December 2016 Newsletter
Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests! (Luke 2:14 NIV)
Dear Friends and Family,
Warm Christmas greetings! We pray that you will join us in celebrating the birth of our Saviour this Christmas season, rejoicing in the hope of our salvation that the coming of Immanuel brings. This Christmas we find ourselves heading into summer rather than winter, and the carols seem out of place as the temperature rises!
The past year has been full of change for our family, as the journey from Zambia to South Africa was long and filled with many uncertainties. Those of you who have followed our story know the many challenges we faced, and I am sure that the past year has been filled with unexpected challenges for many of you as well. But one thing we know for sure: God has proven Himself faithful time and time again, and we can rest certain in the knowledge that he cares for us no matter what comes our way. So we can sing the Christmas hymns with joy because of God’s unspeakable gift to us – His Son the Lord Jesus!
Ministry Update from the Bible Institute of South Africa (BISA)
When we arrived in South Africa in October, the big question on my mind was why had God called us to leave Evangelical University in Zambia to come to the Bible Institute. I have been pondering that question ever since, and now I think I am beginning to see why. The ministry at BISA has been running successfully for the past 93 years, but there are still areas that can be improved. Since arriving I have been using my gifts in the areas of IT and administration to help improve the running of the school. This made me reflect on how the body of Christ works (see 1 Corinthians 12). Each of us has gifts that are essential to the functioning of the body. God gifts us and places us in areas of ministry that need and even require our gifts, because that’s the way God has planned it.
Please continue to pray for the Bible Institute of South Africa. The next few months will be critical for the future of BISA as we are in the final phase of applying for accreditation in South Africa. What is accreditation, and why is it so important? Accreditation is an official recognition of the programs of the school by the government certifying authorities. Having our programs accredited is important for many reasons, not only in ensuring that we are offering quality programs, but also in giving our graduating students a credential that is recognized by other institutions within South Africa. We still have much work to do before we make our final submission to the accrediting agency early next year. This task is not as easy as you might think. One morning last week three of us met to discuss a difficult issue. I shared that I had woken up around 5 AM with a splitting headache as I wrestled with the issue at hand. Both of my colleagues smiled and shared that the same thing had happened to them! So please pray for wisdom we complete this work, and that BISA would indeed be granted accreditation.
At the same time I have begun to make significant changes related to administration. We have appointed a registrar who will also serve as the academic administrative assistant. Several people have had to shift offices to complete this process. We purchased a wall of filing cabinets and began to organize hundreds (thousands?) of paper files. Please pray that the changes in administration will be of benefit to our students.
I have also been working on bringing together all of the electronic files and computer records for the various programs of the school. Currently these reside in several different programs and thousands of Microsoft Office documents. The same information has been entered and re-entered numerous times in different places, which has caused quite a lot of confusion and frustration for our staff and our students. I have already constructed a single database which brings together all of the information from these hundreds and thousands of files. I hope to finish programming a web-based application before the school re-opens in the first week of January. This new application should simplify the work for our administrative staff. When I showed this to one staff member, she said it would be “a thousand times better” than what she does now! Please pray that I can complete this project over the Christmas break.
This is an item for praise! As you know, we have had many extra expenses over the past year related to our move from Zambia to South Africa. We also faced unanticipated travel expenses due to delays in our travel plans as we waited for the FBI background checks to be completed. Unfortunately, SIM has only provided financial statements up to the end of August, but it appears that the deficit in our ministry account has been cleared. We give thanks to God for his faithfulness to us, and we also express our deepest gratitude for the generosity of those who have given to support our ministry!
Please join us in praying:
- for our family’s housing situation. It looks like we will move into the BISA student residences for January. Please continue to pray that we will have our own place by February.
- for Anna’s education. She is currently planning to continue her studies by distance next term and possibly switch to a South African institution for the following term
- for the Bible Institute of South Africa’s accreditation
Blessings in Christ,
Tim & Kristina Churchill