Greetings from Cape Town, a city slowly sliding into winter. This season, we are praying for heavy rains to fill the depleted dams in the mountains after two years of poor rainfall. The farmers need it and the workers need it. We will trust the Lord to answer all our requests!
Cape Bible Seminary
This month was one of the busiest of the year. Churches and groups have been calling for courses to be taught and there just hasn’t been enough time to reach them all! The majority of requests have stemmed from the central African refugees who are eager and enthusiastic to learn the Word. No one really knows how many there are in the city but rough estimates center around 20 – 30,000.
Bro Sam Jacobs and I are working closely with the half dozen or so groups in which we are in contact. One major advantage of teaching these Africans the gospel and good leadership skills is that they will return to their countries at some stage and continue the Gospel’s outreach. In addition, they will improve their own abilities, which will provide them with work opportunities.
I was contacted by Bro Kiko (from Katanga Province in the Congo) to minister on a Sunday morning at a church meeting in a school room. I’d met him briefly once before. The congregation was small, about fifty, but mostly men – the lingua franca was French and Kiko translated for me while I taught. The people listened intently and there was a buzz of excitement after I met everyone and left. I have been contacted again by Kiko who wants a regular CBS class for the brethren. They have not been taught very much since fleeing their war torn countries and are hungry and thirsty for the Word.
Another great boost was the opening of the first Christian library/reading room. Bro Danny has been working hard to get permission for space in the church building near Belhar. We’ve discussed the type of books, Bible and teaching materials he’d need and the church board approved his request. I worked alongside Danny and his team to ensure that this initial project would be successful. It turned out to be much better than anyone ever imagined.
Special invitations were sent into the community, surrounding churches and civic groups. At the Saturday opening of the facility, about fifty people came to celebrate. I was asked to bring the keynote address and afterwards, everyone was invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony. Pastor Jonas, Danny and his team proudly led everyone inside. There were tables with children’s books, picture Bibles and shelves stocked with encyclopedias, commentaries and Christian study reference books. There was a tremendous atmosphere of thanks to the Christians in America for supplying such valuable resources.
It took awhile to persuade people to go for the refreshments, specially made by a woman in the congregation. I had to leave for another appointment and Danny called me the next day to say that people didn’t want to leave! This facility will be such a blessing to kids from school who want to study, Bible classes given by teachers and the training of church leaders.
Already, several hundred boxes of books and Christian materials have been distributed to about twenty churches in Cape Town. Queenstown received an entire trailer load. This project is having a major impact on communities who desperately need direction.
One of the major problems with the central African refugees is their lack of English skills. Almost all can speak fluent French, many are conversant in Swahili and few in English. I was asked to teach English classes on Wednesday mornings so that Christians can look for work. I made a deal: I’d teach them American if they’d teach me Swahili! And so it is. I find it challenging and fun to teach the people with small games and Bible illustrations. Every week, the class has grown and now there are almost fifteen who come regularly.
In addition to those languages, there are many Africans in the former Portuguese colonies that speak Portuguese. A man from Brazil, Pastor Klebber, has asked to help these people, who also need teaching and training. Last year, I was asked to teach CBS classes on Sunday evenings at Pastor Klebber’s church in Goodwood. He wanted to bring the surrounding community into the congregation and started Bible classes in English. I enjoyed teaching them but the attendance never rose above a dozen or so. When Klebber left to return to Brazil, the classes stopped and I felt as if it were a failure.
But God had a different plan: the refugees really need a fluent Portuguese speaking teacher of the Word. Pastor Klebber learned from the CBS classes and is now taking this to the people who need it the most! A Congolese Christian, Roger, who speaks Portuguese, in my CBS class on Tuesday evenings was delighted to meet Klebber and now they are reaching out together.
Isn’t it amazing how God work’s His will? What I might consider a failure, is just God’s preparation for a bigger opportunity.
Our thanks to everyone who has written and helped with special funding. Gasoline seems to rise without end and that is our largest expense for the Mission. But, we are thankful to all of you for your prayers and concern for us.
Steve and Pat Zimmerman S.A. Christian Mission, Cape Town
Picture 1 – A truckload of books, Bibles and huge
whiteboards for Pastor Brown and Quen for the children’s ministry.
Picture 2 – Quen Raaf helping to load boxes into the car