Ministry Update: Sovereign Grace Bible Church (Olievenhoutbosch, South Africa) (November 2018)

Dear brethren,

Please see below an update from the ministry of Bheki Bembe and the Sovereign Grace Bible Church in Olievenhoutbosch in Pretoria, South Africa.

Family

Our son is almost done with his final matric examinations and we thank God for him because it has been encouraging to us seeing his commitment toward his studies.

Personal Challenges

Thandi’s (my wife) health is still a challenge but we thank God for prayers and encouragement we get from the brethren.

Ministry Challenges

The month of October has been one of the most challenging months we have had as a church. We never received the lease agreement from the school leadership for the usage of one of their school halls for church services. We are not sure what caused the hesitance from the leadership of the school as the talks we had with them were very promising and we thought only the paperwork (lease agreement) was missing. Although the school leadership did raise concerns as they have had bad experiences with Charismatic churches who rented their school halls, they seemed to be more receptive towards us when they found out that we were Reformed as one of the school leaders were. We are very disappointed about this development as this school seems to be the only place we know of that is available around the Olieven township where we are. We pray and trust the Lord as we continue looking for an alternative place of worship.

On 28 October, we arrived at the church to find that our steel fence had been broken down and our church’s signboard removed. We realized that that there was a new business that was using our borrowed land and the owner of the business had apparently bought the land from the municipality. It was disappointing for us since we had an agreement with the municipality to use the land temporarily, and that we would be advised by the municipality officials of any change in the situation.

This development has really demoralized the church as we now struggle to access the church parking lot, and the activity around the church has increased. This situation however has given us an opportunity for more visitations and biblical counseling.

We are pleased that some of our church members are still committed regardless the constant challenges. We are really in need of prayer for the church and for the provision of a new meeting place.

On the other hand, we are mindful that our country, especially in townships, is losing patience with new churches because of the recent media storms surrounding Charismatic churches. There has been an effort from the people to influence the government to shut down churches or at least regulate them. We are fearful that an opportunity to plant biblical churches in the townships is slipping away very quickly, while most of the men involved in the township church planting movement are struggling with their first church plants. The enormity of the task is such that it depresses us at times.

I believe that all that we are going through right now provides us the opportunity to pray and seek God’s will for us as a church, but also to pray more for the township gospel ministry.

Encouragement

This month we encouraged ourselves with the message from Acts 18:1–11, where Apostle Paul was so discouraged at Corinth that he even quit the church planting efforts he was undertaking there. Right at his lowest point, Paul was encouraged by the Lord to stay in Corinth because he said “I have many in this city who are my people,” and the result was the salvation of a synagogue ruler and many of the Corinthians. We can only hope that God will do the same even for us in Olieven.

The T4i brethren have been a great encouragement through our temporal challenges we are facing as SGBC. We had our monthly meeting and prayed for the ministry of SGBC and the gospel to reach our townships.

We are not discouraged. We continue the work of personal evangelism, praying that the Lord would open doors for the gospel.

Progress

We continue to pray and search for an alternative place of worship. We have found other places which may be available to us, although at the moment nothing has been confirmed but we are trusting the Lord. Please pray with us.

There is a potential land to buy or rent where there was a church before. We are praying and working hard to have such a place although there is slow progress on communication with the owners of that land.

Brethren, we stand committed, hopeful and prayerful for our ministry as we anticipate a brighter future for the gospel in the townships regardless the temporal set back.