Ministry News: Eastside Baptist Church (Windhoek, Namibia) (August 2015)

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV)

Eastside Baptist LogoRecently we remembered the 30th anniversary of our church,  which was constituted  in June 1985. Anniversaries are times  of  thanksgiving and reflection.

Churches,  as we well know,  are not brick-buildings . They  are made up of  people ,  but  never a static group. The church  is  forever changing  as   members die and others move away ; members are    added through conversion or transfers from other churches. The church is a dynamic entity – always on the move .  Eastside has  never been  a  static church in all her existence. There are very few of us  that remember the very beginnings  of  our church.

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Whitson Charlton

I have been associated with the  Namibian  Baptist movement  since  1979. Eastside Baptist  Church  did not exist at that time. The Baptist movement  in Namibia had  just gone through  hard days  in the late 70’s and early 80’s ,  when the emerging charismatic movement began to challenge   many of the older established churches , who  at that time had very little  to offer in response, except  some bitter criticism  and  very little mature theological reflection. Today  40 and more years later we  have seen that the charismatic movement did not  serve to  unite the church of Jesus Christ in Namibia. On the contrary,    the charismatic church has been a significant contributing factor  to the division of the  church into hundreds of little splinter groups, led by men and women   with an appalling lack of knowledge of  Scripture,  and therefore displaying  a lack of knowledge of the mind of Christ.  In Windhoek alone, three  Baptist churches   ( including our ‘mother church’) had succumbed to  the  teachings of the charismatic movement  in the 80’s,  and by and by they decided to break away from  their Baptist roots.

It was against such a background that Eastside Baptist Church was born . The times were indeed very challenging  for  the evangelical church in those days .   Following that great schism in the early 1980’s,  a number of people asked  Pastor Charles Whitson , a missionary of the Southern Baptist Convention (USA)  to start 10352284_761330717245178_6555173107233895017_na new church. Being somewhat reluctant ,  and due to the  recent  history, he  eventually agreed, and so  a Baptist  fellowship  was begun in his home  in Klein Windhoek.    Very soon  the church was constituted with 21 founder members in June 1985. A property  was soon acquired   and the  first  part of the building  phase was completed in 1987.

That was only the beginning .  The physical  construction  of a church building  is one  thing. The building of the   true  church, consisting of  living stones, is quite  another thing !  The one  is done by the hands of men,   but the  Bible  insists that the  true  church is built by the Holy Spirit and His inspired Word alone !  Conversion, by which  we  turn from the broad way and upon the narrow way  is the work of the Holy Spirit ( John 3:1-8) .  Conversion is followed  by  embarking on a  spiritual journey of following and obeying Christ    in biblical discipleship ,  as we  also   learn the   spiritual art  of  biblical  churchmanship.

And so it is  that the church  matures and grows .   Growth takes time , and  the devil and sin will make sure that we will  be retarded in our progress .  However, we know  this :  a Christ focussed church  in the hand of God will make  steady progress by His Spirit !1422570_986241261420788_5296954968393646595_n

At Eastside  there  is always this sense of  steady progress, even though  there always are very real   setbacks . Our homespun Proverb for this phenomenon  explains it  like  this :  “church  progress is like climbing a Namibian sand dune – 2 steps forward , one step back !”

10672295_981707261874188_1019978761536128897_nWe have gained some new good people , and we have lost some good people , as people move away to retire elsewhere ( Windhoek’s  property costs  and costs  of living are  high) .Some have been transferred elsewhere . We do our best to look after  the people  that God has  entrusted to us, but we do realise that   God has His way with people , and His refining fire  is ever  seen  in our midst .

Our elders  continue  their oversight of the church   steadfastly and often under great personal cost and  with frequent  challenges .  We dearly would like to see more men engaging upon eldership training .

Our  ‘revamped’ diaconate  is functioning well in its biblical role  of  serving  the poor, sick, orphans , widows   and the general  physical needs in our church, and also in our  greater community . A good diaconal ministry makes the gospel  look good !

We are pleased  that our midweek activities  continue to meet real needs . Our young adult group is flourishing , and our  School of the Bible  is a blessing . Home fellowships provide important  support  to our members .  Prayer is  central to all we do . It would be wonderful if  everybody  in membership would commit themselves to the prayer meeting . We are thankful for those that do  encourage us  by their  intercessory prayer .

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Joahim Rieck, Pastor of Eastside Baptist Church, Windhoek, Namibia

Corporate worship , Sunday morning and evening , is a blessing .  We are about  to  complete our  exposition of the Revelation to John  ( 51 sermons). This has been a personal highlight in my own preaching experience.  A  potpourri   of    expositions on the Gospel  of Mark  or  of a  “Psalm that Provides Perspective” set the tone for Sunday evenings .We  are about to start a morning series  on Genesis 1-11 , and an evening series  that deals with the doctrine of the church .  Our evening services  include   the giving of  prepared testimonies  ( and thankfully our people are not shy to do this!)  as well as “ Prayer  for the World” , by which  a number of men  in the congregation lead us  in informing us and leading in  prayer  for our world .

Please pray for us , that  we would continue to have an outward focus . The  city of Windhoek , the country of Namibia and the world  is our parish .

Looking forward to see you all at the  SOLA 5 conference in Cape Town !

Joachim  Rieck on behalf of  the church

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