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My Dear People of God,
Acts of righteousness
Greetings in the Name of Christ, our Lord and Saviour in the wilderness as at this time!
The recent New Year 2005 is no longer new. Our time moves on more quickly than we seem to realise. The natural Tsunami disaster which has wrecked many lives has left the whole world picking up the pieces. The needy, homeless, hungry communities of Indonesia with their orphans are painfully adapting to the new life situations brought to them against their will. The Church of the Province of Southern Africa, led by the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane, joined the All African Council of Churches, with Bishop Mvume Dandala and Dr Molefe Tsele of The South African Council of Churches, stretching a hand to the needy of Ethiopia with alms to alleviate their plight even if it is only to some extent.
Nearer at home we continue to be battered by moral degeneration, acts of cruelty. The Pretoria hospital rape of a cancer patient is a sad example among many. Greed, fraud and stealing rock even the political arena, and those who are set to govern over us. The list goes on.
We need to ask ourselves the question why? It is so because Christians are asleep. God is unable to function and act because we are refusing with our mouths to speak out, to be active with our hands and feet. We see evil. Instead of rebuking sin, we become part of it. We have lost a sense of sin. Instead we collaborate. We are no longer eager to pray in the name of Jesus Christ as the early church used to (Acts 4 : 1-12). Those who still utter prophetic oracles are isolated or unwanted. Christians are no longer obedient to the mandate of Christ, but seek their agenda from the world in conformity to its demands of follow your heart slogan. Those who seek to be visible witnesses in building Gods Kingdom according to Gods Master Plan, the Bible, are seen as social misfits, judgemental and uninformed. Theological issues such as homosexuality are presented with bias and human conformity called orientation (Rom 12 : 1-3).
The challenge of Islam with its violent and suppressive mood hopes to take over the whole world, while Christians are asleep with the lack of the vision of Christ who gave all for our salvation.
It is now another Lenten season in which we are reminded to repent from sin and believe the Good News of the presence of Christ in us, and in everything that surrounds us. In Matthew 6 Jesus deals with the practice of the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites (lit meaning actors). Their acts of mercy or almsgiving are just a show-off, without the true genuineness of the inner-self. They have already had their reward, says Jesus. In addition, it is the acts of righteousness such as prayer and fasting which also suffer abuse in the pharisaic practices of Jewish religion. We are reminded here that the good we do belongs to God, who is the Heavenly Father (Mtt 5 : 13-16). True religion is conscious of the presence of God, not publicity. While sounding the gong or blowing the horn has its advantages in alerting those of kindness to show mercy by active participation, it should never be for our own glory, but that of God - to whom all glory belongs.
God is pleased by those who worship Him from a pure heart (John 4:24 and Mtt 5:8). We should not glory in sinful affections and make them fashionable as though they are a norm (APB Litany p 73.3). God abhors sin (Gal 5:16-19). We should be on the side of goodness, justice, mercy and peace (Is 58:1-8).
May God reward you with true repentance and a genuine spirit of discipline in engaging in the acts of righteousness welling up from the inner self, until you are fully immersed in the joy of Easter.
Yours in the love of Christ,
Picture: Visitors from the UK - Bishop Bethlehem greets Jean and Sid Riggs from Rodborough in the UK who brought a donation of £200 (R2 238) for Theological training. They were the guests of Nobantu Makunga (3rd left).
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
Robert had been invited by Youth With a Mission (YWAM) to spend a week teaching the staff of the Discipleship Training School (DTS) and the School of Video Production (SVP). Then during the following two weeks he taught the whole school of about 70 young people aged between 20 and 30 years who were from Australia, Sweden, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Morocco, Korea and many more countries. All the teaching was interpreted into both Arabic and S Korean. After the teaching there was always a time for counselling, and here his wife, Gay, helped with the ministry too.
Of the experience Robert said, This has been a very challenging and yet, fulfilling, experience. We have had the privilege to really get into the culture of this people and talk deeply with them on matters of faith and other things. I rejoice at the opportunities that Gay and I had of getting into their day to day lives by being alongside them in the train, in the taxis (fearful!!) and in the small shops in the rural villages way outside of the metropolitan. To discover their fears and needs was a great privilege and a huge responsibility for prayer. In almost every case the staff and students would ask me to spend time with them and all they would ask for was prayer for their lives and witness. No materialistic requests or safety request but only for power to be Christ - the light of the World - amidst the darkness of paganism and unbelief. We found the people to be incredibly affirming and warm. This has always been very humbling. It has been a revelation to see the way these young people work. Numerous teams would be scattered all around the compound loading bricks, carting away garbage, building rooms and the extension to the hall, washing floors and peeling vegetables. No-one would be sitting around or shirking. The pace at which they work in these bitterly cold conditions is quite something.
I have been lifted up before the throne of Grace as I was carried on their vibrant worship and sincere approach to the Father. It was a battle to read the Arabic words in the beginning but one was simply carried along by their enthusiastic worship. In the middle of the desert they have set up an amazing assortment of technological assistance. They use the data projector to great benefit by projecting the words of songs and notices etc. onto the big screen. They have a wonderfully faithful and very able young woman, who really knows her way around the computer and Powerpoint."
Lynne Axon and Nicky Blatch from St Johns, Walmer, where Robert is the rector, are spending five months at the school as staff and student respectively. Readers are asked to pray for them.
Picture: Relaxed and waiting - Robert and Gay Penrith in a taxi in Egypt before it started moving!!
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