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Newsletter #4 2011

Greeting to everyone in the name of our Lord! It’s midwinter now and the rains have soaked Cape Town. We really need it and it is encouraging to see snow on the high peaks of the eastern mountains.

McLAUGHLIN  NEW  LIFE  CENTER

Since the arrival of the last container, it has been a struggle to sort, stack and pallet all the boxes. Not so much for the physical space but because I’ve been hit with a bad dose of bronchitis. Winter is the worst time to contract such an illness and this was no exception. I wanted to bundle up warmly and work anyway but my wife threatened dire consequences!

We did managed to sort nearly half of the boxes, locating the most urgent need — Bibles and New Testaments. Several churches were so pleased to be able to pass them out to their members and the youth in particular, loved the stylishly colored New Testaments. The study Bibles are only given to those who attend the Cape Bible Seminary classes and who’s English is proficient. The Tuesday evening classes for the Congolese had several men who were delighted with their brand new study Bibles! The joy on their faces lit up the whole room!

One of the new contacts was Mike and Aubrey, both from a Christian community organization called One Source Ministry. We’d chatted over the phone several times and when I recovered enough, we met at the New Life Center. They were starting a community library as well as a Prayer Room. They were astounded at the boxes of books in front of them and were like kids in a candy store, unable to decide what to take first. In fact, that afternoon, they came back for another load.

I visited their community center located in one of the poorest suburbs of the city. They had a run down building, which the owner said they could use — they’d painted, repaired the doors and windows, installed a new roof and cleaned up the place. By the time I’d arrived, there were several youth and a few ladies unpacking and logging in the books! Mike is a former chef in the merchant marines and had set aside a small kitchen to train the local youth in food preparation. The equipment is rudimentary but his small group of students are all eager to learn. (There are several wine farms not far away and each one has several restaurants. where some might find employment.)

A week later, I was invited to witness One Source’s food parcel and blanket distribution. Several hundred people were there and the community leaders had a list of families who are in the most need. Of course, with the books on the shelves, word spread like wildfire through the homes. Some folks even brought old clothes to help others. This group is serious about practical Christian ministries and I believe, they will be very effective in spreading the gospel.

Among the crowd, I met a tall man, named Donovan. He is the principal of a school a few miles away and had heard about the books at the New Life Center. Within another day, he and a few fellow teachers were there to load up boxes. Over and over, they expressed their thanks for the blessings from America. Donovan estimated that those boxes of books alone saved the school a few thousand dollars!

CAPE  BIBLE SEMINARY

Bro Kiku’s congregation invited me to teach classes during their Tuesday evening worship service. Since many of his members must work on Sundays, Bro Kiku had arranged a midweek service so that they could share together. This month was the first classes and I began with the Harmony of the Gospels.

There are younger children there and I thought they’d be bored but at every class, they eagerly sat and listened. I discovered that most of the kids attend local schools and their English is better than their parents! (Some of the adults ask their kids to tell them the finer points of the classes when they get home.) There are always lively discussions and questions, which make the classes run very late. After passing out a few Halley’s Handbooks (from the container), I was inundated with so many questions that I had to had a separate session with them.

FURLOUGH

This year is another furlough. We’re praying that it will start from the middle of August and last until November. I hope to see my Mom in Seattle during this time (she is 92 but in good health) and also my sons and grandchildren. The only sticking point are two visas for my wife:¬† she needs a SA marital visa and after that, a US tourist visa. The South African authorities have been “busy” with it since January this year and despite calling, writing and e-mailing every few weeks, nothing seems to be coming out the other side.

I don’t anticipate a problem from the American Consulate (I am an Area Warden for the Northern Suburbs) but several people have told me that they’re becoming very sticky with their approvals. Still, we trust in the Lord and pray that these will be granted.

If you have any queries regarding the schedule for furlough, kindly contact Mark Vernik (567-825-1198) or check out our website.

We are praying for accommodation and a vehicle to drive while we are there. This time, we will concentrate mostly in the Midwest.

PERSONAL

I want to thank everyone for their hard work for the container. Mattie McLaughlin, the Snyders, together with the Neuenschwanders, along with the Christians at Northview Christian Church — we thank you for all the blessings that have been passed and are being passed to so many Christians in Africa!

Steve Zimmerman

S.A. Christian Mission, Cape Town

Trip to the US Update

We finally bought the tickets today.

