Four-Year Update

Dear Praying Friends,

Monday of last week (the 16th) marked four years since we arrived in South Africa to begin our ministry here. As with any “anniversary” such as this, we are moved to reflect on our time in Knysna thus far and to thank God for the continued privilege to serve Him here, as well as the blessings we’ve seen. We echo the words of Psalm 118:23 – “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Anything good that has come from the past four years is due solely to the glorious grace of our Lord. We don’t just say this – we actually believe it! And so, as we reflect and give thanks, we invite you to rejoice with us because after all, you are just as much a part of this as we are.

We came here anticipating three main areas of ministry focus – theological education, church planting, and community upliftment. God has blessed in all three areas, giving us opportunities that have exceeded our expectations. The theological education initiatives through the Biblical Leadership Institute (BLI) have now taken root in Knysna, Sedgefield, and George. We have developed and delivered 14 courses out of a planned 15-course program in our Sedgefield location. By the end of this year, Lord willing, we will have completed the full program in Sedgefield and will even have a couple graduates to celebrate! In Knysna, the program operates in a more practical, “ministry-skills-training” context, wherein a small cohort of people seeking to serve in church ministry has come together to sharpen their skills and understanding. This group has been a lot of fun to work with, and we anticipate more progress toward the end of this year and into next. In George, we have just begun our formal course offerings, looking to replicate what we have been doing in Sedgefield since March of 2018. The city of George offers more numerical potential than Knysna or Sedgefield, but we have much work to do to sift through the initial interest and identify those who will stay the course with us for the full program. While much progress has been made with BLI, we know we’re just getting started, and we look forward to what God has in store ahead!

Knysna West Bible Church (KWBC) formally began in January 2019 and continues to grow and develop as God gives the increase. What a privilege to see people discipled to and in Jesus Christ! What started as a small group, Thursday evening Bible Study with a few couples (other than us ‘missionary types’) has now become a local church of 30-40 people meeting together on the “west side” of Knysna for worship, fellowship, and training in God’s Word. We have largely outgrown our current meeting place in the house rented by the Hunter family, and we find ourselves seeking God’s will for an adequate place to meet. The Hunter’s house is still serviceable (for now) as we spill outside onto the patio and have people sitting in places where they can barely see what’s going on, but we patiently await and are eager for what God has for us next. What’s interesting about the development of KWBC is that it has happened in God’s way and in God’s time. We have not forced anything. We have not succumbed to gimmicky means and methods to attract a crowd. We have simply sought to minister and serve where God has given opportunity, and we’ve relied on Him to bring people to our fellowship. And when God does the work, it is far more lasting and effective!

Our involvement in community upliftment, through the collective ministries of Knysna Hope, has grown and developed in unanticipated ways over these four years. The various projects and outlets to serve people in our town have challenged us, stretched our faith, and pushed us beyond what we thought we could do. Amy never thought she would be a teacher, and yet her computer skills instruction through the Launch Workplace Readiness program has touched dozens of lives in ways far beyond the computer skills training itself. Launch students have testified of their lives being changed, their walk with God being revived (or even begun!), and their way of life being changed in both physical and spiritual ways. It’s such a blessing to see the fruits of this ministry! Our involvement in other forms of community upliftment continues, and we continue to try to be sensitive to the opportunities God gives us to serve. While we can’t say yes to every opportunity, we trust God to continue to show us what His priorities are for us.

As we consider these past four years, we are thankful! We thank God for letting us be here, and we thank Him for the spiritual fruit we’ve seen in the lives of many. All of this is truly HIS doing, and it is indeed marvelous in our eyes! We are thankful for our wonderful teammates who journey with us, who keep us encouraged and motivated to press on, even in the midst of various challenges. There is no way we would want to be here without them! And of course, we are thankful for you, our faithful prayer partners and financial supporters, who labor on our behalf to “lift our arms” and intercede for us regularly.

Please know that you are loved, missed, and thought about continuously.

By His Grace,
The Coon Family