As we near the end of the first month of 2019, there is much to be thankful for in 2018 and much to look forward to in the year ahead. We are truly in awe of what the Lord accomplished in our little spheres of influence last year, and this year seems to be bristling with opportunities to see God’s Kingdom advance.
Most things in South Africa wind down in December, but not Scripture Union.
Once schools close in mid-December, SU gets busy running Christian camps to reach youth in many communities throughout the country. After a short break for Christmas, SU is back up and running in schools and offering training for children’s ministries in churches. For the past few days the staff from throughout the country have come together in Cape Town for their annual staff conference. It has been a time of prayer and planning and setting goals and fundraising targets. While there are many challenges within the organization, it is clear that God is at work and that He has great plans. Please pray that Tim and the team of leaders would know how to tackle the challenges and bring hope and flourishing to young people throughout the country. Tim’s travel schedule will be picking up again in the weeks to come as he attends regional meetings and fundraisers in different parts of the country. He will also most likely be making a trip to the US in the next few months. At Common Good, the job readiness courses and other training courses finished in early December and have now gotten started again for 2019. The first course to be trained in the new facility had over 25 participants, and their stories at graduation were powerful. Here is just one of the testimonies that were shared:
Mokone Primary & Barcelona Children’s Home
At Mokone Primary, 2018 ended on a high note. We saw vast improvement in the numeracy levels of the Grade 6 children, and this was also reflected in the national tests that they completed. There is still a lot of room for improvement, and we are very excited about some of the new things God is putting in place for this year. A well-respected nearby boys’ high school is considering getting involved and a number of volunteers from EMI (Engineering Ministries International) are planning to join us. It is a wonderful re-minder that God has a plan that is far beyond anything we could ever ask or imagine. He wants to see the children of Langa flourish and lets us join in on the adventure. We are also planning to start a literacy program in February and an after school discipleship program. We are excited to see how these additional activities will help prepare the children for a brighter future. Some Scripture Union people will be joining us with the discipleship program, and we have heard great stories of some of their past experiences with these kinds of school Bible clubs.
At Barcelona Children’s Home the beginning of each new year means that all of the school age children need all sorts of school supplies and uniform items. It is quite a challenge to get everything organized for so many children! A friend from Common Ground donated their old car to Pastor Julius, and that will be a huge blessing, as they have so many children going in several directions every morning to get to different schools. Pastor Julius’ wife, Irene (Lulama) has had some ongoing health issues, and Pastor Julius is struggling with his eyesight, but they remain joyful and committed to the work God has called them to and the children are thriving.
Things at church are starting to get very busy as the students begin coming back for the new year at universities in the city. This is always a key time for engaging new students and inviting them to small groups and various events. The founder of the Newfrontiers missional church movement will be visiting Common Ground for the month of February, and we are looking forward to learning from him.
The Langa Common Ground fellowship will officially launch on February 17, and that promises to be a huge celebration. The search for a permanent venue is ongoing, but we are all trusting that a suitable location will soon be found. We are excited that it looks like our home church, Blacks-burg Christian Fellowship, will once again be sending a team our way in June. It has been 5 years since the last team came. Over Christmas we were blessed by Leslie’s parents to be invited to spend two weeks with them, James and Mackenzie, William and Leslie’s brother and niece in Grand Cayman. The weather was gorgeous, the water was warm and clear, and it was great to be able to spend such a big chunk of time with family and away from all responsibilities. We then spent a week with Tim’s family in Michigan where the weather was not quite as pleasant, but the company was wonderful. We got back to Cape Town on January 5, and Tim was back at work on the 7th.
As we look to the year ahead there promise to be many challenges, but we are excited to see what the Lord has in store. There are many things that seem to be coming together in ways we never could have imagined. God is so faithful and he is always at work.
Thank you for your faithful involvement with us and for your support in prayer and finances. Everything we do is a team effort, and we couldn’t do what we do without all of the people who are standing with us. May God bless you in the year ahead.