Cape Town UBF Mission Report, South Africa
THE GOSPEL THE POWER OF GOD
Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus Christ in whom there is power of God to give salvation. Help me this time to review 2010 and recognize how the Gospel of Jesus Christ had worked in my life. Amen.
Part one: Power of God and my personal life
Verse 16 says the gospel of Jesus Christ gives salvation to everyone who believes. Salvation is to be free from physical and mental slavery and to live a healthy life. It is also to be free from darkness and despair and to find light and hope. It is to be free from sorrow and fear and to be filled with joy and thanksgiving. Most of all, salvation is to be free from sin, guilt, and the fear of judgment and to have peace of mind and soul.
How then does salvation come? It comes through the power of God only. The gospel gives man salvation because God’s power works in it. The power of God that raised Jesus from the dead, is the same power that works in us when we believe in Jesus (Eph 1:19-20). Only the power of the gospel can subdue the power of sin and deliver us from Satan’s grip. That is why the gospel is the power of God, because only God’s power can defeat Satan. Through faith in Jesus, the power of the gospel works to overcome sin, human limitations and it makes it possible for a sinner to be changed to live a healthy, useful and fulfilling life.
Verse 16 was my 2010 year key verse. It challenged my faith. If I really believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sinful nature and rose again from the dead so that I can receive the life of God in my soul, if I really believe this then based on God’s promise, I should experience the power of God and see salvation very personally in my life. How then did I experience the power of God this year?
1. In the work place:
In 2004 I did not have a job for 6 months. That was the time I was rock bottom in my life. Every day I read Bible and called out to God in prayer. I remember one day I sat on my bed. My blood pressure was high with my heart beating in my throat. I was like someone in a fight or flight condition. In short I had an anxiety attack. I had this many times during that period in my life. While I was sitting on my bed it was as if God was asking me, ‘What would you like me to do for you?’ So I asked without hesitation, ‘I don’t want to be anxious any more, please take away the fear in my heart.’ I cannot remember what happened at that moment.
But this year especially I experienced God’s salvation from anxiety. Shepherdess Annie prayed for me to be confident at work. One of my colleagues went on leave from the 1st December and I was assigned to take over her work. Her work was very challenging and demanding. Since I was thrown into the deep-end my project manger asked me the other day, ‘So how are you coping’. I replied saying, ‘I am coping very well, thank you I am enjoying the work.’ Then she was quiet, because she was expecting me to complain and grumble. The other day she came again and asked again, ‘So are you still surviving?’ I answered, ‘There is nothing to survive, I am doing very well thank you.’ I replied like this not because I was sarcastic or cynical but because it was the plain truth. These days in meetings I have no fear in my heart instead I respond with confidence and make a positive contribution, even making an odd joke now and then. This last month with all the work pressure it would have been a good time for the anxiety attacks to return to make me miserable, but it didn’t.
A year and half ago I did not have inner strength or the capacity as a person to overcome my challenges. I was paralyzed with fear of making mistakes and fear for not being good enough. But looking back now, work life has changed because the power of God has worked in me. The power of God has set me free from anxiety attacks, giving me inner peace and joy, also giving me strength to overcome with a smile on my face. When I go home these days, my heart is free and relaxed so that I no longer make the atmosphere tense at home.
I thank God for his mercy towards me, in giving me salvation from anxiety in my work life. I pray to have many more victories in the work place and become a successful worker. I pray to work productively in 2011 and bring honor to God’s name.
2. Salvation in quiet time: learning discipline, getting up for early morning prayer and Bible reading
In the beginning of 2010, I set a goal to read the whole Bible though this year by getting up at 5:00 for personal quiet time. Since I failed many times in the past I knew without the power of God this was impossible. For the first 6 months I made an earnest effort to read through the Old Testament. But getting up 5:00 every morning impacted my health. I became sick and had to take time off. This year I got sick many times. Although I wanted to go to the gym, many times I skipped because physically I felt too drained and tired. All my colleagues at work who have children in day care say they have never been so sick in their lives this year. I said I know I have experienced the same. On top of that it was not easy to get up at 5:00 for early morning prayer and Bible reading.
My struggle was not in vain. God’s promise of salvation for everyone who believes is not empty or powerless, it has substance and has power. God’s power picked me up from my ill health and kept me going each time. At the moment I am reading the book of Hebrews and I have hope to accomplish my 2010 goal to read through the whole Bible this year. Also I did not only read through the Bible like a story book, I made notes and worked through a Bible note book from Dr. Mears. In this way my Bible reading became like my personal Bible study apart from our Sunday message each week. I would not have enjoyed it so much and received grace if God’s power was not at work. If I attempted this on my own I would have failed after the first month because it was too tough. Many times I prayed that God will help me to get up at 5:00 because I wanted to get up. God is faithful and he helped me. In the second half of the year when my health was good I sometimes woke up before 5:00. At first I was disappointed because I wanted to sleep more but later if I woke up before 5:00 I used the time to pray and continue Bible reading. These days I don’t struggle so much to get up at 5:00. It is much easier than in the beginning of the year.
