Dear friends, family, brothers and sisters in Christ,
Telda normally writes the Peskett Post, for which I am grateful, but Richard has written this one. It doesn’t contain much news of what is happening outside of our own home—because not much is happening! We are living in strange times, but how good that our great God is “large and in charge” and working all things out for his glory and the good of his people. Our times are in his hands (Psalm 30:15).
I write this on Day 20 of lockdown in South Africa. In Nelspruit we have, like you, been massively affected by the spread of COVID-19. However, as I write I am filled with thanksgiving for the many testimonies of God’s grace that we are hearing and seeing all around us. We have a few extra people in our home—a retired couple from the UK (they were visiting us on holiday, celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary, but have been unable to get home), and a couple of members from NBC. (We currently have 24 members.)
Here in South Africa, we are not allowed to go out for a walk, so we have had much time to get to know each other! We have enjoyed extended family Bible time each day, hymn singing around the piano, numerous games, and the opportunity to taste cooking from around the world! Psalm 133 tells us how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity. How true this is. We have also used the time to try and memorise Romans 8 together, although we are making slow progress. All our guests have pitched in helping with the chores and Telda has continued homeschooling Andrew and Tyler.
Our last Lord’s Day gathering was on 22 March, in our garden! Since then it has been WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, and emails only. I have continued to preach for the Lord’s Day, and the church has been faithful in listening to the sermon (uploaded to our website). Here we are at home in Week 2 praising God in song before sitting down to listen to the sermon together. The lockdown has challenged me and made me more aware than ever of my responsibility to shepherd the flock entrusted to me. I have been busier than usual calling people, preparing daily devotions for the members, and listening out for any who are struggling. The members of NBC have been good in keeping in touch with each other, encouraging each other and even praying with each other over the phone. I am thankful that all our members are able to use WhatsApp or similar, although some of the congregation are harder to reach, especially those who come from the townships.
I have tried to keep up with training men as usual. Ironically most of them, who are either not working at all or are working from home, have had more time to read the assigned books than usual. This month, it is Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul Tripp. We hope to have our training on Saturday via Zoom.
We now have a local pastor, Jabu Thethwe, regularly joining us. He is Siswati speaking and delights in the preaching of MacArthur, Sproul and Lloyd-Jones! We are becoming good friends and he is eager to be better equipped in handling God’s word. I have been asked to preach at his church twice and I hope he might be a means to reach many Siswati speakers with the truth of Jesus Christ.
I am aware that the lockdown is still in its early days, and we have seen little of the virus’s effects here in Mpumalanga. Some folks in the church have been cut-off from family, and others are unsure whether or not they will get a salary next month. But by God’s grace all our members are confident in the Lord, that he is sovereign and good, and there is a noticeable absence of fear amongst these dear brothers and sisters in Christ. How unlike the people around us who don’t know the Lord. (I met a man just before lockdown, an unbeliever, who was literally wringing his hands with fear for his family). I am very aware of how little we are able to evangelise those around us at this time. I have been used to chatting with people on the street and at the shops, and most of our members are enthusiastic in sharing the gospel with colleagues, but none of this is able to happen currently.
Praise God that we are all healthy, and I am in good spirits, especially thankful to God for his faithfulness and his presence with us. Please pray that I would remain faithful, depending upon him for wisdom and my joy, that I would care for Telda well, and that our boys would be saved.
“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30). Hallelujah! What a Saviour.