Dear Friends and Family,

‘In days of peace and days of rest, in times of loss and loneliness,
Though rich or poor, His word is true, all my days are known to you.
And oh, what peace that I have found wherever I may be,
For all my ways are known to You, Hallelujah, they are known to You!’

This song produced by Cityalight (who, if you are unfamiliar with them, write excellent theologically-strong songs) has been meaningful to many in our congregation this season. After a winter of restrictions which has hit some of our St. Thomas families hard, we are delighted to be returning to a period of greater openness and gatherings.   

We would covet your prayers for three upcoming events this term. Firstly, a men’s breakfast we’ve named ‘Soldate’ (Soldiers) on 30 October. Our apprentice Dillon will be preaching his first sermon from 2 Samuel 23:8 on Josheb Basshebeth (one of David’s mighty men) and how he points us to Jesus. It has been so long since the men have gathered together and we pray that it will encourage their walk with the Lord. Debbie is busy organising a women’s camp in Villiersdorp from 19 – 21 November.  Blessed with an amazing venue (thanks to some generous friends), we are delighted to welcome back Velma Bedderson (our previous rector’s wife) to speak on the topic of our identity in Christ. We have a good number of women signed up from our Kuilsriver and Heideveld bible study groups, with several fringe or new members joining us. Thirdly, having been prohibited from meeting at all over Christmas last year, we are excited to begin organising several Christmas events. We hope to include a Carol Service on 5 December and a church family lunch on 19 December, utilising a newly paved and soon-to-be-complete braai area on our church property. In all these events, our aim is to see folk grow in their understanding of the gospel and to increase the fellowship among us.   

Vaccination hesitancy in South Africa remains high so, whilst we no longer have a problem with access to the jabs, the take up is not what we were hoping for. A further local issue worthy of prayer is a marked increase in community violence in Heideveld. A rival gang has moved into the area from nearby Manenberg and they have started what is essentially a drug turf war in the local flats and roads. Taken from an article Debbie wrote in June, the following paragraph describes the encouragement of gospel work here at the moment. ‘Despite the effects of sin around us, it is the most wonderful encouragement to see the Lord changing hearts by his word. Most of my fellow brothers and sisters with whom I study the Bible weekly, have family members who have or are using drugs. All have been victims of crime multiple times, several have lost spouses very young, all have been racially prejudiced, many have suffered physical violence. Brokenness is evident and yet the Lord is transforming them by the power of his Holy Spirit. Imperfectly and slowly, broken sin-marred people are being changed into ever-increasing glory.  People are learning to love their enemies, angry tongues are being tamed, sin addicted hearts are learning self-control and racial unity is seeping through. This is not through any work we have done, nor any Oprah Winfrey self-help type programmes, but the regular opening of the truth of God, revealed in the pages of the Bible. Knowledge of his saving gospel does produce inexplicable joy and strength in the lives of those who come to trust him. As Peter says in 1 Peter 1:3, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”’

One of the joys of serving in a bilingual community is that our church is able to interweave both English and Afrikaans worship songs. A St Thomas anthem for many years has been the chorus ‘Omdat hy leef, kan ek sien vir more, omdat hy leef, al vrees is weg’ (Because he lives, I can face tomorrow, because he lives all fear is gone).  Indeed, the resurrection changes the lens by which all our lives can be seen through – whatever the season. For some of our women particularly, this song has been an important reminder of this truth.  

A birthday outing.

Turning towards home, we have a few things to share. Wonderfully, the Lord has graciously opened up an opportunity for Likhona and Ilana’s homeschooling to be accredited by an American High School. This is a great answer for prayer as it will provide them each with a yearly transcript showing the work completed and ultimately earn them an American High School Diploma when they turn 18. They can then use this when applying for further education opportunities here.  Likhona’s God given talent and interest continues to lie in sport. This year he has joined a local Heideveld soccer team with some young men from church and is really enjoying it. Ilana continues to flourish musically and was recently accepted to sing as a soprano 1 in the Cape Town Children’s Choir. Again this is a real provision from the Lord as it should provide her with performance opportunities as well as significant friendships as she moves to homeschooling high school alongside Likhona in January.  

Malachi and Timothy are both growing up fast – vegetable gardening continues to be Malachi’s key hobby. With the addition of a bore hole in our garden, we are able to eat an increasing amount of home-grown food each week. Timothy will ask to play a board game at every available opportunity and he enjoys craft and lego. We are tremendously aware of the privileges our family have in so many spheres – family, education, housing, transport, afterschool activities. Our prayer it that the Lord will provide us all opportunities to use these gifts for his glory and share them with those around us.  

Let me close with an extract from another of Cityalight’s songs that reminds us that the Lord completes his work in us, often through suffering.  

But mine is peace that flows from Heaven,
And the strength in times of need.
I know my pain will not be wasted,
Christ completes his work in me’.

With Every Blessing,

Alun, Debbie, Likhona (16), Ilana (13), Malachi (9) and Timothy (5)

Picture at top of page: Sunday school when we were just able to meet again. The lesson was on the tower of Babel.

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