This past May one of the Bishops in our fellowship of churches in South Africa passed away after a short illness. While there was some preparations made for the church and leadership in the event of the senior pastors passing, the ministry was not fully prepared for the earthly departure of Bishop Joe Mokwena. And after my May visit to Potchefstroom, at the advice of Bishop Nelson Haines in Durban I felt it necessary to return before the close of 2015.
The sole visit for the December trip was to visit with the ministry leaders and church family to encourage them. One thing I continued to hear throughout my week visit there was knowing that New Life is “here to support us” gave them the strength to continue on despite the grieve and pain they feel after loosing such a devoted and involved husband, father, and spiritual father.
This time of support was an extreme learning experience for me, being that I don’t have an extensive record in the ministry of comfort and encouragement in this area. That ministry that my parents have both been praised for seems to fathom for me, while I’ve tried in the past I can’t say offering compassion and comfort has been one of those things that comes easy for me. None the less, it was a blessing and a huge relief when the host, Pastor Mario, said to me on Sunday evening that he enjoyed me and the time shared more than any other visit. And that this visit really encouraged and strengthened him. While I’m sure I have a long ways to go, I’m encouraged to know that the purpose of the mission was fulfilled in many ways.
There was one thing about this trip that I can’t say I enjoyed as much as I thought I would…the heat. God please be merciful to me during summer months! Preaching in a building that has no central AC and very small windows, with an outside temp that is in the 90s…for me it is a sacrifice of will. The more I travel and the longer I live, I’m convinced messages are not meant to be any longer than 20-30 minuets. Whoever started 1 hour or more messages must not have preached in a sauna, lol.
According to the members of Grace Tabernacle, they said I really preached. Hmmm, so I guess that means I’ll be shortening my message time from now on…
There were several things planned for our time in Potch, but time and preparation did not allow everything to be done. But the most important thing was accomplished, spending time with the pastoral staff and helping to guiding them in the coming year, visiting with Mother Mokwena, and ministering on Sunday morning. It was a delight to see that even after the passing of Bishop Mowkwena and a few set backs, the ministry is still going on, new people are coming, and the younger generation has been encouraged to step up and get to work. Thank you so much for your prayers during this mission trip.