Soshanguve Extensions

Surfing God’s waves

Rick Warren compares the growth of the church with a surfer riding the waves.

If you take a class on surfing, you’ll be taught everything you need to know about surfing: how to choose the right equipment; how to use it properly; how to recognize a “surfable” wave; how to catch a wave and ride it …

a08-rick-warren-19-4_3_rx404_c534x401Surfing is the art of riding waves that God builds. God makes the waves; surfers just ride them. No surfer tries to create waves. If the waves aren’t there, you just don’t surf that day! On the other hand, when surfers see a good wave, they make the most of it …

Only God makes the church grow. Only God can breathe new life into a valley of dry bones. Only God can create waves – waves of revival, waves of growth, and waves of spiritual receptivity …

Our job as church leaders, like experienced surfers, is to recognize a wave of God’s Spirit and ride it. It is not our responsibility to make waves but to recognize how God is working in the world and join him in the endeavour …

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The apostle Paul did not surf. But he knew very well that it is God who opens doors for the gospel. Our responsibility is to notice these open doors and to enter. [See Acts 14:27, 1 Corinthians 16:9, 2 Corinthians 2:12 and Colossians 4:3.]

Paul experienced this in his own ministry. Acts 16 tells us how the Lord closed doors in Asia but opened the gateway to Europe. [Read the interesting Bible study “The Sovereign Spirit of Missions: Thoughts on Acts 16:6-10 and Church Planting”, in Planting, Watering, Growing, 2011, 19-24.]

As Free Reformed mission we try and tried to follow where Christ leads us. That is why …

This is the principle on which my report is based.

Assignment

The Executive of the Mission Board asked me to draft a report on the Soshanguve Extensions after finishing my work in the FRC Mamelodi.

In 2008 the Maranata church council decided to start mission work in – Akasia, Soshanguve F4 and – the Soshanguve Extensions. How and where do we start?

Sources [people I spoke with]

  • Rev. D M Boersma, church planter in Chantelle (Akasia)
  • Rev. M P Magagula, church planter in F4 (New Eersterus)
  • Oscar Makobe, former Mission Team member, living in Extension 1
  • Rev. G F Mnisi, called as missionary for the Extensions in 2009
  • Shadrack Sindane, former WW member, living in Extension 10

Sources [literature]

  • Planting an Orthodox Presbyterian Church (2001) at http://www.opc.org/chm/chplant/.
  • Timothy J. Keller & J. Allen Thompson, Church Planter Manual (Redeemer Church Planting Center, 2002).
  • Dirk Maurits Boersma, Same Plant, New Flowers: Identifying opportunities for new churches in greater Tshwane (Pretoria) – Report for the Mission Board of the Free Reformed Church Pretoria-Maranata (2008).
  • Planting, Watering, Growing: Planting Confessionally Reformed Churches in the 21st Century. Edited By Daniel R. Hyde & Shane Lems (2011).

Where?

The decision to start mission work in ‘the Extensions’, is step one. The next step is to decide in which of the more than a dozen extensions. They are rather extensive 😉

Some parts have been there for a long time, up to 20 years. People are settled. Other parts are brand new. RDP houses are being built. People are busy moving in.

There is a big diversity between the different areas. I heard names such as …

  • Plastic View (the name tells you something about the structures built over there) and
  • Marry Me (obviously an area where mostly young mothers live with their children).

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Where does the Lord open doors for the gospel? Where does Christ create waves for his church to surf on? This is a spiritual matter. But it has also to do with very practical questions.

Who?

Who are the people living in the Extensions?

It would be helpful to have more information. I tried to get data of the Census 2011 from Stats SA, but until now without success.

Why?

Why did the Maranata church council decide to ‘open a branch’ in the Extensions? A few quotes from the underlying report written by Dirk Maurits Boersma (2008, boldface added):

Several extensions have been built on the South side of Soshanguve. They are located West of the railroad that is the border of WW and XX. I visited this area on 11 June with br. Makwakwa and br. Modiba from WW who know the area. I also gathered information from a former church member who lives in Ext. 10.

The Extensions differ in character: some are older and more stable (Ext 1-4), others have started 5-8 years ago (Ext 9 and 10), and others are new (Ext 13).

