Last Sunday Amy conducted her first teen choir as they sang “I Will Go” in Venda. Amy could tell you when they went a little sharp, but to my ears—Wow! This was a Ron Hamilton song that she translated with Philemon’s help a few weeks ago. The youth group loves to sing and one teen, Takalani, cut short his vacation in the village of Nzhelele a few hours away so that he could be there for each choir practice. I wish you could have heard them. LORD-willing, Amy will translate another song this week.
ELECTRICITY IS COMING!
After nearly 10 years of governmental promises, Mashamba is supposed to receive electricity in the next month. I am writing to you about this both to give you color of the local village scenario and to pass on to you an enigma with which we are grappling. The church needs money for this in the next week or so and has only about 10% of what they need. We are very familiar with the dangers of giving money away to nationals who may by that gift be spurred on to greater laziness or beggary. The goal, self-sufficient national churches, is threatened by a common African mindset that looks for handouts and sees giving to the church as a not-so-necessary evil. However, what is the place for giving to those who are praying for it? This one example, merely illustrates a tension that surfaces often here. Again, your missionaries need otherworldly wisdom.
BRINGING IN THE SHEAVES
Just to keep you posted, a few notable conversions have been very encouraging to us over the past few weeks. Nhlavutelo (Revelation in Tsonga) is a teen that we met through the open air preaching in Wayeni last year. After a few months of attending the teen group, he asked me if he could be saved. I gave him some verses to read and think about and the next Sunday he sought me out to tell me he understood now and was ready to be saved. Lufuno (love in Venda) also came to Christ after a service in a similar way. These two and a few others are keeping us busy, but what a delightful busyness! We are hoping to baptize soon since the rain has finally come.
LOOKING FOR HOUSING
For the last year and a half, I have been renting a house on a farm outside of the city of Louis Trichardt. This is a nice place, but not near enough to the villages. We have been looking for some time for other lodging, but buying and renting are scarce in the villages, and building is certainly a long-term commitment to one area. Presently we have narrowed the options to three areas all about an hour from each other. None of these areas have any church that would teach the Bible, that we know of, except Mashamba (but even there the church is still fledgling). This issue is further complicated because we are anticipating the arrivals of the Mintons and Paul this summer. Reading biographies has reminded me that God always works out these details, but our biography has yet to be written, so we would appreciate your prayers for our wisdom.
Seth and Amy
PS. Please don’t send large e-mails like forwards and pictures. We love hearing from you, but unless you shrink the size of the attachments, it clogs our lines. Thanks for your help.
28 February 2006
NEW YOUTH GROUP IN TSHIKOTA
The youth group last Thursday started with 2 at 4:50. (We announced 4:30.) The two were a 27-year old Xona and a 20-? year old Pedi. By 5:30 we had 10, with half of them over 20—not quite the “traditional” youth group! At least 4 languages were represented! I tried to speak in Venda, and Amy said she was surprised with how much I used. In an attempt to distinguish the sheep and goats, I asked them to write down one of the three following prayer requests on a card:
1. Pray that I would understand more about how to be born again.
2. Pray that I would be saved.
3. Pray that I would grow since I am already saved.
Only one person asked prayer for growth, so my conclusion is that the others are in the dark about the new birth. I tried to explain it as clearly as possible, but oh, the boundaries of a foreign language. Even if I were fluent, I felt in a new and desperate way the impotency of human efforts without divine quickening.
Syncretism is the practice of mixing together any ideas about God regardless of their origin or even contradictory tenets. It is the doctrinal standard of nearly everything claiming to be “Christian” in South Africa. I thought doctrinal blur and false Christians ravaged American Christendom, but Africa seems to be even further down the creedless, mushy road where doctrine is left at the last exit ramp and the travelers careen optimistically toward Destruction, all the while saying they are going to the Celestial City. Most Africans are desperately hungry for miracles and will go to any church that tells them God wants to give them a miracle, a job, money, or success. Charismaticism, though unknown by that name, has decimated the average heart, inoculating it from quiet, serious thoughts about repentance and the next life. The results are that people have very little problem with going to the witch doctor, praying to the spirits, and having a financial miracle as their number one reason for attending church, while still calling themselves Christian. You will partner effectively with us by praying that men and women would open their eyes to this anemic religion by partaking in New Testament Christianity.
