Greetings from summer! Since we are serving the Lord at the “bottom” end of the globe, it is full summer here with gorgeous blue skies and hot days. Perhaps some of you would like to trade a little snow for a little heat?
CAPE BIBLE SEMINARY
Traditionally, as soon as the builder’s holidays approach in mid-Dec, the CBS classes wind to a close. Many Africans leave Cape Town for their homelands for about a month while the factories, construction sites and blue collar workers enjoy the summer break.
Before they left, many of the leaders visited me to ensure that their churches and groups will continue with regular classes in 2006. And so, even before the New Year begins, I’ve already been reserved for four evening courses and Bro Sam Jacobs’ twice monthly Sunday mornings. Samuel brought four Swahili-speakers (Congolese) to our home during the first week of December, just prior to the holidays. I greeted them and used up my limited Swahili but they were very pleased to hear it. (None of them knows any of the local African languages – two of them have some English skills and all are fluent in French.)
They came to ask for Bibles, English classes and CBS courses – I told them that I would help whenever I could. Bro Sam and I discussed the plight in Cape Town. Foreign Africans are not welcome in South Africa. Firstly, there is a major language barrier but also, the local tribes feel that these legal immigrants are stealing their jobs and promoting crime. Whilst there is a very real threat, particularly from Nigerian druglords, most Swahilis I’ve met are hard working, well educated and motivated. But they are locked out of the mainstream work force and cannot live in the townships alongside the locals.
Sam and I discussed the idea that they should form a self-help group to assist all Swahili-speakers. Samuel offered the Elsies River church building as a base where they could gather for worship and also, I’d teach the classes there. All four were very excited and eager to begin. I am praying that their efforts will bring many others on the outside into contact with the gospel.
Afterwards, I scrounged a few Bibles left over from the Container Project. All the boxes had been distributed and there were none left except a few I’d pulled aside. Their church group numbered about fifty but I only had seven Bibles available. One of the men, Bro Jean, ran forward and held out his shaking hands so he could have an English Bible! As I placed it in his fingers, he clasped it to his chest and bowed his head in thanks. He told me later in simple English that this was his most treasured possession.
I often think about the casualness which some Christians have towards the Word and the intense enthusiasm with which many Africans embrace the Bible. To see a man so thankful for his own copy of the words of life touches my heart and soul.
An old contact, Bro Abie Olivier, called and asked me to assist him with in Hout Bay, a new area he opened up to the gospel’s message. His group meets in a rented hall. I ministered to them on the last Sunday of November and twenty-two people came forward to accept Christ after the Word was spoken. Later, Bro Abie baptized them into Jesus.
Our prayers were answered: our youngest son, Brice (Kelley), and his new wife, Louise, left for Florida. It was a difficult, frustrating and time-consuming task to apply for Louise’s marital visa but it was finally granted. We want to thank all of you who kept them in your prayers – God is good! They will be working in West Palm Beach temporarily until they can find better opportunities in the States.
The volatile Rand/Dollar exchange rate continues to hurt us. Every time the Dollar slips on the foreign markets, the Rand gets stronger and we receive less income. The gasoline price doesn’t help either. It is controlled by the government who can raise (or lower) the price as they wish. Right now, we are coping and cutting corners where we can. Please be in prayer for this situation.
It has been a hectic and blessed 2005. Time has gone past so quickly and we cannot believe we are facing a New Year! From Pat and I in Cape Town, to all of you in the United States, we want to wish each and every one a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year in Christ.
Steve and Pat Zimmerman
S.A. Christian Mission, Cape Town