March, 2018

Dear Praying Friends,

Tomorrow, we have the privilege and blessing of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ – the most joyous occasion for all true Christians! This is the foundation upon which everything we believe and do is built. In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul argues that if Christ is not risen from the dead, our faith is useless. Yet Jesus did indeed rise again, an event attested by many. And as we acknowledge the reality of the resurrection by faith, we live with hope – not only for this life, but for the life to come. We pray that your own celebration of Jesus’ resurrection will bring you joy in the present and hope for the future!

March has been full of positive developments, but we begin on a more sobering note. Just last week we attended our fifth funeral service since moving to Knysna. We celebrated the life of Peter Oosthuizen, a faithful congregant of Lagoonside Baptist Church who succumbed to cancer merely four months after his diagnosis (he was given a maximum of one year). His testimony was characterized by a calm trust in God and an assurance of salvation in Jesus Christ. Upon hearing his diagnosis, Peter was quoted as saying, “You know, a lot of people wonder how they’re going to die. At least now I know.” He took his diagnosis as a blessing from God that allowed him to prepare well for his departure. Please pray for his precious widow, Sue, who is demonstrating a determined faith in God. She is presently surrounded by many family members, but as they return to their homes, the days ahead will be difficult. In addition to her grieving, she is in the middle of trying to sell her home (a process started prior to Peter’s diagnosis) and move into a new place already purchased.

We want to thank you for your prayers and support for the Knysna Hope Building project. We’re pleased to report that as of March 29, the building is officially in the possession of Knysna Hope! We continue to see donations come in, and we are grateful. Because of your generosity, and that of many others, we’ve been able to not only purchase the building, but also make excellent progress on our interior repairs and upgrades. A few thousand dollars more is needed to finish some of these projects off. Then, depending on what other funds come in, we will turn our attention to some exterior and lawn/garden projects. We have been overwhelmed at God’s grace in all of this, and several people in the community – believers and unbelievers alike – are astounded at what has happened! It is a blessing to now have a physical footprint in the center of town – may God use this, and us, for His glory in this place!

Biblical Leadership Institute, our theological and ministry training initiative, held its first course last Saturday, March 24. The Principles of Biblical Interpretation course was well received both in Sedgefield (8AM – Noon) and Knysna (6PM – 7:30PM). In Sedgefield, we had nearly 30 attendees, with a handful of them interested in taking the course for credit toward a bachelor’s degree. In Knysna, we had nearly 20 attendees, with perhaps as many as 14 looking to use the course toward an occupational certificate for pastoral ministry. This was a far better response than we anticipated! Of particular note was the number of African pastors from the Knysna townships who attended. Most of these are presently pastoring, or at least doing ministry on a regular basis, and have no formal ministry training whatsoever. As we’ve met with them prior to the start of class, it’s been amazing to see how great the need is for people here, already in ministry, to learn basic truths about handling God’s Word, communicating sound theology, and properly shepherding God’s people. In our North American context, we often take for granted that people in ministry will have at least some form of training post high school. Here, that is not the reality at all. May God grant us wisdom, patience, and compassion as we seek to shepherd the shepherds!

There are many more things to share concerning our family and various other involvements we have in ministry and in our community. We will send a mid-April update to catch you up on some of them. But for now, we’d like to conclude with a specific prayer request from each member of our family, something we haven’t done as often as we’d like.

  • Alyssa – Please pray that she will continue to be a witness to several of her friends at school who do not know Jesus. She has been regularly inviting them to a weekly girls’ Bible study and to church; but she is also seeking opportunities to share her faith in one-on-one conversations. Please pray for courage to speak up on behalf of her Saviour!
  • Ashley – Please pray that she will complete her high school courses well. She has worked very hard to get her remaining grade 12 requirements finished prior to the end of April, when she and Amy will return to the States. Along with her involvement in several ministry opportunities here in Knysna, she has to particularly focus on her coursework this month.
  • George David – Please pray that he will be able to succeed in his accounting class. It has been a struggle thus far. The accounting procedure he is learning here in South Africa is completely opposite of that which he learned in the States while in high school. He has had to ‘unlearn’ quite a lot just to be able to learn the principles and concepts needed to do well here.
  • Amy – Please pray for Amy over the next month as she tries to prepare for her absence while she and Ashley are in the US for six weeks for Ashley’s senior trip and graduation. She hopes to have several meals in the freezer for the family remaining in SA. Also, Amy would like to use her gifts of baking and cooking as a way to meet and get to know people in the community we live. Please pray for creative ideas in this regard. If you have any ideas she welcomes them!
  • George – Please pray that he will lead the students of Biblical Leadership Institute well. Each one taking courses “for credit” will need significant one-on-one time to ensure that the process is organized and that expectations are clearly understood and objectively met. Much of this work is administratively heavy and tedious, not exactly George’s strengths!

It is such a wonderful comfort and assurance to know that you all are concerned about us and praying for us regularly. Thank you for your faithfulness to God on our behalf!

In His Service,
George, Amy, George David, Ashley, and Alyssa