Grace and peace be multiplied to you.
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God” (Psalm 84:1–2). This has been my song this month. May it be yours forever!
This month, more than others, I have felt the loneliness of pastoral ministry. Not that I was alone. I enjoyed spending time with my wife and had good fellowship with the church. I guess much of it was due to expectations that I placed on my broader faith-family. I have felt misunderstood and as if the commandment to “Bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) seem to be more talk than an actual sacrificial giving of oneself to each other. Oh, that the Lord will help me to bear the burdens of believers even when they are not part of our local church!
It is hard when you’re a small church in a poor area. It can be easy to lose heart when you look at the privilege and measure of ease some wealthier churches have. It is easy to get wrapped up in this whole social justice debate when you are at the suffering end of it. How easy it is to deny God’s grace and to allow for a “root of bitterness” to spring up and to cause trouble (Hebrews 12:15).
Praise God for his word that keeps me sane! Praise God that he is sovereign and that he has called us to live where we live and given us his grace and presence to endure in the midst of trying circumstances. Praise God that he is sovereign over his church and every local expression of it. He will build his church!
Psalm 84 has been such a blessing to me during this time. It is as if God was just redirecting my attention to the bigger picture: A dwelling place—a home—is what he is to me and all those whom he placed under my care. HE IS MY DWELLING PLACE! Hallelujah!
I have found a home in him. “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God” (Psalm 84:3).
Personally, this is where I’m at—I’m at home.
My wife is doing well. She is truly a strength and an encouragement to me. The Lord really knows how to pick out the right wife for his stubborn children.
Please pray for her as she is a bit anxious going back to work this week and having to leave little Noah with granny. Noah is growing fast. He’s turned six months a few days ago and started eating solids. He can already sit up by himself and clap hands when mommy sings to him. He is full of laughter and energy. What a joy!
By God’s grace, I was afforded an opportunity to travel to Scotland for an intensive on church planting in hard places. This is part of a two-year apprenticeship program with Church in Hard Places sponsored by Acts 29, 20Schemes, and 9Marks. The aim of the program is to equip church planters who are planting churches in poor areas.
This was a much-needed time of learning and reflection as we met and heard from those who are planting churches in poor communities. We learned from those who made huge mistakes and even had to close shop and start all over again. We were also encouraged to see how God uses the difficulty of working in a hard place to produce unspeakable joy.
One important factor that stood out for me, which I believe is neglected by many, is the fact that you should not start planting a church if you and your team do not have a biblical ecclesiology. Knowing what a healthy church is, is essential to planting a church that carries God’s blessing. It is not enough just to have an accurate understanding of the gospel, conversion, and evangelism. You need to have a biblical ecclesiology in order to rightly shepherd and oversee those who comes into the fold. It is important that we do God’s work, God’s way for God’s glory alone!
We are reaching our final leg of our elders training and assessment. After a year of mentoring and discipleship we will now work through 9Marks’s Church Elders and a few chapters of Phil Newton and Matt Schmucker’s Elders in the Life of the Church. We praise God for blessing us with godly men who meet the qualification for eldership.
Saved from Another Gospel
A young lady started visiting our Bible study about three weeks back. We are currently working through the 9Marks book What is a Healthy Church? She visited as we were about to go through a biblical understanding of the gospel. Halfway through our study she had many questions. She made a profession of faith a month ago, but her pastor told her that she is not really saved and that salvation is a process. He also told her that, after she believed in Jesus, she needed the saints to wash her feet otherwise she has no part in the body of Christ. She used to be a drug addict and still struggles with temptations to do drugs, but she really wants to serve the Lord and be part of his body. She wanted to know whether she is saved. After explaining the gospel to her again, and what the evidence of true conversion is, she was still hung up on the whole idea of having her feet washed so she can be part of the body of Christ. We showed her what the Bible teaches in Galatians about “another gospel.” She went to her pastor and told him what she learned in our Bible study and was consequently told that she is not part of the church. She has been since coming to our church and is faithfully attending the Bible studies.