NEW BIBLE CLUBS
Saturday we are starting a Bible Club in Mashamba! Songs have been translated, and our Sunday School has been studying “How to Evangelize Children.” The goal is for the church to run these in their entirety after about 4-8 weeks. Hopefully, this will be an avenue for growth in the Sunday School, as well as an avenue for training the Tsongas. Pray that the Tsongas would do a good job and that the children would be converted.
Our house hunt had a few setbacks, but we now have three in our sights. Just to give you an idea of the average size of houses, most of the houses we have checked out had kitchens whose walls were an arm span apart. The average capacity for a Bible study would be 4-5 people comfortably and 8 cramped. The area where houses are being sold would put us within 15 minutes of Mashamba and 5 minutes of at least 3 other villages. Also, our neighbors would be Tsongas and Vendas in a community of several thousand blacks. Presently, our number one option is an older house, whose size would make it possible to have Bible studies with maybe up to 15 people. It’s a “fixer-upper,” but the size would allow my books to stay indoors, and the price was lower than the others as well! There is more going on here, so we’ll try to send another update soon, LORD-willing (“Arali Mudzimu u tshi zwi funa…”), before our ‘news’ becomes old!
Seth and Amy
13 March 2006
This Saturday is a big day, and we have Pastor Mike Stalnaker to thank for the great title. For several months we have been having a contest in our teen group, and Saturday is the culmination with an evangelistic activity at a big field. Amy will lead the teen choir in singing three songs in Venda, Tsonga, and English, and they are very excited about it. We tried to spread the word via fliers at the schools, and we are hoping for 100 teenagers. Eric Graham, a missionary from Jo-burg, is bringing a big ball for a little splash of excitement, and one of his students whom Godfrey led to the LORD will be giving a salvation testimony. For me the most difficult part is the message. I have been planning for this to be my first sermon entirely in Tsonga, and I note with dread the passing of each additional day. This has been a great exercise in the language, yet I am far from fluent, so it is a real stretch. Knowing the cultural divide, I am expecting a lot of laughter at first, but hopefully some will understand the Narrow Gate of Matthew 713-14. Each word has been dutifully pondered and translated, but the real test is Saturday at 1:00.
FROM CORN TO CORN
Josh Hendricks arrived from corn country Iowa to Africa in time to enjoy the new corn harvest friends have been giving us. He is surveying the ministry opportunities here in SA. We’ve enjoyed having a friend while trying to learn the language and go on numerous excursions around Limpopo. He graduated from Northland with a Bible degree, and his heart is willing to serve wherever God wants him, but the future is still a little cloudy.
About 30 children the first week, 18 the second, and 34 last Saturday wound their way through Mashamba to the brick church building for Nkarhi wa Bibele (Bible Time). Amy’s heart was melting at the cute kids, and I must admit I was melting at the heat. Our goal has been to train the church members and last week, they did it all! Takalani told the Bible story. Cliff led the songs, and his sister Tintswalo helped the kids memorize Yohane 13. The only things we had to do were critique and bring the cookies. We still have a long way to go with the training, but the progress is encouraging—we really enjoy our teens and the kids!
Thanks for praying with us,
Seth and Amy
9 April 2006
MAVIS’ FIRST TIME
Praise the LORD, yesterday our Bible Club, run totally by Africans with 100% Tsonga, saw three young people confess Christ. This was the 6th week and two of the kids were too old for our program, but not too old for the Gospel. At 25, Mavis is one of the oldest church members helping with Bible Club, and Saturday she was able to lead her first soul to Yesu! (1st picture) We are praying for their growth and were encouraged to hear that the oldest boy went to Pastor Ngomane of his own volition to tell him about his conversion after Bible Club. Please choose one of these three and pray during April for them: Life, 14; Vafana, 12; and Oakley, 8.
