Bro Barry van Heerden Durban South Africa
A NEW JOURNEY
Wendith has finished her second cycle of chemo. Each cycle consists of 4 weeks of treatment and 2 weeks off. The first cycle was incredibly difficult as her blood readings were very unstable and her immune system, kidneys and liver were extremely compromised.
As outlined in my first report, this made any ‘preaching-planning’ almost impossible. The second cycle went a lot better, which has allowed me a moderate amount of planning and activity.
Whilst out of action from ‘field work’, and caring for Wendith in-and-out of hospital, I have managed to make quite a lot of progress with the new COPT website which we hope to have up and running in a month or so … so watch this space!
Again my thanks to Bro Charlie for his amazing love, care and patience. Always there when we needed him, and when I was unavailable to accompany him on various planned activities, he would just get out there and get on with the job … around Durban, in Candu, Margate, and even up to Soweto in Gauteng.
MUSIC DAY IN CLERMONT
Bro Mdu from the Clermont Good News Center is a choir-master of note. He also has the voice and the enthusiasm to match. For months he has had the idea of having a Music Concert in the area that would focus on the gospel … singing it and teaching it.
Once the seed had been planted, and a little water added, the idea began to grow until we decided to do it.
We hired a hall in the area. Once the venue and the date were fixed, planning could begin. We produced 100 colourful eye-catching posters which we put up in and around the area. We printed a 1000 black & white handbills which handed out in the streets on the morning of the big day … engaging the locals on the street in order for them to catch some of the enthusiasm we had for the event. We made up 300 goodie bags for the first 300 guests that arrived. Each goodie bag contained items of food, a map indicating the location of the Clermont Good News Center, as well as a colourful flyer about the Kingdom of God – in Zulu. The volunteers were out in full force. The atmosphere was great. We invited interested friends via WhatsApp …. and it was to be a magical day of music, praise and worship in the Clermont Township Community Hall to celebrate the “South African – Freedom Day” which we had titled as “Freedom in Christ Day”.
Unaware that the sound-technician (who was critical to the event) had little-to-no-understanding of his own equipment, By the time the sound-technician got his system working and the ‘band finally struck up’ at about 3.00pm, all the visitors that had arrived on time began to leave as they lost their enthusiasm because of the late start. Poor Bro Mdu and his choir were at the mercy of this ‘tech-clown’ and were badly let down.
The many hours of tireless work by the volunteers that had gone into this day and it was quickly sinking into a mire of incompetence by those we most relied upon to deliver their expertise.
An hour and a half after the due starting time had come and gone and things were looking desperate – Sis Nonthanthla stepped up and took control of the crowd and got everyone up and singing.
Soon the crowd were on their feet singing and clapping to some classic Zulu hymns and songs. The guitars twanged in tune, the drums beat to the right beat, the percussion instruments all worked and Mdu sung with passion and feeling. The momentum may have been lost, but Mdu was not going to let this day go by without giving him and his choir their all. Songs rolled on one after the other, for the next 30 minutes until there was a break in the singing to hear a message about the Kingdom of God … and then back to the delightful sound of african voices singing hymns of praise.
EFFINGHAM BIBLE CLASS
Due to the late start, Bro Charlie and I had to leave early to get to another meeting at 5.30pm where we had arranged to meet some interested friends in a township at Effingham. Pricilla and he friend Busi lived in an informal settlement there and had asked for us to come and teach them about the Bible and especially about the Kingdom of God.
Busi, Charlie, neighbor & Pricilla enjoying a Bible class on ‘culture & worship’ in Pricilla’s ‘gondola’ in Effingham.
This was such a contrasting day. From the hustle and bustle of the Clermont Township shopping area and the Community Hall with the sounds of music and singing ringing in our ears as we left, suddenly we were in this still small quiet room of Pricilla’s ‘jondolo’ (shanty home) quietly reading and pouring over Gods word. It had been more than six months since we had met with Pricialla and Busi and their excitement and interest in the word was obvious from the start. Charlie and I usually have a theme we start with but after a few comments about their faith and baptism, they were anxiously asking questions that had been on their minds for some time.
As the band played on in Clermont, the sun was setting in Effingham on a little ‘jondolo’ with 7 people inside quietly talking and praying about Gods amazing Kingdom.
It’s one of the truly amazing things about volunteer work in South Africa. Although as a group we all help out as much and as best we can on major events like the Music Concert, each one of us has his/her preferred type of work which we are all generally blessed to be able to focus on. For Charlie and I, it’s this work of speaking and teaching adults and youth, who want to hear and learn about Gods word. To visit those in isolation who cannot afford to get to a church or those who are sick or elderly. For others its the work in the creches, the kindergartens, the schools, the disabled and the youth activities. Although we all have our preferred areas of work, we can all help and contribute to the needs of those in need.
As Bro Charlie needed to go back to Australia for a while to attend to some personal business, Bro Matt Billelo accompanied me to Inanda. This time there were few adults, but over 35 teens and children came to listen to and participate in some serious Bible study. Two weeks before we had done the ‘Passover’ with them, this time they turned out in full force not only to learn more, but to share what they had learnt. From the eldest to the youngest they stood up and quoted seamlessly from different parts of the Bible around the theme of the passover. On average the elder students would recite 5-10 verses from the Bible (in English) and the younger ones 1-2 verses. Beginning at the first Passover, to the Last Supper and finishing off with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. An awesome experience to say the least.
The second Sunday BEC lunch / Bible classes continue to be well attended. After lunch we gather for a class which seems to be appreciated by all those that attend. We are often joined by brethren and sisters from the outlying areas who would catch taxis from their respective Good News Centers (ecclesias) in order to enjoy the fellowship, the food and the study. We often deal with ‘local customs and practices’ in relationship to Bible teaching. Three hot favourites are ‘ancestral worship’, ‘labola’ (bride price /dowry) and ‘demons’.
The format for the Wednesday night class varies. Sometimes it is run as a formal interactive presentation and sometime as a ‘mutual improvement’ class in order to help brethre with their Bible study / exortation preperation and presentation. Usually attended by 6-8 locals occasionally by volunteers. They are after buoyant and there is a lot of discussion.
From time-to-time I visit the Durban BEC to have special classes on request. Here we are dealing with the 2015 Shemitas & Blood moons in relation to ‘God’s calendar in Leviticus 23 and 25.
Sis Numvula Khathi from Umlazi township was baptised about 8 weeks ago and is now faithfully attending the meeting. As Bro Bongani and Numvula were only married under Zulu-traditional law, they have requested that now that they are both believers and have a comon hope they would like to have a formal Christadelphian wedding. This has been planned for Saturday the 25th of July. They hope to have between 120-150 guests, made up of brethren and sisters from the area as well as close friends and family.
Hopefully the next report will have all the details and pictures.
Sister Nonthanthla too was baptised since my last report. She and Bro. Pierre Habumuremyi also plan to get married. This marriage however will be a little more complicated as he is a ‘foreigner’ and she a Zulu. With all the xenophobic attacks by the Zulus on the ‘foreigners’ over the past months, Pierre and Nonthanthla will need all the prayer and support that we can give them. The date for this wedding is still to be set.
JOHN & JENNY
Bro John is 85 and has advanced Alzheimer’s decease. We break brad with him & Sis Jenny from time-to-time. Although it is very difficult for Bro John to focus on the emblems, we are the ones that always come away feeling exhillerated and exhorted as he always manages a smile of gratitude and often a tear of thanksgiving for what his Saviour has accomplshed for him.
A truly faithful couple in the Lord. Your prayers are invited for them both.