The extensions are huge compared to WW: about 10 times its size. No Reformed churches are known to be here. The distance to our existing churches does not seem very large but for this income group it practically means that they can’t afford to go to church every week. Currently, the churches in WW and XX don’t have active outreach into these areas. When we start a church in this area we could help this core group and we could reach many people who would otherwise not hear the gospel.

New extensions like Ext 13 and future growth to the South (towards Rosslyn) will bring in even more people. Many single young mothers live in Ext 12 and 13. The new government policy is that a mother with a child qualifies for an RDP house. It used to be that only married people qualified (this applied to the homes that were built in Central). The men from WW told me that the change in the law has caused a surge in pregnant girls, unfortunately. Few men can be found in Ext 13.
We may expect that the area between Soshanguve and Rosslyn will be filled up in the next 10 years.

extensions

I visited an RDP project in Ext 9 with Shadrack Sindane on 28 June. RDP houses are being built in front of the existing shacks, and many residents plan to use their former home as rooms for the children. Right now, many existing residents of Ext 4, 5, 8, 9, and 10 receive such an RDP house. This is a great improvement for them. Therefore I think we can expect these people to stay for many years. It brings more stability to the area.

There are Pentecostal churches here, but no Reformed churches. I saw ‘Galilee Word Centre’ in Ext 2, Assemblies of God in Ext 1, and a ZCC (of the St. Engenas type: with the dove symbol instead of the star).

Some of our members live here: when they lost their home in WW, 3-5 families moved to Ext 2, 4 and 5. The distance to the church makes it difficult to attend every week. One family comes to church regularly. There is no Bible study for them at the moment. Another family lives in Ext 10 and just joined the XX church.

A huge area remains unreached: thousands of people have been living here for more than 10 years and more are coming. We have overlooked this area of opportunity for quite a while. Maybe this was because of our preference for established areas with brick homes?

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While I was doing research I discovered a report I had written in 2000 about opportunities for church planting in Soshanguve South. At that time I proposed that more than three new preaching points could be opened in the extensions, as well as one in XX. Due to a lack of manpower nothing could be done at the time. Later, XX was chosen for a new church plant but we never looked at the extensions again. The area is pretty much left to independent and Pentecostal churches.

Two different reasons are mentioned:

  1. members from WW and XX live here, rather far from their churches
  2. this area with its many people is unreached by the Reformed faith

I would stress the 2nd point more than the 1st. Our reason to start working in the Extensions is not to accommodate our existing members. We want to reach unchurched people with the gospel. Those members already living in the area can be involved in planting the new church.

With whom?

Core group

The different church planting manuals stress the importance of starting with a dedicated core group:

planting-frontpg-1__17419_zoomThe core group should be small at first and arise out of the common interest and passion of people of like mind in seeing a Reformed church take root. The core group should be self-conscious about this effort … and fully aware of the time, energy and personal sacrifices that will be involved …

The core group should begin meeting informally in someone’s home and spend time brainstorming and discussing what kind of church they would like to see planted.

The core group should seek to identify and then invite people who might be interested … to join the core group …

From the first meeting, the core group must begin to seek God’s will through prayer and through establishing some initial benchmarks that will indicate whether the dream will become a reality. These include a timeframe … concrete ways to judge progress … and so on.

Kim Riddlebarger, “Planting the Plant: Some Thoughts on Preparing to Plant a New Church”. In: Planting, Watering, Growing (2011) p. 92.

Since we have members living in the Extensions, we could use them as a starting point. In Boersma’s words: help this core group to reach many people who would otherwise not hear the gospel.

Both Boersma and Magagula have experienced, however, that ‘old members’ can also become a hindrance to the growth of the church. Their past in the church with its traditions makes it difficult for them to be open to new developments. They are members of the church, but are they living members of Christ? We need a dedicated core group!

Let the church planter be aware of this and choose his core group members carefully.

the FRC in block UU
the FRC in block UU

Co-owners

Since the new mission field will be adjacent to the churches in WW and XX, and since some ‘old’ members will be part of the core group, it is important to involve both churches as soon as possible. Let the new mission point not be a Maranata project, but make XX and WW co-owners from day 1.

Team work

Of course the missionary will be the first one responsible for the work in the Extensions. But this is not a one-man show. The mission team contains a lot of experience in the persons of other church planters. And from the onset, the missionary works close together with his core group.