ROADS AND 4X4’S
Last week on a long return trip from Jo-burg we were heading for Mashamba in time for the Friday evening youth service when we got our 4×4 stuck in some pretty deep mud. The picture shows the stretch of road near our temporary resting place. At first I tried to stay neat, but before the 2 hours of digging were complete, I was wearing mud with spots of khaki. Three of the tires were entirely suspended in soupy mud water and the chassis was resting on Mt. Ararat refashioned out of goop. After jogging into the village I found a man with a tractor who put an end to my “fun” in the mud.
VENDA HOMELAND: NZHELELE
The Venda people group is the smallest in South Africa with 1 million. Their original homeland was in the Nzhelele area 30 kilometers north of Louis Trichardt in village clusters peppering some dazzling mountain ridges. Several weeks ago we came in contact with a businessman who operates a factory there and has asked us to do Bible studies with his employees. Every other Thursday I preach there at 1:00 during their lunch break, and about 30 of the workers come. Though women dominate South Africa’s church scene, several men come to the preaching, and one asked if we had a church in his area. This and a few other opportunities have kept me busy preaching and practicing my Venda presently.
FUN WITH VENDA
Here are some phrases that we have accidentally used from time to time that I thought you might enjoy. Venda: Musadzi wanga muţuku. My intended literal translation: My wife is little. (muţuku = little) Actual meaning: I have a second wife. (The first wife is said to be the big one.) Venda: Ndi vhifhesa mme anga. Literal translation: I am uglier than my mother. Actual meaning: I am worse than my mother. Venda: Yesu u do vhuya u konda shango. My intended literal translation: Jesus will return to conquer the world. One letter off: Konda (be difficult) should be Kunda (to conquer). Actual meaning: Jesus will return to be difficult to the world.
Thanks for your prayers,
Seth and Amy
5 June 2006
Since January we have been trying to move closer to the village areas but have had no success in buying one of the few houses on the market. In case you didn’t know, South Africa’s city life is very similar to other modern cities with a lot of gas stations, restaurants, and cell phones; but lurking outside city limits are the backbone of the population—the villages. Limpopo is the northern-most, and least developed, province in this country. So with that in mind, our goal has been to start reproducing, black-led churches in the village areas.
In April, we decided to turn our efforts to building a house instead of buying for the benefits of cost and location. Sparing the details, it took several weeks of tribal councils, broken appointments, and three requested bribes (not given, but requested) before all parties were happy that we “valungu” (white people) could live there. Our piece of land is right in the middle of Elim, one of five densely populated areas. We have three neighbors and a traditional graveyard, but great access to dozens of other homes in our little section called Makongeni. Within ten minutes, we can reach thousands of people comprising about 10 other villages. From our front door you can see very nice houses and one-room huts called rondavals. Right now the bricks are set up to the window level on the house and we hope to move in by July.
One more comment about the area. In the 1800’s, a group of Presbyterian missionaries from Switzerland came, translated the Bible, started a hospital, and opened schools here. In the mid 1900’s most of them left, but I am sad to say that not much has remained as far as gospel ministry. The hospital is run by the government, the schools teach very liberal views about morality and AIDS, and the churches started by typically staid Presbyterians now feature dancing and “miracle crusades” rather than any coherent explanation of the Gospel. As in all the national churches I have witnessed, propositional truth has taken a back seat to a shallow mix of African traditional religion and vague “Jesus-talk”. By God’s grace, we aim to start a work that will clearly believe and teach the Gospel till the second coming.
I hope you have a better picture of life and spiritual warfare here. Usually I don’t give lists of prayer requests, but I would like you to pray for these two items when you think of our ministry.
