Training Up Leaders in Africa
"80 percent of the world’s believers who are practicing their faith live in persecution… we are compelled to rethink our definition of “normal”… According to the Bible, persecution is normal, simply a natural by-product of faith.”
- Nik Ripken, The Insanity of Obedience
Our family is looking forward to much in the coming months. As we write, we are sitting in South Africa awaiting the arrival of our new daughter, a little more than two months from our first TEE graduation in Mokhotlong, and less than three months from our first Home Assignment!
The pastors enrolled in Theological Education by Extension in Mokhotlong are set to finish the last of their books in early December and preparations for their graduation ceremony are underway. It is encouraging to see their excitement as this monumental event approaches and to watch as they take ownership of the planning and arrangements. We have twelve pastors/laymen who are qualified to graduate and they are looking into everything from graduation robes to a big graduation cake! Over the past year, we have focused on hermeneutics at our TEE conferences and the pastors say they have learned much about how to preach God’s Word as a result. We look forward to completing this first class of students and to seeing how God will use TEE to grow their ministries in the future.
Our Family of Four...
…is expected to welcome its fifth member in just two short weeks. Abby has been seeing an OBGyn in South Africa, in a place called Hillcrest near Durban. As with Ellee’s delivery in South Africa, we expect Abby to deliver in a hospital just like one would visit in the States, with medical care comparable to what one would receive there as well. The doctor has been great and really understanding of our far-out living situation; we are thankful to have been connected with him for this pregnancy. We have rented an apartment above someone’s garage about 15 minutes from the hospital for the duration of October. Before leaving Lesotho, we went to the South African embassy in Maseru to receive extended visas so we have plenty of time to be in the country. We drove down Sani Pass about a week ago and are grateful to God to be settled and ready for the delivery. Excitement is heavy in the air and Kyle and Ellee are beside themselves as they anticipate meeting their new sister!
Plans and preparations...
…for our Home Assignment have been falling into place over the past weeks. We booked our tickets and are scheduled to arrive home on December 16th! We are all very much looking forward to spending Christmas with our families! Our travel schedule is also coming together for the early months of 2016 and we look forward to reconnecting with as many of you as we can. We will be attending missions conferences at three of our supporting churches in Decatur, AL, Aiken, SC and Morton, IL. For the holidays we will have a very special guest with us: our neighbor and pastor’s daughter, Joy (14), is booked to fly with us as well and we are excited for all of you to meet her! She is a bright and sweet girl who loves to play with our kids in her free time. We often find her pulling the stroller out of the back room and taking Ellee on walks around town. This will be her first experience outside of southern Africa and she is giddy with excitement! She will spend Christmas and New Year’s with us before flying back here to start her sophomore year of high school.
We are so grateful...
…that the Lord has provided an apartment for us to live out of while we are in Aiken. While we will be traveling in and out a good deal, it will be good to have a home base for some sense of stability. We’ve also been offered a van to use, which we are so thankful for, since we will now be using three carseats! In the coming months, we will be posting on Facebook about smaller necessities we’ll have during our time home.
During our time on Home Assignment, our support will continue to run as usual through AIM. If you have any questions regarding our support in this matter, please contact us. We thank God that over the past three years, our support has remained around 100%! That is something to give praise over! Thank you all!
Our future plans…
…are to continue with the work of TEE. We hope to return to Lesotho in August and spend our next years starting new TEE groups around the country. We have sought to run the program in a way that is repeatable and sustainable. It is all run on local finances and by local leadership. Our goal now is to spread the work to reach new areas and more pastors who seek training. Then we can leave behind a healthy and growing program to national church leaders and move on to wherever God will take us next. Many of you committed to support us through this three-year assignment and we are so grateful for your faithfulness. We would love to hear in the next months whether or not you desire to continue that into our next assignment, so that we can make up any additional support during our time in America. God bless you all!
See you soon!
- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle & Ellee