Please keep her in your prayers. The father of her child is a drug dealer. She broke off her relationship with him because she wants to serve the Lord. It is a very difficult situation for her. As a church, we are trying to help her through this. She is currently being discipled by Quinton and his wife and has weekly meetings with my wife and Theodore’s wife.
Youth Attending Bible studies
We are so encouraged by the young people that have started to join our Sunday evening Bible studies. They are showing much interest in the Scriptures and have a good understanding of the gospel and their condition before a holy God. I am sometimes surprised at their level of understanding with regards to the doctrines of grace, which is as a result of our Friday youth outreach program, but at the same time I fear that this head knowledge might give them a false sense of security. Please pray that the gospel will penetrate their hearts and save them.
Our Plea as a Local church in a Hard Place
Second Samuel 12:16–17 comes to mind as I write this: “David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them.”
My heart bleeds for my community! Like David, I will beg and plea while there is still a glimmer of hope!
Here’s what we are faced with: A well-known prosperity church that has close ties to gang bosses has offered double the price for the building that we want to buy. These are the same guys that started a church a few years ago in Bellville South through which they laundered money and sold drugs (this is a fact known in our community). They used the “church” as a front for all sorts of wickedness. They even used their “church” facility as a “drug rehab centre,” sponsored by the government but run by drug dealers. These are the same guys that ripped of many pensioners who lost their homes through a Ponzi scheme they ran to the value of R330 million. We prayed for years that the Lord would remove them from our community and about a year ago the Lord removed this false church. I think some of you will remember in previous reports that I wrote, where I mention about the gangs also planting “churches” now.
This is a David vs. Goliath situation. We are small, but they seem big. We do not have money, but they have millions!
Here’s the reality I need you to see and feel: The building we want to buy will either be a place of gospel proclamation OR a place that will spew forth a false gospel and enslave our people further to all sorts of evil, deceiving many and confusing seekers. This building can be a house of prayer for all nations OR a den of robbers!
There is also an unscrupulous businessman who wants the building. He wants to convert it into apartment rooms to be rented out cheaply for whoever wants a place for a night. That is a nice way of saying that he wants to turn it into a brothel for prostitutes. There are some guys in our community that are using their homes for brothels. The building is strategically placed in the centre of our community and is the perfect place to run any sort of evil activity from.
The reality is this: This building can be either a centre for the worship of Christ OR it will become the house of prostitutes and all sorts of immorality that breaks up marriages and destroys any bit of family values and curses a nation. It can be a witness of Christ and his gospel OR the bed of death that leads men to hell.
Getting this building is not just about a small faithful local church that wants to move into a permanent structure. This is so much more than that!
Oh, how I pray that the Lord will not judge our community so severely as to allow this building to fall into the hands of wicked men.
I know God works through his church. I hope he will work through you!
We still need R2.4 million ($166,000) before the end of this year to purchase this building. I plead with you to pray for us and while you are praying to dig deep into your pockets and give towards this end. Is there no balm in Gilead? Does God’s church not have the means to pay for this building?
I have heard legitimate concerns, such as:
Will they be able to maintain the building if we help them? Answer: Yes! It will cost us about R5,000 ($450) per month to maintain the building. Our church is able to fit this bill. I should also add that we are a faith community and we’ve seen how the Lord has sustained us. I invite those who doubt to come to see and hear for yourself.
What if we give money and you still lose the building? Answer: Make a pledge and if all pledges amount to R2.5 million you can release the funds, if not, you can keep the funds. We would prefer to use funds for buying land in our community. We are committed to having a visible witness in our community and are not seeking a building or land outside of it.
Please hear our cry for help! I pray your heart to be moved to action.
Please DO SHARE our need with those who might want to contribute to this end.
Support Account Details
To offer support from South Africa, use the following details:
First National Bank
Account Name: Reformed Faith Mission
Cheque Account: 62505439663
Branch code: 200910
Reference: Building Project
To offer support from the United States, use the following details, visit this link and use Reformed Faith Missions Community Church as the reference or in the memo.
To offer support via PayPal, go here.
Thank you for taking time to read this report. I trust you were encouraged and moved towards greater endeavours for our Lord.
Yours in his service,
Mario F. Maneville
Reformed Faith Mission