1. We are praying for men who desire to study the Bible with me.
2. We are praying for an unusual working of God’s spirit resulting in repentance and commitment to a Bible-teaching church. We are thanking God that Mzamani and Murunwa Baloyi live just a short walk away from our house and will hopefully be the first solid church members.
GETTING FRUIT FROM THE MUD
If you check the archives, in April our truck got stuck in a very muddy river bank much to our frustration. However, we met Oscar (18) that day and he has been with us at church since then. Last Sunday he brought his best friend to church, and it turned out that he was a half-brother of Godfrey the pastor! William (19) heard three presentations of the Gospel and asked Friday if he could be saved then or if he had to wait until church on Sunday. Sunday he gave evidence of a real work of grace when he told his older brother about his two-day-old conversion! We rejoiced as we saw Romans 828 in action—getting stuck in the mud, meeting Oscar, and now William’s salvation.
Taking small steps,
Seth and Amy
9 July 2006
Greetings! The last month has been a whirlwind of activity. While working on the house, I’ve improved in my Tsonga, chased away a few bad builders as Christianly as possible, taken in a homeless guy for a few days, injured my back, and completed the walls and roof. LORD-willing, plumbing, doors and electricity will be finished this week in preparation for another big event next week…
The plane will touch down June 19 delivering Dan and Joy Minton as our co-workers. Two weeks later, schedules will again intensify as Paul Schlehlein arrives on August 1. We are very encouraged about their arrival and friendship, but also in need of great wisdom as together we plan for the wisest approach to reaching the Limpopo province with Word-centered churches. In the immediate daily grind, we’re nearly frantic organizing details for housing, travel, and other issues connected with 1) two families changing cultures in one month while 2) continuing our ministry and 3) building a house. Amy got the hiccups just reading this.
DOES ANYONE KNOW “HOGO”?
Every year the villagers have a “winter school” for a few weeks where the young boys are circumcised and a host of tribal traditions take place, similar to the stories you hear in missionary biographies about pagan African village life. The witch doctor is involved, and indecent girls bring the boys food.
This year in Mashamba, the chief commanded that no song be played anywhere in Mashamba from June 15th until July 17th except the circumcision song: “Hogo.” All churches received a letter informing them that no songs were to be sung, but we have been forced into civil disobedience, as we are not prepared to stop singing at church for these reasons.
One religious group was caught singing; and when the chief found out, he fined them a cow (about $500). They refused to pay, so last week the chief’s men retaliated by attacking 8 of them with stones. All were sent to the hospital with minor injuries, and the chief was arrested. Pastor Godfrey is concerned about the continuing threat of vandalism and thievery from those who support the chief. Of course, governmentally, the chief is wrong, since SA has religious freedom. In the present society, however, “Old African” village traditions sometimes clash with the new democratic government.
MORE FRUIT FROM THE MUD
Our rejoicing has exponentially exceeded our disappointment at getting stuck in the mud a few months back. As reported in our last letter, William trusted Christ as a result of our meeting Oscar during the sovereign “mud incident” in April. Last Friday, Oscar came to us requesting for the third time in Tsonga to be “born twice.” He even asked us if he had to remove his earring. A soft-spoken, gentle guy who is not afraid to come to church or bring others, Oscar had no chance against the many prayers for his conversion. When I asked him why he wanted to be saved, I was encouraged that I could understand his Tsonga as he said he wanted to be good like the teens at this church. Twice before he has approached me about salvation, but gone away each time because he said he didn’t understand it yet. Faith alone takes a while to sink in. Now we are looking for chances to get stuck in the mud again.
In these letters, I try to write concisely. If you are interested in a more detailed (Should I say long-winded?) account, Amy records some of the more interesting stories for friends and family from a feminine perspective. Let us know, and she can send an occasional epistle your way, if my monthly missives from Mashamba are malnourished. And we’ll try to send a picture of Oscar soon.
