April 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family,

This weekend we remember the most sacred event in history: the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We rejoice in what Jesus has done for us, and we look forward to his soon return. Maranatha – Come Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 16:22)!

A special thank you to everyone who has prayed for us over the past month, and for each of you who has given in support of our ministry. We are truly blessed!

Ministry Week in Roodepan
At the Bible Institute of South Africa, an essential part of the ministry training for our residential students is Ministry Week. Every year at about this time the regular academic schedule comes to a stop for a full week so that students can participate in practical ministry at a local church. This year I was assigned a group of ten students. My students formed a very diverse group in nearly all imaginable ways except one: most were young and therefore lacked ministry experience.

Our group was given the opportunity to serve at a church in Kimberley, about 13 hours drive from our campus in Kalk Bay. The host church, Harvestime Baptist, is located in the heart of Roodepan, a community at the north end of Kimberley. Here is how the pastor of our host church described the Roodepan for us: “It has a population of plus/minus 30 000. It has a very diverse population, from the very rich to very poor, highly educated and poorly educated, smart housing to shack dwellings (our congregation is made up of this diversity). The major language is Afrikaans. We are comfortable with English in our church.”

Our ministry plan for the week included taking the Sunday morning service, doing door-to-door outreach during the weekday mornings, and an assortment of evangelistic services, youth meetings, and Bible studies every evening. We had also planned for our students to share during assemblies at local public schools, but all four schools denied our request due to objections from Muslim parents. Despite this setback we did have a very fruitful week of ministry.

My students were placed in many new and challenging ministry situations. Some had never publicly shared their testimony; one preached for the first time; others had never shared their faith with a stranger. Yet by the end of the week I was very encouraged to see how they had all responded positively to the challenges they were given. My role was primarily to prepare them before and mentor them after each ministry situation.

The door-to-door evangelism was particularly rewarding for all of us. We gathered at the church with some of the church members each morning to pray, and then went out in groups of three. The two students who went with me were very nervous. Although we had prepared for weeks before we went out with discussions and role-playing, and even though they had previously completed a course on evangelism, both students were very nervous as we approached the first house. So we stopped to pray again as they found the courage to go on. But everyone was friendly to us, and after a house or two they quickly forgot their fears as they found that people were kind to them and very open about their lives and the problems they faced. Most of the people we met knew the gospel but had not given their lives to Jesus. They shared intimate details of the struggles they faced each day, from drug addicted children and adulterous husbands to chronic pain. We were able to share their burdens, pray with them, and point them back to Jesus.

When we gathered back at the church, one of the other groups shared their encounter with a young Muslim woman. She was only seventeen but already had a child, and the father had come the night before and taken her baby from her. She had had a dream that someone would come and share the gospel of Matthew with her. She snuck out one evening to attend an evangelistic service, and we were able to give her a Bible too. We are continuing to pray for her salvation. There were many similar stories of seeing God at work through the students.

Please pray for the students at the Bible Institute. Although many are young and lack ministry experience, I have seen they have a desire to serve God and are willing to work hard to learn and to minister to others.

Prayer Requests

  • Pray that God would continue to prepare and equip our students for ministry
  • Pray that the Bible Institute’s programmes would receive accreditation
  • Pray for Kristina and the girls as they minister at iThemba school
  • Pray for wisdom as Anna decides on schooling options for next year
  • Continue to pray for John and Rebecca as they prepare for their wedding in July
  • Pray for Pastor M___, a Zambian former student of mine whom I know and trust. A highly placed church leader in another city made a serious false accusation about Pastor M___ that has affected his family, damaged his reputation, caused him to resign from his church, and left him without any income. Please pray that God will provide for him and restore him to ministry soon. In his own words, “Please pray with me and my family for God’s grace; we are in the most trying times.”

Blessings in Christ,

Tim & Kristina Churchill