Skip to main content

NEWSLETTER VOL. #5 2004

Greetings from a cooler, wetter Cape Town! Okay, summer is really over so we’re bracing ourselves for winter. No matter where you are, we trust the Lord is blessing and guiding you.

LAND/SEA CONTAINER
I was informed that the vessel docked on Friday, the last one of the month. Normally, it takes about a week to clear the docks, Customs and inspection. So, I didn’t worry about organizing help to unload it – Thompson Ntobie and Simon Mainze, our translators, were overjoyed that it had arrived but I told them that I’d call when I was informed that it would be delivered.
Oh ye of little faith! Bright and early on Monday morning, the truck arrived outside my house – the driver said that he would wait three hours and that they needed the Container back then! I called Ntobie and he hastily arranged transport but estimated that it would take an hour to get there.

Fortunately, a young Xhosa man, Thembalani, was working in the yard and for the first hour, we managed to unload a few rows of boxes. Every one seemed to weigh a ton, filled with books, Bibles and teaching materials. When Thompson arrived, he also brought along two other Christian young men, Cliffie and Aubrey.

All the boxes were set out in the driveway to clear the Container (after three hours there is a penalty payment) and then carefully loaded the boxes into our double garage, sorting them out by the marks on the boxes.

It was a long day and the job was finally completed by mid-afternoon. Our backs, hands and shoulders ached but all the boxes were neatly stacked on wooden pallets (thoughtfully provided in the Container by Bob Snyder) in decent order. Nothing was broken, missing or damaged.

Many prayers were answered by the delivery of these books to South Africa. Christians have been waiting eagerly for a copy of the Bible; Cape Bible Seminary students have looked forward to study Bibles and Halley’s Handbooks; and the youth were awaiting the New Testaments in simple English. The impact upon the work cannot me calculated – the blessings from God will flow as these materials are distributed.

Our heartfelt thanks must go to everyone who helped to ensure this delivery. From the personal gifts, donations by various churches and groups, the loading team, the Board of the S.A. Christian Mission and the Snyders personally for collecting, packing and storing the boxes, everyone gave willingly and in service to Christ for the gospel’s sake. Thank you, one and all.

BAVUMELENI
My teaching and preaching schedule is usually quite full but one Sunday was left open for one special occasion: Bavumeleni. It is a children’s feeding program run by a Christian woman, Sister Primrose, for the kids in Bloukombos township. Many kids are abandoned, join street gangs or are preyed upon – Primrose provides a bowl of soup and bread three afternoons a week to all comers. A few knock on her door in the middle of the night when their parents fight or gangs beset them – there is always a place in one of the rooms for an extra blanket and pillow. After the feeding program, Primrose teaches them about Jesus. They sing songs and she reads the Bible to them, usually stories that Christ told.

Primrose asked me to preach to the kids on the first Sunday of May. I went along and the small tent next to her home was packed with about a hundred kids of all ages – from 3 to 16. They all sang enthusiastically and listened to the message from the gospel of Mark. I met a few of them afterwards and heard their stories. Aside from the refuge with Primrose, each one told me that they had nowhere else to go in the township!

The SACM and Bavumeleni are discussing joint teaching programs together so that the children are well grounded in the Word. Thompson is liaizing with Primrose (they are both Xhosa’s from the same area in the Transkei) and the programs will begin within weeks.

PERSONAL
Our youngest son, Kelley, must return from England where he has been working for the past two years. His work visa will expire at the end of May and despite extensive efforts, the British will not renew it. At this moment, he has no idea what he wants to do next. Please keep in in your prayers.

Also, Pat and I want to thank everyone who stuffed goodies into the Container for us – Snickers, Dr Pepper, cherry licorice, chili powder and Tasters Choice coffee were all drooled over even before anything was opened! Thank you, everyone!

We pray that God’s grace will protect and guide all of you as we continue to serve our Lord together.

Steve and Pat Zimmerman
S.A. Christian Mission, Cape Town

SACM Update #7

From one simple Bible class, organized by one Christian woman, Steve now has three Cape Bible Seminary classes per week. The original group met in an realtor’s office on Wednesday mornings and consisted of four people — from there, it grew until there was no more space around the table.

A Friday morning Bible study session was formed from this group (see picture). It is held in a private home, outside in summer and inside in winter. Steve is attempting to bridge the gap between the middle-class white Christians and the poorer African Christians by teaching practical Christian ministries. It isn’t easy. The white folks are reluctant to commit themselves, feeling perhaps they will “lose” their hard-earned wealth, and the black Christians tend to be suspicious of their white counterparts because of the previous political turmoil in South Africa.

However, one man in this picture (seated, center), Bro Reinaldo, a Brazilian Christian, has committed himself to helping a children’s feeding scheme in one of the worst black townships. Steve is also involved with these kids and they are encouraging others in the group to visit and help where they can.

It is an uphill battle at times. People tend to become comfortable where they are and are reluctant to expose themselves to different cultures, language and ethnic groups. Yet, each group has much to offer the other.

It is only in Christ that we are united in one Body, one faith, one baptism and one hope of glory.

PICTURE DETAILS: left to right — Hilary, Yolandi, Hendrik, Reinaldo, Isaac and Charles.

SACM Update #8

Kelley Zimmerman arrived from England after his two year work visa expired. All Commonwealth citizens are entitled to a temporary visa to live and work in the United Kingdom and since jobs are scarse in South Africa, Kelley decided to take advantage of it. (All three of Steve and Pat’s sons — Kent, Kyle and Kelley — are born in Cape Town and therefore eligible for the visa even though they are also American citizens.)

Kelley arrived at the airport, a bit tired and a little disappointed that he couldn’t get an extension to his work permit. But, he was also happy to be back home again with his folks. (See photo.)

His brothers, Kent and Kyle, are seriously thinking about seeking enployment in the United States or England, too. With the government’s aggressive Affirmative Action Policy, it is very difficult for young white men and women to find meaningful work no matter how qualified they are. Other countries are taking advantage of this situation and head-hunting for good workers. The government is complaining that their highly skilled teachers, nurses, doctors, etc are leaving in droves!

The Zimmermans don’t know at this stage what Kelley wants to do. At the moment, he is living at home until he either finds a job here or is offered work in the States.

One of the least understood aspects of being a missionary family is the separation. When Al and Jean Zimmerman left to serve the Lord in Cape Town in 1959 with their young sons, they were prepared for most things. However, over the years, they’ve seen their sons and daughter separated (Steve is in Cape Town, Dr John works in Seattle and Sara lives in Grand Rapids) as well as their grandchildren.

It is the same reality for Steve and Pat. It is quite likely that all three of their sons will leave South Africa for brighter prospects. But, in all, it will be the family of God that will keep their hearts and minds in Jesus.