One thing I have learned this year from reading the Bible is: the word of God is like the ocean. It is deep and rich, full of life. There are big themes flowing through the Bible from start to end but there are also endless details that are too much to take it all in at once. I realized studying the Bible is a life time effort.
I thank God for revealing his power in helping me to get up for early morning prayer and Bible reading this year. I pray that for 2011 I may continue to get up early and read through the whole Bible a second time. Amen.
Part two: Power of God and ministry life
1. Spring Bible Conference
This year we held combined Easter Bible conference with Pretoria. Later in the year in September we had our own Spring Bible conference in Cape Town. Our direction this year was not to focus on numbers but rather to pray for our testimony writing. At the end 2 students attended our Spring Bible conference. God blessed our conference and answered our prayer for deep testimony writing. Brother Obakeng received much grace. At testimony sharing brother Obakeng confessed his life problem of feeling like a curse to other people. He was raised without his biological father. So he had to depend on his step father and older siblings to take care of him and provide for him. He grew up with a sense of being a burden to others. He confessed that a week before the conference he thought to himself that he had ruined many lives and he wished he never existed. But he received God’s word from Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that he had made and it was very good”. Through this verse he learnt that God created man out of love. God loves man dearly and made them the crown of his creation. His life is not a curse. Also his life is not an accident but created by God for a good purpose. He accepted that in God’s eyes he is very good and that God loves him deeply.
2. Worship service attendance
In the beginning of the year we prayed for 6 first year students to attend our Sunday worship service. At the end we had 2 faithful students coming every Sunday. 1 was a new first year student. His name is Mondli. He studies Mechanical Engineering. The other student was brother Obakeng who has been part of our ministry for the last 3 years. He has been coming for Bible study and worship service without fail. If he skipped Sunday worship service once, it was a lot. Brother Obakeng studies Chemical Engineering which is one of the most demanding courses at UCT. Despite that he took a small step of faith to study 1:1 Bible with brother Mondli. We are praying that brother Mondli will not disappear next year and that brother Obakeng will continue to study Bible with him in 2011.
This year we lost two sheep. Sister Nomzee who has been coming for almost a year, disappeared in the second half of this year. Then also my brother Anton, left our ministry and is attending a different church. At first it was tough for me that Anton left, but I received comfort from Psalm 33:18 “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love." This helped me to put my hope in God’s unfailing love rather in my own thinking. God’s love never fails. God never stops loving his children even despite their own plans, their mistakes and all their failures. This gave me peace that God’s love is also unfailing for Anton. Even although Anton left God’s love will not fail to keep him safe. God’s love will not fail to help him grow in Jesus. I must trust then in God’s love to take care of Anton. This also sets my heart free that I did not fail as a shepherd. It also gives me hope for the future knowing that Anton will be ok, regardless of me.
After sister Nomzee left, sh. Annie met sister Ruby and has been studying with her so far. She is receiving grace from Bible studies but is not coming to SWS yet. We pray that God may grow her spiritually next year through Bible studies and if it’s God’s will, she may become Sh. Annie’s co-worker. One highlight of the year was brother Obakeng’s year review at our Christmas worship service. He shared that he failed all his subjects in the first semester and only passed 2 subjects in the second semester. He despaired and felt like a failure academically as well as spiritually because he could not trust in God. On top of that he could not get finance for his summer school studies. He became so desperate that he was considering sleeping on campus and sell his blood and sperm to get money for food. He confessed that if he was a woman he would have sold his body as prostitute, just to get money. I thanked God that he did not go through with his plans. At the end he asked to stay with us for December until after his exam. It was not easy to ask us because of his life problem of feeling a burden to others. The key verse for his year review was Matthew 1:23 "'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel'--which means, 'God with us.'" Despite Obakeng’s failures he experienced how God was with him in 2010. God answered his prayer for financial assistance for 2010. God answered his prayer for his family to be united in love. God helped him to pass his major in the second semester. Above all God provided a place for him to stay in December so that he could complete his summer school studies. He shared that he does not understand God’s love for him, but he want to somehow just accept it. I thank God that Obakeng could stay with us this December. I was frustrated many times during Bible study, because Obakeng did not want to open his heart. But his year review at our Christmas worship service was like a light that came on. Then I could understand his struggles and see what was going on in his heart. Indeed the Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. I pray that God may help me to be a good shepherd for brother Obakeng, so that I can pray for him and help him with God’s word. Amen.
Thanks giving prayer topics:
1. I thank God for 2010. It was a year I could experience the power of the Gospel more personally in overcoming anxiety at work, writing message and getting up for early morning prayer and Bible reading. I pray to receive a year key verse 2011.
2. I thank God for brother Obakeng although he had many struggles he remained faithful in coming for Bible study, Friday fellowship and Sunday worship service. We are praying for brother Obakeng to grow as ancestor of faith. We are praying for him to learn to overcome his studies by faith in God.
3. I thank God for our Luke Gospel study over the last 2 years. We are praying for Matthew Gospel study in 2011
4. I thank God for shepherdess Annie who went fishing this year despite pregnancy. We thank God for our baby son that will be born early January.