In March of 2022, Sarah and I were accepted to join as probationary missionaries with ZEMA, and in April we moved from our home on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. We had been accepted to be mentored by Luaan and Susanne Goosen, and so we moved to be near them in East London, Eastern Cape.
As probationary missionaries, we had two goals: To learn the Xhosa language, and to learn the Xhosa Culture. As we started to settle down, we were graciously helped along by Luaan and Susanne who were generous with their assistance. Quickly, two language instructors were organized for us. Over the eight months that we have been in East London, we have made good progress in language study, but are also patiently aware that language learning will take time. We are grateful for the graciousness of those who assist us, formally and informally, as well as those who lead and mentor us, who have not put undue pressure on us and trust us to walk along as fruitfully as we are able.
We have found tremendous joy and guidance in following Luaan and Susanne around. Sarah joins Susanne in a school ministry in King Williams Town one day a week. She finds the drives there and back especially encouraging as she and Susanne share stories and fellowship and items for prayer. Sarah spends much of her time taking care of our two little girls, our home, and language study.
Greg joins Luaan or other ministry partners in ZEBS classes and This We Believe classes in Mdantsane, King Williams Town, Grahamstown, Mthatha, Willowvale, Seymour and Whittlesea. He has begun teaching alongside other teachers, and finds great joy in both the teaching, as well as the questions and discussions which follow the teaching. Greg also followed Luaan to the prisons to share the gospel with inmates, as well as meeting with people in their homes around the Eastern Cape.
We have started to develop good and encouraging relationships with several people in the area. We have become close with Johannes Mokoena, a local pastor, with whom we have been able to join in sharing in the homes of the bereaved, praying with those in trauma, preaching and teaching in various places. He loves the Lord and is faithful in ministry.
We have also developed a good relationship with our Xhosa instructor, who was just coming to the faith as we arrived. Over the months we have been connected with her, we have seen her truly grab hold of the gospel with both hands and become an evangelist to her family and unsaved friends.
The work in the Eastern Cape is exciting and dynamic. We have found it to be a tremendously dark, wicked place marked and ravaged by fear, violence, greed, drunkenness, lust, and witchcraft. The works of the kingdom of darkness are visible, and its effects are obvious. Children walk around without parents; houses are burnt down by their drug addicted owners; the fields are soaked in the blood of the victims of mob justice; children are abandoned to abuse by their caregivers; old women are raped and murdered, and their attackers walk around freely.
The stories of darkness sometimes seem endless, and we sit aghast as the tellers of the stories recount their tales almost unemotionally. This is just a part of life for them.
But …the power of the gospel is greater.
Sarah comes from a background in Social Work, having been taught that the answers to the world’s problems are social development and empowerment. But after seeing that the needs of people are endless, we began to see that.