We arrive, Lord willing, Aug 23rd on KLM 611 ex Amsterdam and land at O’Hare at 2:10 pm Terminal #5. My cousin, Cyndi Royce, will collect us and we’ll be staying with her until Monday, Aug 29th when we hope to drive down to Indianapolis to spend a few days with Mattie. Is it possible to meet somewhere in Indiana like we did last time so we can have wheels?

Our final hurdle in a US tourist visa for Sana. We have an appointment with the consulate on Wednesday and we pray there won’t be any glitches.

Newsletter #3 2011

BIBLES  FOR  AFRICA

The next container of Bibles, Sunday School materials and Christian literature is on its way to Africa! I had applied for the Rebate Import Permit from Pretoria and should have it in hand very soon so that the container can be cleared through customs expeditiously. We expect the vessel to arrive by the end of the month or early in May. So many Christians are excited by the news and I know I’ll be flooded when calls when it gets here!

CAPE  BIBLE  SEMINARY

Roger Dickson invited local pastors and teachers to his home on Good Friday for a potluck and time of fellowship. Roger is supplying me with New Testaments and CD’s with a Bible research library. He had contacts in different areas than I do so it was really good to meet with fellow laborers in Cape Town. About thirty people came, each brought a dish and Roger brought a short message afterwards. I know that there will be more cooperation and networking with these men and women.

Due to the drastic weakness of the US Dollar to the SA Rand, our funding hasn’t been that healthy. I have had to cut back on certain trips into the interior because the gasoline price has risen steeply, too, as it has all over the world. I’ve done everything I can think of to save on mileage — combining trips, cutting out less important ones and trying to save fuel by driving slower. This month, I was scheduled to visit Queenstown (750 miles in the Eastern Cape) but was short of funds and also, the Renault was in the shop due to a small accident. A friend of ours accidentally backed into my car as it was parked on the street. Fortunately, her insurance company paid for the damages. Instead, I sent Thompson Ntobie by bus, which saved a bit of money.

Thompson conducted several Cape Bible Seminary classes and they were all well attended. The brethren persuaded him to remain several days longer so he could teach at different locations. By the time Thompson returned, he was exhausted. (Next month, he turns 86!)

Until the exchange rate balances more in our favor and the gas price reduces, this is how I will have to make decisions. The normal CBS classes in Cape Town will continue as scheduled. If you feel as if you could help, even in a small way, please send a donation to Shirley Neuenschwander marked for the Gasoline Fund. I really appreciate everyone who has done this in the past. Your help had been essential in the outreach programs so that others can hear about Jesus.

PASSOVER

The “Easter” weekend came late this year — I can never figure out how it is calculated nor why it shifts between March and April. I rarely use the term “Easter” because it isn’t anywhere in the Word and it is associated with many different traditions, which have no bearing on the death of our Lord. (In isiXhosa is it “iPasiki”, the Passover and in Russian, the Resurrection of the Christ.) This year, instead of travelling, I accepted the invitation of a local congregation to minister. Although many regulars were away, the visitors more than made up for the attendance. We all enjoyed the fellowship and food together.

CONGOLESE

More and more, the brethren from the Congo are asking for preaching and teaching. Bro Kiku is their leader but works on an offshore oil rig in Gabon. He’s gone for six weeks and home for three. This month, he asked if I could teach CBS classes on during their Tuesday worship service. (The congregation worships twice a week — Sunday morning and Tuesday evening. Once a month, the Christians will meet on a Friday evening for an all night fast and prayer service.)

They took a slot on Tuesday evening which had been reserved for the home group in Bellville — they now meet on Monday evening. I began on the last Tuesday of April and the response was tremendous. The people asked a lot of questions. Next month, I will begin a study on the Harmony of the Gospels, which they have requested.

PERONAL

Furlough is approaching quickly. We are schedule to fly out during the middle of August 2011, landing in Chicago first. Mark Vernik is once again handling the speaking dates. We will need a place to stay for three months as well as a vehicle. Our main focus during this furlough will be the churches and congregations in the Midwest to try and increase our support base. The plan is to exit via Florida at the end of November 2011.

We need your prayers for our trip (accommodation, transport, etc). The airfares via Europe have risen and certain airlines have stopped their South African operations.

I want to thank all of you who have kept in touch via e-mail and phone. We are truly blessed in the Lord’s work here!

In Christ,

Steve Zimmerman

S.A. Christian Mission, Cape Town