Dear beloved of the Father,
It is indeed a privilege to still be able to write this ministry update and to encourage you to live full out for Jesus, making the best use of the time God’s grace has afforded you, and to seek to understand what the will of the Lord is and not to foolishly pursue your own comfort and security.
Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:14–17)
My prayer is that COVID-19 and the lockdown that came with it with all its restrictions would not slowly drive you to complacency, until you fall into a deep sleep. “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Part of the reason for writing these reports is to provoke you to love and good works, to encourage you toward meaningful prayer and to give you more and more reason to rejoice in the Lord who is always at work, glorifying the Sone who is blessed forever!
The Maneville Family
Some of you probably know that Charlene and I both tested positive for COVID-19. I think our entire household probably contracted the virus at some point. The kids had light flu-like symptoms, but nothing serious. Charlene and I had it the worst.
I was actually surprised that it took me so long to contract the virus, since our family agreed that we would still minister to the community and those who are sick from our church. We understood the risk and spoke about it at length with the kids.
In our community, it seems like people are losing their humanity and some Christians have forgotten about the “one another” commands in the Bible. We’ve visited and prayed for people who lost loved ones due to the virus and now their church and family has literally abandoned them fearing any contact with them will expose them to the virus. We had to do memorial services for people from other churches whose pastors refuses to bury them or to even come near their homes.
In a very short time, COVID-19 has become so stigmatised that those who have it deny that they have tested positive, which poses greater risk to the community and those whose loved ones died from it deny the cause of death because they fear being ostracised by family, the community, and their church.
This is crazy! No, it’s evil! Let the church be the church! Is this not the right time for the church to show what Christian love really is?
Excuse my ranting. Let me get back to update on my family.
I finally contracted the virus and was sick to the point of death. I really thought I would not make it. I even greeted my wife thinking that I would probably not wake up the next morning. I was really struggling to breathe.
I went to bed that evening in an isolated room, away from my wife and kids, and started thinking about what it would be like if I actually opened my eyes to behold my Saviour’s face. What a joyful thought! But the prayers of the saints kept me out of heaven. God is still not done with me.
After I recovered, my wife got very ill. I think she was worse than me. It pained me to see my wife like that. Throughout our married life, there were several times that I thought I would lose my wife. She’s been through so much pain and suffering. During those times I would always try to hide my stress and fear from her, but I would wear it on my face like the mask of a scarecrow.
This time was different. This time I was even more convinced that she would probably not make it. This virus is so unpredictable. One moment she seems to be getting better and the next her breathing would be so bad that it seemed like she was not going to be able to catch her breath should she fall asleep. I like to joke during such times just to help me cope and to keep my emotions in check. On our way to hospital, she told me very sincerely: “If I don’t make it, I want you to know, besides the Lord, my years with you was my best years.” Of course, I made some silly joke after this, not knowing how to handle it.
Here’s why I say this was different. The whole time my wife was going through this sickness and also struggling with rheumatoid arthritis, her whole mind was to honour God by suffering well. She did not once complain, but sought every opportunity to be thankful and to still be a gospel witness.
I would come into the room and find her on the phone with limited breath, praying for someone she just shared the gospel with. Oh, there is so much I can share, but let me just stop here. I am not trying to blow a trumpet for my wife or for me. I want to blow the trumpet for Christ! This is what he does in and through his saints. I want to be bold enough to say to you like Paul said, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Philippians 3:17).
Praise the Lord we are fully recovered and back to doing what the Lord has called us to do. We pray that he will find us being about his business and not sinful leisure.
Sola 5 Churches
I have to once again extend our thanks and gratitude to our Sola 5 family, who have bombarded us with prayers and well wishes during this time. One couple even came to visit in our house, refusing to wait outside. They came with fragrant oils that have names that I would not be able to pronounce. They prayed the most heartfelt prayer for me and Charlene that is still felt and remembered. Another couple brought us a bag full of supplements with research that backed up its usefulness to fight COVID-19. Two couples in our church also bought and delivered supplements. The love from our church and other Sola 5 churches was extraordinary during this time.
I praise God for faithful, loving, available Christians who are willing to love when it is difficult to do so.
We still allow strangers in our house and still take the opportunity to share the gospel with them.
Charlene is still ministering to a lady in our community who is going through the final stages of terminal cancer. Please pray that the Lord will open her heart to accept the gospel and come to a saving knowledge of our Jesus.
Charlene is still busy counselling women who is seeking to abort their babies. This is very difficult, because all the counselling happens via phone and these ladies are from all over the country. We are so grateful to hear feedback from the agency that refers these ladies to Charlene that two of the ladies whom she counselled decided not to go through with the abortion.
If you or your church is involved in such a ministry please contact Charlene (firstname.lastname@example.org). She is always looking for churches and believers to whom she could refer these women are in need of a Christian to walk with them.
We continue with our relief efforts to those who have been impacted by COVID-19 and the lockdown. Many have lost their jobs due to the lockdown. We are able to be a support to some of our church members and pastors from other churches who are struggling. Thank you to those who continue to support us, making it possible for us to feed a family in need.
We thank God that we are also able to help another believer who was giving soup to the kids of our community. This woman is doing this out of her poverty, literally scraping her last few cents together to buy ingredients for soup. We are so happy that we can come alongside her to assist her with ingredients for soup. This is also another opportunity for us to minister to the people on this block.
When Thato came to our church, he was very reluctant to become a member. He was a member at Brackenhurst Baptist Church who moved to Cape Town due to work. Doug was happy to recommend him to any of the Sola 5 churches.
It is usually more difficult for people to want to join a church in our areas, especially when the ministry we do here is always in your face, meaning, privacy is overrated where we live. Many of today’s Christians look for what will best fit their lifestyle, comforts, careers, etc.
Thato’s first day was met with a challenge. “Brother, so happy to have you here. We’ve been praying for God to send us solid men that will work and not be lazy!” Another challenge: “Brother, you need to spend more time with us in Bible study. We need more preachers. Here we raise up preachers!” To which he replied, “Not me, never!”
This man has shown such tremendous growth over these couple of years that we are now comfortable to have him preach on a Sunday morning. We praise God for his growth and humility and the love that he has for the saints. Please keep him in prayer.
We also congratulate Thato and Massie on the birth of their beautiful baby girl, Lemohang Thatego Mohapi.
Talking about qualified men and babies, Quinton and Jennifer were also blessed with a little baby reformer, Melanchthon Maneville. Like good Baptists we fill the pews with children.
What a joy it is to have members from our Sola 5 churches visit us. You’re more than welcome—even more welcome if you choose to stay and be yoked in together with us!
It is a blessing when you hear testimony of how the church has been praying for us for years now. How humbling it is when you are asked about people you wrote about in one of your reports a year ago. Thank you Frank, Joshua and Malebo for spending hours with us. You guys have blessed us more than you know.
- Please pray for Christians not to become complacent during this time, but to awake with zeal for their Master.
- Pray that the Lord will provide us with a venue to meet soon.
- Pray for Charlene’s ministry amongst the women of our community and with those ladies considering abortion.
- Pray for Thato and Massie who are parents for the first time.
- Praise God with us for our full recovery from COVID-19.
- Praise God for the visible support and felt love from our Sola 5 family.
- Continue to pray that the Lord will make land available for us to purchase.
Thank you for taking time out to read this report and for joining us in prayer.
Yours in his service,
Mario F. Maneville
Reformed Faith Mission Community Church