There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot ... I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil - this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 12-14
On New Year's Day, Glenn preached on this passage at church and it was particularly pertinent for us as a family. 2017 will be a year of change. Our time in South Africa since 2008 has been filled with opportunities to serve the gospel for which we are really grateful. Glenn has been stretched and fulfilled in his teaching at JBC and we have been blessed with the arrival of Joseph and Zoë who have brought life and joy to our home. Lizzy has had many doors open for Latin teaching and staff development at St John's College. We have no doubt that our fruitfulness has been fuelled by the prayers of faithful supporters in the UK.
During our time in the UK in August, we reflected on what God has done through us in South Africa. But, as you know, life has chapters and we also wondered whether it might be time to close the chapter here and open a new one in the UK. As we were praying and talking through our various thoughts with friends, Glenn was approached about the possibility of leading the graduate student ministry in Oxford at St Ebbe’s Church. Close to 50% of Oxford's students are graduates, coming from all over the world. While the role would be different in nature to JBC, it would be an equally exciting use of his gifts and passions for Bible teaching and serving people from other cultures. When we investigated a possible school for the children we discovered that they were looking for a new principal to focus on staff development, training and vision, exactly the areas Lizzy has been working on at St John’s. We have had interviews for these respective roles and have accepted them.
Oxford is the closest place we have to ‘home’ in the UK and we have a number of good friends there. It also has the benefit of being between Lizzy’s parents in Cheltenham and siblings in London. Glenn’s post at St Ebbe’s and Lizzy’s at Emmanuel Christian School start properly at the beginning of September so we would aim to finish our work in Johannesburg at the beginning of August.
As you can imagine, we have a whole range of emotions about leaving: gratitude as we reflect on a very blessed season of life; hope as we look forward to what God has in store for the future; sadness as we uproot and say goodbye to good friends and a familiar world. On New Year’s Day we reflected that there is a time for everything in its season, including 'a time to plant, and a time to uproot' so we are trusting God's sovereignty in leading us to this point. We are confident that what God has accomplished through us at JBC will endure, and that He will continue to prosper the work of JBC and bring fresh Christian influence to St John’s.
We are very grateful to all of you who have supported and prayed for us here. Our time is not over yet! We hope that our partnership can continue until the end of 2017 as we serve in South Africa and then navigate the challenges of relocation to the UK. We are conscious of our need for prayer as an intense year of change looms and will keep you posted as different needs arise.
With love and thankfulness for your partnership
Glenn, Lizzy, Joseph and Zoë