Mark 10:29-30 NASB Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there isno one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother orfather or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake,  but that he will receive a hundred times […]
In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul makes two of the toughest statements in the entire New Testament:
Galatians 1:8-9 NASB
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!  As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
Galatians 3:10 NASB
For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”
The particular characteristic of an aberrant gospel cited here is a replacement of faith in Jesus with the works of the Law, a belief system in which God’s presence was earned by human behavior. While Paul’s immediate context was Judaic Legalism, there have been many similar examples throughout history. In each case, faith in Jesus is always replaced by some combination of a false messiah and a ritual system of behaviour that supposedly generates a blessing. The result is a curse that is a fancy word describing the consequence of a life lived in separation from God. Either someone who preaches a false gospel or a person who believes in one are jeopardized.
Trina and I see a modern day example of this living in the middle of the traditional homeland of the Zulu tribe in South Africa. One of the principal false gospels that ensnares Zulus is entitled Shembe. The worship ascribes deity to present and past cult leaders, encorporates some of the Judaic laws from the Old Testament, and emphasizes spiritism, meaning contact with animal and ancestal spirits, in their worship practices.
This aberrant gospel ensnares around four million of the ten million Zulu people. The result of this misplaced faith cannot be described as anything other than an accursed existence. Alcoholism, AIDS, Tuberculosis and poverty are rife amongst this largely subjugated people group, with women and children often being the most effected.
We find hope in Galatians 3:13-14 NASB which says,
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-for it is written, “Cursed IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON a TREE”-  in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Knowing Christ not only forgives us, but it provides access to the Holy Spirit. When individuals begin to be led by the direction of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, curse fades and HOPE begins to appear. Having seen some transformation already, we have done our best to pray and this is our plan among the Zulus in 2018:
1) We have spent the last ten years establishing relationships and encouraging pastors in several rural Zulu communities. They all have physical needs, especially improved meeting places, and specific needs for spiritual support. Up to this point we have largely centralized our efforts to reach the most leaders. In 2018, We will be taking preaching, teaching and interested sponsors to more localized works, concentrating more on the people in the villages themselves.
2) Uplifting women with the Gospel of Jesus will be a focus in 2018. There will be several Zulu women’s conferences featuring Trina and other ladies in the ministry.
3) We will be working with children by helping foster pre-primary English literacy in 2018. We have a simple program, based on Bible Scripture, that will greatly enhance young Zulus in becoming English literate. This will be run through our pastor’s network and their volunteers.
We covet your prayer for our work amongst the Zulus in 2018! We also invite you to pray about your specific involvement in this area of our ministry!
One of the most fascinating aspects to our mission is the support we provide to the Indian community in KwaZulu-natal. Our work with this amazing subculture began in 2004 during the first visit we made to Durban. Our original intent was to directly evangelize among the vast Zulu population in the area until the Lord abruptly changed our plan. God stongly knitted our hearts with Indian South Africans and impressed upon us that part of His plan was to use the Indian Church as a primary means of reaching Zulus for Christ.
An abbreviated history, since the arrival of Indians to South Africa, helps to show why these two cultures are linked spiritually. Indians first arrived in 1860 as a part of an indentured labor program with the sugar cane industry to a part of South Africa, the KwaZulu-natal provence, that was the traditional Zulu Homeland. From very humble beginnings, the initial seed of immigrants grew and saw its spiritual composition change dramatically. Today, the Indian population has increased to almost 1.5 million and a people group was initially 99% Hindu in faith is now more than half Christian. Indians are much more economically prosperous on average than Zulus and this has caused both a palpable jealousy and some xenophobic violence. We believe that Christ has changed the hearts of many Indians in South Africa and their willingness to walk in forgiveness has made them special messengers of the redemptive power of Jesus for the Zulu Nation.
