January 2017 Newsletter

For we are God’s handiwork,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
(Ephesians 2:8–10 NIV)

Dear Friends and Family,

Sawubona! Warm South African greetings to each and every one of you! As we begin our first full year in our new home country, we can look back on the past year and testify to God’s faithfulness in so many ways. God has called us to serve in South Africa. It is such a joy to be doing the ministry that God prepared for us to do here. Yet our work here is only possible in partnership with each of you. Your love, your prayers, and your generosity enable us to continue in our service here, and for that we are truly grateful!

New Ministry Opportunity for Kristina
This week Kristina begins a new ministry at iThemba school (www.ithembaschool.org). iThemba’s vision is to provide “quality pre-primary education for under-resourced communities”. The school opened 5 years ago and already has more than 60 students. Kristina will be helping in the 5-6 year old class every Monday morning. The girls also plan to help in the afternoon reading program starting in February. Please pray for Kristina and the girls as they share the love of Jesus with these dear children.

Ministry Update from the Bible Institute of South Africa (BISA)
We are about to begin the new academic year at the Bible Institute. Unlike schools in the northern hemisphere which normally start in September or October, in South Africa the school year runs from January to December. We are now busy trying to get everything in place for the new and returning students. On Friday alone I interviewed three new applicants. The first was with a distance student via Skype from the other side of the country; the second, with a student who will join our three year residential programme; and the third, with a student just out of high school who will take the “gap year” programme. One of the students I recently interviewed has an interesting life story: he was raised as a Muslim and boarded with a Jewish family before becoming a Christian! He has a clear passion for serving God and sharing the gospel, and is eager to study the Bible at BISA in preparation for a life of ministry. Please pray for him and all the incoming students who will be joining us over the next few weeks (classes start on January 30).

In preparation for the new year I am finishing up a new IT system that will handle all academic data for our residential, distance, and community-based certificate programmes. The new system handles everything from registration and class lists to transcripts, timetables, and other reports that are essential for me to do my work in overseeing various academic programmes. The new system went live on Friday and seems to be working well.

Over the weekend I finished up a year-long involvement with a group of Zambian Masters degree students. On Saturday I graded their Biblical Theology papers which covered a wide variety of topics, including fundraising and missions, discipleship, ministry to children, and a theology of comfort in the gospels, each with the Zambian context in view. It was encouraging to see such a high level of critical engagement with both the Bible and culture in each of the papers.

Family News
If you have been following our recent family news closely – or even if you haven’t! – you probably know that we have moved many more times than we ever hoped or wanted to this year. Last week we moved out of our friends house where we had been staying and settled in to dormitory life at the Bible Institute. According to Sarah this was our twelfth move this year. But there is light at the end of the tunnel! We hope to move into our own house within a few weeks, Lord willing by the end of January. We hope to find out the exact date this week. Please pray that we can move in sooner rather than later!

There was an exciting moment in our new surroundings just a few nights ago, as the girls found a scorpion in one of the dormitory showers! The scorpion wasn’t bothering me so at first I wasn’t too concerned, but the girls finally convinced me that something needed to be done. I caught the scorpion in a bottle and disposed of it outside, resisting the urge to hide it under one of their pillows! I can now add scorpions to the list of creepy-crawlies I’ve had to face since moving to Africa.

Prayer Requests
Please join us in praying:

  • For the Bible Institute as we begin the new year, and also as we prepare to make our final submission in the accreditation process later this month
  • For Kristina as she volunteers at iThemba school
  • For Anna as she continues her studies and also volunteers in the BISA library
  • For Sarah and Katie as they continue to homeschool
  • For John and Rebecca as they prepare for their upcoming wedding, and also for John as he continues to seek employment

Blessings in Christ,

Tim & Kristina Churchill