• Undiluted grace
• Much to be thankful for
• Blessed Christmas
[ Terry Beadon, mission co-ordinator ]
Our ten-person team from the Kenton, Bushmansriver, Alexandria area have returned home having experienced 40 days of undiluted grace - grace on a scale previously only experienced in fleeting snatches - and now we challenge what we once regarded as ‘normal’ Christian life. The team, which included the rector of Alexandria Parish, Terry Beadon and his wife Jeanne, were from five different churches. We spent 40 days in the Mberengwa district of Zimbabwe (the rural area west of Masvingo) from 27 July to 8 September and learnt to be ‘ready for anything, anticipate nothing, but expect much’.
Our purpose was to encourage, support and strengthen the wider church in that area (particularly regarding evangelism, unity, child ministry and discipleship), and to provide greatly needed material resources.
This was a Kingdom-building mission, lasting a biblical transformation period. We wanted to provide impetus and mobility to local (rural) church pastors who operate without any transport, and who normally travel long distances on foot. Initial reports told of an unprecedented openness to the preaching of the Gospel in those parts, which we subsequently found to be true. Our hosts and mission partners were Pastors John and Ivylet Chirenje of the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa (ZAOGA).
As to Transformation, the jury is out as to who was most changed ... we are all deeply changed in very different ways by our 40 days of intense fellowship and our operating (without usual worldly distractions) constantly in the deep waters of God’s truth. Here we were utterly dependent on Him ... the needs and situations we faced were light years beyond our human resources and competencies. We were frequently torn by deep tears of compassion and inadequacy in the face of the needs before us. We wrestled often with the human dilemma of balancing the need for conversion to eternal life with the need for the simplest basics of life (complicated by our deep desire to alleviate suffering, practically and quickly) ... and we always came back to Christ’s priority. After 40 days of undiluted grace we have tasted love, joy, peace, life, fellowship, power, and presence in the Lord to a measure that causes us to be satisfied with nothing less, ever again. It is a very unsettling place to be.
Our ministry involved everything from preaching to teaching, deliverance, healing, infilling of the Holy Spirit and counselling. We did hut to hut visitation in villages where we had shown, or were about to show, the Jesus Film. This was
probably the most demanding, and most rewarding, aspect of our ministry. We went out in pairs and ministered the Gospel to those we met along the way or to those who ever-graciously welcomed us at their homes. Every meeting was
unique, and the personal testimonies of God’s power and provision quite extraordinary and unforgettable. We also preached at nightly or weekend revival meetings in four different centres. The setting and format was different in each case, but results very much the same as for the Jesus Film.
There were any number of once-off ad-hoc ministry events, contacts and divine appointments that involved the police, community agricultural days, street ministry, home visits, farmers, groups of church leaders and random individuals. In our “bubble” of constant grace and favour, we developed an inescapable sense of being part of a divine local tapestry in the making, with each team member having their unique threads woven with others into a living, vibrant picture at the hands of the Master.
Together, we were living threads in a vividly apparent living picture, however powerfully spiritual or drearily mundane
our actions might seem. So it is, walking in the deep waters of God’s Word and plans without a visible lifeline.
Pic 1 - The team. Pic 2 - Sunday School in the veld.
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Much to be thankful for
Bishop Paddy Glover of the Free State was the guest of honour at St Paul’s Thanksgiving weekend, leading up to their Dedicated Giving Sunday the following week.
On Friday night 23 October a Thanksgiving Dinner attended by 200 people was held in the newly upgraded and refurbished hall. Bishop Paddy spoke on ‘Gratitude’ … having an attitude of gratitude saying, “It is good to pause and count our blessings … to accentuate the positive and be habitually grateful. We need to wake up in the morning and be able to say, ‘Lord, transform the world and begin with me.’” Using three ‘B’s’ he went on to encourage the members of St Paul’s to ‘B-long’ as part of the team driving the parish; ‘B-have’ as a stepping-stone and not as a road-block by acknowledging Christ in the people they meet; and to B-immersed in the Lord Jesus Christ. He ended by reminding the parish that gratitude overflows to generosity and that they need to pray, “Lord, give me a grateful heart.”
On Saturday Bishop Paddy met with leadership and at both Sunday services he spoke on stewardship in preparation for the following Sunday when pledges were to be handed in.
Pic 1: Bishop Paddy Glover with the rector of St Paul’s, Ruthell Johnson, have much to be thankful for.
Pic 2: The architect who designed the alterations to the hall, Tony Rumsey, talks to assistant priest Henk de Groot, while Maureen Heath and Lyn van Dyk enjoy fellowship after the dinner.
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The editor and media committee,
Bishop Bethlehem, Mazoe
and the Diocesan staff
wish all our readers
a very blessed Christmas
and a peaceful, joyful
and Christ-filled 2010.
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