March 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family,

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give praise to God for blessing us and sustaining us in so many ways, and especially for the privilege of serving him in ministry here in South Africa. We also thank each of you for your many prayers and messages of encouragement, and also for your generous gifts which provide for our needs. God is good, and we are very thankful!

Update from the Bible Institute of South Africa
A few days ago my daughter Sarah asked me, “So what exactly are you working on these days?” That was an interesting question, so I thought I’d share a few stories from that day.

For the last few weeks I’ve been helping one of our students with her future ministry plans. This student will be finishing her studies in June and has a desire to continue her studies while teaching in a rural African context. To that end, she has applied to do a Masters degree in Christian Education by distance from London School of Theology (where I did my doctorate). While studying she is hoping to teach at a Zambian Bible school with another of my former students. This is an absolutely amazing opportunity for her to further her studies at a world class institution while ministering to students who are crying out for discipleship (only 4% of the churches in that denomination have trained pastors). Here is a small portion of what she shared in her application:

As a Bible believing Christian who has had the privilege of undergraduate studies in Theology I have come to realise the need for this kind of training both in the context where I am from and in other communities across Southern Africa. I come from a community with a population of approximately 350 000, in the rural village of Rustenburg South Africa. I have always had a passion for Education, and been aware of how it can be used as a tool for development. However, I have seen first hand how in my community, through lives of individuals who have gotten educated but have not brought the expected change neither in their lives nor in the community at large, that there is far bigger problem. I do believe that Education has a role to play, but the fundamental question for me, one year into my BTh programme became what kind of education ought that to be? I have found that, the answer lies in an education that changes the heart. It cannot just be cognitive development of individuals but a complete transformation that can only happen through the inward working of the Holy Spirit when one comes to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

That same day I received a “motivation paper” from a former student who is applying to do a Masters degree in Old Testament. I have been helping him with his application and spent some time reviewing his paper. This student comes from a charismatic denomination which unfortunately is often lacking in the content of its teaching. As you can see from the opening paragraphs of his paper, his desire to study the Bible at a higher level is motivated by the needs of the people among whom he ministers. Although his paper is quite technical, the application is highly practical and would greatly benefit the church in Zambia:

The prophetic dimension is probably if not definitely the most craved for ministry in the church and is at the center of defining religious experience today. To this effect, many people in the church look forward to hearing God and what he has to say regarding their lives. As a consequence, these people move from one “prophet” to another to find answers to their varied life questions. Is it possible to hear God today and be sure he has spoken today? […]

In this motivation paper, I propose for the study of the double use of the independent personal pronoun Anokhi in the book of Isaiah with an exclusive focus on Isaiah 43:11, 25; 51:12 and 48:15 which uses “Ani Ani” in reference to Yahweh. The major thrust of this research will be to explore the usage and significance of Anokhi in the book of Isaiah in close relationship with the name of God, YHWH. Accordingly, the research will also be interested the implications of the use of Anokhi for Exilic, Post-Exilic Israel and its relationship to prophecy in the New Testament Church today. […]

So to answer Sarah’s question, much of my day is spent in meetings with faculty members, administrative staff, and students to facilitate the running of the college. But nearly every day there are times when I have the privilege of helping my current and former students take the next step in pursuing God’s call on their lives. And to me those are the most precious moments of all.

Prayer Requests

  • Pray for me as I oversee a group of nine students from the Bible Institute to do a week of ministry in Roodepan, near Kimberley, South Africa, from March 25 through April 1.
  • Praise for Sarah’s baptism this Sunday!
  • Pray for Kristina and the girls as they turn our house into a home, as they continue their studies, and as they minister with the kids at iThemba school.
  • Pray for John and Rebecca as they prepare for marriage in July.

Blessings in Christ,

Tim & Kristina Churchill