A Letter of Thanks to a Generational Missionary
Isaac lives 600 miles north of Cape Town in Kimberley, a diamond mining region, and travels extensively in the Northern Cape to churches, small groups and congregations to teach, preach and provide Bibles. He has driven down to Cape Town many times to load up boxes of Bibles and Christian literature. I (Steve) worked with his father, Bonga John, who has since passed away, many years ago. I (Steve) am now a generational missionary, I guess, working with sons, daughters and grandchildren of those faithful men I served alongside many years ago. Following is a letter of thanks I received from him:
Dear brother Steve Zimmerman
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope you are doing fine with the family. I’m writing to you because of joy in my heart. I thank God for you and your team brother Barry and Eric. This is to say I can’t express my gratitude more than what you did for my Province. giving the Bibles free of charge has been a very touching move for people in my Province, some have shared some tears because they couldn’t believe it. God is great and we thank Him for using you.
Both our fathers have left a legacy of sharing good relationships, Your father loved my dad genuinely I still cannot believe it that he wanted to take the rest of my family to America but unfortunately because of politics of SA we couldn’t get there. I trust one we will go there God willing. Look today you have blessed me and my Province with the greatest gifts ever. We trust that God will help us to this relationship and partnership even stronger.
We give thanks unto you and your team and all the donors from America with these gifts. May the good Lord bless you more abundantly with this service. One thing I wanted to ask as well is don’t you have any contacts for the shoe-box gifts children? we used to get a container for such gifts for children now is no longer coming any more in my Province. if ever you know anything about please remember us.
We need the same Seminar you had in Namakwa at Nababeep there in Kuruman sometime next year. We will arrange it for you . You must just check your calendar for possible dates. thank so much once more brother Steve, God bless and if don’t see each til December you must have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
Yours in Christ
Brother Isaac Mguzulwa
About the Bibles for Africa Project
The CBS (Cape Bible Seminary) programs and courses were very well accepted and so many Africans wanted to study the Word. A series shortcoming was reference books, mainly a good Bible, preferably a study Bible.
Together with Dave McLaughlin, the Chairman of the SACM Board at the time, Steve and Dave approached a Bible publisher, B.B. Kirkbride Bible Co in Indianapolis to produce a less expensive study Bible for the CBS students. The first 30 were boxed and posted by sea mail, which took three months to arrive in Cape Town. Customs and Excise of the South African Post Office stopped the box and asked for excise duties because it was obvious to them that the quantity of the boxes Bibles were for resale. Stephen had to produce a CBS letter explaining that the Bible were to be distributed free of charge to the students. Reluctantly, Customs waived the duties.
The next box of 30 arrived three months later and was again stopped. Stephen produced another letter and again, it was released after a week of consultations.
When this was explained at a SACM Board Meeting when Stephen was on furlough, Chuck Todd one of the board members (now passed away) asked why a big box couldn’t be sent instead. Stephen explained that it didn’t matter how big the box was, it would still be stopped for inspection. Chuck didn’t blink. He insisted that it had to be the big metal box that was loaded on a ship! Stephen understood he was referring to a 20’ container! DO you know how many boxes are needed to fill a container, Chuck? Stephen asked. Chuck nodded: “So what’s your problem, Stephen?”
Since then and until 2021, twenty 20’s containers packed with Bibles have been collected, packed and shipped to Cape Town. I think Stephen’s initial problem was lack of faith! The Project was enthusiastically adopted and has been operating for many years.
To unload, unpack, stack and sort over 700 heavy boxes of Bibles, Christian books and teaching materials, a warehouse was constructed on a Christian Retreat Center in Cape Town called Anathoth. Funding was raised by many churches and individuals and greatly assisted by Dave and Matie McLaughlin to complete the warehouse.
In addition, after the passing of Bob Snyder, the original coordinator of the Bible collections in America, Dave Foust is now heading up the Project together with his team of volunteers. The Northview Christian Church in Coldwater (MI) has constructed a Bible Barn on their property to pack and store boxes of Bibles until a container load is collected.
The Bibles have been distributed to church and groups in the greater Cape Town area as well as many outlying communities, some as far as 800 miles from the city and even into the Congo, Nigeria and Zambia carried by African refugees when they return home. (Donations of French Bibles are given to the Francophone countries – both Congo countries, Gabon, Burundi, Ruanda, Cameroon – towns, villages and places Stephen cannot pronounce or probably even visit. The Word goes forth to change the hearts of men and women who seek the Truth.