Dear Praying Friends,
We trust you all had a blessed Thanksgiving! While Thanksgiving is not a recognised holiday here in South Africa, our South African friends are very interested in it and more than happy to celebrate with us over a turkey dinner. We celebrated by hosting Ashley’s boyfriend, Louis, along with his parents, Carl and Marietjie, and Terri, one of our fellow-volunteers at Sivuleye School for the Deaf. It was a great time of fellowship, food, and trying to converse (a little bit) in Afrikaans. Beyond this, it provided time to remember how grateful we are to God for allowing us to be here, serving Him in Knysna. It also gave us a chance to give thanks for you, our support team. You never cease to amaze us with your kindness and faithfulness on our behalf – thank you for all you do!
For this update, we want to give a “look ahead” to what is coming up for each member of our family in 2019. We haven’t done an update quite like this before, so hopefully you will find it helpful to know some of the big things coming up. Alyssa will be starting grade 10 in January. Grade 10 is significant in the school system here because the students transition from having general subjects (courses entirely mandated by the school) to chosen subjects (self-selected courses) which orient the student’s path toward university and their chosen major. It’s not that Alyssa must have a career path already decided, but there is pressure put on students to be thinking about this now, and not later. Please pray that Alyssa does well in her studies and that she handles the upcoming year with trust in God and His strength.
Of all our family members, Ashley will experience the biggest transition in 2019. At the end of July, she will be moving back to the US to attend Lancaster Bible College to complete her degree in Early Childhood Education. She is now in the midst of her first year and doing very well with all of her LBC classes online. While she is looking forward to being an on-campus student, she will also miss, and be missed, by many here! This is also a huge undertaking financially, which will require a whole new level of trust and dependence on God and His provision. Please pray that Ashley continues to do well in her online classes, that God will provide the funds for this undertaking, and that she’ll ultimately stay focused on her goal of completing this program in May of 2022.
George David is currently back in the US with George’s parents and his sister and her family, trying to work as much as possible over the Christmas holidays to earn money for his 2019 schooling. He has completed his first year at Nelson Mandela University in their general business program, and he will return to South African in February to begin his second year. The university system here is very difficult, with classes being administered and grading being done in ways completely different from what we’re used to in the States. George David has struggled a lot but has made it through and is steadily improving. Please pray he continues to develop the discipline and skill needed to successfully continue in his degree program and that he’ll rely on God’s strength for the difficult times.
Amy is looking ahead to 2019 anticipating something she never imagined she would do. As part of Knysna Hope’s ministries, one of our teammates, Kristen Golson, teaches computer literacy courses that help make people more employable in our community. It is a wonderful opportunity to assist these students and share Christ with them along the way. Kristen and her family will be returning to the US for the first six months of 2019 to raise further support, so Amy will be stepping in to teach the computer courses, as well as a basic keyboarding course. While she’s definitely nervous about teaching, she’s looking forward to serving on our ministry team in this way, imparting her knowledge and skill to others. Please pray that she’ll overcome her fear of speaking in public by trusting in God’s enablement to do the tasks well!
George continues to focus on further development of the Biblical Leadership Institute. As always, we are asking God to send us more students that truly desire theological education and ministry training. Sifting through many “pretenders” can be a challenge at times, but we are confident that God will direct the right ones to us. We also are seeking to develop a tuition-assistance fund for BLI students. Currently, the BLI courses are offered for a very small sum. This is intentional because we don’t need much financially to teach our courses; yet we want to charge something to help our students value what they are getting. But as students complete our program and seek to move onto other schools to complete a full bachelor’s degree, they will need help. Please pray that God will give George wisdom to know how best to develop the ministry of BLI going forward.
Finally, we are very excited to announce the start of our new church-in-formation, in partnership with the Hunter family, in January of 2019! We have been working with the Hunter’s in a Thursday evening Bible Study for nearly a year now. We have seen God bring people to our group who have a genuine hunger for the Word and a true knowledge of Jesus Christ. We had anticipated starting Sunday meetings only once per month in the new year, but after conversing with our group at a meeting on November 1, it was clear that they are ready to add Sunday meetings every week as soon as we’re ready. In fact, they wondered why we were taking so long to start! We are thrilled with this development and are excited to begin this new step in our church-planting journey. Please pray that God will work in the hearts of all of us involved in this initiative, and that He will lead others to join us as they begin and continue in a relationship with Jesus.
There is much to thank God for, given all He has done. And there is much to pray for as we anticipate what God will do in the days, weeks, and year ahead. Obviously we realise that all these plans are just that – our plans, informed by God’s leading as best as we can see. And we know that God can make any number of adjustments to anything we set out to do. But as we think about what lies ahead, we echo to ourselves the admonition in James 4 to remember that life is short, that God’s will must reign supreme, and that our ability to carry out His work is, in fact, our privilege, not our right. We thank you for praying that we will stay faithful to the One who has called us here to minister in Knysna.
By His Grace,
George, Amy, George David, Ashley, and Alyssa