“If it were possible to poll all the missionaries who have worked in all the world in all of Christian history, it would be seen that missionary work, most of the time, offers little that could be called glamour. It offers a great deal of plodding and plowing, with now and then a little planting. It is the promise of rejoicing, given to those who ‘go forth weeping, bearing precious seed.’” These words by Elisabeth Elliot sum up our key request for prayer this month.
Seth and Amy
16 September 2006
Over the last two months Amy and I have really missed the communication that we had been sending and receiving so easily via phone calls and e-mails, but yesterday phone service arrived at our house! Events have been piling up, and many stories begged for a position in this letter. Thankfully, amidst all the earthly happenings, we are grateful that the last two months have illustrated that God has chosen us to bring forth fruit.
God’s blessing has been specifically seen in a continued interest by young men age 18 and up in the Gospel. Now Paul, Daniel, and myself have several young men we are actively discipling.
Desmond lives in Wayeni, the first village where we started the open air preaching last year under a tree. He used to attend an Apostolic Faith Mission Church, but a few weeks ago he came with Thandi (one of the two who got saved as a result of the open air meetings, and one who desires to be baptized). He told me clearly that he liked our teaching and had never heard anything like it before, but he couldn’t come on Sunday because of his other church. After two weeks of hearing Bible messages on Friday nights, he asked me if he could come to my church. He came to the Bible Club even though he is 18 and requested me to show him how to be saved. In short, since that morning Desmond hasn’t been back to his church, but he has finished a discipleship lesson, and is preparing to give his testimony tomorrow. Sidwell was walking to Wayeni a few weeks back when Dan and Joy stopped to give him a lift and a Tsonga tract.
Sydwell called them several times that weekend because he was concerned about the picture in the tract depicting Revelation 2015. Then Sunday he came to church and was responsive to a message that Paul preached about salvation. Since that time Sid has been at every service and has asked a number of good questions. This is the first really good response we have seen to the tracts we had translated last year.
In Mbhokota (the village 7 kilometers over the mountain from us) Paul lead Given to Christ and has been fruitfully teaching him about twice a week. Given is 16 and comes from a Jehovah’s Witness background but has evidenced a real grasp and interest in salvation.
All in all, in our team there are about 10 young men in their late teens or early 20’s who have recently trusted Christ and are showing Spirit-implanted desires. Please rejoice with us that God is answering prayers, and please labor with greater faith for their growth.
“Repent and be baptized” takes on special significance in a place where water is scarce. There is a faucet near the Mashamba church, but when it’s on twice a week the people need to get water to wash and drink. The river is nearly completely dried up now, not to mention pretty “cow-ed”. But there’s another factor: a number of people have gotten saved recently. So in light of those two ingredients we have decided to have a testimony service where those who have professed Christ can stand in front of the church and publicly proclaim their conversion and desire to follow Jesus Christ.
Tomorrow, Lord-willing, Oscar, William, Desmond, Sidwell, Murun’wa, Thandi, Lufuno, Given, and Life will testify that their intention is to be baptized as soon as the rains come because they’ve been saved by faith alone. I might send another picture tomorrow. The last time we had a baptism service at Mashamba was November 2004.
Our house is a blessing, attracting a host of visitors, all of whom deposit a few more Tsonga words into our vocabulary bank. Men usually come if they are looking for work, but the women and young people don’t mind visiting just to greet us. We have been told by the great majority of our neighbors: “U nga tshembi munhu!” (Don’t trust anyone!) Because of the prevalence of thieves, many of the Tsongas talk with friends on the porch instead of letting them see the inside of their houses. Our house has three bedrooms and a larger dining / living room that we are hoping to use for Bible studies as we start a church. I also have a study with my computer (our main theft concern), books and Amy’s piano.