Since the area is huge, one might even consider calling two missionaries. [A proposal to do so was e-mailed within the Mission Board in March 2011, while I was considering a call from  the Netherlands. Even after my decision to accept the call, the proposal should still be discussed.] Or maybe this is a good moment to once again use the gifts of brother John Mahlangu 😉

What?

At this stage it is too early to write a plan of action. I can try, however, to outline the way:

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  1. Survey the area (collect data, talk with people living there, visit community leaders)
  2. Identify 2 or 3 areas where you can start, e.g.:
    1. an area where we have dedicated church members and their friends
    2. an area where people are moving into their new RDP houses
    3. 1854a-0003an area where otherwise a door is opened for the gospel [There is a small congregation in Extensions 7 and 12 (Thulani Mphofu) that is in contact with the Living Hope congregation in Akasia. Would it be good to cooperate with them?]
    4. Bring together a core group in those areas for prayer and Bible study, e.g.:
      1. start praying with dedicated church members and their friends
      2. go door-to-door and identify committed Christians among the new inhabitants
      3. do evangelism or organise a ‘holiday Bible school’ or an Athletes in Action project
      4. In due course the Spirit will make clear if there is a perspective to continue in that area and to start with Sunday services.
        1. in all decisions involve the core group
        2. make the people also financially responsible

Finally

In 2 Kings 6 there is a story about some prophets cutting down trees near the river. One of them is very unlucky: his iron axe head falls in the water. “Oh, my lord,” he cries out, “it was borrowed!”

The same applies to this report. I freely borrowed ideas from Warren to Boersma. Nevertheless, it is my prayer that something good will float upon the waters!

Altijd dat gezeur om geld

Mijn buurman en naamgenoot Tjeerd de Wit vestigde m’n aandacht op een nieuwe website. Ik heb er een tijdje rondgeneusd en de site daarna bij de favorieten en op m’n blogroll gezet.

dvn

Binnen de GKv zijn zending, hulpverlening & training aan elkaar gekoppeld. Eén landelijke commissie. DVN als de organisatie die het werk uitvoert. Advies & opleiding is één van de uitlopers daarvan.

Je kent misschien nog de IRTT. Aan hun initiatief danken we de Candlestand Statement [2004] en de Polarlight Declaration [2008]. Deze zijn ook op de nieuwe site te vinden. En nog veel meer!

Ga maar eens kijken op de site voor Advise – dat schrijf je toch met een C – Advice? – & Training. Als je belangstelling hebt voor ZHT, blijf je doorklikken en lezen.

A&T

Een goed voorbeeld is het artikel van Bram Beute op de voorpagina. Hij bespreekt een boek van David Maranz: African Friends and Money Matters [2001] en maakt daarbij zinnige opmerkingen over – ondertitel – “hoe en waarom veel Afrikanen heel anders omgaan met bezit, geld en vriendschappen dan veel Westerlingen gewend zijn”.

african-friends-and-money-matters

Interessant onderwerp!

Klik ook eens hier voor 70 Observations on the Principles of African Personal Finance.

God’s covenant and child baptism

This is chapter 3 of Your sins are forgiven

a manual for the ‘class of forgiveness’

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. (Genesis 17 verse 7, NIV).

Do you want to have your child baptized?

I guess you are a full member of the church. You have professed your faith and have been admitted to the Lord’s supper. But when you got pregnant and had a baby without being married, you were withheld from the table. This church discipline will be lifted when you show remorse and are willing to change your lifestyle (as we discussed in chapter 2).

As a full member of the church you can present your child for baptism.

The blood and the Spirit of Christ

To understand the meaning of baptism is not too difficult. Even a child knows that we use water to clean ourselves. But water removes only the dirt of your body. There is, however, another kind of dirt – not on the outside but inside. We have to be cleansed from sin.

The baptism ceremony symbolizes the cleansing by the blood and the Spirit of Christ.

  • Jesus died on the cross to take away your guilt. ‘‘… the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
  • The holy Spirit breaks the power of sin in your life. “I will sprinkle clean water on you … I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you … I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

Baptism can be done by immersion or by sprinkling. Whatever the ceremony, the message is clear: you are born again by the blood of Christ and by the holy Spirit.

Conceived and born in sin

But how does this apply to little children? You can’t say that our beautiful babies are sinful, can you? “My cute baby boy or girl is pure and innocent …”

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It may be difficult to accept, but the Bible tells us different.

Please open your Bible and read Psalm 51 verses 1-5.

