In the tiny province (state) where we live, population 15.8 million, you can hear all eleven official languages plus many others from our neighboring countries. The plurality of life in the city brings unique traditions to both daily life and ministry.
One result of living and working in our cosmopolitan city, is that we have teamed together with a local pastor to write and publish a gospel tract in all the official languages of South Africa and a few others (like French) spoken nearby. Our goal is to publish the most popular languages but to have all accessible for printing on the ZEMA South Africa website for others to use. We made significant progress in 2022 and are about a third into this project. Our goal is to have it done by the end of 2024.
Another fact that we shared on furlough this year that really struck people was how densely populated our small province of Gauteng is. Sitting on 1.4% of the land mass of South Africa, we have 26.3% of the population. In comparison, the State of Illinois has a population of 12.7 million. The population of Gauteng is 15.8 million, 1.25 times the population of Illinois. Illinois has 58,000 square miles compared to 7,000 square miles for Gauteng, 1/8th the size of Illinois.
A primary strategic ministry of ours is to reach, train, disciple and empower amaZioni leaders though ZEBS. Fortunately, through God’s power we were running nine ZEBS Bible Colleges in and around Gauteng Province in 2022. Praise God we saw much growth from 2021, the first year after Covid lockdowns. We thank God for those who filled in for us while we were on furlough, including Paul Seelhammer, Kit Tischler, Matthew Kuehl, Godfrey Maseko, Nkosinathi Mchunu, Emmanual Mhlongo, Dr. Shayi, Khulukani Mzilankatha and Bonginkosi Shange.
In July at Katlehong ZEBS, ninety-three students were in attendance, and it was about one hour into the program. I went outside to do something and a student by the name of Jack Moloi was walking up and he said, “Sorry I am late.” I replied, “No problem, I am glad that you made it.” He said “No, I have to be here, before ZEBS we were telling lies to people, we were just giving them culture, but now at ZEBS we know the truth and now we give the truth to people.”
The second of our primary strategic ministries is to train and empower church leaders and members to serve their church and community through children’s ministry. Thirty-five percent of the total population in South Africa are aged seventeen and under. Luann and Carrie Seelhammer held the latest training in Soweto on June 11. Many of those in attendance gave glowing reports of the training. One young lady who attended is the daughter of one of our ZEBS teachers, Pastor Mzilankatha. She told him that she benefited a great deal from attending. A few weeks later she graduated from university with her Education Degree. We also traveled to East London to assist Susanne Goosen with her Sunday School Teacher Training.
During the final five months of 2022 we traveled to all four points of the compass in the USA visiting churches and supporters. God richly blessed the ministry and our time with family and friends. We have returned to South Africa, ready and excited for the final two-year term of service in our missionary career, God willing.