Dear Family and Friends,

Grace and Peace to you. These words, which are included in many of the New Testament letters, are indeed precious words. We’ve been delving into the book of Galatians at St Thomas this term and it has been a rich and rewarding study. What a joy to see folk grasp what grace means for them: on the one hand, for those tempted to fall trap to religious pride – God’s unmerited favour replacing a reliance on doing ‘good works’ to try to save themselves.  On the other hand, for those deeply aware of their sin and feeling that they could never measure up – a confidence that God requires faith in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation. None of us will ever be good enough – whether we fervently try or gave up trying after multiple slips with drugs, alcohol or relationships. Paul reminds the Galatians that they are justified by grace; this same truth allows us to revel in the peace that Christ won for us too. In a troubled and groaning world, this is a gift beyond measure.

It is this message of grace and forgiveness that sets biblical counselling apart from purely secular interventions. We are incredibly grateful to the Lord for allowing us to start this new ministry at St Thomas last year. Nadene has been warmly welcomed and is doing invaluable work. Nadene is highly skilled in offering both biblical counselling and referrals to legal, medical and governmental services: all vital so those who have experienced such deep trauma. Beginning this ministry took a leap of faith – developing it will take an equally large leap of faith. We believe the time is right to increase Nadene’s hours from 21 hours part-time to 40 hours full time. Won’t you pray with us that the Lord will graciously provide the finances to do this, as well as suitable accommodation for Nadene and her husband Baxter nearby? Please get in touch if you would like more details.

Crossword Youth Camp is also growing this year and for the first time in its history, the camp is splitting into two camps – or rather one camp in two venues – with Grade 7-9 on one site and Grade 10-12 on another. With a waiting list last year and youth groups across the Western Cape growing at the moment, the leadership don’t want to turn any teens away.

With grade 7s invited, this means St Thomas can take all their teenagers this year. This is both exciting and financially stretching! The teens are, understandably, a bit unsure of this large change, but we pray it will bear gospel fruit. 

Truly God’s word changes lives. We have been at St Thomas long enough to see this; our church warden and Bible study leader who previously only came to church because his wife signed him up to the cut the grass; the ex-addict who now holds down a permanent job and took leave to be at church on his birthday; the youth who was headed towards the gangs and now prioritises youth group and leads at kids club; the lady in her 60s who came to saving faith after a lifetime of church attendance and now heads up our food relief, co-leads grief share and spends days assisting the elderly with medical needs. Perhaps the most beautiful has been the conscious choice to cling to Christ despite deep suffering; women who have learnt that it is okay to cry out to the Lord in heartfelt lament and yet say in both their hearts and their actions that God is faithful.   

Of course, gospel growth is neither uniform nor linear. It pains us when folk slip back into old lifestyles with devastating consequences, or turn away from faith when hardship comes, or follow false teachers whose gospel is less costly. Pray that the Lord will strengthen us to keep sowing his word.   We are grateful for our co-workers, Katleho Meslane (recently ordained at St Thomas), for Dillon Solomons (who heads up our youth ministry) and as mentioned above, Nadene Clark (who is pioneering our biblical counselling ministry).

At home, Likhona competed in the Karate World Championships in July and enjoyed his Matric Farewell (Highschool graduation) last week. He has one term left to go and is busy finishing up courses and revising. Ilana’s art is progressing beautifully, and she is loving learning to paint in oils with a friend of ours. Malachi’s new love is soccer, and he adores playing for his school team. Timothy performed in his first school play last night. Can we express a special thanks to those of you who have responded recently to a personal funding request? As our children grow up and with unusually high South African taxes and medical costs, our personal funding needed a boost. We are grateful for the Lord’s provision through his people. This means we can continue serving here with the knowledge that we are, almost, fully funded. Please continue to pray that we will continue to live well in a country that is groaning. Loadshedding (rotational powercuts) continue unabated and a recent violent week-long taxi (minibus) strike across Cape Town reminds us just how fragile this young democracy is. We are (very) tired and looking forward to a break with Alun’s parents who fly to South Africa tomorrow!!

With every blessing. Alun, Debbie, Likhona (18), Ilana (15), Malachi (11) and Timothy (7) x

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