As we write, it’s only the end of October, but our year is coming to an end fast with our student carol service and last evening service on Sunday 6 November. It has been a hard year as we have relaunched our student work after Covid-19, but the year is ending with great joy and hopes for next year. Please praise the Lord for his faithfulness through hard times. This would be the theme across our church at the moment with our ‘young adults’ (young professionals) work also being launched at the start of the year. Now with Simon and Lindi Banda running that work, it has grown from strength to strength.  

Simon and Lindi Banda have been a great addition to our team this year. Half their role is the work with young adults and the other half is discipling and training our interns and residents. Please pray for them as they interview interns for next year and finalise the launch of our new intern programme. We have also realized that our GenZ interns are in need of a different training program, which engages them more deeply in discipleship and heart transformation and teaches them how to lead themselves, how to rest well in Christ and engage with others.  In short, Simon and Lindi are needing to parent our interns that little bit more. Please pray that our interns would experience real heart change as they engage more deeply and personally with the gospel. Pray that they would be equipped to lead others in a similar way. We’ll send more updates about this in our next prayer letter.  

At the beginning of this year, we planted Khanya City Church into downtown Johannesburg with Sinethemba Hliso (a former student at Hope Church, GWC graduate, and member of our senior staff team).  They launched with 30 people from our church – a mix of young adults, students and one family.  Praise the Lord that he has answered so many prayers over the year drawing in new families, new young adults from across the whole business district and students from Wits University – which is on their doorstep. This means Hope Church can now focus more on the University of Johannesburg and Khanya City Church on Wits University. It has been amazing how so many people over the year have come to Christ and been reached by the gospel – they are now a group of 50-90 and very active in reaching others. Spiritually and in terms of kingdom growth, it has been an amazing start, but in terms of finances it has been really difficult. At the end of last year, a number of potential funders pulled out due to different reasons: one wanted to focus only on their specific denomination and another wasn’t happy that Sinethemba is single. Please pray with us for God to provide the funds that are needed as we are a long way behind at the moment. It is terrifying and is causing us all great anxiety but we are aware that it is also growing our trust in the Lord.  

We have had many staff changes this year, which has been very exciting in many ways as people go out to serve in different churches and organisations or to study. But has also been very hard on our team – we have had to ‘relaunch’ the staff team entirely and try to cover a lot of ground that others were previously covering! In the last 12 months, we have said goodbye to 11 different members of staff. But in all these things God has been beyond faithful in providing. Just these last couple of weeks we have welcomed a new administrator to our team, Nokuthula Mampone (Mkay), who is amazing.  Pray that she settles in well and James is able to gradually transition things over to her that Thabo was previously doing. We have also had a new director of children and youth ministry come and join the team, Noxolo Khanyile. Please pray for us as a team that we would get to know each other well, trust each other deeply and learn to serve together as a team.  

Finally, pray that as a family we would recover well from this year: it has been the hardest year we have faced so far by a long way. God has been teaching us in our weaknesses, but we still feel a long way from the energetic and hopeful, faithful and dependent sons and daughters we know we are called to be. Even this month James has a number of City to City conferences (with Johannesburg leaders and then with leaders from across Africa) which means time away from home and Hope Church. Lucy is busy studying her penultimate CCEF module, whilst the children prepare for their yearly exams and also just have busy and fast-paced lives with all the normal parenting ups and downs. We are also finally getting visitors from the UK which is a delight but also keeps us busy! In the midst of all this, we also need to plan well for next year and look after everyone else who similarly feel overwhelmed. Please also pray for good times of rest, as we learn to trust in the Lord more with all these things. Pray too that over Christmas (our summer!) we would have a good time away with family and be able to properly stop and remember that this is our Father’s work, and that his ways and his plans are much wiser and better than ours.

Much love,

James and Lucy Buchanan

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