What hope we have in our sovereign Lord who works out all things to the counsel of his will! What comfort it is to know that his providence serves towards the salvation of his elect! Everything that happens on the earth is God’s sovereign providence working towards the salvation of lost souls who will be drawn to Christ through the proclamation of the gospel.
This truth should help us to see everything through the lens of God’s sovereign design for sowing and reaping the harvest. “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together” (John 4:36).
Beloved I want to encourage and exhort you: “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”
God’s sovereign providence is controlling all events and eventualities in history towards the in-gathering of his lost sheep who are scattered all over the face of the earth! Therefore, open your eyes! Can you not see what God is doing? He is drawing people to Christ! He has blessed us with an opportunity to be part of the sowers and the reapers! We have an opportunity to receive wages and gathering fruit for eternal life.
Coronavirus or any other form of suffering is here so Christians can shine with superior confidence in God! Don’t waste this time of suffering. Live to see God’s glory in the spread of the gospel!
The spread of this virus brings death and fear; the spread of the gospel bring lasting hope and everlasting life!
Several of my extended family members has been infected with the coronavirus. Two have recovered and returned back to work this week (praise the Lord!) and two are under quarantine. Unfortunately, my aunt passed on after suffering with the virus for three weeks. Several of my friends have also lost family members due to the virus. Yes, the threat is real and very close to home. I thank God for his grace that has kept my household safe so far. This is so undeserved and such a motivation to work while it is still day!
Charlene has been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis with severe pain in her joints, especially her hands and back. I praise God that for the past two weeks she had much relieve. Chané started work at a mine in Kathu and it’s back to school for Nathan and Tyran. Devin also started with some contract work and Noah is growing up way too fast. Thanks for your continued prayer and support.
For the past few weeks we have been gathering separately in our homes preaching our sermons via Facebook livestream. The three Maneville families (mom and dad, Quinton and his clan) have been gathering at our house for Sunday services which made preaching easier, but the longing greater to once again gather with the whole church.
We wanted to start with worship services immediately after the president announced that churches may gather following the government requirements, but had to make application again to the school for their hall. We’ve been meeting at the school for the past five years, but due to the COVID-19 crisis the school has decided not to rent out their hall to us. They have converted it into a staff room to accommodate government’s social distancing criteria. We are therefore without a venue to meet. We covet your prayers as we look into options for a venue.
I have been greatly encouraged to see the budding of slow, continuous sowing and watering into the lives of Pentecostal pastors. The theme and goal of the pastor’s seminars and all our interaction with Pentecostal leaders has always been “back to the Scriptures.” Sola Scriptura has been our rallying cry to them.
A month ago one of the Pentecostal pastors who used to be very critical about our church asked Brother Theo to help him with understanding the Scriptures better. He has been reading the Bible and found that many of the things that he held to was not what the Bible teaches. He also wanted Theo to help him with preaching more biblically. For the past few weeks they have been working through some 9Marks books and is currently working through 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. This is remarkable! I wish I was able to pour out on these pages the weight of joy and far reaching gospel consequences that comes with this breakthrough.
This pastor has been coming to Theo faithfully with excitement to learn more about what the Bible really teaches. It’s like the man got saved! I am so proud of how Theo has grown and how the Lord is using him. This pastor is looking for more resources to study God’s work and wants to know how “he can become Reformed.” Whatever he means by that can only be something God honouring!
I am busy putting a small library together for this pastor, which includes commentaries, 9Marks series and Bible Dictionaries. I am meeting with him and some other pastors in a week’s time for a “crash course” on hermeneutics and exposition. We will be meeting every Thursday, which will restart our Thursday preaching class that I ran with the men of our church before COVID-19. Please pray for us. Reaching these pastors means we are reaching their church members, which means more gospel in our community.
At the start of the lockdown we started with a COVID-19 Relief Fund. We raised money in order to provide weekly food parcels to the needy in our church and members from other churches. The priority is believers first, then those open to the gospel. (It’s a bit more complex than this but you get the idea.) When we reached level three and saw that some people were able to once again go back to work and make an income (this could vary from garden cleaning to domestic work to selling veggies) we decided to go from weekly to every alternative week. This relief initiative has opened up a lot of opportunities for gospel ministry. We are able to share the gospel and pray for sick people and gain more ground amongst people from the Old Apostolic “Church.” This brings me to yet another story which involves Theo and his wife.
