Spring has arrived here in Cape Town – the fire is lit less, the garden has come alive and the school run can be completed in the light.
We love this time of year when the Western Cape puts on a marvellous display of flora over the mountains and along the sides of the roads. We are reminded that God brings new life. This year we are particularly thankful for full dams – in a tremendous reversal, our reservoirs are now 81% full rather that 81% empty. God has been merciful to us again.
The beauty of a Cape Town spring stands in stark contrast to the darkness which many here feel presently. South Africa as a nation is experiencing a period of increasing violence and unrest – maybe you have read some of the BBC articles that have hit the international news? Particularly horrific have been some of the crimes against women and children over the last few weeks – events that have triggered mass protests and prayer vigils in all our major cities as people corporately express their rage over such evil and mourn the latest victims. South Africa has a femicide rate five times higher than the global average with one in three children experiencing sexual abuse by the age of 18.
Like many churches, St Thomas Church dedicated a large chunk of its service last week to praying into these situations which have been playing out all around us. Alun has decided to break from the planned sermon series to preach about what the Bible has to say about gender-based-violence. Arise, of course, deals very directly with these issues and the gangsterism that so pervades our communities. Just this last week, a school child was brutally assaulted just down the road from our church and a gun battle happened just outside the home of one of our youth leaders. There is so much to pray for in this regard. Pray for our president, Ramaphosa as he calls emergency sittings with parliament, pray for Heideveld’s women and children to be protected, pray for communities to be transformed by the gospel…
More positively, Alun attended the national synod last week in Muizenberg and enjoyed excellent training by one of the bible college lecturers on the book of 1 Kings. He came home encouraged by our denomination’s unity in the gospel and some progress on transformational goals which aim to grow the number of non-white leaders at all levels and to provide substantially more for our poorer churches.
It was a real pleasure to have some fellow Brits from one of our UK partner churches staying with us for a month. Tom Simpson worked alongside Alun and Katleho at St Thomas as part of his curacy and immersed himself in bible teaching ministries and pastoral work from kids club through to senior’s bible studies. Our congregation really warmed to Tom and, at home, Debbie and our kids really enjoyed having Tom’s wife, Gemma and their two young boys around for an extended time. Like Paul, we are able to say that ‘we pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel’ (Phil. 1: 5).
Other snippets of news worthy of mention – at last our preschool registration has been handed in. We are still awaiting final architectural plans, but our school has moved from unregistered status to ‘in process’! Nearly four years in, this is a significant move forward. We pray that we might be a fully registered school by the end of the year. Thank you to those who have contributed towards the upgrading of our much-needed outdoor playing area. We have had quotes made and are deciding the best way forward. We still need to raise money as we are realizing that decent play areas don’t come cheap (!), so please contact us directly if you wish to be part of this exciting project.
Arise’s annual adoption conference was the best yet – both the best attended with over 100 delegates but also in content. It was a thrill to hear from two adult adoptees this year and to hear how the gospel speaks hope into highly complex circumstances. The Johannesburg conference takes place on 5 October. The future of adoption in South Africa remains very uncertain with the amendments bill still in limbo. We are thankful that Arise is able to remain unashamedly Christian as it becomes an increasingly important voice in the adoption space nationally.
For us more personally, we pray for rest in the upcoming September holidays. The last 10 weeks have been very busy and, whilst we are immensely privileged to stay in a safe road, the violence and unrest around us doesn’t leave us unaffected. The fourth term is always full with school end of years and the run up to Crossword youth camp (6-11 Dec), so we would appreciate time to refresh.
For those of you that always ask about the kids – here is a snapshot from each of them. Ilana is loving piano and is dedicated to practicing, Malachi is excited to perform a Xhosa song in his school’s Heritage Day assembly and Likhona competed in the Nationals for Karate last Saturday. We praise the Lord for upholding Timothy through a recent medical emergency and for providing him with a lovely preschool where he is looking forward to dress-up day tomorrow.
Thanks for your prayers, your Facebook and WhatsApp messages, your skypes, cards, calls, visits and generous financial gifts. At times, we feel a long way from family and friends in the UK, but we never feel unsupported.
Alun, Debbie, Likhona (14), Ilana (11), Malachi (7) and Timothy (3) x
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