April, 2018

Dear Praying Friends,
After His resurrection and prior to ascending into heaven, Jesus instructed His disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20). This passage (among others) is foundational to Christian Missions. As such, discipleship is what we are all about. Everything we do, all the activities in which we are involved, it all must somehow be purposed toward making disciples. If we are sharing Christ with those who do not know Him, we call it “evangelism” . . . which is really the first phase of discipleship. If we are teaching classes at Biblical Leadership Institute (BLI), we call it “training” . . . which is a more intense, academically focused form of discipleship. If we are involved in mid-week Bible studies or Sunday services, we call it “church” or “life group” . . . both of which are instances of discipleship in one way or another. And finally, if we are simply living life with others, seeking ways to serve and minister, all while receiving the same, then “simply living life” presents regular and numerous opportunities for discipleship

We bring this up to remind you of our main focus . . . but also to remind ourselves! We are beginning to form relationships with many. When we think about those we are involved with in Sunday worship, mid-week Bible studies, BLI classes, and community organizations and projects, we realize that in less than nine months, God has given us quite a number of people to work with in discipleship (from evangelism to leadership training). We are being invited to people’s houses, to community events, to parties, to all kinds of get-togethers. We are having people over and getting to know individuals in all walks of life. In the midst of all this, we are also finding that the needs here are overwhelming – just when you think you’ve given enough, there are ten times more opportunities to give ten times more. And on and on it goes. And the giving of which we speak isn’t merely financial, though that’s a small part of it. It’s actually the giving of life, allowing ourselves to be used in service to our Savior, whatever that might mean in a given situation.

For some of you, all this sounds exciting. For others, it may sound exhausting. Obviously it can be both, but for us, it is exactly what God has called us to do in this special place. And so, the word we choose is invigorating. We are truly energized by what we see around us and the opportunities we have been given to share the love of Jesus with others! But as is the case with everything we do, we need God’s help, His wisdom, and His discernment. We continue to need your prayers, your encouragement, and your support. There is more than enough that we COULD do, but we ask God to help us discern what we SHOULD do, all under the umbrella of discipleship. Would you please continue to pray with us that our focus would truly be on that which God has given us to do?

There are items to update, so here goes . . .
1. Biblical Leadership Institute – We are settling into a pattern that seems to fit nicely with most students’ schedules and general availability. Classes are off to a good start, and the truly committed are distinguishing themselves from the pretenders, which is good and necessary. However, there are some truly committed who are falling behind due to changing work schedules from week to week. Please pray that we will find a way to train all those who desire it and qualify for it.
2. Knysna Hope Building – Praise God, we have had all the funds come in that were needed to purchase the building and complete interior renovations! Thanks to all who gave to this project, and thanks to those still planning to give. We hadn’t planned on doing anything outside of the building for a while, but due to your generosity, we have now moved to a focus on the exterior and grounds. It’s been incredible to be able to move ahead so quickly, and that has opened ministry doors that we hadn’t counted on this soon!
3. Sivuyele School for the Deaf – Again, several of you have responded so generously in your prayers and support for two key projects: fencing in the playground and building a temporary classroom space to accommodate the growing student population. The fence will be built soon (was supposed to be last week, but the builder had delays), and the temporary classroom is waiting municipality approval to move ahead. Please pray that the municipality will approve the plans quickly so that we can get this structure built later this year.
4. Church Planting – Just yesterday, we had the privilege of seeing Lagoonside Baptist Church vote affirmatively to have one of our South African ministry partners begin the transition to the role of lead elder/senior pastor. This is a great step in the life of Lagoonside! The Hunter family and us are continuing to build relationships and contacts with believers and unbelievers alike here on the “other” side of the Knysna Lagoon. Please pray for wisdom as we move forward in our mid-week Bible study and in our eventual plans to begin Sunday meetings.
5. Finally, please pray for our family in a special way over the next 5 weeks. Amy and Ashley are back in the States now so that Ashley can go on her senior trip and participate in graduation at Calvary Baptist School. They are also spending a lot of time with friends and family while there. This is a great opportunity for them, made possible through a generous gift from a supporter! George, George David, and Alyssa are back in Knysna continuing their routines . . . your prayers should definitely be for Alyssa first and foremost, having to deal with the George’s!! After one week, Alyssa has already done a spectacular job in keeping everyone on track and superbly cared for!

With Love for you ALL,

George, Amy, George David, Ashley, and Alyssa