This psalm brings us back to the story of David and Bathsheba (we discussed it in chapter 2). It took David a long time but now he confesses his sins. “Against you, you only – not against people but you, o Lord – have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight …”

In verse 5 he goes even deeper:

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

His adultery with Uriah’s wife and then killing her husband are no incidents. David must confess that his whole life is affected by sin. Since he came on earth and even before that, in his mother’s womb … – he has been conceived and born in sin.

The same goes for us and for our children.

Your little baby does not do sin, but he or she is as sinful as you are. Children are infected by the same deadly disease as their parents. That is why boys and girls start being naughty and rebellious later on. Since conception and birth they are sinful.

You and your children

But now here is the good news.

God calls the children in his love, together with their parents. When you as a mother or father are a child of God, then your son or daughter is automatically included.

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The Lord works like that both in the old and the new testament:

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you [Abraham] and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. (Genesis 17:7 NIV).

The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call. (Acts 2:39 NIV).

You can read the same in 1 Corinthians 7 verses 12-16, especially verse 14.

Since the children of believers are included in God’s covenant, they must receive the sign of it:

  • circumcision in the old testament (see Genesis 17:10-14)
  • baptism in the new testament (see Acts 16:13-15 and 30-34)

As for me and my house …

The Lord will bless you and ‘your house’ – your family – if you believe in Christ. There is reason to rejoice! At the same time it means a huge responsibility for Christian parents.

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Please open your Bible and read Mark chapter 10 verses 13-16.

Parents who really love their kids, bring them to Jesus. He is the Saviour, who came to bless parents as well as children.

It is a big mistake to keep children away from Christ. This makes him very angry.

Jesus loves your child. He takes your beloved boy or girl in his arms and gives his blessing. Your kid is really blessed with this loving Lord!

It is you as a parent who must bring your child to him. Kids can’t make their own choices yet. They will follow your example. It is to fathers and mothers that it is said:

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Discuss it with your partner, with your parents and with your pastor. How can you bring your child to Christ? Think about daily prayer, reading the Bible every day, teaching Bible stories, choosing a good school, going to church and sending your daughter or son to the Sunday school.

In short, say it with Joshua (24:15):

But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Conceal, confess, convert

This is chapter 2 of Your sins are forgiven

a manual for the ‘class of forgiveness’

He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28 verse 13, NIV).

When a baby is conceived and born, both the father and mother should confess their sin – not about the pregnancy or the baby but – about their transgression of God’s commandment.

Do you agree with the final sentence of chapter 1?

Maybe you think: Why does the church say it is sin to have sex before marriage? This is what all our young people do, with or without contraceptives. It may not be smart to have a baby while you are in school. But why is it wrong when everyone does it?

Wrong in God’s eyes

When do we say something is a sin? Not when people say it is wrong. ‘To sin’ means to transgress the law of God. It is sin when it is wrong in the eyes of the Lord.

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A clear example in the Bible is the story of king David.

Please open your Bible and read 2 Samuel chapter 11 verses 1-27.

David was very much loved and blessed by the Lord. But he abused his position by sleeping with Uriah’s wife and by having her husband killed. Were the people in Jerusalem aware of it? Even if they were – “What can we do? David is the king.” They had to accept it.

But the Lord was not pleased with what David had done (2 Samuel 11:27 GNB).

People may accept a certain tradition or lifestyle. But what does God say? He sent his prophet to David to rebuke him and to punish him: “Why did you do this evil thing?” (see 2 Samuel 12).

Concealing or confessing

It took king David a long time before he confessed his sin. He tried to continue with his life as if nothing had happened.

Please open your Bible and read Psalm 32 verses 3-5.

Did you ever as a child lie to your parents? You broke that beautiful tea cup. But you behaved as if you were innocent: “No mum, I don’t know!”  – It is not nice to have such a secret. You dare not look your mum in her eyes. Trying to hide your sins will not make you happy …

David knew something stood between him and God. It made him sick to his stomach. Until … he confessed his sins and asked for forgiveness. Read the second part of Psalm 32 to see the difference. David is still in trouble but now he knows God is with him to protect him.

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Sex before marriage is a sin that displeases the Lord.

Do not try to ignore or conceal it. Go to God in prayer and tell him what happened. Ask your pastor or someone else to pray with you.

