The past weeks have flown by so quickly that I feel like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland — “Late, late, for a very important date!” I hope that summertime isn’t doing the same to you where you are. Greetings to on and all in the Lord’s name.
My phone has been ringing with requests for the Bible and books! The word has flown around town like wildfire that the Bibles are finally here – I barely had time to locate certain boxes before the calls flooded through every day. My first distribution was to an AIDS clinic run by a local church in the ganglands about eight miles from our home. All the patients are terminal and bedridden. The Celebration 2000 New Testaments are ideal because many of the patients aren’t that well educated and their English skills aren’t that good. But the joy on the faces of some of the people was touching – they realized that perhaps their last hope in this world was in that New Testament. In coordination with the local church leaders, I am scheduled to speak at a Bible Conference to train and equip the Christians to help those who are dying.
This is the entire objective of the Cape Bible Seminary – to work in conjunction with congregations and teach Christians to meet the needs of their communities. This church has the basic infrastructure and I can motivate and teach those who wish to serve Christ with their talents and abilities. I’ve also distributed Sunday School materials to the teachers of the church, a number of whom teach in the local schools. They are all excited that they have excellent American workbooks and age-related programs to present to the kids. Now, the principal of the local school wants to know if he can have a few boxes of New Testaments, too!
I already know from the preliminary response that the Container load of books and Bibles will change lives!
CAPE BIBLE SEMINARY
There are cycles in Christian teaching. Unlike the Bible colleges in the US that start and end at given times of the year, the Cape Bible Seminary is always on call to meet the needs of the churches. Usually during December and January, most of the African Christians return to their homelands for summer break and many churches wind down their programs. This year, solely via word of mouth, the CBS courses doubled within a month! Two brand new areas have been opened because former students have begun outreach programs and serving Christ where they are.
One group is led by Pastor Jerome Petersen and is located in the middle of the ganglands of Elsies River. As I drive through the township at night, the gangs are huddled around small barrel-fires warming themselves. Drugs are sold in the front of the scruffy mass apartments. Prostitutes hang around the corners near the main road. But in Jerome’s back room, which he converted into a large space in which to worship on Sundays, are twenty or thirty Christians ready to study the Word. Most are under thirty and are hungry for good teaching.
The second group is a small but active Portuguese-speaking church in Parow, about eight miles from our home. On Sunday mornings, the services and Sunday School is done entirely in Portuguese for the congregation’s benefit. The pastor (from Angola, a former Portuguese colony) decided to reach out into the community and began English classes on Sunday evenings. This is a new effort to bring the gospel to the surrounding area. One of my CBS students, Reinaldo, a Brazilian Christian, offered my services to help! The group is quite small, perhaps fifteen or so, but the inaugural service was fairly well attended. I noticed that as I spoke, three or four men were translating for their wives so they wouldn’t miss anything.
The Rand/Dollar exchange rate is moving strongly against us at the moment and added to that, the gasoline price is rising again. We’ve saved during the good exchanges and have planned for this eventuality – but if it continues into the latter part of this year, things might become very tight.
We ask for your prayers for the new CBS classes and the gasoline. The Lord is really opening many doors of opportunity and the gospel is reaching many.
Steve and Pat Zimmerman
S.A. Christian Mission, Cape Town