The Lord has made the encouragement of leaders a primary aspect of our mission and allowed us to form many relationships with Indian pastors. In November, we spent time with two men that have changed Trina and I far more than we have changed them. Pastor Steven Frank of Harvest Time Tabernacle in Estcourt, KZN is a true elder according to Biblical Standards. Having been saved from Hinduism at a young age, he has faithfully reached out to both non Christian Indians and Zulus for more than forty years. They ask us to preach and minister to congregants and give our opinions on their future vision for their ministry. Pastor Ellayah Ezra of the Church of Pentecost in Chatsworth, KZN is one of the pillars of the Body of Christ in South Africa. This modern day Apostle has planted countless numbers of churches and in his near seventy year career in ministry! He has asked us to “troubleshoot” a number of issues over the years and wants us to visit more of the churches he has an ongoing relationship with in the coming months.
Matthew 20:25-28 NASB
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.  It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,  and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
The message of Jesus to His disciples highlights a common, crucial attribute in both of these wonderful men of God: A true servant’s perspective on leadership.Trina and I do not have passing relationships with these pastors, having spent time praying and discussing difficult issues that affect both their public ministries and personal lives. Each has resisted numerous opportunities to respond to personal attacks from individuals they were serving in a self centered way by laying down their own personal gain to see God’s purpose fulfilled. It is an all too common pitfall in the Church when circumstances arise that tempt a leader to begin thinking about his or her own well being first. Please pray for Trina and I as we finish out 2017 that we take courage from and follow the example of these remarkable servant leaders in the the Indian Churches of KwaZulu-natal. Blessings in Christ!
One of the most difficult parts of Christian Ministry is the process of making disciples. You begin by either introducing Christ to someone who isn’t saved or entreating a believer to deepen their commitment in their relationship with Jesus. This begins a long road of […]
Trina and I recently finished a leadership meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe that we have participated in for the last twelve years. It never ceases to amaze us just how different our experience is every time we visit this conference and this year was no exception. There were a number of leaders normally in attendance who were committed elsewhere. On top of this, we had a funeral for a family member of a local leader in Harare that pulled a number of the local men away from the meetings.
A funeral in Zimbabwe is a significant cultural event. The mourners arrive at the home of the deceased on the day the death occurs to begin the grieving process. You are expected to show up at the home each day until it is announced when the official funeral will take place. This can last for a long time and in our case took four days to complete.
In spite of the distractions, we were still able to serve fifty leaders with teaching, fellowship and personal prayer ministry. The emphasis of the conference was on the subject of Sons of God taken primarily from Romans 8. You can see, Suffering Gloriously, to check out some of the topics covered in the teaching.
The smaller numbers turned out to be a great blessing as we were able to spend more individual time with those who participated. The fellowship is described as an annual highlight for just about everyone involved because we shoulder most of the ministry load. Most who attend, preach and minister constantly, and have very little opportunity to sit, listen and be encouraged by others.
One of the highlights in this conference was the opportunity to work more closely with David Banza and Japhet Muturikwa (Japhet is the shorter individual and David is the tall one being prayed for in the picture). David has been in pastoral and other ministry since 1997 and in the last three years the Lord has pressed him toward serving the Lord in a full time capacity. Japhet is a pastor with a strong serving gift and a growing burden to reach out to street children. Their increasing maturity was obvious in the conference setting and in the reports of their dealings with the Body of Christ in general. To see these men and others like them growing in their respective callings is the reason we are missionaries in Africa.
Lastly, I want to encourage everyone to make sure that their decisions are not influenced by the spirit of fear (see 2 Timothy 1:7). The media and a number of people in South Africa were unduly concerned with the situation in Zimbabwe leading up to our departure. Had we allowed their alarm to control our actions, we would have certainly missed out on an opportunity to serve the Lord in the strengthening of His Church. Not only was everything fine, but our hosts were shocked at the distortion from reality when we relayed other’s concerns to them.
It feels like every trip we make reminds us much more that we are completely dependent on the Grace of Jesus. Please continue to lift our mission up to the Lord in prayer.
The winter months, June through August, in the Southern Hemisphere, are traditionally very busy times in our ministry. For the first time in several years, this season has been approached with more excitement and anticipation as opposed to a sense of duty. Trina and I […]