Then you will – like David – experience the joy of being forgiven (1 John 1:7-2:2):

… the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (…)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Forgiven and forgotten

Is it possible to forgive and forget?

Not for us as human beings. If someone asks you to forgive what he did – “I am sorry for the pain I caused you! Please, forgive me!” – you may try to do so. But it is difficult to trust that person again. And when he does the same thing again, you will remember his former mistakes. How could you forget?

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But our Lord really forgives and forgets.

Christ came on earth to take your sins away. He died on the cross because of your transgressions. If you confess your sins, his blood purifies you from whatever you did. Do you believe that?

[God] who blots out your transgressions … and remembers your sins no more (Isaiah 43:25).

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of [your people]? You do not stay angry for ever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:18-19).

Thanks to Jesus, your sins really are forgiven and forgotten!

Confess and renounce

It is not enough to confess your sin. Whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy (Proverbs 28:13 NIV). “Confess them and give them up“ (GNB).

Being sorry and asking for forgiveness because of having sex before marriage does not help if you are continuing to do the same sin again. It would be like a thief asking for forgiveness for this theft and then returning to stealing again …

Do you and your boyfriend / girlfriend have plans to marry?

  • If not, how real is your remorse? Do you think you will be able to change your lifestyle and not to have sex again before you are legally married?
  • If yes, how do you see the way forward? Are there plans to pay lobola? Is there a date set for the wedding?  Do you think you will be able not to have sex again before you are legally married?

We cannot cover all the different situations. It is important to discuss it honestly with your partner, with your parents and with your pastor.

In that discussion you can also talk about the Marriage Policy, sections 4 and 5.

Love, sex and marriage

This is chapter 1 of Your sins are forgiven

a manual for the ‘class of forgiveness’

Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (Hebrews 13 verse 4, NIV).

Back to the beginning

When we talk about love, sex and marriage, we encounter many different situations.

  • Many men have more than one wife. Even our State President is a polygamist.
  • Often couples are living together without being legally married.
  • Gay and lesbian people are asking for equal rights, including same sex marriage.
  • We see teen pregnancies and babies that are born before marriage.
  • One out of every four marriages ends in divorce and partners remarry after that.

How do we judge those different situations? What is normal?

‘Normal’ means according to the norm. Which is the Bible, the word of God.

In a discussion about divorce, our Lord Jesus learns us to go back to the basics. See Matthew 19 verses 3-10. The Jewish leaders refer to the law of Moses. Christ goes back even further:

Haven’t you read … that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?

Talking about love, sex and marriage, let us then go back to the beginning: God’s creation.

God’s basic rule

Please open your Bible and read Genesis chapter 2 verses 18-25. [Do it now!]

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This wonderful story about the first man and woman on earth – Adam and Eve in paradise – contains important lessons, even for today.

  • Love and sex are part of God’s wonderful creation. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them … and it was very good” (chapter 1).
  • There is no reason to be ashamed of sexual feelings (see also 2 verse 25).
  • It is the Lord who joins husband and wife together in order to serve him. “Marriages are made in heaven!”
  • God doesn’t bring two men or two women together but a man and his wife. “Genesis 2 is about Adam & Eve, not about Adam & Steve.”
  • This chapter is about one man and one woman. Having more women is part of a lifestyle that is against God’s will (see Genesis 4 verses 19-24).

All this is summarized in God’s basic rule, Genesis 2 verse 24:

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Verse 24 is not part of what Adam said (verse 23) since he didn’t have parents he could leave. This is the conclusion of the Bible regarding God’s will for marriage.

This basic rule is often quoted in the new testament, by the Lord Jesus (Matthew 19:4-5 and Mark 10:6-8) and the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 6:15-17 and Ephesians 5:31-32).

Don’t shuffle God’s 1-2-3

It is clear that God’s basic rule contains three actions that should happen:

For this reason …

  1. a man will leave his father and mother [he has grown up in their house]
  2. and be united to his wife, [they start their own new family]
  3. and they will become one flesh. [they have sex and may have children]

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We know that in Biblical times the procedures to get married were different from ours. Read for example the stories about Isaac & Rebekah (Genesis 24) and Boaz & Ruth (Ruth 3-4). But getting married is important. This includes promising to be faithful and to stay together. These vows are given in the presence of witnesses and of God himself (see Malachi 2:14-16).

