We are finally in South Africa! Eighteen months of planning, prayer and preparation led us to some painful family farewells and goodbyes to friends. It has been an emotional roller coaster so far but through it all we have seen the Lord’s hand and favour at work.
We flew out on the 12th September and then went to Barbie’s dad for a few days. We could not move into our house until the 28th September. We spent this time buying the motor vehicle (thank you to all those who gave specifically to this), organising house insurance, medical insurance, car insurance and so on. Nothing here happens quickly. There’s a whole new raft of legislation and bureaucracy to negotiate and understand.
We have found this to be a familiarly-unfamiliar place. There is much that we have adapted to quickly because we have a memory of it from Barbie’s upbringing and Keith’s time spent here nearly 30 years ago. Other things are strange as the country seeks to catch up with the rest of the world. A simple example of this is the lack of recycling planning but the desire to do so. Rubbish is simply put on the kerb in black refuse sacks the morning of the rubbish collection. Before the rubbish lorry arrives a lady walks our street and goes through the bags looking for plastics she can then sell for recycling. This is a meagre existence. However, she has has come to like our house as we separate the plastics (old habits die hard) and she can just pickup that bag and walk off.
We enquired at the Post Office about having a P.O. Box so mail could be received safely. We were told there were no boxes available, not because they were all allocated, but because they have been waiting for new keys and locks for over a year due to vandalism. So we are relying on mail delivered to our home, but have not received as single letter, even from the municipality for our rates who say they’ve written to us each month. We have decided to simply go in and pay the rates directly to them each month. If you want to post care packages to us (which we’d love) please be aware that they may take a long time to reach us, if at all.
Water has been a challenge here too. The municipality, who invoice households for water and sewerage, are in a dispute with the local water company who are in turn in dispute with their partners. This means that the water simply is disconnected to the town without warning. However, it is always on over the weekends as there is no one in the offices! So taking a shower is no longer taken for granted!
Christmas is coming! We know this because Jingle Bells is playing in the supermarket. However, days here are typically in the mid-thirties and rising as summer approaches. Doesn’t it have to be cold and snowing at Christmas?
To some degree we are suffering culture shock. Days start earlier here and Keith is usually up and about from 5am. Barbie takes a little longer to get going. The people with whom we work believe if the sun is up, work begins. We are adapting to the culture and are taking things one day at a time.
We are enjoying our new home although we have had to have electricians in to sort out some dangerous wiring. There’s more work than we anticipated and they might be regular visitors over the next few months. We have also had a burglar alarm system fitted and subscribe to an armed response service , a
kind of private police, which is common practice here and essential given the high crime rates. We have also welcomed two rescue dogs to the Jackson household, Cooper and Rosie. They are not great watchdogs and would probably lick an intruder to death; they’re enjoying their life here!
Our furniture finally arrived from the UK on 1st November. We took the unprecedented step in the end of asking for friends on social media to put pressure on the UK removal firm to expedite this as they had not sent the correct paperwork nor paid their South African agent to deliver it. Whilst we joked about Keith’s slippers, it was not all about home comforts (like a fridge), as important documentation was in the consignment meaning we could not progress matters here. Thank you for those who prayed, rallied on social media and even those who offered to pay the local firm so we could get our things! Thankfully the company did pay but what should have taken eight weeks took fifteen weeks. We have nearly finished unpacking but sadly have found some damaged items and some missing. We have put in an insurance claim.
We now have a new International Missions Director, Iain Hesketh, as Paul Hudson has taken up another role in the UK. One of the great innovations from Paul’s day are online Missionary Hubs. Once a month we log into a video conference with members of the Elim Missions team in the UK and Elim Missionaries around the globe. It such an encouragement to hear what others are doing, to pray together and to feel encouraged by the team in the UK.
Re a le dumediša ka moka ka leina la morena wa rena Jêsu Kreste! We greet you all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! There are eleven official languages in South Africa, many of those have their own local dialects. English is spoken widely and is the official language of commerce and government. However, many do not speak it or understand it proficiently for us to be able to communicate effectively in the rural areas. Sepedi (Northern Sotho) and Shangaan (Tsonga) are spoken by the two main people groups in the Limpopo Province where we are based. In fact they tend to mash up the two languages with a bit of English and Afrikaans thrown in for good measure. We have chosen to learn Sepedi first, for no there reason than a Sepedi speaker is our teacher! Mma Melesa (Mrs Melesa) is teaching us the pure form of the language. We have given ourselves a year to learn it and be reasonably fluent - not easy when they have at least eight different words for ‘my’ that we have discovered so far. Churches are very excited when we greet them and throw in some Sepedi phases when preaching. Mma Malesa is also giving us cultural tips along the way. For instance, it is impolite and disrespectful to use someone’s Christian name even if they are close friends . They tolerate this behaviour from missionaries but actually to show respect you use their surname. So Keith is known as Moruti Jackson (Pastor Jackson) and Barbie as Mma Moruti Jackson (Mrs Pastor Jackson).