A government maintained well supplies the water for our house and our neighbors, but about once a week the water goes off for an unknown period of time (most often just before my shower in the morning). Then we get a taste of how the great majority of people live in this country: pushing a wheelbarrow with jugs to the other faucet near our house that is usually on when ours is off. The electricity sometimes takes a hiatus as well, but on the whole this is a very efficient place for water and electricity.
Such a prime location is a real blessing. So far five people have come with us to the Mashamba church, and we’ve made some good contacts. We started visitation in this area with our entry level Tsonga. Reaching every home in a 3-kilometer radius is going to take some time, but I’m sure by the end we will have found a number who are hungry for Bible teaching. Until we can find a more effective method, door-to-door will be our primary tool. From now until the end of the year, we are requesting prayer following Paul’s pattern in 2 Thess. 31-3 when you intercede for our ministry.
1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: 2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.
LIVING WITH THE CHIEF
Dan and Paul have been looking for housing and jumping into different ministries as they can. Our main objective right now is learning Tsonga, which I am teaching them about 4 mornings per week. In a very unusual scenario, having just prayed for a house in the village of Mbhokota, Paul stumbled upon the chief of that village who offered half of his house for rent. So after a few days of work, including digging a toilet, major cleaning, doors, and other tasks, Paul is now waking up in Tsonga-central everyday. His house is 7 k’s from us just on the opposite side of the mountain.
The Minton’s have a great lead for a house as well. A series of 5 buildings that comprised an old Swiss mission college are nestled in the mountains among a village of Tsongas where we could conceivably have a college or some other needed ministry. This is a big decision with far-reaching consequences. We’ve been to the tribal office twice now and are awaiting their reply about the land and buildings.
We look forward to hearing from many of you again now that our phone line is installed. Thanks for your concern and prayers!
Joyful in Jesus,
Seth and Amy
26 October 2006
OUR FIRST HOME BIBLE STUDY
Last Thursday night came so quickly that we really didn’t have time to reflect about how climactic the event was. We have wanted to reach our neighborhood, but language still hampers our full efforts. Last week on Thursday at 5:30, having invited about 30 people, we had our first Bible study in the village of Makhongele. Door to door was interesting as it tests our language ability, but how exhilarating to look back and realize that we just talked to a number of people without using our language!
The inviting was done and the pledges were counted, but reality was a little different. Three adults came and three teenage boys. Looking on the bright side, we had been afraid that we might be besieged by thieves and others who would disrupt—and that didn’t happen. Tonight at our second meeting, 7 adults and three teens came. The chairs we had were full and anymore would have found themselves sitting on the floor. Six men have shown interest in attending, but despite their promises have not made good. Your prayers are appreciated for Solly (our next door neighbor who came by tonight while I was writing this and mixed an apology for missing tonight with a promise for attending next week), Emmanuel, Justice, and Foster.
A GOOD EXAMPLE
Last Friday at the Youth Group, amidst a record in the attendance (over 80), I called on a certain first-time visitor to stand as an example. Without knowing it, I had called on Xikombiso (“Example” in English) to be my example in the sermon. We met again this last Tuesday in the village of Nwaxinyamani (literally “little piece of meat”), though I had scheduled a personal Bible study with his friends Clinton (21) and Matimba (18). These two have been coming for a few months and have brought quite literally truckloads of friends. Our goal was to see Clinton and his brother Matimba born again, but the stage was a little different than I had planned. All in all, 14 unbelievers were called together from nearby huts to witness Dan and I witnessing to the two brothers.
At the end of a lengthy Bible study, I asked if Clinton was prepared or if he needed time to think about it. “I will get saved Friday,” he said. His brother followed his example, but when I asked if anyone else there would be willing to openly repent and confess Christ publicly, Xikombiso raised his hand. A little shocked, I tried to make things crystal clear with John Van Gelderen’s “two chair illustration.” Perfectly ready, Xikombiso stood and said in Tsonga among other things, “I had not known I was a child of Satan before. This is very bad.” Grasping total depravity is a battleground in Gospel preaching here, and I was thrilled with his articulation of a key verse. (John 844) In front of 17 people, on the side of a fairly busy road, Xikombiso stood when no one else would. LORD-willing, we will talk with Clinton and Matimba tomorrow. Maybe “Example’s” good example will persuade them to do what they must.
