When considering the reforms of King Josiah in 2 Kings 22–23, it is interesting to note some of the idols that was found in the house of God. Among them stood Baal and Asherah, pagan deities extensively referenced in the Old Testament. These dead idols, tempting and ensnaring to Israel, held significant sway. As tradition has it, during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel, Baal was even declared the “official national deity,” cementing their status as Israel’s most cherished idols.
Josiah’s reforms show that true personal and corporate reformation is manifested in the complete rejection and hatred of sins that were once held dear. It is the laying aside “of every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Josiah went on a national campaign to purify the nation of all forms of idolatry, but he began at the house of God. It is from the house of God that true reformation begins and spreads. Judgement must begin at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). It’s the only way we can truly reform. It must begin with us!
Josiah was not content with just removing the idols in Judah (2 Kings 23:19). He does not stop with the house of God. This is the nature of true Reformation: It spreads! Josiah goes throughout Jerusalem and Judah and even goes across the border of Judah into the territory of the former northern kingdom of Israel.
What an amazing picture of the Great Commission! We can go knowing that Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth! He reigns as King over all the kingdoms of the world (Revelation 11:15) and is worthy of worship everywhere! The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).
Josiah wanted to see the worship and glory of God restored everywhere! This should be the desire and mission of every church! That is why we proclaim Christ in the streets. This is why we are involved with evangelism and missions in the hardest places. Therefore, the genuine Christian cannot help but to be a gospel witness for Jesus.
It should be the desire of every member of the local church to see the worship and glory of God restored everywhere. It’s our responsibility as leaders to model, teach and equip the church towards this end. This calls for a commitment to the removal and rejection of all idols, both personal and corporate.
Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda. The church reformed, always reforming.
The Maneville family
My mom recently turned seventy years old, which in our culture is a big deal. This is not something that happens quietly among close family and friends. This is something that is proclaimed from the rooftops, which means we have to have two parties: one for the community and one for the family.
Both events were an immense joy and an opportunity to celebrate a life that testifies of God’s grace and the gospel impact that my mom has made in the lives of so many people in our community and family.
It was also a blessing to have all my mom and dad’s kids together, which is a rare thing since my sisters live in Kimberley.
Charlene and the kids are doing well. I am very excited about the opportunity my wife got to go to Scotland in September, through a 20Schemes sponsorship to attend a women’s ministry workshop. She is obviously excited and eager to learn as much as she can in order to benefit her ministry among the women in our church and our community.
On a personal note, I have great hope for the future during these troubling and challenging times. I look back at where the Lord has brought me from and am crushed under the weight of his mercy and love for such a weak man as I. In June 2002 I stepped into gospel ministry as an evangelist and, 21 years later, I have been kept by God’s grace. He blessed me with a godly wife who was my strength through most of it and continues to be my rock and pillow.
Baptisms and souls added
What a joy to have baptised four believers and to receive seven people into the membership of our church. These guys have been part of the life of our church for more than a year and have gone through six months of formal membership classes.
I realised, as we were baptising these believers that almost every year God has been adding people to our church.
Not only those who were looking for a biblically sound church, but also those who have been saved through our gospel witness. We rejoice over God’s gracious hand that is so noticeably moving in and through our church members.
We already have eight people waiting to enrol in our membership classes that start this month. These believers have been with us for almost a year already and are also faithfully attending our midweek Grace Groups. May the Lord continue to keep us diligent and humble as we walk in fear and devotion to our Lord.
Kids’ outreach program
I have mentioned in previous reports that kids between the ages of nine and thirteen are already involved in violent crimes. Kids only have one way to solve disagreements, and that’s through violence. This necessitated the desperate need for a gospel-centred kids outreach program. Our prayers were answered when God moved the hearts of Mosaic Church in Orlando, Florida and Wellspring Church in Charlotte, NC. to partner with us in this gospel venture to reach our kids with the gospel. With the help of these partners, we are able to employ two fulltime, godly men and one parttime lady. All of them good standing members of our church. We continue to look to the Lord to strengthen these partnerships.
Children’s Outreach Ministry Report
- Total children attending: 43
- We had 100% increase in our regular attendance. We normally had a total of 12 boys attending regularly, but now we have about 23 boys attending regularly with an overall attendance of ±43.
- Scripture memorisation: 60%
- We made a slight change to memory verses and are currently teaching them to understand the Scriptures in context. I also included a listening exercise that helps them to listen and to remember what was read. 90% struggled to remember what was read a minute ago. This, however, gets better when they become intentional.
- Discipline: 50%
- It becomes clear that in the area of discipline we will continue to struggle. Children go back to homes where the mom and dad are not always around due to working conditions and other. It is extremely difficult to present a lesson without a child disrupting or distracting others. I have found that if I visit the perpetrating child outside the program, they tend to behave better next time around.
- Themes: God’s expectations and man’s incompetence
- As teachers, we have been on training on two separate occasions. This training was very helpful. The training dealt with how to understand children with harmful sexual behaviour and the impact that domestic violence has on children.
