September 2017 Newsletter
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings from South Africa! We would like to express our deepest thanks for each of the generous gifts we have received from so many over the past month, and for your many faithful prayers. “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:34)
British New Testament Conference
A few weeks ago I attended the British New Testament Conference (BNTC) in Dublin, Ireland. This is the annual meeting of New Testament faculty from across the UK and Ireland. During my doctoral studies I attended the conference as often as I could, and over the years have had the privilege of meeting many well-known scholars such as N.T. Wright, James Dunn, and I. Howard Marshall.
In recent years I have been so focused on ministry that I haven’t taken the time for any “professional development.” I was, however, blessed to be able to attend this year’s BNTC. The conference stimulated my thinking in many areas as I listened to papers that addressed a wide range of issues, from the role of race in theology to the function of Greek verbal aspect in New Testament narratives. I was also able to connect with colleagues from many diverse backgrounds, including a Scottish lecturer who spent over nine years at Dumisani Theological Institute in South Africa.
One of the highlights was a visit to the Chester Beatty Library for a special “behind the scenes” viewing of some very old New Testament manuscripts that date from the second and third centuries! From the Chester Beatty Library website (http://www.cbl.ie/Collections/The-Western-Collection/Papyri/Biblical.aspx):
The incredible discovery and acquisition of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri was first made public in The Times on 19 November 1931. Before this find, the earliest and most important manuscripts of the Greek New Testament were parchment codices from the fourth and fifth centuries…
Of course the best time of all was spent with my doctoral supervisor, Professor Steve Walton. We met together on numerous occasions during the conference, and also had supper together one evening in London as I stopped over on my way back to Cape Town.
Drought in Cape Town
The topic of conversation among most people in Cape Town these days is the ongoing drought. Low rainfalls over the past three years, combined with the increasing demand of a growing population, have created near emergency conditions. For the past week we have been under “Level 5” water restrictions, which means we are only permitted to use 87 litres of water per person per day. Last month we received a letter from the municipality warning us that failure to comply with these restrictions could result in fines and/or up to five year imprisonment.
Cape Town is in great need of rain to replenish the dams that supply the city with water. Please pray that God would draw people to depend on Him as they consider the seriousness of the situation. Also pray that God will “open the floodgates of heaven” (see Malachi 3:10) and provide the rain that we so desperately need. Finally, pray for our family as we adjust to these severe restrictions. Psalm 74:12-15 helps to put our situation in its proper context: “But God is my King from long ago […] It was you who opened up springs and streams; you dried up the ever-flowing rivers” (NIV).
For the last few months we have asked for prayer that God would provide for the shortfall in our support account. This month we can report that the shortfall has been met, thanks to several unexpected gifts! We give thanks to God as He continues to supply all of our needs.
Here are our prayer requests for this month:
- Pray for the ongoing drought in Cape Town
- Praise for God’s continuous provision of our needs
- Pray for the ongoing ministry at the Bible Institute of South Africa, and especially for our students as they catch up during the mid-semester break this week
- Pray for Kristina, Anna, Sarah, and Katie’s work at iThemba Christian Pre-School
- Pray for John and Rebecca as they adjust to married life
Blessings in Christ,
Tim & Kristina Churchill