Emmanuel Assemblies are part of Elim Global and are based mainly in the rural areas of South Africa, although their vision is for great expansion. Our work in South Africa will be in partnership with them. As a movement they are governed by their conference with day to day responsibilities given to the National Executive, much like Elim, with the movement operating out of districts, much like Elim’s regions, but over a greater geographical area. Our primary areas of work will be in the Northern District (Limpopo Province) and Highveld District (Gauteng and North West Provinces). We will also help in church planting into neighbouring nations. We were privileged attend their national Annual General Convention, the business conference, where we were officially welcomed to the movement. We have also met with the Northern District team and have been welcomed by them. We are meeting the Highveld District team next month.
It has been a joy to introduced ourselves to several churches and to minister. Keith has preached at the following places: Mamelodi (Pretoria area), Selwane (Phalaborwa), Namakgale (Ba-Phalabrowa), and Lulekane (Ba-Phalarbwa). We have also visited churches and met several pastors. We also attended the Northern District Leadership Seminar where Keith was invited to bring a teaching of his choice (with 24 hours notice). To say this
was well received would be an understatement - they are still talking about this weeks later and are seeking to adopt some of the principles he outlined. This is early days in the development of the work here for us and we ware sure that as the relationships deepens there will be a lot of fruit.
Mobile Midwifery Clinics
Barbie is eager to commence her mobile clinics in the poorer communities. We have already been told of three locations that could use this support, and are sure that there will be more, but first there are some boxes to tick. Firstly, Barbie needs her qualifications recognised here. We sent out the requisite documentation by recored delivery back in May of this year. We paid the fees to by bank transfer at the same time. However, the documents have not arrived. We have been able to track them to when they landed in Johannesburg but after that they disappeared. There have been several postal strikes and this means there is a huge backlog of undelivered mail. We have re-sent the documents by courier here - this seems to be the way most businesses operate as the post is so unreliable - but it did cost a lot of money. The government body has now acknowledged receipt of these but say they have no record of the payment! Again, this was very expensive and we don’t have the cash to pay this again. Secondly, Barbie needs to attend a medication dispensing course which is booked and paid for on the 23rd-25th November. She cannot do this course without her qualifications being recognised. If she doesn’t attend we will lose the course fees, again this was not cheap. Once these things have been completed she can begin offering care and assistance to young mum’s. We need your prayers on this one please!
A couple of pastors have expressed an interest in the Dome Homes idea so far, but this is early days. There is a lot of government bureaucracy to contend with and so at the moment, like Nehemiah did, we are surveying the walls to see where we can build these. As we said in our presentations in the UK, this is not a low hanging fruit and will take us time to establish.
Pastor’s Fraternal and Prayer Day
Soon after our arrival in Phalaborwa we were introduced to the local pastors fraternal in the town. It has been good to get to know these ministers. We meet monthly for breakfast and prayer time. Angus Buchan (of Faith Like Potatoes fame) called the nation to prayer following a successful event last year. This time is was near Pretoria. As this is six to seven hours away the fraternal felt they should host a prayer time locally. Around 250 people attended and were led in prayer for the nation, local issues and for revival by the pastors. Keith was asked to pray for the healthcare system and the local health services. There is no hospital in Phalaborwa. The hospital building is unused after its closed due to mismanagement, so this really resonated with the people. It’s been good to be welcomed so warmly by the local pastors.
Exquisite Jesus & Surrendered Warriors
Keith has heard from his UK publisher that they are in talks with a publisher in South Africa regarding the printing and distribution of Exquisite Jesus here. This would be tremendous because for us to get copies from the UK is uneconomical when converting from SA Rand to Sterling. Keith has also been offered a publishing deal for his second book, Surrendered Warriors; Surrendered Warriors is a journey through Psalm 23 to discover God’s will for your life in grey world. Whilst this is a ‘traditional’ publishing deal it is a small Christian publisher and so we have to promise to purchase a certain amount of books. If you’d like to pre-order a copy or get some for your church/small group, they are £8.99 each. Publication is due in April/May next year and profits support the work we are doing here. Exquisite Jesus is still available through Amazon and Christian bookshops.
Please join us in praying for the following needs:
Barbie’s qualifications to be recognised asap.
For Barbie and she travels to Pretoria for her dispensing course on 23rd-25th November by bus.
For Keith as he drives to Emmanuel Assemblies National Prayer Day on Saturday 24th November in Bushbuckridge.
For Keith and Barbie as they travel to Highveld District Leaders Day and for Keith as he shares there on the 8th December.
For Keith and Barbie as they minister in Benoni Emmanuel Assemblies on 9th December.
For other preaching invitations as they arise over the next few weeks.
Pray that our insurance claim for damaged goods and lost items with our move will be settled smoothly.
Thank you for standing with us.
In His service,
Keith and Barbie
All gifts towards our ministry should be marked 'Jacksons South Africa' and sent to Elim International Missions, Elim International Centre, De Walden Road, West Malvern, WR14 4DF (cheques payable to Elim International Missions).
If you would like to make regular gifts towards our support please visit our giving page or our contact page.
Thank you so much.
Charity No. 251549 (England & Wales) SC037754 (Scotland)