My first entry comes from South Africa, where I will soon be speaking at our Cape Town Together on a Mission. Simon Pettit, whose sudden death left such a massive gap, used to host a similar conference here under the title Joy In The City and I look forward to meeting with hundreds of friends from churches across the city.
David Holden is the other speaker. David and Liz are just completing their third extended visit to South Africa since Simon died. They have worked hard and many are expressing great appreciation for all that they have accomplished. P-J Smyth from Godfirst Church in Johannesburg is also speaking at a youth event and it’s always great to have him in the mix.
Last Sunday I spoke at our most recent Newfrontiers church plant, Grace Church Table Bay, led by Emmanuel Chanda (formerly at Jubilee Church Cape Town) and Wayne Noland, recently returned from Manchester, UK. It was in its third week and about 120 were present. I really enjoyed preaching on The Church and addressed the themes of: the gifts that have been given, the goal that’s been set and the growth that’s anticipated. I felt God was with us throughout the whole meeting. The worship was led beautifully by Ryan Coetzee, who will be marrying Simon Pettit’s daughter, Emily, on 30th June.
At the conclusion of the meeting it was great to pray for the sick. Many testified to back pain completely disappearing. One lady, saved only two weeks previously in the church, told me of a terrible car accident she had been in, which resulted in a foot amputation and the rest of her body filled with pain. She had been operated on 23 times. After prayer she testified that she had no pain at all throughout her whole body. Another young woman, who had serious wrist pain and said that she was not able to lift her hairbrush earlier that morning, found that she was able to lift a chair after I prayed for her! There were several other wonderful healings. I felt God particularly stirred me through the verse which says, ‘God himself bore witness through various signs and wonders and miracles,’ and found myself praying that verse over many who were subsequently healed.
It was as though God himself came to the church plant to confirm His favour and blessing upon it.
I have recently enjoyed exciting visits to fresh church plants in the UK, at Grace Church Chichester and Centrepoint Guildford, where again we have seen some lovely healings.
When I first came to Cape Town, Jubilee Church (which at that time met under a different title) was only one year old. Now many hundreds see it as their spiritual home. Stephen van Rhyn, who took over the primary leadership from Simon Pettit, is doing a fine job leading a gifted team of elders and a church that is enjoying the blessing of seeing regular conversions.
It’s one of my great joys to be involved in church planting and to see many that started as small groups becoming centres where hundreds gather, many of which are now buying or building huge meeting places.
My last Sunday in England was spent at East Grinstead, which I remember as a small congregation, now going ahead with a £3m project in buying a massive warehouse. God has blessed them with growth in the theatre that they currently use and they go ahead full of excitement, believing for ever increasing impact in their area.
Against the evident backdrop in the UK of church closures and a nation that has lost its way morally and spiritually, it’s so great to see churches brought to birth and growing in size and impact. What a privilege to be involved.