Merry Christmas to all our friends, supporters and prayer warriors.
It’s summer here but Christmas should be cold, right. Our weather forecast says it will be thirty nine degrees in our town. White Christmas? No chance!
Thank you for the messages, cards and e-cards that you have sent us. We cannot express how much it means to us both.
We have divided our Christmas edition in our newsletter into something Barbie has written, something Keith as written and an update for you. At the very bottom is a little Christmas story for you, something to ponder this season (its an optional read, but we hope you enjoy it).
We have had an interesting year. We’ve made some good contacts, driven thousands of kilometers, eaten some interesting food, lost some weight, had some major storm damage to our house and seen many, many people come to Christ.
We have also learnt to live without reliable water and electricity (probably one of our greatest challenges). Keith has trained some leaders and been asked to develop this work in 2020, he has helped plant two new churches and preached some stonkingly good messages. We both have ministered at a Marriage Summit. I have started to give out 'baby boxes' and thank you to all those who made this possible. I have completed a dispensing course, applied for my midwifery qualification to be recognised (a very long and laborious process which has now been delayed further) and taken to knitting and sewing again for the first time in absolute years. I’m also a dab hand at baking bread and brownies now.
Christmas has not arrived here yet in the sense that it’s not a big deal where we are. Even though our Christmas tree is up and a turkey has been bought, it just feels all wrong this year.
We are looking forward to a quick stop in UK in Jan/Feb to meet our new grandson. Ben and Emma (our middle son and daughter-in-law) paid for the tickets. It’s a whistle stop trip just seeing the kids.
Thanks so much for continuously praying for us.
After our furlough we decided to cut down on carbs. It seems oxymoronic that I should be on the mission field and had picked up weight. Part of the reason for that was everywhere we go people want to show love and kindness by feeding us, which is normally pap (maize based porridge). In effect it had become a big part of our diet as it’s cheap and we were eating it at home too. The results were catastrophic for my diabetes and blood pressure. Our decision has meant that we have not eaten pap, bread, potatoes, rice and pastas five months. Which can be tough when we visit churches and families, but we have been resolute and have explained why. Apparently you have not eaten properly here until you hav had a plate of pap!
I have not been too well recently. Nearly passed out a few times. Also I have vomited for no apparent reason, the other day even before breakfast. So off to the GP I went because my blood pressure readings were low - 89/59. So it turns out losing weight and going low carb has meant I was overmedicated for my BP. So the doctor has taken me off one drug and I’m now only in a small dose for it. He reckons if I get a bit fitter, and loose a bit more, I might come off it totally.
Right now I have to check my BP three times a day. I’m still feeling rough as the body adjusts. Lack of zoom! So the message is getting better has made me sicker until I’m better!
As previously said we have helped plant two new churches in the second half of this year, one in Nyakelang 4, a ‘branch work’ as it’s known here, and one in Mokotopong, near Polokwane. Keith is spearheading a church planting initiative in the Northern District for Emmanuel Assemblies now. We were so grateful for our 4x4 vehicle as the big marquee (pictured above) after the Mokotopong mission, went into the back of our car and we drove to the church where it is being stored over a tricky mountain pass in the pouring rain. Two more church plants are planned for the first half of next year. Both these new churches are doing well.
What’s Else Have We Been Up Too?
We have carried out a revival week in Sebera Emmanuel, a smaller church near to us. We visited the Eastern Cape for a day of meetings assessing a project on behalf of Elim Missions that wanted to join up with Elim. We spent four days driving for one day of meetings! We have visited Nobody Emmanuel, yes there is a place called Nobody, and encouraged them. We hope to to return for a revival weekend next year. Venturing into Soweto brought back many memories, but the people of Soweto Emmanuel (pictured) there are so welcoming. In fact, the pastor commented during the service that under the old regime we would not have made it out alive! Thankfully we did! We attended the Highveld District Conference where Keith spoke. Whilst there we also had a one-to-one meeting with Pastor Solomon Mboweni who has asked Keith to formally run a monthly leadership school for lay people to help with church planting in Highveld area. The following week we both led a leaders’ training day in Steenbok where thirty two leaders from the local church attended. We have been asked to look at replicating what is happening in the Highveld area in the Eastern district. Keith spoke last Sunday at an engagement ceremony in Selwane Emmanuel.
What’s Coming Up?
Our 2020 year planner is already looking busy. Keith’s new book is in the queue at the
printers but everything shuts down for two weeks over Christmas. We hope to have copies to bring to the UK. We are in the UK for two weeks thanks to the kindness of family. We will be visiting our newest grandson, due in January. We won’t be touring churches, that comes later in the year when we are on furlough, unless we get invited of course.
Here are some dates for your diary:
23rd - 31st: Nkomo B Emmanuel Christmas and New Year Revival (excluding Christmas Day).
5th, 8th, 10th: mini-revival at Nyakelang 4.
12th: Bhekilanga Emmanuel, Alexandra, Highveld.
15th: Collecting Billy Fenning from Jo’burg airport and dropping him with Robin and Janet Fenner.
21st-26th: Elim Zimbabwe Leadership training with Billy Fenning.
29th: Fly to UK
17th: Return to SA
29th: Emmanuel National Leadership Seminar, Bushbuckridge.
