“Keep me from sinking or sinning in the evil day; help me to carry into ordinary life portions of divine truth and use them on suitable occasions, so that its doctrines may inform, its warnings caution, its rules guide, its promises conform me.”—The Valley of Vision
It is true: We live in an evil day! This truth is a daily reality that is unavoidable where I live. As I’m typing this report, I’m looking through my bedroom window and can see how drugs are destroying lives: drug addicts passing by, teenage girls walking to clinic with babies, an ex-hitman sitting on the street corner without a shirt. Just two days ago, another gang member was shot twice in his head. I can still see the cops surrounding his body with school kids mesmerised by the dead body as they pass by, coming from school. We live in an evil day!
I am thankful to God that we do not have the luxury of beautiful houses, nice cars, neatly-dressed professionals who are seemingly prosperous, living in a seeming state of blessedness in a seemingly good environment where the gospel is seemingly not that urgently needed. Oh, may the local church wake up to the reality of people who are in desperate need of the gospel regardless of the niceness of their environment!
May the Lord raise up men like Quinton and Theo, Cebo and Thato, Myron and Donnie, amongst our churches—men whose names will never be popular, but men who risks their lives for the sake of Christ and his gospel. These are men who do not shy away from preaching Christ and are willing to go the extra mile for those whom most people would rather see removed from society. These are members of our local church and I praise God for them. Our lives might be short lived here, but I pray to God that we spend it for his glory!
I’ll start from most recent events in the life of our ministry moving backwards.
Church in Hard Places
We are getting ready for our long awaited “Church in Hard Places” seminar with Mez McConnnell and Matthew Spandler-Davison. The seminar starts Saturday, 18 May and will address topics such as, “Why the Church?” “Evangelism” “Understanding Addiction,” and “Women’s Ministry.”
We were very encouraged by the large attendance to our preaching workshop presented by Jeff Gage and Doug Dunton on 4 May. This was a full day hermeneutics workshop that dealt with practical tools for Bible interpretation. This was mostly attended by Pentecostal pastors and a handful of our Reformed brothers. It was a huge blessing to the men of our church as it served as a great supplement to our preaching class, which I conduct every second Thursday. One of the Pentecostal pastors said that he was busy preaching on Jonah, but after this workshop he would have to start over again.
We were fortunate this year to attend the Spurgeon’s Fraternal with pastors from around the Western Cape and as far as Namibia. The theme was Pastoral Ministry. Topics included the following: The Praying Shepherd; The Rod and Staff of the Shepherd; The Shepherd as Husband and Father; Pastoral Themes in the Book of Ephesians; and a powerful challenge from Quinton on The Pastor Doing the Work of an Evangelist. They were three days of encouragement, rebuke, exhortation and reflection. I came away having a repentant heart and a renewed passion for my Lord and his glory.
We are thankful to God for yet another blessed seminar. We were blessed by the ministry of Doug Van Meter as he preached on the topic “What is a Man of God?” This, of course, could not be more relevant for these Pentecostal men, who love to be called “man of God.” One pastor told me that this was very difficult to hear, but he needed to hear it. We thank God for five pastors who came for the first time. They said they will definitely be at the next seminar and will bring some other pastors along. Thanks to Brackenhurst Baptist Church for releasing their pastor to us and for allowing him to also preach at our Sunday service. I have to say, the man set our pulpit on fire!
A True Barnabas
It was a real joy to have Tommie van der Walt visit us. This was a long overdue visit. As part of the HeartCry South Africa oversight committee, Tommie came to encourage the HeartCry missionaries in the Cape. It was my privilege to be his “tour guide” and to show him the different areas in which our missionaries minister. We were also privileged to have him preach at our Sunday morning service. He was a huge encouragement to us—the kind of guy you would want in your corner when the odds are stacked against you.
A Tragedy and a Testimony of Grace
On Friday, 12 April one of our members, Ricky’s brother, was shot dead in his yard in front of his house. Several shots were fired. When I got to the house, the bullet holes in the wall paled against the tragedy that just occurred. One of the gang members was wounded and rushed to hospital, but Ricky’s brother died on the scene.
Ricky being a young believer still had me worried that he might do something in the heat of all this. My first concern was to get to him as soon as possible.
As I was rushing to get to Ricky I was praying, “Lord, please keep Ricky. Please, just hold him fast.” I was met by a broken man. He was weeping over the death of his brother. What I did not see was any revenge in his eyes. My heart broke with joy when Ricky told me with tears running down his face, “I must honour my Lord. I could have done anything, but I love my God and I cannot die in my sin. I’m not that person anymore. The Lord will keep me through this.” He said many things that just once again showed me that the gospel is the only answer to our evil world. Ricky is a testimony of God’s grace!
We had several opportunities to minister the gospel to the families and the gang that was there. We were able to preach the gospel to them and hopefully persuade them not to take revenge. Ricky shared from his experience and what God has done for him. Up to now there has not been any retaliation from this gang. Praise be to our God who is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. Through the power of the Gospel, God has transformed a murderous gangster into a powerful testimony of his grace and mercy.
Sharing Christ in the Schools
We have had several fatal stabbings on our schools in the Western Cape—kids in primary school stabbing each other to death. This is simply a reflection of what is the norm in our communities. We are grateful to the Lord for his mercies and opening a door for our brother Theo to share the gospel on schools where violence seems to be the only way kids solve differences. He was able to share his testimony and how the Lord has granted him repentance and salvation from a life of gangsterism and drugs. We pray for more such opportunities.
For the past several weeks after our February month of evangelism, we have had several people from our community visit our Sunday services. Most of them are not saved, but have been attending services regularly. Even one Pentecostal “pastor,” who has banned Quinton’s name, never to be mentioned in his house again, is coming almost every Sunday to our church. Quinton confronted him for allowing his daughter to live with her boyfriend on his premises. He doesn’t speak to us, but he sits through the whole service and then leaves. I pray the Lord will save him.
Recently a young man from Congo came to visit us. He is a student at the university near us. He came and was looking for a reformed church, after the service he said that this is where he belongs. Last Sunday he wanted to know about membership classes. We praise God for such providence.
What a Good Friday
We usually join Goodwood Baptist for their Good Friday service, due to the school hall only being available to us on a Sunday morning. This time we decided to ask whether we can make use of the school hall on Good Friday for a service. I really thought that we would probably not have many people. Thank God that my little faith does not affect God’s providence. We had a full house and needed to pack out extra chairs. The same was true for our Resurrection Sunday service. God is always at work!
- Pray for those who hear the gospel through our outreaches, especially the gangs that Quinton meets with.
- Pray for the safety of our church members and for the shootings to stop. Pray that justice will prevail against those who kill people in our community.
- Pray for our outreach to the homeless shelters.
- Thank God for the progressive health and growth in our members and that their zeal for God and his gospel will only increase.
- Pray for personal holiness of us as elders that we will be able to say with a clear conscience, “Imitate us!”
- Pray that the Lord will grant us a permanent place of worship.