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Month: December 2005
Pat and I want to wish all of you a blessed Christmas season and
New Year. We are so thankful for your dedication to our Lord and the
service you have rendered for many Christians in Africa.
Steve and Pat
Greetings in the Lord from Cape Town! Preparations are being made for our youngest son, Brice (Kelley), and his new wife, Louise, to return to America to find work if and when her marital visa is approved. We are praying that the Consulate staff approve of her application. (Louise is a South African national.)
CAPE BIBLE SEMINARY
The courses are running smoothly and there is a lot of interest from new contact churches and groups for 2006. I have had phone calls and visits from various elders and church leaders to see if a schedule can be worked out which will suit everyone.
Bro Sam Jacobs of the Elsies River congregation brought around Bro Mark, a Christian man who works at a distribution warehouse near the airport. I explained what our needs were: we urgently needed a warehouse for approximately six months or so for storage of Bibles and Christian literature. Bob and Roberta Snyder’s storehouse was nearly packed to the rafters and there were more boxes arriving all the time. Mark explained that his company had just been bought out by Barlows, a multinational conglomerate. They were amalgamating many of their smaller companies into one. The warehouse where Mark worked would be vacant from November until March 2006. He said he could approach his bosses to see if we could have it on loan until their lease ran out.This seemed like an answer to our urgent prayers and within days, Mark called to say that we could use the facility! Sam and I met Mark at the warehouse, which has already been cleared of their clients’ goods. There are a few large crates where the boss was storing some of his stuff but there is adequate space for two Container loads! In addition, the warehouse has a security alarm system. We bowed our heads and thanked God for His blessing.
Now, the only hold-up is our Import Permit application. I have been in touch with Pretoria but all of my old business contacts are gone except one person: Mrs Haasbroek. She knows our needs and has told me that the system is much slower. With COSATU (the South African union of all trade unions) looking over their shoulders, the entire process of approving permits has slowed. The unions obviously don’t want imported goods to compete with locally manufactured products – the factories and mines are their members. But I have been assured that we will get an approval. Please continue in prayer for our Import Permit. I have asked for enough tonnage for three Containers.
I visit different churches and groups in and around Cape Town on Sunday mornings. Every second and fourth Sunday, you’ll find me at Elsies River, conducting a full Cape Bible Seminary class instead of a sermon. It is my habit to accept new contact invitations to build a Christian network of churches and pastors so that they can help one another.
This month, I had a new contact group. A pastor, Bro Mervyn, in Mitchells Plain, invited me to speak to his struggling church. I’d met Bro Mervyn on occasion when he attended Cape Bible Seminary classes. When Bro Sam’s father, Bro Edward died and I attended the funeral, I was re-acquainted with him once again. Bro Sam and I drove out to the Mitchells Plain site, which is about twenty miles from where we live in the northern suburbs. The church meets in a rented shop in a very poor part of the township. I greeted everyone and noticed that there were a large number of Swahili speakers in the audience. One of them, Bro John, led the singing part of the service.
KiSwahili is not spoken south of Zambia but it is a language that cuts across national borders and forms the largest single language group in Africa. Over 80 million Africans speak Swahili in Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, parts of the Congo and northern Zambia. I spent two weeks in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and learned how to greet someone, ask their name, where they live and thank them.
When I stood to preach, I greeted the Swahilis in their own language. They immediately stood and applauded, much to my surprise. At the invitation, twenty people came forward to accept Jesus as their Savior; one of them a Swahili teenage girl, who asked me to pray for her in Swahili, too. Sadly I could not, which really made me feel bad. After the service was over, I asked Bro John to talk to her and ensure she was prayed for in her own language.
Africa is a continent of languages: over 2000 dialects and languages are spoken daily among 650 million people. It is the single, most daunting tact to preach and teach the Word across these cultural and linguistic barriers.
I also took out boxes of English Bibles and study books for the pastor and the church leaders. They were so overjoyed, the church broke out in spontaneous song!
The Gremlins continue! On Sunday afternoon, while I was helping one of Kyle’s friends, who is an orphan, find a rented room, a car pulled right out in front of us and cross the road. There was nowhere to go and all I could do was turn and lessen the impact of the two vehicles. No one was injured and both cars had to be towed away. We are insured but the repairs will take a few weeks.
Our continued thanks to everyone who has been so encouraging – we are truly blessed because of the Lord’s faithful people!
May God continue to bless and guide you as you continue to serve Him.
Steve and Pat Zimmerman
S.A. Christian Mission, Cape Town