Greetings in the Lord,
We warmly greet you from Hope Bible Church, Bloemfontein, in the name of the Lord Jesus. We send warm greetings, although it is cold here because of the winter. We say warm because writing to update you about the Lord’s work here is always a joy to us. We must say that we are extremely privileged to have you praying for and supporting us. May the Lord continue to bless you and give you the grace to continue being faithful in the spread of the good news of the saving love of Jesus Christ.
In our previous report, we shared with you how we have been taught by the Lord to live out Romans 12:15, which says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” It seems as though this season is not over yet as we have had to practice the teaching in this verse with tension. A few weeks ago, we received the sad news of the passing of Evans Monyatsi, who had just recently started coming to the church. As far as we can tell, he seems to have come to faith, but only the Lord knows the real state of his soul. Read more about his story here.
Here we attended a very emotional and sad funeral of Evans Monyatsi. Find his eulogy here.
This was a memorial service we had for an adherent’s father who passed away in Spain.
While we were mourning the passing of Evans, which was surreal, two of our members (Lebo and Francoise) graduated from the University of the Free State—Lebo with a BA Degree specialising in Language Practice (sign language) and Francoise with a nursing qualification. Two brothers, one a member (Vernon) and one in the process of taking membership (Clive) both got jobs after months of struggle.
More Church News
We generally continue to see encouraging commitment from the members and an increase in attendance in our weekly meetings. We are soon going to have another baptism and take in new members. We also wish to report that we are doing financially better than anticipated as we are running a year to date surplus, while we anticipated a deficit at our last AGM. The Lord has been very good and gracious, and your support is really carrying us.
This month, Richard was on leave because the load he had from his secular employer was too much to handle, and since he is the only one who can manage to help his company do the job they were required to do, he decided to take unpaid leave so that he could catch up at work and help the company to meet target deadlines. Last week Sunday (23 July 2017), he returned to the pulpit again. During his leave, I handled most of the preaching with the other brothers helping here and there.
Helpfully, Richard did not go on complete leave as he was helping to do some of the other crucial work for the church. We also praise the Lord that there has not been any major issue in the church that needed counselling, and so most of the work I had to do was minimal admin work and lots of preaching.
Since the previous report, I have been appointed as an elder of the church. This means that Richard and I serve as two fulltime elders of Hope Bible Church, a rare thing in South Africa for small churches. But we see this as important, not only because we can now become a fully constituted church, but we can make decisions and appoint deacons more easily. Please pray for us as we lead the church.
Yesterday morning we had 86 people in attendance. We continue to receive visitors literally every week. We pray that many of them will become members of the church. Our membership currently sits at 24. There are eighteen on the discipleship group who are desiring to take membership. Here are a few images from Sunday morning, 30 July.
We continue to receive preaching opportunities outside the church. This is Tsholo preaching at the start of the new semester at Kyrios Independent Christian School.
Here Tsholo is preaching at a memorial service of one of the security officials in the South African Police Services.
Our Sunday evening services continue to grow strong.
On this particular day (15 July 2017) Alan Raven (Richard’s twin brother) conducted the Veritas workshop in biblical interpretation.
On 18–19 July we hosted a “Recovering Reformational Preaching,” organised by John Wycliffe Theological College and Derek Janse van Vuuren. It was very convicting.
We continue to train the men in the church to preach expositionally and edify the believers. Behind the pulpit is Vernon. They handle the Scriptures very well.
The surrounding areas around Bloemfontein are really in need of healthy churches, and it is a burden of ours to see healthy churches planted in the Free State. I have managed to conduct interviews with the local pastors to determine the state of the church in Bloemfontein. I will make the findings available once I have interviewed enough people, reported to the church, and consolidated everything.
But on an encouraging note, on 1 July, a group of the men went out to Botshabelo (about thirty minutes’ drive east of Bloemfontein) to do house-to-house evangelism and to encourage brother Revival Hlongwane, who is a pastor at Botshabelo Baptist Church.
Here we did a house-to-house outreach in Botshabelo. In picture (from left to right): Clive, Revival (pastor of Botshabelo Baptist Church), Tsholo, Thabang (member of BBC), Marvin, Alfred (member of BBC), Vernon, Ernest, and Richard taking this photo.
The Kukunis are doing well and have been graced with a baby boy named Tikvah Olam.
Tsholo and Keitu’s two-year-old broke her arm (dislocated/fractured elbow) and had to get a cast before operating on her. But praise be to God, the doctor said that, inexplicably, her arm got healed in a week, so they did not have to operate. As you can see, she is always smiling. The picture on the left was the day she went for the X-ray. The cast is still on though, but it will be removed on 7 August.
The Kukuni’s baby boy was safely born on 17 July 2017. He and Keitu are healthy, and so we praise the Lord for his grace. His name is Tikvah Olam (“eternal hope”—not him, but Christ!).
The Ravens are also well by the Lord’s grace and have enjoyed a recent visit from Richard’s brother Alan and his family.
The Ravens are also well by the Lord’s grace and have enjoyed a recent visit from Richard’s brother, Alan, and his family. (As you can see, when you are in Bloemfontein, you have to cover your face to keep warm!)
- Please pray that we would remain faithful.
- Please pray for conversions.
- Please pray that we may be able to shepherd those who are going through tough times.
- Please pray for our outreach events.
May the Lord richly bless you.
Account Holder: Hope Bible Church
Account Number: 4086594786
Account Type: Cheque Account
Branch Code: 632005