can be a faithful and effective gospel witness in our city. May the Lord grant us conversions and may he enable his people to persevere in the faith and delight in him more.
Our township ministry initiative has been placed on the back burners for a brief period. We do however want to pick up on this ministry towards to the middle of next year.