Dear Friends and Family,
It’s the time of year when we remember the birth of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. For most of us Christmas is associated with wintery images, but here in South Africa it’s summer! A few weeks ago I walked into church on a warm and sunny morning only to find the first hymn was O Come All Ye Faithful. That was such a confusing moment for me, but I quickly gathered myself and embraced the season! At this time of year we celebrate God’s greatest gift, his Son given for our salvation. We also celebrate God’s goodness in our lives over the past year. We would like to say thank you to all of our supporters for showing us God’s love in so many ways over the past year. Your love, prayers, thoughts, encouraging messages, and gifts in support of our ministry are deeply appreciated! May you all have a blessed Christmas this year, rejoicing with renewed wonder at the birth of Immanuel.
As I reported in our last newsletter, our Bachelor Degree programmes have received accreditation. However, since these are the first programmes accredited for the Bible Institute, we must register with the Government as a degree-granting institution. Although all of the paperwork has been filed and no work remains on our side, we have been informed that it will take five more months before we can actually register students in the new programme. We are working to see what we can do to help our current and new students, but some of them may be affected by this delay. Please pray that all the paperwork will be approved early in the new year so that all of our students can received accredited degrees when they graduate.
Despite the delay in receiving accreditation within South Africa, we are still accredited internationally through ACTEA (Association for Christian Theological Education in Africa) and ICETE (International Council for Evangelical Theological Education). Just last week we interviewed thirteen applicants for our residential and distance programmes. It was so encouraging to hear the varied stories from this group of candidates, including:
an engineering teacher from Khayelitscha, Cape Town’s largest black township, who is following a call to ministry;
a widowed nurse who was saved miraculously and has since been ostracized by her family who still practice ancestral worship;
a recovered drug addict who has been serving for thirteen years at a mission station in South Africa but has returned to his native Namibia to minister there.
They embody the words of Jesus at the end of the gospel of Luke:
He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47)
I expect to interview an even greater number of applicants in January prior to the start of classes at the end of the month. Please pray that God will open a way for more students to join us next year.
Here are our prayer requests for this month:
- Pray for BISA’s accreditation status
- Pray for new and continuing students at BISA
- Pray for our family over the Christmas season as we are separated from many loved ones, including John and Rebecca
- Pray for the ongoing drought in the Cape Town area. With help from family we were able to drill a borehole at our house that will give us water for washing and other household uses, but not for drinking. The Bible Institute is hoping to drill several boreholes and add a filtration system that will completely replace the city water, including for drinking.
Blessings in Christ,
Tim & Kristina Churchill