The Lord has been gracious to HBC over the past few months. The past few months have been a time of transition, with lots of things to do, and many people for the Ravens to say goodbye to. This means that our families needed special grace and sustenance from God. This report will outline how the Lord has been dealing with the Kukunis, the Ravens, and the HBC family during this time.
The Lord has been gracious to us as a family. We enjoy the busyness of our two little children in our home. They have a remarkable ability to learn and play without noticing that they are actually learning. They love multitasking, which is something we enjoy. Our family is knit together by God’s grace. Do pray that I will continually love my wife and show her much grace. Please also pray that my wife would love me and tirelessly rear our kids in the Lord.
I count myself extremely privileged to have been mentored and had the opportunity to learn practical pastoral living from Richard over the past few years or so. I keep telling people that Richard is the one pastor from whom I learned practically what it means to talk to Jesus. Richard talks to Jesus. It feels real and personal whenever he prays to him, and that is one of the greatest lessons I personally learned from him. One can hardly have a conversation with Richard without him turning to the Lord in prayer afterwards. Two more lessons I have learned from Richard, and have been practicing recently, are patience with the people of God and encouraging them when it is not easy to do so. Please pray that these lessons that Richard has imparted to me will remain with me for many more years to come and that, after the transition is completed, I will continue to shepherd the people of God in love.
Two Sundays ago, Pastor Richard preached a convicting sermon from Psalm 37—which has really helped my wife and I—and on that day prepared us for Communion in the evening. The convicting part was on dealing with my anger, and a challenge to wait on the Lord and to not fret myself over the superficial prosperity of the ungodly. “Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it leads only to evil doing” (v. 8).
Over the past month we have found ourselves having to pack up our lives and start saying farewell to various people who are dear us. At the moment, we have to live in virtually an empty house until our departure. During this rather upside-down time, Liza and I have had to remind one another of the importance of not allowing practical and logistical matters to become the occasion for expressing irritations or anxieties, but to rather keep on trusting in the Lord for matters great and small. The children have so far coped well with this time of transition, for which we thank the Lord.
Our last Sunday at Hope Bible Church will be 16 December, after which we will be with our sending church, Emmanuel Baptist Church, on Sunday, 23 December before we fly out to Perth on Monday, 24 December, DV.
We will covet your prayers for us as a family as we wrap up our lives here in Bloemfontein over the next two weeks and set off to Australia.
On a personal level, I have been challenged the last while to beware not to fall from steadfastness but to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as the apostle Peter exhorts us to do in 2 Peter 3:17–18.
We will greatly miss the Lord’s people here at Hope Bible Church. We do, however, trust that the Lord will place us in a ministry role where he will use us in the future.
These images were taken two Sundays ago. They say something of what the Lord is doing at Hope and how we are learning to trust in the Lord’s ways. In the morning of 2 December, we had less than thirty people attending the worship service. It’s understandable, given that the area we are in is somewhat of a hard place.
Most people who live in Bloemfontein, who are part of the working class, or those who go to tertiary, are either not from Bloemfontein or their families and friends do not stay in Bloemfontein. So, every opportunity they get (mostly during the holidays), they go away. Some visit family and friends, while some go home. We thought this was the explanation why we had so few people at church.
But, to our pleasant surprise, in the evening we had close to forty people attending Communion service. We praise the Lord that he restored our joy and the Sunday as a whole was blessed.
Over the past few months, the Lord has brought unbelievers our way whom we have developed relationships with. Two of them in particular are homeless men. We share the gospel with them week in and week out, but somehow it is not taking root in their hearts. We pray that the Lord will open the hearts of these men, that it may be a wonderful testimony to the fact that Christ came to free the poor too.
We have also had an encounter with a young lady, through a married couple in the church, who was cohabiting with her ex-boyfriend whom she has a child with. After we shared the gospel with her from Luke 19—that “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”—she initially showed signs of conviction and took a courageous decision of moving out of her boyfriend’s house that very evening to a place of her own. It has been a few days after this experience and she is battling with making progress. She is still attached to this man and is battling to decide between Hope Bible Church and her Zionist home church. She can at least see the difference between the two and has amazingly observed that everything we do at Hope is based on the Bible as compared to her home church. Please pray as we continue to counsel her—that God will give her the courage and enabling to stand on the gospel that she initially believed when she heard.
The church, close family and friends of the Ravens are busy bidding them farewell as the days draw closer for them to relocate. Two Sundays ago, the Young Adults formed a group to sing a benediction to them as a family.