The three actions of Genesis 2 verse 24 must happen in this specific order:

1 leave parents 2 get married 3 have sex and bear children

It is not good to shuffle them and to change the order like you wish:

3 have sex and get a child 1 & 2 leave parents and get married

3a have sex 1 live with boyfriend / girlfriend 3b bear children 2 get married

What may seem normal in people’s eyes – everyone does so, it is accepted by the community – is still a sin in God’s eyes. Read more about ‘sin’ in chapter 2.

Use the manual

Did you ever buy a microwave? It is a wonderful kitchen utensil. But it takes time to know the many different functions. Which button do you have to push in order to … ?

Fortunately your microwave comes with a manual. It tells you exactly what you should do – and what you should not do … Take your time to read this user’s guide. Don’t ignore it, otherwise you may destroy your microwave and even get hurt.

The Bible is God’s manual for our lives.

He is the creator who made us. Take your time to read his manual. Don’t ignore it, otherwise you or others may get hurt. Accidents will happen and your life will be destroyed.

Especially in connection with love, sex and marriage this is what we see happening around us.

  • Loose sexual moral, resulting in broken hearts.
  • Divorces, harmful to both partners and to their kids.
  • Polygamy, resulting in jealousy and hatred.
  • Many deaths due to HIV / aids, due to … yes, indeed!

Sex is no child’s play

Is it a sin to have a baby before marriage? No, it is not.

A baby is the work of the Creator. Read Psalm 139 verses 13-16: God is great!

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The problem is not having a child before you are married. Although your baby will not grow within a stable family situation. Maybe you go back to school and your child will stay with granny. Where is the father? Etc. –

No, the problem is in the way your child has been conceived. People may think it is normal. But the Lord did not mean it to happen like this. You did not honour marriage. You did not enjoy sex within a stable relationship of lifelong commitment.

Sex is no child’s play. It is not good to sleep around and to have a ‘one night stand’ without love and faithfulness. Ignoring God’s manual will have negative results for you and your baby.

As it is stated in the FRC Marriage Policy section 3b:

We also counsel our young people to abstain from sex before marriage. Sexual intercourse is given as enrichment for married couples, not as a toy to play with. “True love waits.”

When a baby is conceived and born, both the father and mother should confess their sin – not about the pregnancy or the baby but – about their transgression of God’s commandment.

Sendingspannend

Het voelt toch als een soort van historisch moment. Zojuist heb ik 120 exemplaren van onze NMC bij de drukkers opgehaald.

Trouwe lezers van m’n weblog weten waar NMC voor staat. Het is onze new members’ course, de leergang voor mensen die lid van de kerk willen worden. Bij de jeugd gebruiken we daarvoor meestal de aloude heidelbergse catechismus. Voor de volwassenen hebben we nu How great is his love.

Dat mag ik best historisch noemen.

Reeds in maart 2009 zette het zendingsteam de eerste voorzichtige stappen op deze weg. Ik schreef daar toen onder meer het volgende over:

Al jaren lang leeft het verlangen om een goed boek voor de new members’ class te hebben. Voor de introductie van nieuwe leden gebruiken we verschillende materialen. De behoefte aan een ‘eigen’ cursus werd gevoeld. Maar ja, wie gaat dat schrijven?

Nu hebben we dat project aan de gang!

Eerst hebben we ons bezonnen op de criteria voor toelating. Wat verwachten we van nieuwe leden? We hebben het vastgezet op drie punten: kennis, overtuiging en levensstijl.

Aan de hand daarvan hebben we beschreven welke onderwerpen in een leergang aan de orde moeten komen. We hebben een grondplan aanvaard voor de new members’ course.

Nu is iedereen bezig om ‘zijn’ hoofdstuk te schrijven. Een redactieteam beoordeelt de eerste versie. Het wordt nog een hele kunst om er een eenheid van te maken. We hopen daarbij ook op goede inbreng van iemand met onderwijs-ervaring. En een handleiding voor docenten staat ook nog op ons verlanglijstje.

De titel van de NMC is: How great is his love, ontleend aan 1 Johannes 3 vers 1: Bedenk toch hoe groot de liefde is die de Vader ons heeft geschonken! Wij worden kinderen van God genoemd … ‘Liefde’ blijft het centrale thema van alle lessen.

de doelgroup: new members

Al gauw blijkt dan hoe moeilijk het is om als sendingspan zo’n project tot een goed einde te brengen. Je kunt een boek gemakkelijker alleen of met z’n tweeën schrijven dan met zeven collega’s.

