Greetings from Cape Town in the Lord’s name! The time has drawn near for our furlough and preparations have already been underway for some time. Next month, Pat and I will be flying to the States via London.
Cape Bible Seminary
Since the beginning of 2005, the CBS classes and courses have been full. New contacts have mushroomed everywhere but there hasn’t been time to consolidate them because of the planned furlough. The demand for sound teaching has increased every year.
The Monday night group, held in the home of Bro Andre Brandt, has increased in size ever since its humble beginnings with just four people! It consists of Christians from different churches, all of whom desire a deeper spirituality and study of the Word. Over the past months, certain members have assisted with the Bavumeleni Children’s Center (operated by Primrose and Doreen) with donations of clothing, toiletries and toys. But with the recent study centered around the Book of Philemon, the Word has touched the hearts and minds of the students, who have responded spectacularly.
Sister Antoinette is an Afrikaner woman, who rarely visited any African township for any reason (like most white South Africans). About six months ago, she accompanied me to Bavumeleni and saw the needs of the street kids with her own eyes. Since that time, Antoinette has taken the children to heart and made them her own special area of service – the baker, the butcher, the supermarket and the vegetable shop were all roped in to donate leftovers and excess food. Antoinette enlisted the help of two other Monday night students, Koosie and Rea, who have started their own collection service for the kids. Rea and Antoinette arranged for Primrose and Doreen to take time off and attend a Christian women’s camp. They now visit Bavumeleni regularly – a few of their white friends shake their heads in disbelief. Two white women travelling into a African township on their own! Unheard of.
And, during the final session of a ten-week program on Philemon, Antoinette announced that she had recruited a team of eight Christians to assist her with the children’s ministry at Bavumeleni! This is an answer to prayer – Reinaldo Rutter (a Brazilian Christian who lives and works in Cape Town) and I have been praying for some months for a helper to assist with the Center. Our concern was that since Pat and I would be on furlough for four months, a lot of extra work would fall onto Reinaldo’s shoulders. Now, as God has answered our petitions and so abundantly blessed us, we not only have an active helper in the form of Antoinette but an entire team!
The boxes of books, Sunday School materials and Christian literature has been flying out of our garage! We do not advertise or promote this project but every week for the past months, churches and groups have visited our home to fetch badly needed teaching materials. All the Study Bibles are gone. All the easy-to-read New Testaments are gone. Most of the Sunday School materials are gone. And the demand never ceases.
Last week, Bro Koosie from the Brackenfell church (see March 2005 Newsletter) brought four people from two churches. They were all Sunday School teachers who had no materials to teach their children on a Sunday morning. The churches could not afford the imported materials for sale at the Christian bookstores. I listened to their pleas for help and then showed them the boxes of materials I’d set aside for them after Koosie’s phone call. All of them were stunned!
“How much must we pay?” asked Bro John, one of the teachers.
“No charge,” I replied. “Just thank the Lord for your American brethren who supplied you with what you needed – even before you asked.”
Bro John bowed his head with the rest of us and gave thanks for the blessings they’d just received. The joy on their faces as they carried the heavy boxes to the old car and loaded it to the rafters.
The need now is to locate a lockable storage facility for the next Container. Our garage was packed for nearly a year and it was difficult to locate specific boxes because there was no space to move.
Pat and I will fly into Tampa Bay on Thursday, May 12th 2005 to begin furlough with the Florida supporters. People have opened their homes for us and the Millers (Zephyr Christian Church) have offered a car for us get around. (Thank you Basil and Marjorie!)
Steve and Pam Hamilton (Stroh, IN) have offered Pat and I their home as a base for the Midwest leg of furlough – they’ll move in with his folks during that time! Our sincere thanks to them for this generous offer. Additionally, a car has been provided by Shirley and Jim Neuenschwander for the duration, too – thank you, Jim and Shirley!
The South African Christian Mission Board decided that furlough should be taken more frequently (every 3rd year instead of 5th) of shorter duration (3-4 months instead of 10-12) to allow less interruption in the ongoing work in Africa. Supporters would be visited in rotation as time allows. We are also looking for new areas of support and if anyone has a suggestion, please contact Mark Vernik at (419) 222-1198 or firstname.lastname@example.org – our heartfelt thanks to Mark who arranges our speaking schedule perfectly!
Please be in prayer for this furlough and the work that will continue in our absence. May God continue to bless each and every one of you.
Steve and Pat Zimmerman
S.A. Christian Mission, Cape Town