We have been delivering food parcels to Theo’s house which he and his wife would deliver to some needy people around where they live. This was for struggling believers they knew and as a gospel opportunity to those who they reach out to. A married couple who are members of the Old Apostolic “Church” asked to meet with them at their home. They shared their desire to “join” our church, because since the lockdown their priests have not once showed any care for their welfare, but people from our church came and shared the word of God with them and cared for them by giving them food parcels even though they don’t even belong to their church. Theo took the time to better explain to them what it means to join the church and could challenge them again with the gospel. This has resulted in several visits with this couple who can’t wait for the church to gather so they can come and “join.”
This COVID-19 Relief initiative is only possible because God’s people are giving towards it. Thank you for your generosity! Thank you for enabling us to use yet another vehicle to carry not just food parcels to the needy, but to bring them the hope of the gospel!
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. It’s been a while since I’ve given an update on what’s happening in my life. I am still so grateful to the Lord for allowing me to be a homemaker and to be free for ministry opportunities as they arise. I must say that I had such a lot of plans as to how I would serve my family, church and our community in the time that I’m at home but then lockdown happened and derailed some of those plans. Knowing the sovereignty of our God and the fact that our plans are not his plans made this time bearable and it created creative thinking for ministry opportunities. I appreciate the quality family that we are able to have since our teenage and young adult boys do not have a choice but to spend time with Mom and Dad (the Lord sure do work in mysterious ways). Personally, I am faced with my health challenges, having been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which is aggravated by the cold weather, so I mostly have to “defrost” in the mornings before I can have proper joint movements. Mario says I’m Lot’s wife when I wake up! Noah, our two-year-old son, is definitely keeping my joints in check. I just thank the Lord for his grace that’s carrying me through.
The ladies from our church have been communicating through social media, encouraging and just checking up on one another. I have been going to a few of our ladies whom I thought needed personal interaction and encouragement.
I’ve been given an opportunity to reach out to one of the ladies in our community who was diagnosed with cancer. She’s going through a very difficult time. Her husband left her with two kids and there is no income. The kids on the streets are teasing her ten-year-old boy, making fun of his mother’s cancer, causing him to be very aggressive and getting into constant fights. Please pray for this family and for the weekly Bible studies I’m starting with this lady.
I’ve mentioned another lady to you in my last report who may have TB and it turned out that she does have TB and was admitted in hospital for three months. I visited her when she was discharged and the reality of the risks of reaching out to people in our community just dawned on me again and even more so with coronavirus.
I’ve also been contacted by a pregnancy helpline center that’s based in USA who got our details from 9Marks.org to help with counselling of women in SA who are considering abortions. I’ve been asked to help with a young girl who is pregnant from an older man who is married; a sixteen-year-old girl from Mpumalanga whose dad is a pastor and she is considering abortion because she doesn’t want to disappoint her dad; a lady who already has four kids and the father of the baby she is carrying now left her (she does not want her mom to find out that she’s pregnant again and is just overwhelmed by yet another pregnancy); another girl who says that she was raped by her cousin and is three weeks pregnant (she said her family doesn’t believe her and she thinks that abortion is her only solution). It has been a struggle to get hold of the ladies but I can only but try to at least reach one and make a difference. Please join me in prayer for these ladies.
Thank you for all your prayers, love, continual support and partnership with us.
- Pray that the Lord will grow his church during this period of lockdown.
- Pray that we will not waste the opportunity we have to be urgent about the gospel.
- Pray for the open hearts and transformed lives as I start preaching classes with my Pentecostal brothers.
- Pray for Charlene’s ministry amongst the woman of our community and with those ladies considering abortion.
- Pray for our family members who are currently infected with COVID-19.
Thank you for taking time out to read this report and for joining us in prayer.
Yours in his service,
Mario F. Maneville (Pastor-teacher)
Reformed Faith Mission Community Church