Ministry in Tsongaland keeps on rolling.
Wet, but not too soon
Baptisms are a highlight at Trinity Mbhokota. Just not quick ones. A few weeks ago, we had several newer converts enter the waters of baptism. They gave their testimonies after a multi-month (for some, a multi-year) process.
First, they participated in public and private discipleship classes we translated into Tsonga booklets.
Then their testimonies were written out in full, which afterwards were evaluated line by line by the church leaders. They rewrote, tweaked, revised, added, and deleted passages. They practiced. The written testimony phase alone took weeks. But when they stood before the congregation to declare their faith in Christ, their gospel proclamation was theologically robust and saturated with Scripture.
Each testimony was unique. Each testimony was the same. Yes, the testimonies in Acts probably weren’t done this way. But baptisms then could get you killed. Baptisms here today could get you a badge.
Recently we finished an eighteen-part sermon series called “Twisted Scriptures.” We covered some of the most commonly twisted Scripture passages used by false prosperity preachers. We exposited texts like Isaiah 53:5 (“with his wounds we are healed”), Proverbs 18:21 (“death and life are in the power of the tongue”) and 2 Corinthians 8:9 (“you by his poverty might become rich”). One lady who gave her testimony at the baptismal service wrote:
I remember after I gave birth through a C-Section, the pastor [of the false church I attended] said that my faith was so little because I did not deliver naturally. She said that demons had attacked my baby—that is why “the baby did not want to come out.” Sadly, I believed her. [Now I know], according to Matthew17:20, small faith does not matter. Small faith can do wonders in Christ. Our faith must always be submissive to God’s will.
Notice how “she” is used for “pastor.” Notice the emphasis on demons. She went on to write:
The timing of the series was perfect…. This was exactly what I NEEDED. I have wasted five years on the false teachings of prosperity gospel. I did not only waste time, I also wasted thousands of rands. I was blind. I was foolish. I had neglected God’s word, and I think that is why I fell prey to the wolves. If I had been reading and studying the Bible, I would not have been a victim of the prosperity gospel.
The crocodile in Zimbabwe
The trials in Zimbabwe today may even be worse than under Mugabe. Though some of our Limpopo Bible Institute grads live in Harare, several reside in rural areas and are suffering greatly. A few months ago, at a conference in rural Zimbabwe, our long-range fuel tank had to take us all the way in and all the way back because there was no diesel to be found in the country. Many of the visiting pastors (below) rode their bikes to the conference.
People not only queue for fuel, but for food as well. The old adage is true. Socialism is people lined up for bread. Capitalism is bread lined up waiting for people. Mike Wastemore Sarireni (who loves his books, below), Shadreck Zireva, and the Sebola brothers are pastoring Sola 5 churches that need your prayers. Financial and logistical challenges make update and prayer letters very difficult to send, however. Please pray for these men.
- Pray that God will raise up a fit pastor in Mbhokota.
- Pray that our church will be flooded with a greater desire to pray, pray, pray.
- Pray that Zimbabwe will turn to God.
- Pray that the many mid-20’s men in our church will man up and lead as God has designed. (Below is a pic with some of them at a rock overlooking our village.)
- We loved having the Des Venter team from Durban visit our village last month (above, with one of our church members). This fellow Sola 5 ministry is doing a great work in KZN.
Yours in Jesus,
Paul & Lindy Schlehlein
Audrey, Nathan, Lawson, Owen, Juju, & Clara