  • Er zijn nu eenmaal verschillende gaven.
  • Het ambitieuze tijdschema wordt onmiddellijk overtreden.
  • Vrijwel niemand blijft binnen de criteria van omvang, opzet en stijl.

Uiteindelijk duurt het tot november 2010 voordat alle hoofdstukken beschikbaar zijn. Wie wil, kan per e-mail de teksten krijgen om ze voor de new members te kopiëren. Er kan mee gewerkt worden!

Collega Jerry Mhlanga en ik – samen de redactie van de NMC – slaken een zucht van verlichting. Spanwerk is spanningsvol. How great is our patience

eerste uitgave op CD

Ons geduld zal nog meer op de proef gesteld worden.

Het jaar 2011 wordt een jaar van gebruiken en evalueren. Hoe werkt het in de praktijk? De editors verzamelen alle positieve en negatieve feedback en leggen op basis daarvan voorstellen op de teamtafel.

Laat ik maar weer m’n eigen blog citeren. Augustus 2011:

Op dinsdag zaten collega Jerry Mhlanga en ik bij elkaar. Samen vormen wij de redactie van onze new members’ course. En deze week namen we een volgende stap in dat project.

Alle collega’s hebben de gelegenheid gehad om kritisch te reageren op de eerste editie. Wij hebben het hele pakket doorgenomen en aanbevelingen gemaakt voor de tweede uitgave.

Daarbij hebben we drie lagen aangeboord:

  • Als editors beslissen wij over spelling, woordkeus, grammatica en lay-out.
  • De schrijvers van de diverse hoofdstukken evalueren de binnengekomen opmerkingen en brengen zo nodig wijzigingen aan.
  • Echt inhoudelijke beslissingen nemen we samen in het Mission Team.

In de teamvergadering van september 2011 leggen we dan ook een paar voorstellen op tafel:

De cursus blijft gebaseerd op de bijbel. We gaan niet – zoals sommigen voorstellen – de belijdenis van de kerk een meer prominente plaats geven. Dit blijft een cursus voor mensen die van buiten komen, wie de belijdenis niet veel zegt. De bijbel heeft bewijskracht. Wel kunnen we hier en daar een verwijzing toevoegen: “Als je hierover meer wilt lezen, kun je een goede samenvatting vinden in …”

We gaan niet heel erg ons best doen om alle hoofdstukken op één lijn te brengen. Er zijn 7 auteurs en ieder vogeltje zingt zoals het gebekt is. Wel geven we wat richtlijnen mee voor de vragen aan het einde van elk hoofdstuk.

Het hoofdstuk over Jezus Christus willen we uitbreiden tot twee hoofdstukken, over de persoon en over het werk van Christus. Onze Heer kwam er in de eerste editie wel wat bekaaid af. Het gaat hier over de kern van ons geloof!

We maken ook meer ruimte voor een bespreking van Gods wet en van het gebed.

Op tafel komt een concreet voorstel over hoe we de cursus gaan uitgeven. De eerste editie was op CD beschikbaar, van de tweede willen we zo’n 100 exemplaren drukken. Ons streven is dat hij aan het begin van het nieuwe seizoen (2012) klaar is.

Daarna blijft het weer heel lang stil.

De ene editor gaat met lang verlof. Eén van de auteurs wordt geschorst. Afspraken worden geschonden, weer bevestigd en opnieuw niet nagekomen. De samenwerking staat steeds meer onder spanning.

Tenslotte moet ik zelf nog de twee hoofdstukken over Christus herschrijven om het project niet tot stilstand te laten komen. En het beloofde nieuwe hoofdstuk over het gebed komt er niet – of wel – o nee toch niet – ja maar hij – nee maar jij … – en kan nog net op tijd ingekort en ingepast worden. Pff.

Maar vrijdag kan het zendingsteam op de laatste vergadering van 2012 de geboorte van de baby vieren.

Natuurlijk, daarna volgen er nog meer stappen:

  • een grondige evaluatie door een onderwijskundige
  • een handleiding voor degenen die de lessen moeten geven
  • indien nodig een vertaling in Sepedi of Setswana
  • het liefst een aantrekkelijk geïllustreerde uitgave

Nou ja, die lees ik wel in Nederland als ik met pensioen ben …