In the midst of South Africa COVID-19 Lockdown, we have been experiencing many NEW things. Ministry opportunities are around us even though many of the “normal” tasks/duties/ministry have been stopped, changed, and/or paused.
One opportunity that has continued, despite the lockdown, is the ability to minister through distributing Bibles. A rare request came from one of Paul’s partners in ministry in the Vhembe District. Pastor Matshete asked Paul to get him 120 Bibles! He had been receiving requests from people in his area and had a plan to sell these Bibles himself. This was an unusual request as Paul is usually the one who facilitates the selling of Bibles. Paul wondered if Pastor Matshete was going to be able to fulfill this hope he had; to sell all (or even a portion) of these Bibles. Were the people really going to pay Pastor Matshete for them like they said they would? Sure enough, they did!
All of those Bibles were sold, and the people were honest, and Paul was able to use the proceeds to buy 300 MORE Bibles. Paul has shipped 420 Bibles from the Bible Society office in Cape Town up to the Vhembe District in the past 6 weeks. Bishop Ramukanda, and Pastor Matshete have been taking orders and distributing Bibles during the lockdown. We are so thankful to know people are desiring to spend time in God’s Word especially during this troublesome time. We are praying that each person is finding hope through His Word which is the same yesterday, today, and for tomorrow. During these Lockdown days we are trusting that God is preparing the way for a great revival in the Zion churches of Southern Africa and especially within the Zion Christian Church (ZCC). Keep praying with us for open doors to relationship building with the ZCC leaders in the Vhembe District.
Paul has also had many interesting conversations with people about Jesus during this time. As he is waiting in the lines at the grocery store or any other place, even though everyone must wear a mask, he has been able to encourage people to open up about their faith.
If they look unsettled and fearful, then Paul is able to share with them that true peace and hope only come through faith in Jesus Christ and not in anything or anyone else. And if they say they are already following Jesus, then he has an encouraging talk about what God is doing and that we must continue to soldier on through this crisis. One time when a store manager was fidgeting with her mask, Paul asked her about the mask. She complained about how uncomfortable and annoying it is and she wished she would not have to wear it all day at work. Paul responded by saying “One good thing is that we will not have to wear a mask in Heaven.” She said, “Hallelujah! Come Lord Jesus!” After that, many of the people in the queue joined into the conversation about Jesus’ Second Coming and heaven. What an unexpected blessing! When is the last time you had an inspiring conversation about Jesus’ return while waiting in line at the store?
A ZEMA media team, which Paul is a part of, has been working to redesign both ZEMA websites.
- The USA focused site is www.zema.org, and its purpose is to facilitate communication about the missionaries and their work and to make it easy for people to donate online.
- The Southern Africa focused site is www.zemasa.org and its purpose is to attract people who are inquiring about Bible training while sharing about the other ministries of ZEMA.
Paul is also working with a team of people to research, develop and implement new distance learning methods including online Bible training. This will likely include various media platforms such as WhatsApp.
There are a few NEW personal things as well. We have registered as a family to run/walk on August 22. This event is quite relevant since Paul has been so busy working with the Bible Society of South Africa to send Bibles to the Vhembe District. Perhaps you would like to join us in this virtual race and support the Bible Society of South Africa as they celebrate 200 years of ministry. You can visit the SA Bible Society website at: www.biblesociety.co.za for more information.
We also have been worshipping at home on Sundays for the last 18 weeks with our next door neighbors, the Briix family, who are also missionaries from the USA.
While we do not know what the future holds, we know that we must carry on with the work that God has called us to in South Africa, wherever we might be physically. We put our hope in the fact that we know the Holy Spirit is working in amazing ways, while at the same time Satan is roaring around seeking to steal, kill and destroy. We must continue to put on the Armor of God and persevere on in prayer for one another during this worldwide crisis!
The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.