Gang violence on the increase and our hope in Christ
On Sunday, 25 June, around 4:00 AM, we heard some heavy gun fire coming from the direction of our church building. I left for church around 8:00 AM and found the street blocked by police and a large crowd from our community. This is right next to our church. I had to drive another block to get to our church gate. I knew someone was killed. My heart broke as I watched through the church window thinking, “When will these senseless killings stop?” and praying that the gospel’s influence would be greater than that of the gangs.
The young man that was killed was a 22-year-old gang member. He belonged to the gang that usually sits in front of our church gates. This is one of the gangs that have agreed that Theo can engage them with the gospel.
Just about a month after this, on 30 July, another 22-year-old was killed around the corner from here and, on Saturday, 5 August, down the road from our church another man was killed and brutally gutted. This breaks my heart and it should drive us to desperate intercessory prayer and gospel action!
I’ve become a bit frustrated with well-meaning Christians who think that they are encouraging me by sending me messages that say, “Come Lord Jesus, come!” No offense, my dearly beloved saints. I love you and I know you mean well, but that’s not the appropriate thing to say during such times. My hope is not that Jesus will come now. My hope is that the power of the gospel will save as many as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, before Jesus comes.
Jesus is King and he has all authority in heaven and on earth, even the piece of earth that is called Bellville South. His mission, which is our Great Commission will succeed!
Jesus will come! That’s a settled reality that is a glorious hope indeed, but before then we’ve got work to do!
We need to work while it is day. Bellville South will be saved whether it happens in my day or not, but what I am convinced of is that what we do today for Christ will serve towards the salvation of all those lost sheep who must still come into the fold. Our labour in Christ is not in vain … even in the midst of these killings. Instead of praying, “Come Lord Jesus, come.” Let’s prayerfully go in the name of Jesus and spent ourselves for his cause and his glory and his kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.
One of the ministries that has been foundational in the life of our church has been the weekly prayer meeting. For the past two years we have seen a decline in our commitment to corporate prayer. This has grieved the hearts of the faithful few and, through it, God, in his mercy, has rebuked us as a church. What a beautiful thing to see the repentance of the church as we are making steady advances back to the throne room of grace. I praise God that by his grace he keeps on reviving our dependency upon the Lord. Pray for us as we continue to pray for you.
We started with our pastoral internship program last year October. The purpose of the internship is to raise up future elders and church planters for our local church. The internship is also open to likeminded churches who would want to have some of their potential elders or church planters complete such training.
Currently, we have Cohen and Theo in our internship. This is a two-year fulltime internship and these men have been working very hard.
The first year is mostly focussed around ecclesiology, biblical theology, hermeneutics, and character.
They have worked through several books and write summary reviews on chapters of the books they go through. These books include: The Path to Becoming a Pastor; The Faithful Church Planter; God’s Design for the Church; Discerning the Plight of Man; and Workers for Your Joy. They have also gone through a fifteen-lecture series on the doctrine of the church and wrote papers on each lecture.
They’ve also attended a Word Partners workshop on expository preaching and will be attending another one close to the end of August, which follows after the Imprint Weekender. This is besides their duties to prepare and lead Sunday service and sermon preparation.
Year 2 will have more practical aspects such as counselling and discipleship with continued focus on expository preaching, evangelism, systematics, eldership, and church planting. We are grateful and humbled by HeartCry’s continued support of us and of this program. Pray that the Lord will continue to raise up godly men who are theologically sound and spiritually broken with a deep dependence on King Jesus.
On a dusty note
I love our church! I was busy in the office and heard some familiar voices outside. Usually on a Saturday, if we are not conducting funerals, the voices you hear are people drunk and partying in the streets. Gang members are gambling right in front of the church gates cussing each other if someone lost, but that’s not what drew my attention.
I went down to go see what is happening and found a few of our church ladies sweep in front of our church. This was such a wonderful thing to see and such a marvellous witness to our community.
I laughed as I said to one of the brothers, “Those guys who were gambling in front of the church gate have also been swept away.
Praise in the midst of it all
- Amidst the chaos and death, God is growing this local church in holiness and adding to our number and keeping us faithful to his gospel mandate for us, which we’ve summarised with this vision statement: “Glorifying God through gospel preaching and Christ-centred living.”
- Our kids’ program has afforded us many opportunities to engage parents with the gospel. Some have started visiting our Sunday services.
- Our elderly program brought a few of the elderly into our Sunday services with two asking to join the church, opening the door for personal gospel engagement and discipleship.
- The gang that gives us the most trouble has agreed that Theo can share the Bible with them on a weekly basis. This is the same gang that has threatened us during our open-air services.
- A member’s husband has made a profession of faith after years of praying for his salvation as a church and several gospel engagements. For the past eight months he’s been growing in grace and being discipled by Cohen. This man is at every church gathering and faithfully attends all prayer meetings and outreaches. His entire house has changed and everyone in our community can see it. Praise the Lord!
- Every Sunday we see people from our community attending our services and stay for coffee, being loved on by the brothers and sisters.
I praise God for the living hope we have in our Jesus.
Thanks for getting to the end of this report. I hope you are encouraged and moved to prayer and praise.
“Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God!” (William Carey)
Mario F. Maneville
Reformed Community Church