Dear Friends and Family,
We have been in Swaziland for seven months and felt like it was time to give you an overview of what the Lord has brought to pass. We give all the glory to the Lord for what He has been doing here. â€œI am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. â€¦You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last.â€ John 15:5,16
ORPHAN CARE MINISTRY: â€œA father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in familiesâ€¦â€ Psalm 68:5-6. We renovated and opened 2 orphan houses in April. There are 8 children per house with a Swazi mother as the authority figure and primary care giver. Godâ€™s heart for these children is that they be restored to Him and raised according to his Word. To this end we are doing the following:
- Feeding, clothing and taking care of their medical needs.
- Each child is attending Valley of Hope Missions School.
- They attend chapel every morning at school.
- They attend church services every Sunday and Thursday evening.
- Their mother leads them in bible study and prayer at night before bed.
- Children over 11 also go to a bible study on sexual purity on Fridays.
We believe the Lord is using this ministry to express his love to them and draw them close. We think that several of the older children may know the Lord based on their words and actions. Time will tell who belongs to the Lord as they bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
We are discipling the mothers daily as they are the main godly influence in the lives of the children. These women are giving their lives for the sake of Christ and the good of the orphans that have been put in their care. We are bringing them along in the Lord in the following ways:
- Modeling Christ likeness towards them and the children in words and actions.
- Praying with them and acknowledging the Lord in everything.
- Bringing the Word of God to bear on all situations.
- Structured weekly parent training using â€œGrowing Kids Godâ€™s Wayâ€ by Gary Ezzo. These lessons instill biblical principles regarding behavior, obedience, and discipline.
We are convinced that each of the house moms is growing in the Lord as a result of our daily work with them.
We are praying and planning for another home to open in late June with an additional 2 homes by the end of the year.
LOCAL CHURCH MINISTRY: Bulembu Community Church, as we now call it, was originally a church plant started 3 years ago. Attendance at the church was consistently at 40-60 on a Sunday. Leadership of the church was officially handed over to myself and 4 other elders in January of this year. The church was structured in a traditional fashion with a senior pastor and governing board. The new leadership is of one mind regarding:
- Church government: Christ is the head and has placed ministry leadership gifts in the body for the maturing and perfecting of the saints to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4). The five elders work together in their gifting to shepherd the flock, teach doctrine, minister prophecy, reach out to the lost, and equip the saints to advance the Kingdom of God.
- Doctrine: We are a nondenominational full gospel Christian fellowship. Our statement of faith is Pentecostal/Charismatic in emphasis.
- Discipleship/fellowship: We are committed to Acts chapter 2 living as a fellowship. We are devoted to the Apostlesâ€™ teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer, reliance on God for miraculous signs and wonders, sharing community, and making disciples.
The Lord has seen the sincerity of our hearts in wanting to do things according to the Word of God alone. He has added to our numbers weekly and we are now a fellowship of just over 200. The Lord has done amazing things in our midst as we are outwardly focused. We continue to reach out in very simple ways by feeding the hungry, handing out blankets, distributing bibles, and sponsoring fun weekend activities for youth and adults. We currently have a worship service on Sunday and Thursday night and a prayer service on Friday night; Monday through Friday we have prayer at 6am; we are about to start a childrenâ€™s church ministry and a focused effort on discipleship through Acts 2 home groups.
BULEMBU DISCIPLESHIP SCHOOL: Is a discipleship program for men who the Lord is raising up to lead the church. It was started by myself and another elder of Bulembu Community Church. We have 3 full time students: Thembinkosi Kunene-24, Sibusiso Magaguliso-26 and Jabolani Rowe-19. The emphasis of the program is knowing God intimately, building godly character, growing in the gifts, rightly dividing the Word of God, teaching and preaching skills, and practical application. These men currently lead Bulembu Community Churchâ€™s Friday night prayer service, Thursday night worship and teaching with interpretation, and they rotate in as interpreters at the Sunday worship service. Our hearts as elders in the local church is to see these young men mature in the Lord to the point where they replace us as elders. The local church in Bulembu Swaziland should be led by Swazis.
VALLEY OF HOPE MISSIONS SCHOOL: Valley of Hope Missions School is a Christ centered school that utilizes the ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) curriculum. The vision of the school is to raise the next generation of Godly leaders to advance the kingdom of God in Swaziland. Shelly works full time as an assistant teacher with children ages 8-11 years old. Daily she is able to have an impact on the lives of these children the Lord has entrusted to her care. She is able to encourage them, teach them the ways of the Lord, and assist in their education. Hosea 4:6 says, â€œMy people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.â€ Knowing God and his ways is the foundation on which the school is built and the Lord is using Shelly to educate this next generation of Swazis who will be tomorrowâ€™s leaders.
We would like to thank you for your continued prayers and support. You are helping to build the kingdom of God here in Bulembu, Swaziland.