Since the outreach over the weekend of 31 May to 2nd June on the Hope farm in the Tshipise valley, we have experienced such a busy period of time, to the extent that I find only now the time to provide the feedback on our outreach. On top of this, I am experiencing some difficulty (who knows why) to upload our photos on the website and also to include some of them in our feedback. So, the photos have to wait for now as I want to bring the feedback as soon as possible, while it is still fresh in our memory.
According to plan, we fetched the tent from Boksburg, Gauteng, moved all the second hand clothes, sound equipment, generator, lights, etc. from the storage facility to my home and started to pack on Thursday morning, the 29th May. My wife Venetia, Pastor Noel Coetzee with his son Joshua arrived later the afternoon and after finishing packing, we started off for Tshipise around about 16:00.
My Isuzu truck and the trailer we had on loan were both fully loaded – barely finding space for Past Noel and Joshua to fit in at the back of the truck. The Isuzu had quite a battle to pull this load up the hills, but praise the Lord, we had all the travelling mercies we needed and arrived safely in Tshipise.
The following morning we met the owner of the farm, Dr Kobus Roos at 07:00 and discussed the best place to pitch the end – and we decided on the soccer field. While offloading this heavy load, one of our helpers said we came on the wrong weekend, because it is the end of the month and the people here are married to liquor – especially when they get their salaries. I said: “Well, then we have to preach about the divorce of the liquor”. They just laughed and thought we were insane or something.
We pitched the tent and soon found out this area of South Africa is much more warmer than Pretoria where we come from – even in winter time. We planned and proceeded with this outreach without any prior notification to the people in the area and no advertisements, but we completely trusted in the guidance and support from the Lord Jesus in this regard. It was like sailing uncharted waters and we did not know what to expect – except for our expectation in the Lord that lost souls will be saved and that His name will be lifted up as Lord and Savior. Past Noel continually asked me about who will do the translations, music ministry, etc., and the only answer I had was that we have planned and arranged everything possible (such as partnering with another church in Messina for the music ministry and translations), but we will have to wait and see and also trust the Lord in this regard. He will provide in all our needs.
The Friday night we did not have any chairs available except for a couple of ground sheets for people to sit on, but in Africa they don’t care much about luxuries such as chairs. When we arrived at the tent, we experienced a problem with our lighting system. The fluorescents did not work and the tubes I bought were too short. Eventually we connected the two spotlights and directed it into the tent as I gave the go ahead for Past Noel to start speaking to the group of people already there. As we progressed, the group of people grew to about 30-40 strong and they listened attentively to the message of the healing power of Christ and that we are healed through His stripes. In the background we could hear the music from various sound systems in the local village of month-end parties going on. Past Noel concluded this evening outreach to call people out with specific infirmities and then prayed for each one. I do believe that the Lord has most definitely touched a couple of them who came out for healing as they testified and demonstrated afterwards that the pain in the specific body parts was now gone. Praise the Lord for His healing power! Another miracle that the Lord provided for, was that we did not have any music nor a proven translator that night, but the man (Ben) who helped us pitching the tent and who has overseen the protection of it at night and during the day, also doubled up as our main translator for the weekend. The people that we arranged for did not come until Sunday morning and even then this young man, Ben, stood his ground and translated each message from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The rest of our team arrived on Friday night and then we had to spend a very restless night due to people having another party at /close to Tshipise Resort right through the night until the following morning! UGH! I hate liquor and what it does to people!
The Saturday morning was a bit disrupted as I had to take Past Tracey Miles to the doctor in Messina due to her feeling very ill. So, Past Lorraine Kotze had to deal with all of the children’s ministry on her own, with some help from her husband, Dr. Frank Kotze and the rest of the team. A youth group from Messina under the guidance of Christopher and Rose also assisted us over the weekend with the children’s ministry. I also would like to thank a dear brother, Harry Smith from Messina who supported us with the 100 chairs and providing the transport for the youth group as well. Based upon the photos it seems they thoroughly enjoyed it. But the end result of the teaching on the multiplication of the bread and fish, was that at least 60 children gave their hearts to the Lord .
Saturday night and we were more organised and ready for the evening service. Lights were working and Bishop Dubé, one of our Ministry Partners, arrived from Johannesburg and brought people with their music instruments. As we started to play, the people slowly but surely came in and took their seats in the tent. My message dealt with the fact that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is no joke. Christ experienced true pain and suffering and therefore we cannot play games with Him nor with His Gospel of Salvation. The main message was that they should make a decision to serve the Lord Jesus Christ or other gods, such as “Mr Black Label” – which is one of the strongest local beers in South Africa; or “Mr Peter Stuyvesant” or “Mr BB”– tobacco brands. They laughed at my examples, but the message hit right at home, because it is the blessing of the Lord that will make you rich in more than one sense, but also the sins of this world that steals your money. Who do you want to serve? The One who died for your sins on the Cross of Calvary, or the gods who will steal your money and eventually kill you. The choice is yours? But me and my house will serve the Lord!
I made the altar call for people who wanted to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior and 17 people came out to be baptized. The miracle of it all was that 13 of them were men and only 4 women, because the men of these days do not want to come to church or to serve the Lord. Young men who will be able to stand up as priests of their homes and communities. Men who will lead other men to Christ and who will change the culture of communities from addiction to God-fearing people.
The Sunday morning, Bishop Dubé reiterated the importance of being baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and not only in the titles of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as the authority for the remission of sins is especially linked to the name of Jesus Christ. There is no other name given to man whereby he must be saved (Acts 4:12). “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” The group of 17 then grew to 25 and by the time all names had been written down and each one baptized, the final total stood on 32 people – mostly men coming to Christ!
The big question was – where to baptize them, as thousands of crocodiles went missing during the February floods in the area. Every body of water was at risk of containing a croc or more! One local guy wanted to cut a path through dense bush for us to reach a river, but I decided not to take that risk or the time to do so. Then a another local man pointed us to a dam – with muddy water and no way to see what is at the bottom or in the water!!! The locals confirmed there is no crocodile in this dam, and I was sort of reassured when I saw some ducks on the water. I guess we also felt like “sitting ducks on water”, but Past Frank Kotze and myself baptized each one of them carefully and respectfully in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins, without any delay or hindrance.
The farm owner has given us permission to plant a church here and all praise and glory be to the Lord Jesus Christ for His power and Grace. Through His provision and grace, we are planning a follow up session on the farm again on the first weekend of July, to strengthen those who has made this decision to follow the Lord. Most surely we will also proclaim His Gospel of salvation again to those who wants to hear it.
Another successful delivery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because we are not ashamed of the Gospel as it is a power from God unto salvation. (Rom 1:16)