We have prayed to you for rain
We have cried for your compassion
To renew the land again
Now we’re standing in your presence
More hungry than before
And we’re on your steps of mercy
And we’re knocking at your door
How long, before you drench the barren land?
How long, before we see your righteous hand?
How long, before your name is lifted high?
How long, before the weeping turns to songs of joy?
We have thought about this Stuart Townend song several times over these past few months as a drought is gripping parts of Southern Africa. Many farms are in a perilous state and as many as three million cattle may be culled to prevent further financial losses. Although Johannesburg’s supply is OK, we have had some water disruptions and are being careful in how much we use. On top of all this, university students caught the government flat footed when they protested over fee increases, the President has ordered an expensive new VIP jet and the economy is not really growing. Many people are apprehensive about the future. The song has also reminded us that the physical needs of this country point to the deeper spiritual issues, which only the gospel of Jesus can meet. At the beginning of November, 32 students graduated from JBC and although this feels comparatively small, we pray that God will use their preaching of the gospel to renew the land again.
Eight of those graduates were from Soweto and we praise God that the Moravian church finally signed the contract allowing JBC to purchase their building. It has been slow progress, but one more hurdle has been overcome. Please pray for the municipality to process the transfer so that building work can begin early in 2016 with the aim of launching morning classes in 2017. The team is working hard at recruiting students for both campuses and strengthening relationships with pastors and ministry leaders. Next year promises to be action packed with JBC classes, Diploma teaching, a building project and possible course accreditation.
At church we have enjoyed learning from our series in 1 Peter and how, as aliens and strangers in this world, we have a living hope in the midst of life’s ups and downs. We are all too aware that we need this perspective to anchor what we do as we try to stand firm in the true grace of God.
Joseph turned six at the end of October. His party theme was ‘game rangers’ since he has enjoyed a number of camping weekends and two longer breaks at the Pilanesburg Game Park. His party reflected the friendships God has given us throughout the year and, despite it not being for her, Zoë declared afterwards that she had never been happier! Joseph loves reading and a series by the Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, about a girl called Ottoline, has further fuelled a parallel universe for him and Zoë to explore. As did a visit to an exhibition about the Titanic, which has been followed up by numerous google searches. A new telescope has made bedtime a little later as we wait for the moon to glow and observe its craters. His enthusiasm may have something to do with taking this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert a bit too literally. We’re encouraged as we listen to his prayers by his confidence in his heavenly Father and his concern for others.
Zoë’s comment after Joseph’s birthday party gives a snapshot of how much she enjoys being with her older brother. This is seen in the fact that she too loves Ottoline, the Titanic and pretended to appreciate the Rugby World Cup. The Head of the Biology department at Lizzy’s school has lent us various bones and (plastic) body parts to explore and Zoë has loved taking them apart to observe them. Lizzy was taken aback one morning when Zoë asked, “Mummy, when are you going to get a brain?” Amused by the insult, Lizzy twigged later that she was really asking for the next anatomical model. Next year they will continue with school at home where both of them are happy and content. We enjoy watching them flourish together.
When we last wrote Lizzy was about to go to a conference in Cape Town. The week was unusually sunny and her talk was well received, but she was glad to come home. She has since repeated it to a group of journalists in Jo’burg who found the content stimulating and may publish it. The staff ‘book and blog’ group has been well attended and a skype chat with an author in the UK stimulated fruitful conversations and constructive outcomes. The Friday Forums, which she has facilitated this year for staff, have also been well received, one in particular prompting some honest intereaction about racial transformation (or the lack of it). There are lots of openings for Lizzy to serve at school, but please pray that she would be wise about what she does and what she leaves undone and that amidst the internal politics, she would make it her ambition to please Christ.
Glenn loved Japan’s last gasp victory over South Africa in the Rugby World Cup and also the actual final, but he couldn’t watch as Argentina scored their fourth try against Ireland in the quarters. Although a full teaching timetable kept him busy at JBC, he already misses the classroom and is giving some thought to improvements for next year. All of us are looking forward to relaxing over the holidays and the visit of a best friend in December.
Prayers for the next few months:
- Recruitment of new students and preparations for JBC for 2016, including the purchase of the Soweto building moving smoothly through the muncipality.
- Planning teaching for Joseph and Zoë next year. They will continue with their teacher Sonia, but with a more formal curriculum which Lizzy needs to get her head around.
- Pray for the unity at church as people listen to God’s word. We are grateful for relationships there and Ian’s godly leadership, but we long to see the impact of God’s word go deeper.
- Wisdom for Lizzy as she decides her priorities at school, sets next year’s Latin matric papers and the grace to please Christ.
- Relaxation and refreshment over the holidays and safety at home and as we travel.
With love from Glenn, Lizzy, Joseph and Zoë