Ministry was humming and as always was so exiting! It is hard to explain how enjoyable work is when you are doing what you love, and you know you are doing what God wants you to be doing.
Zulu progresses. My goal is for it always to be better. If I see someone that I have not seen in a while, and I can get them to say they see that my Zulu is getting better than I am over the moon. It has been a blessing to be able to teach and preach more and more in Zulu. I was able to preach a short devotional in Zulu when the emcee asked me to give it all in Zulu. I also have added in more and more Zulu to my sermons by giving all my main points and little tidbits here and there in Zulu. I am encouraged but there’s still a long way to go!
My work in ZEBS has greatly increased. This was because my father (the main missionary in the area that oversees ZEBS) was on home assignment for half of the year. Before he left, I was doing about 20% of the ZEBS work for Gauteng both in preparation before each ZEBS and the work of running them on the day. When he was gone, I did about 65% of the work. This jump was exhilarating. You really don’t know how much work goes into something until you are more fully doing it yourself. I spent hours each week in preparation for the schools to come. And I loved every minute of it! Every school I worked at was so unique. I loved seeing students building their faith and learning the truth – gaining freedom from the lies they may have been believing. One fun story from ZEBS: a student asked how Adam and Eve could have been considered married as he never gave her a wedding ring. It was fun to explain to him that biblical truth and man’s customs are two different things. God wants us to be married and every culture has its own ceremonies to do such. Some use rings and God honors that, others don’t, and He honors that. Adam and Eve were just as married as anyone going through a modern marriage ceremony.
The Teacher’s Conference this year was a highlight for me. It was an amazing time where all (or most) of the ZEBS teachers gathered for a weekend of strengthening, fellowship, and instruction. This was my second year in attendance. It was amazing to see the depth of talent and quality that God has blessed ZEBS with in its teaching staff. I could spend hours listening to these men. Their passion, their knowledge, and their faith. My highlight this year was during one of the longer breaks when one of the older Gauteng teachers pulled me aside to give me a personal lesson straight from the Bible on the evils of ancestor worship. He would have me turn to passages and read them to him. He would then speak, with great insight, of the biblical truth. This private tutorage lasted over an hour. I cannot explain how much joy it gave me to be taught by such an amazing man.
I have had many opportunities to worship with the amaZioni in their churches this past year. One highlight was over South Africa’s Heritage Day celebration in Septembers. I, Kit Tischler, Paul Seelhammer, and both the Langley’s went to the event. It was attended by AmaZioni leaders from all over the country. We brought the bookshop and were able to sell many books and have great conversations. Some of us were given the chance to speak. But the true blessing of the event was all the amazing contacts and conversions that came out of it. We handed out business cards with both Kit and my numbers on them. This led to opportunities for both Kit and I to go to multiple services. I thank God for how He blessed with bringing us good contacts.
I fulfilled an important personal goal this year. That was to find and commit myself to a small group Bible study with strong teaching and people close to my own age outside of my ministries. God has blessed me with an amazing small group that meets once a week. I have been able to learn from its teaching, develop friendships and even minister to some of the participants going through hard times. This also led to my meeting a very godly single woman that I have been dating for the past nine months. It has been a lovely and exciting time getting to know her. Please pray that God’s will be done as we figure out what He has for us.
During the middle of the year, in less than a month’s time, three people died around me. First, and hardest for me, was a man I grew up with who in many ways was my surrogate grandfather. As a small boy I would follow him around and he would give me small words of biblical wisdom and help me with my childish inventions. Then, a young man, just a few years younger than me and very involved in the leadership of my small group, died in a car accident leaving a widow and two children under the age of three. Finally, the father of an AmaZioni young man that has worked for ZEBS in the past and has strong ties to several missionaries in the Gauteng area passed. Grief was hard to see and experience, yet there was blessing as I grew in my faith. I am also confident that someday we will all be together again.