Dear Praying Friends,
You know the saying, “two steps forward and one step back.” Or perhaps less positively, “one step forward and two steps back.” You know the feeling, right? You make progress, only to be neutralized. Make a little progress again, then have another setback. This essentially captures our feelings over these past two months. We were happy for 2021 to arrive! The promise of starting new, with numerous goals in heart and mind. And yet, when 2021 started, it looked a lot like 2020: lockdowns, curfews, and restrictions. January was frustrating. We were not able to hold theological training classes until the end of the month; our church was back to meeting on Zoom and having YouTube services; and Amy’s computer training classes were delayed yet again.
But if January was a “two steps back” month, February has been a “two-and-a-half steps forward” month! We have much to be grateful for, and we continue to pray—and ask you to pray with us—that God gives us wisdom to “redeem the time” and take advantage of new momentum. We have some exciting things to report!
First, Amy’s ministry with Knysna Hope’s Launch Workplace Readiness program has kicked into high gear. In total, the Launch team is serving fifty-five students over eight different courses for the next ten weeks, and Amy is teaching twenty-four of these students in three different “Beginner Computer” classes. It seems the repeated lockdowns have resulted in a backlog of eager students looking for skills training. This is a great blessing because Amy can use her talents to uplift so many in our community, and each student hears God’s Word at every class.
Second, we are thrilled about plans to “vote ourselves into existence” at our church plant, Knysna West Bible Church. This odd phrase is how we are describing our move from a “church-in-formation” to an established church. Lord willing, we will be taking this step on Sunday, March 7, with a special service of praise to God for bringing our church family together. As well, we are having our first baptism that day! What a joy to see one of our young men taking this important step in his walk with Jesus! Like many churches all around the world, we have felt the negative effects of the on-again, off-again whiplash of COVID restrictions. Yet through it all, we see a deepened commitment from within our core group, a healthy interest in our church from the community, and several visitors that show promise. Please join us in praising God for building HIS church!!
Third, the Biblical Leadership Institute (BLI) is getting started once again. George finished a theology course at the end of January that should have finished back in November. But despite the frustration of many stops and starts, it seems to have ended well, and students are busy completing the coursework now. Other courses in both the Knysna and Sedgefield locations will be starting in March, and we look forward to getting back into that routine. As well, please pray as we make plans to begin courses in the city of George. We had a few introductory seminars in 2020, but the planned seminars were cut by more than 50% due to all the COVID-related lockdowns. Pray we will see significant interest in the planned courses in George, as we see tremendous opportunity there.
Finally, we have become keenly aware that for some BLI students, progress in coursework is difficult when they are struggling to make, not even a living wage, but a survivability wage! We have one student in particular who desires to complete his Bachelor of Theology degree, but the pressure on him is so great that despite good intentions, the coursework must take a back seat to the need to survive and provide as best he can for his family. If we could relieve some of this financial pressure, and free him up even a few days a week to concentrate on his studies, we could see him complete his degree and perhaps ultimately get back to his home country as a missionary. Can you imagine the joy it would be to send out one of our BLI students as a missionary? It is a thrilling prospect, but we will need help to see it through. Within the next two weeks, we will be sending a special update asking you to consider how you may help with the need arising from this opportunity.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued faithfulness in prayer, giving, care and concern, and an overwhelming willingness to help! We are blessed beyond words to be here, to be used by God in His service, and to have you supporting us for God’s glory!
With Hearts of Gratitude,
The Coon Family