We know we are back in Africa when we have to remember how to turn on the generator for electricity and ration our water usage. There are so many challenges that people face in our locality but they continue to do so with joy and optimism. The Bible speaks of trials. Not having home comforts is not a primary trial, those are real but they are secondary trials. Primary trials are times when we suffer for our faith, when we are ‘cancelled’ by a society that claims to epitomise tolerance, when we are shunned because of our faith.
James 2 tells us to consider it pure joy when we face intolerable circumstances. I’m not sure about you but joy is not always my first response when times are tough! James goes on to say that trials lead to perseverance, the ability to keep going. Barbie has a favourite phrase, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” James goes on to promise that the end result is the crown of life! Whatever you’re facing, keep going!
This year’s furlough was packed with church visits. We are so grateful to those that hosted us and made space for us in their schedules. During our trip we ministered in New Life Church, Crewe (via video); All Nations Christian Centre, Reading; Elim Micklefield, High Wycombe; Elim Westcliff; Elim Estuary Group, Ashingdon; Omagh, Ballysillen, Lisburn, Portadown, Northern Ireland; and Vale Elim, Wantage!
People often ask us if we enjoyed our ‘holiday’, but the truth is that it can be tiring with all the driving, sleeping in strange beds, and being on the go constantly. It’s also energising to tell of all that God is doing, encourage churches in their mission and, of course, meet up with family and friends.
We had the joy of being at our granddaughter’s dedication whilst in England.
Special thanks to Darren and Rhi Lee who did airport runs for us, lent us a car and looked after us whilst we were in Essex. Also, the legend who is Roy Johnson for ferrying us around Northern Ireland, and arranging our itinerary and accommodation whilst there; you are awesome.
There are so many people to thank, we could spend the whole of this update on that, so please accept our general thanks (we have thanked so many in person).
Some of you would know that Keith’s father, Les, had been unwell. He had severe dementia and oesophageal cancer. He had been living in a nursing home. Keith had it in mind that this trip would be an opportunity to say goodbye. However, whilst waiting at departures at Johannesburg, Keith received a text saying his father had passed away that morning. The funeral was held whilst we were there. Keith and his brother, Clive, were not asked for any input and everything was arranged by Les’s adopted son. Whilst we respected that, and the fact that Les was an avowed atheist and that there was no singing or hope in the service, it was nonetheless difficult to be sidelined. We are grateful for those who prayed during the service.
On the plus side, we did have the opportunity to gather as a family afterwards as it was Sam’s birthday (our youngest son).
During our outward journey via Dubai Barbie began to feel unwell and slept through the second flight. She tested when we arrived in Essex and was positive for Covid. Two days later Keith tested positive too. We are grateful for the vaccinations we had as we both bounced back really quickly and were able to attend Elim’s Leadership Summit in Harrogate. It did mean that Keith had to record a sermon for the Elim Church in Crewe as we could not travel to minister the first Sunday we were in the UK.
Whilst in Northern Ireland Keith broke a tooth on a Richmond sausage. No, it wasn’t frozen! Having made an appointment with a dentist we were left with the challenge of paying for it. During our visit to Lisburn the pastor’s wife, Nicola, mentioned she was a dentist. The next day she called, booked Keith in on her day off and came in especially to treat him. Such a blessing! At the end of the appointment, she also arranged for him to take hundreds of samples of toothpaste for the baby boxes! God is so good!
We continue to fundraise for Pastor Solomon Mboweni and his family to help build them a house. Currently, they live in a dilapidated zinc shack next to the church. When it rains it leaks and has been known to flood. The church, which has its own building, has been saving for building costs, but it is going to take them years to even come close to having enough. Solomon and his wife have three children, a baby boy and two teenagers, a boy and a girl. The children all share the same bed; a curtain separates them from their parents at night. We are raising money to buy the building materials so that the church can begin building. If you’d like to contribute, please send a gift marked “Mboweni House, South Africa”, using the details below. Thank you so much to all those who gave during our visit to your churches recently, we are getting there!
Many asked when visiting their church about Barbie’s midwifery registration here in SA. Sadly, there has been no progress. Whilst we cannot write all the details here (in a public forum) it seems that the door has closed. We have contacted the provincial health minister for assistance but have had no response. It is frustrating as we began the process a year before we arrived, and have paid twice for exams, police checks, and fees to the UK Nursing and Midwifery Council, but we are still no nearer. To date, it has cost over £4000, precious gifts given by faithful friends. So, we have reached the heartbreaking decision that we will not be pursuing this any longer. In the meantime, Barbie continues to give health talks (as her nursing registration is valid here because she originally trained as a nurse here) and distributes baby boxes. Thank you for your prayers.
A Little Miracle
You may recall that we have been struggling to get paperback Bibles in Northern Sotho for the baby boxes. Just prior to leaving we held an eight-day revival in Nyakelang Emmanuel where we gave away our last Bibles to spiritually hungry teenagers who were eager to get the Word of God into their hearts. Whilst in Northern Ireland Pastor Roy took us to see a ministry called Revival Movement Association, based in Dromara. They are a printed literature organisation producing gospel materials. Last year they printed 1.3 metric tonnes of literature, totalling 84 million items in 95 languages and sent them to over 170 countries free of charge!
We toured their printing press and spent some time with the managing director, Samuel Adams. At the end of the visit, we asked if they printed Bibles in Northern Sotho. Sadly, they do not, but it turned out they do produce the Gospel of John. We began to get excited but were wondering how we would take them back to SA. He then said they have a distribution centre in Centurion, SA if we knew where that was. It’s literally five minutes from where Barbie’s sister lives and where we were staying overnight upon our return. Samuel promised to come back to us that afternoon if they could help. True to his word he emailed to say a thousand John’s Gospels in Northern Sotho were available and we just needed to collect them. So, on our first morning back before driving home, we popped into their local office and collected the boxes earmarked for us, free of charge! Whilst not a full Bible it is exciting to see God’s hand at work!
Church Planting Training
Keith is heading up the national church planting team for Emmanuel Assemblies. We are holding a national church planting training conference from 12th-14th July this year at Emmanuel’s Convention Centre in Bushbuckridge. We are so pleased that Boureima Diallo from Burkina Faso will be joining us as the main speaker. We are trusting that the response to the invitations will be good and that many will attend to be equipped to reach their communities for Jesus.
For the provision of the John’s Gospels.
For Keith’s fixed tooth.
For the gift of the hundreds of tubes of toothpaste.
For the joy pf being present at baby Izzy’s dedication.
Church Planting Conference 12th-14th July - pray for impartation, encouragement and many new churches to come into being as a result.
Funds for the Mboweni House Project.
For the baby boxes that are being distributed.
Thanks for standing with us,
Keith and Barbie
The Small Print
All gifts for ministry should be sent to us via Elim Missions. This can be done:
1) online via the Elim Missions website- www.elim.org.uk/missions,
2) by post to Elim International Missions, De Walden Road, West Malvern, WR14 4DF. Cheques should be made payable to Elim International Missions & marked (Jacksons, South Africa) on the reverse. Or,
3) if you would like to set up a Direct Debit, Standing Order or make a ‘one-off’ bank transfer donation, please contact the Elim Missions office firstname.lastname@example.org to request further information.
On the rare occasion that money is given to projects which become either over or under-subscribed or is continued to be given for a missionary after they have completed their missionary service, we will make every endeavour to contact donors before we divert funds to works of a similar nature.
To cover the cost of administrating missionaries and overseas organisations, Elim Missions withholds a small percentage on gifts given.
Registered Charity 251549 (England & Wales) / SC037754 (Scotland)