Here is my day-late Missional Monday post–our last two prayer letters, which communicates my lack of writing lately. The first dates from August 28, the second September 13.
LIVING ON THE ROAD
While Paul and Barnabas were staying “no little time” with their sending church (Acts 14:28) on the first furlough, they probably enjoyed many conversations and seasons of prayer with their fellow believers.
Following their example, for the last four months we have traveled to our nine supporting churches plus six others for the joy of fellowship. In that time, we’ve changed the oil on our borrowed Dodge Caravan four times and seen too many children’s play areas at fast food restaurants. When we weren’t talking about family, missions, or theology Amy and I worked our way through Emma by Jane Austen (that’s quite a long novel by the way). Though the kids were great for the most part in the car with only a few warnings to “stop right now,” I don’t even want to imagine doing this for 12 months!
Amy reported on our road trip from a mom’s perspective, and I wrote about a philosophy of furlough including a great example of a church. We bless God for the encouraging words and conversations of so many church members who have taken an interest in our family and ministry, like Mrs. Winegarden from Faith Baptist in Michigan who faithfully “takes a trip to South Africa every morning,” she said. Or Pastor Tim Leaman who loaded me up with a stack of new books from Banner of Truth—it is my goal to have them all read by our next furlough. Of course, there was also the 2 week long bout with poison ivy that Caleb and I endured together.
This month as a family we are focusing on being joyful. When we replay the names and memories of so many who have supplied our needs (mini-van, cell phone, clothes, snacks for the kids, etc.) and refreshed us with thoughtful conversation, a satisfying kind of happiness arises in our hearts. We thank God for your kindnesses on our behalf.
During this time, Paul has been faithfully preaching at our church and visiting our members, but we long to see our teammates again and rekindle relationships for the sake of the gospel. Our return flight is Tuesday night, September 3, and we should arrive at our home Friday afternoon. Please pray that our church members would persevere in godliness and Christian disciplines. From one of our church member’s reports, I am hopeful that Kulani and Va-Nyalungu are near to salvation.
Seth and Amy
16 September 2013
A LONG WALK
In 2008, my teammate met Solane Maluleke, a well-educated man living within a few hundred yards from Paul’s house. Over the years Bible studies between these two men accrued like so many drops eventually filling the cup brimful. Solane enjoys reading, took a course at LBI, and even joined us at a pastor’s conference in 2010. Both Paul and I (though I only knew Solane incidentally) received emails about spiritual topics and questions from this man. When Trinity Baptist Church (Paul’s church) needed a meeting place, Solane’s garage was opened wide for weekly worship. In open demonstrations of spiritual interest, he has surpassed not only other evangelistic contacts, but also other church members.
Yet he refused to be baptized.
Until Sunday, 8 September 2013, Solane was a church attender who watched as the other members took communion and led the services. Two days after Amy and I returned to our home, I had the privilege of baptizing this man at a joint service where Elim and Mbhokota worshipped together.
So, we are rejoicing with Paul over seeing his friend join him in the most important family. We rejoice with Trinity Baptist over seeing a man commit to walk the road together to the Celestial City. And we rejoice with the Father over the public evidence that a sinner has repented. Pray that God would bless the believers in Mbhokota and Elim with many more men who are willing to step into the water.
But why does it take so long? From 2008 until 2013 is a lot longer than I was taught in evangelism class. Nor is that a unique example: Rinette Baloyi, an encouraging and active church member at Elim also took from 2007 until 2012. Many of our church members have taken months or years before trusting Christ. I am currently working with three other young men who have been attending our services and present for personal Bible studies for over a year. When I ask the question, “Are you ready to follow Christ right now, or do you need some time to think about it?” they still say, “More time.”
I hope to explore some of the reasons that evangelism takes time in my blog, but in the meantime, you can read this summary by Paul. Pray that we would not rush the soul-work of plowing, sowing, and harvesting, and also that the Lord of the Harvest would bring an increase.
After the flights from the US to Johannesburg, we arrived in our home Friday evening about 7 pm after a few adventures. Our house was in good shape thanks to two of our church members who stayed there as well as our teammates keeping an eagle eye. Two thieves did break in, but the young men staying in the house knew them from the village, tied them up with Amy’s washing line, and left them on the cold cement all night. In the morning, they woke up the still-bound, would-be thieves with a bucket of cold water.
Church attendance at EBC has been very low over the past few months, but Sunday there were a number of adults including the father of one of our teen boys that I’ve been evangelizing. Currently, I am working with three different men who are interested in the gospel.
Amy started homeschooling last week. While teaching, “Quench not the Spirit” for the letter “Q,” Colin kept clearing his throat. When he was asked to be quiet, he said, “My tongue is trying not to quench the Spirit, but my throat is quenching the Spirit.”
The kids are observing a multi-legged bug outside. After some time, Caleb lets it go peacefully, but Colin turns around and steps on it. Caleb objects loudly to which the younger rejoins, “That’s how life is. Things get clushed.”
Seth and Amy