Barbie’s midwifery qualification to be recognised. It has been delayed again due to red tape. Please pray as this is frustrating.
Pray for our safe travels on the roads during the holiday season here.
Pray for the revival at Nkomo B over Christmas week.
Pray for the safe delivery of Baby Jackson (due 12th January) and for Susanna and Sam.
Pray for our other children and daughters in law over this season, Matt and Rio and Ben and Emma, as Christmas is the hardest time of year for us all to be apart.
Thank you for standing with us.
In His service,
Keith and Barbie
A Christmas Story (part fiction, part fact, enjoy):
The King was furious. When he was upset the whole of the city was in fear of what would come next. Rumours had run through the streets like wildfire that wise men were visiting our sovereign, seeking information. Some said they were kings. Some said they were astronomers. Others did not care, they just welcomed the extra business feeding the people and animals who were in their extravagant caravan. They were definitely from the east though, from outside the borders of the Roman empire, the unconquered ones. Jerusalem sat at the Empire’s most easterly point. These so called wise men were not that wise to come and seek an audience with Herod. Not in my opinion. He would sooner have them killed than grant any request. His insecurities knew no limits. Even his own family had at died at the sword to protect his throne. He would even dress as a peasant and sit in the market place listening to people talk; if there was a whiff of treason, they would be whisked off to jail, tried and executed. When the king was nervy, everyone was on edge.
That’s when the call came, we had been summoned. We were the brightest and the best. Knowledgable about the Jewish people’s traditions and laws. Whatever these visitors sought was supposedly in our collective knowledge base.
It was all a sham though and we knew it. Herod had despised the traditions of the locals and, along with Rome’s assent, had appointed his own advisers from the Jewish community, ignoring the rights of succession. Ignoring the appointment of Yahweh’s chosen High Priest. Herod himself was an installation of our oppressors. But we did not complain. We had a good life. We carried out the religious rituals as required by the Torah, Herod tolerated us, and we were well-fed and lived in luxury.
Life in main was good for us. Until Herod summoned us. Until Herod was angry. He had ordered the execution of one of our number when he spoke up a while back because the advice given was contrary to the despot’s liking.
Entering the throne room, there was Herod, underdressed compared to the lavish opulence of the rulers before him. They looked resplendent in the finest of Persian silks. Herod looked thunderous, unnerved by something. But he wanted something from us. We huddled to one side of his throne, bowing and scraping before our Rome imposed monarch. I stood at the back. I was still a recent recruit. Those more senior heard the king’s request and the question was relayed back to me: Where is the Jewish Messiah, the Christ child, to be born?
I felt sick. It had only been eighteen months since the king had heard rumours circulating of shepherds saying that the Messiah had been born. There was no evidence to back this up and after a few days, Herod had appeased himself with women and wine.
I felt sick because I knew the answer! I had been studying this very prophecy that week. I remained silent. The more senior in our group were it debating amongst themselves.
“Well?” barked the impatient king.
“You’re highness,” replied our chief spokesperson soothingly, “such a question demands a proper response, a consensus must be reached.”
The king was displeased. One of us was for the executioners blade if we were not careful.
“We have seen his star,” one of the wise men interjected, trying to nudge us in the right direction. They had no knowledge of our sacred texts, but they seemed to understand the celestial occurrence overhead was part of Yahweh’s plan. Maybe they had their own prophecies? The people of Jerusalem had all seen it too. Not the rising sun, too close. Not the moon, too bright. Visible day and night, people had watched it grow larger, moving nearer. Now it seemed to have stopped, just south of us, thousands of feet in the air. Most people ignored it now, it had become a familiar sight in the skies. I hadn’t though, I looked at it every day and pondered its meaning. The others called me a dreamer, but deep down, I wanted a new tomorrow.
With trepidation, I raised my hand. My elders scowled at me. The king noticed and beckoned me forward. There I was, suddenly front and centre, chief priests and law teachers to my right, rulers from the east to my left, Herod in front of me.
“Well, what is the answer?”
I swallowed hard against the bile in my throat and spoke as boldly and respectfully as I could, but I still sounded squeaky: “In Bethlehem in Judea, for this is what the prophet has written:“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
With a wave of his hand he dismissed us to have a covert meeting with the visitors. My colleagues were cross with me for speaking out of turn. Secretly they were glad that I had, for if Herod flew into a rage, I would have been his target.
We never heard from those wise men again. The story went that an angel redirected them away from Herod on their return journey. The star in the sky vanished the same night. A few days layer Herod ordered all toddlers and newborns to be killed in Bethlehem. It was a blood bath. It became know as the ‘Slaughter of the Innocents.’ A terrible, terrible day. I could not help but feel somehow responsible. I had supplied the rogue king with what he needed. I prayed the Messiah escaped.
The night those wise men came I lay awake. I wondered what I should be doing with what I knew: the Saviour was born and kings were paying homage to Him. Perhaps I should have gone too? Maybe I should have snuck away unnoticed and sought him out under the guiding light of the bright star. It seemed that these wise ones, as they stood before Herod, were not wise because of what they knew, but because of what they chose to do with that knowledge. What I would I choose to do with what I knew about Jesus? I fell asleep, the question on my mind my last thought that day. Tomorrow would the thought be forgotten? Would He, be forgotten?
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)