September 2020

Hello from Cape Town! 

I remember the GWC principal saying in our introductory sermon in January 2019 that at college we were going to learn discipline. Lockdown has a particular way of constraining you for discipline. Some of the choices of (good!) things have been taken away. The constraints of this year have had a disciplining effect. The disciplining effect of college I particularly feel is in limited people-time and increased book-time. The Lord has used it to work on the fear of man in my heart. Although I have felt the impact of not being able to visit UK churches, friends and family, the Lord has used it for good for my studies and for getting to know others here. It has been excellent staying on in res and there is a good sense of teamwork as we stick at studying together. We shall look back and remember 2020 together I’m sure! We started the September holiday with a very entertaining zoom quiz night for college women. We start the final term of the year on 14 September.  

A Kenyan, a Zambian, a Zimbabwean and a Brit – all citizens of heaven.

Getting to the holidays reminds me of, as a child, watching my dad returning from work, loosening his tie and removing his suit (smelling of London tubes and buses!). I get to the holidays and feel myself climb out of the tight ‘suit’ of the rigorous timetable and mental exertion. This course is providing good discipline in learning, even if my brain ‘sweats’. Learning Hebrew has been a particular focus this term and I’ve much enjoyed the fun I’ve had doing it with others. Another joy has been thinking about ‘eschatology’ and all the fulfilment we find in Jesus Christ. I’m reminded of how much I love the book of Revelation and the victory we see we have in Christ.  

South Africa is now is lockdown level two, which means we are able to travel within the country and visit others in groups of less than 10 people. The economic effects of lockdown are very visible. There are more people on the streets near me. The crime rate has increased significantly and there are new crime hotspots. Shops in touristy areas are rapidly closing: every time I cycle to a little harbour town along the coast, more shops are closed. One friend lost a close relative to COVID. Please keep praying for the government to handle the many health issues, corruption issues and systemic racism. The Church (REACH denomination of which college is a part of) is continuing to seek to grow out of systemic racism as well and needs prayer for change and developing true unity in Jesus Christ. 

In the midst of these things, our fellowship group at college has spent the term considering various passages and homing in on the joy we find in the truths. It’s been encouraging to remember the greatness of God’s power illustrated in Psalm 18, being the same power at work to raise Jesus and at work in us. I’ve been encouraged about the design of God in his body, the Church, where we all have a part to play for the good of others and God’s glory. God has a significant place for each of us and we do not need to metaphorically erase ourselves from the picture. I’ve really appreciated spending time with church, res and fellowship group friends on walks or cycles around the area.  

Brain work is exhausting – like Ecclesiastes says, ‘much study is a weariness of the flesh’ (12:12). Please pray that I’d have strength to end this second year well, by his power! Please pray that I’d be able to love well those around me at college, church and those I get to know around the area. It’s a unique chance to grow – please pray that the Lord’s discipline would have the effect of ‘yielding the peaceful fruit of righteousness’, ‘sharing in his holiness’ (Hebrews 12:11, 10). 

How I thank God for you, your faith in him and your prayers and generosity! I pray on for you all each week! 

With much love, 

Nerena 

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