In His Hands
Our apologies for not writing sooner. It has been a while, but during furlough, we did not seem to be able to find time to do it. We hope you enjoy reading what we have been up to!
In His Hands:
One of the stunning accounts in the Bible is the feeding of the five thousand in John 6. You know it well but I wonder how many of us would have been willing to put everything we had into the hands of Jesus, like the boy with the fish and bread. In my mind, I see Jesus in full view of the boy breaking the break and fish. How the child would have marvelled at the miracle before him! How he would have been amazed at all the leftovers that were collected so that, as Jesus commanded, nothing was wasted. What happened to the leftovers? I imagine Jesus gave the kid some of the leftovers, as well as making sure those who were hungry in the wider community got fed too.
On returning home, I think his mother may have asked the boy why he had not eaten his lunch! “Oh mummy”, he may have said, “the whole village ate my lunch. Our neighbours ate my lunch. Everyone ate my lunch!”
“How is this possible?”
“Mummy, Jesus stretched out his hand to me for my lunch. Into his hands I placed my fish sandwich. Oh mummy, those hands! They were rough from years of carpentry, yet so gentle. They were so strong yet so delicate. Those hands that threw stars into space, the hands that formed me in your womb before I knew I was a person, those hands that healed the sick, raised the dead, those hands broke up my lunch and handed it out. Mum, I could see that one day those hands that one day will break bread with the disciples. One day, mummy, those hands will surrender to cruel nails and be crushed for me. Those hands will be scarred for eternity. One day those hands hug me and will welcome me into heaven. Oh mummy, how could I not place everything I had into those hands?”
Friends, times are tough. There’s so much uncertainty for those of you who are living in a post-COVID country; will there be more lockdowns and restrictions, is my job secure, will church ever be the same? In these times, more than any other, place everything into those wonderful hands!
As many of you will know, we recently had a ‘proper’ furlough in the UK. It was so amazing to connect with many of you face-to-face once more after over two years. We commenced with eleven nights in quarantine at a hotel overlooking Gatwick. Once free, we visited fourteen churches over the next eight weeks, travelling thousands of miles, ministering and sharing about what God has done over the last few years and especially during South Africa’s response to the pandemic. We were so encouraged and blessed by the hospitality and welcome we received everywhere we went. We visited Vale Elim (Wantage), Elim Sholing (Southhampton), Nantwich Elim, Brookeborough Elim (NI), Donaghcloney Elim (NI), Ballymoney (NI), Lisburn Elim (NI), Elim Charity Shop (NI), Elim Family Church (Eastbourne), Worthing Elim, All Nations Christian Centre (Reading), Rayleigh Elim, Ashingdon Elim, Life Church (Chelmsford), and Tramway Christian Fellowship (Edmonton.) It was especially poignant to visit two churches where we used to lead and also our home church in Reading.
We thank you for your generosity too. We have enough funds now for about forty baby boxes to be made up. We raided Primark when in the UK as baby clothing is much cheaper than here and the quality is better. On arrival back in South Africa, we went to a large outlet and purchased the plastic boxes in bulk. Barbie has ordered a lot of things online too. The problem may be Bibles! When we left the Bible Society here told us that there was no more stock nationally of Sepedi Bibles; their new stock was held up in ports in China. We will follow this up.
We also received enough to have vital repairs carried out on the Ford Ranger. Through the feeding programme we have been regularly overloading it and then going off road. We have already had uprated rear springs fitted, replacing the stock ones. It will now be booked in for the upper and lower suspension arms. We are so grateful!
The first Elim Church we went to was in Micklefield, High Wycombe, where Robin and Janet Fenner were inducted as ministers. Robin and Janet served for many years in Africa, latterly in South Africa, with Elim Missions. We also met up with other missionaries on this joyous day! Pray for Robin and Janet as they re-establish with work there.
Thank you to everyone who accommodated us, fed us (we are sure the Northern Irish felt we were malnourished), lent us a car, and listened to us. There are too many to name individually but you know who you are. Welcome to our new supporters and prayer partners. We appreciate all those who hold us before the Lord; it is fuel to our souls.
Nyakelang Church Roof Project:
On furlough, we highlighted that one of the new church plants is doing well and is now midway through a building project. During lockdowns, they have procured land, cleared it, fenced it, and commenced building. This has been on the back of immense sacrificial giving from a church where very few people have employment. They’ve been making their own bricks. We visited there for a wedding (see below) our first weekend back and the building is progressing. But they need to purchase materials for the roof - and steel is going up in price all the time. Thank you to those churches and individuals who have given towards the church roof project already. If you’d like to support this please send your gifts via Elim Missions, marked ‘Church Roof Project South Africa’.
Wedding at Nyakelang:
We got suited and booted and went to a wedding on our first Sunday back! The ‘white wedding’ part as the day before the couple had a traditional ceremony where labola (dowry) was paid. Their story is lovely. They’ve been together for over 23 years, have 8 children and 4 grandchildren. Unusually (for here) the man stayed with the mother of his children. A number of years ago she became a Christian. She prayed hard for her man. Two years ago, he gave his life to Christ in a meeting where Keith was preaching soon after the church was commenced. After a while, he said they cannot continue the way they are - and proposed!
Pray for them. On the day before the wedding, there was a terrible road accident on the way back from the traditional ceremony and the groom’s brother was killed. They nearly postponed the wedding but felt that they should go ahead.
The wedding itself tool place on the church’s own land (not in their temporary shack as we thought, but no one told us) where they had set up two tents for guests. We were asked to do the first speech to welcome them into the ‘fatherland and motherland of marriage.’
It was a long, hot day, but a great day too! Congratulations Ntate and Mma Mongwe! Truly, Jesus redeems everything!
We don’t tend to share lots about our family back home but we thought we needed to tell you some news as so many had been praying for Ben and Emma during their pregnancy after their difficulties last year. We are pleased to say that baby Izzy was born safe and sound during our visit. Nana Jackson has been in her element helping Emma and giving baby her first bath. Thank you for your prayers, God heard and answered.
We would appreciate prayers for Sam and Susanna. Sam has applied to join the Fire Service and he has completed four of the six stages, including smashing the fitness tests! He has a final interview on 16th November and then the final stage is his DBS checks.
One of the highlights for us when in England is visiting family. We were so blessed to be able to spend quality time with Matt and Rio, Ben, Emma and Izzy, and Sam, Susanna, Joshua and Nathan. The grandkids grow up so fast! When visiting our grandsons Nathan would look though the lounge window and shout, “Nana!” at the top of his lungs when he saw us pull up. It made Barbie’s heart melt. It’s tough to say goodbye and travel to the other side of the world. We trust the Lord will keep them and us in His hands.
There is some political turmoil right now. South Africa just had local elections and all but two of the eight metro areas are now hung as the ruling party has lost so much of the popular vote. Please pray for stable and peaceful negotiations around the coalitions that must now be formed.
Pray for us as we gear back up for the work and the opportunities that begin to present themselves, especially around church planting, leadership training, and Barbie’s midwifery registration.
Pray too for the nation and its COVID response. There is a very strong anti-vax movement here and the government are not sure they will get more than 60% of the population vaccinated as the uptake and roll out is very slow. Restrictions were lifted for the local election but a fourth and fifth wave are predicted with further lockdowns.
Pray for Sam's interview on 16th November.
Thanks for standing with us.
Keith and Barbie
The small print:
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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,
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