The picture shows some of Amy’s work in October as she was asked to speak at Philemon’s women’s conference again this year. After weeks of study she delivered three lengthy messages: Women in the Church, highlighting the reasons why they can’t preach, yet the ministries they can do; Women in the Home, focusing on attitude, demeanor, and work ethic; and Women and their Children, teaching how to lead your child to Christ and also how to spank ‘em! She picked some great topics after experiencing African culture for a year. As usual the conference started 1½ hours after advertised, but the women were very teachable, and a number of visitors came to Philemon’s church.
BUNDLE OF JOY
Bringing almost as much joy as a new child, I completed a basketball hoop at our house! It took a little work, but building the backboard, pole, and rim was well worth it. I am still trying to say I did it for ministry—it has brought many teens to our house. And, since everyone here plays soccer, it’s nice to finally be the best player! (until Dan or Paul come over)
Reaping the Harvest,
Seth and Amy
9 November 2006
THE FOURTH WEEK
Having visited house to house Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week, my naturally optimistic attitude was hoping for 10-15 at tonight’s Bible study. We had surveyed the first two of four required elements of salvation and tonight was time for number three. But the people kept coming. Two adults arrived at 10 past 5 for a 5:30 start time, an unprecedented experience in my African life. Then two more and two more until the last one at 6:00. Our chairs filled quickly and then even adults began spilling onto the floor. Audiences here are sometimes difficult for me to judge, but this one responded very well as we reviewed the first two crucial elements of Bible knowledge (John 5:39), and conviction of sin (John 6:44) before focusing on repentance (Luke 3:7-13).
Last week was a low time for me as very few attended and my Tsonga had me bound in a way that it hasn’t in some time. However, tonight was bathed in prayer. I am not a mystic at all in my understanding of the Spirit’s leading, but the people understood and responded like they have not in any of the other 4 weeks that we have been having this study. Our large room we had built was about 2/3 full with 20 adults (four men), 7 teens and a constant flow of children.
My discouragement was so great last week because nothing I said seemed to get through and interest in listening to teaching only—I was clear there was no singing, dancing or miracles—seemed low on the list of priorities. As a result of last week, we began earnestly praying John 6:65 “No man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” I hope you will intercede with us by choosing two from this list of those who have expressed some interest.
• Solly—Our 28 year old next door neighbor
• Lilian—His mother and expressed real interest tonight in continuing to study
• Tiyani—young man who was saved a few weeks back and started praying for his mother
• Tiyani’s mother—she came tonight for the first time
• Thomas and Aldrin—two men who live down the road from us, both have expressed interest, and surprising to me, they kept their word in coming tonight. I have a meeting with them both tomorrow morning at 10:00.
• Maria—chief’s wife who lives in the house beside Paul in Mbokhota, is in a cult, but really wants to know more
• Emmanuel—a laborer who helped build our house, he likes us but only came tonight for the first time
• Tinyiko—A very friendly young mother from next door who also admitted she was not born again she is the only one who has only missed one of the Bible studies
Rejoicing in prayer,
Seth and Amy
10 December 2006
WHO ARE UNREACHED PEOPLES?
The face of world missions is changing in this generation. Modernization that comes from schools, governments, massive international grants, and technology has shaped and reshaped missions in 2006. While called to serve our generation like David, Dan, Paul, and I have a strong desire to reach unreached people groups. In line with this thinking, the three of us (Amy and Joy will stay here this trip) have planned a trip to the interior of Mozambique to search for a place to establish a long-term ministry as well as to evangelize.
To accomplish the first and predominant goal of our trip, we must gather data relating to the level that each village would reach on a scale measuring reached-unreached. I have included the “Pastoral Survey” to show you a tool we have been using around here to determine if anyone knows the Gospel. Paul designed the village survey, and Dan gave me the idea for the unreached chart. The latter of the two surveys will be our main data collection tool when we cross the border December 27th. We have come to realize that it is invalid to rate a place on a scale of “Yes / No” but rather a graded “1-10” because there are so many different factors that come in to play. Also, most scholars answering the question of “unreached” begin by checking the percentage of population that claims Christianity. I don’t view that as a valid mechanism to answer the question because, especially in Africa, many people have been Christianized without any of the doctrinal underpinnings.
As far as our second goal, evangelism, each of us are preparing sermons in Tsonga, memorizing verses, and practicing gospel conversations. With these we hope to go door to door in several villages as well as preach in the open air. Takalani Rambau will also go with us, but he’s a Venda, so my Tsonga is almost to his level.
This trip is fueled in our hearts by discussions and meditations of the unreached as the charts will show, but also by careful and meticulous application of Luke 14’s call to follow Christ. Thank you in advance for your prayers as we will leave Dec. 27th and return Jan. 8th.
BIBLE STUDY HAPPENINGS
Our Bible study is becoming a regular event with no fewer than 10-13 adults after the first three weeks, but only about 7 of them are consistent. Last week I started teaching through I Timothy because of its focus on the centrality of the Gospel and Bible teaching in the church context.
If you recall the list of names I sent to you, I have some news for three of them: Tiyani is growing in Christ and has been our greatest blessing. Today after his first visit to church, I confronted Solly as bluntly as I know how about his soul’s eternal condition. He responded like a kind, but dead sinner who doesn’t perceive the reality of his peril. Maria evidenced some deeper interest when her 6-year-old son came back from Bible Club and told her that she wasn’t ready to die. “Pray without ceasing.”
ST. ANDREWS’ SEVEN
While driving last Monday, Paul reviewed a book with Dan and I that he had been reading: The St. Andrew’s Seven by Banner of Truth written by Stuart Piggin and John Roxborough. Absolutely unfrightening at 123 pages, its 12 chapters captivate the reader with a brilliant blend of biography, history and insight. The Seven about which the story is written are 6 college students and a professor who sparked a revival in missions in Scotland’s ecclesiastically sleepy 19th century. I am writing this excerpt because I devoured the book after Paul’s little description and found it refreshing and unsuspecting in reviewing the key factors that influenced this handful of college students to surrender all for the glory of God among all peoples.
As an option for those (especially youth) on your Christmas list, I want to strongly recommend this book. In a season fraught with materialism this book will turn hearts to Christ. “If it be but for the name of Jesus, all shall be well, and I am persuaded that on a death bed, it will not cost us one regret, to have forsaken all for Christ.” John Adam (one of the 6, page 70)
EVERYONE LOVES A PARTY
This Saturday we are having the teens over for a Christmas party. I’m not just trying to fill up space in a letter; there is a very important reason to tell about it. We set the standard at 100 points to be achieved by verses, visitors, attendance and ministry and 23 people have reached it! This is especially significant as about 50% of the attendees have only been in church for a few weeks or months. The teen group, especially since Dan and Paul arrived, has been our most encouraging avenue of ministry.
OUR LATEST BLESSING!
Up to now we have been dealing with spiritual infants, but we are profoundly excited about our own infant that the Lord has seen fit to grant us. LORD-willing, in April a “Caleb” or “Cassie” will be enrolled in the Meyers’ Family Life Training Course before we send him off to the unreached peoples. ☺ We are planning to stay here as the doctors in the city are well equipped, but your prayers would be a great gift for him and us. With any “first” there are unknowns, and being in another country adds to those. Specifically, we have been asking God to make this child filled with wisdom in the Word.
Growing in Christ,
Seth and Amy