Part 3: Developing Communities

Serving coffees at the Cape Town Coffee Festival with my friend, 2-time South African Barista Champion, Winston Thomas

Look at that! Three weeks went by quick! This is the last installment of a series of three updates specifically addressing our passions and prayers for our ministry here as we had shared them with so many of you. In case you missed the previous week’s update regarding disciple-making and church-planting, no stress! Just scroll down below this post or locate the “Part 1: Making Disciples” and “Part 2: Planting Churches” link on the righthand side of this page. 

  • Making Disciples
  • Planting Churches
  • Developing Communities

We are so excited to have a core group assembling already weekly in our home to study God’s Word. There is no limit to what the Lord may have in mind and what He can do with people submitting to His will, being transformed by His Spirit, and obeying His Word. In addition to this Bible study group in our community and pursuing church-planting opportunities here, we have been tasked with some objectives for Mountain View Baptist Church. Two major tasks include developing an intentional and church-wide discipleship program and expanding the home small group ministry. In addition to these, the church has a great desire to reach their own community in new ways. A coffeeshop has been suggested as the first vehicle to serve, connect, and build more relationships with their community.  We are pleased to explore the potential and take leadership in this goal in light of our background and passions.

Developing coffee recipes with Innocent Chakanyuka, Head Barista at Truth Coffee

Already, we have made great relationships with different industry professionals and leaders that can help guide us through this process which places as far ahead of anywhere we dreamed to be right now. Even last night, we shared with one of our small groups, how blessed we feel that God has put so many pieces together and before us. We do not deserve to see the plan God has for us, but He has graciously shown us several parts and we are greatly encouraged by it. There has been so much confirmation from the Word and His church. This is all overwhelming and very exciting as we had no great plans to be this far along at this time. Praise God for churches, committed to the Gospel, getting creative with ways to share it with the world! 

Chatting coffee opportunities with David Bassett of non-profit organization, Woza Coffee and Training School

A “Little Bit” from Lauren

The Bell Bunch at Camp’s Bay

I have a “little bit” to add about the kids. We have lots of people asking how the kids are adjusting to life here. I’m so glad they have learned to go with the flow. They had a lot of practice in the States before we left as we traveled often. But they are troopers, love adventures and most of the time know no strangers. They love when we have people over and think that our friends are their friends haha! We managed to talk a few into being babysitters also!!

P.S. We will be giving you a break on the updates. But only for a little while, because something is brewing…But, seriously! Keep praying please. There are more exciting updates to come! God is good. All the time.

Part 2: Planting Churches

So here we go! The second installment of a series of updates on our passions and prayers for our ministry here in South Africa. In case you missed it, find last week’s update regarding disciple-making by just scrolling below or locate the “Part 1: Making Disciples” link on the righthand side of this page.

  • Making Disciples
  • Planting Churches
  • Developing Communities

We, as the followers (disciples) of Christ, have been called to the mission of making disciples of all nations. In doing so, we must baptize them and teach them to obey all of God’s commandments. A group of Christ’s disciples, agreeing to meet together for fellowship, prayer, baptism, sharing of the Lord’s Supper and studying the Bible is a Biblical local church. Under pastoral leadership, obedience to God’s Word leads them to worship and service. And ultimately right back to producing faithful disciple-makers, Lord willing, leading to more disciples and churches in all the nations.

Nate preaching with Henry at Mountain View Baptist Church on Father’s Day (16 June)

And so, planting churches begins with disciple-making. And each is a process of learning. We learn while also taking steps of obedience in faith. Learning to live in South Africa. Learning about other people and how they live in South Africa. Learning about the communities, needs and opportunities around us now. Learning by time spent with local pastors, missionaries and church planters, hearing how God has worked in their lives and ministries here. Spending time studying God’s Word with South Africans helps us learn how God is working in them. 

Nate preaching 23 June at Simanyene Bible Church

At the same time, we are opening our home to many and having lots of conversations over coffee and meals together with South Africans. For example, last week we had people over at our home, sharing meals and studying the Word together five of the seven evenings. Adding it up, we had over 30 people come through our house just last week. Praise God! In addition, we have visiting other churches and seeing the different ministry opportunities and needs in the area. 

We praise God that we have launched a bible study of our own here in our community and home as churches are few in this new and developing area. The opportunities are great and many here. Mountain View Baptist Church has supported us as we explore open doors in this area. Our first couple bible study gatherings, hosted in our home, have brought about fifteen individuals, including a new couple in our neighborhood, with no church home. Praise the Lord! We are praying for more of these relationships to be established with our neighbors and community, and they might lead to more glory for Jesus’ name.

Mark & Valentia, Nate & Lauren, Kyle & Simoné, Julio (kneeling), Angela & Russel (seated), Mike & Tracey (holding Henry and Lola), Warren, Kyle (seated and holding Lennon)
Not pictured: Bronwyn (taking photo)

A “Little Bit” from Lauren

We have been getting lots of questions about what a typical week looks like for us right now in this season of “orientation”. So here’s the short of it-

Mondays – Study day for Nate, get organized for the week and run some errands

Tuesdays – Family Fun Day, I spoke about this last week, but we usually take part of the day to go explore something fun around the area with the kids

Wednesdays – Nate and I usually slip away for a coffee date then he’s off to study / staff meeting and then we have life group in the evening

Thursdays – Discipleship meetings, mom group and then young adult life group

Fridays – Discipleship meetings then Nate has worship practice in the evening

Saturdays – There is a mens bible study and a ladies bible study once a month, but otherwise family time

Sundays – Ministry, church visits, soon Nate will begin teaching NT courses at the ministry training center 2 hours in the evenings and we host a pizza night with some friends. 

That’s a typical week along with a few play dates, hosting dinners and other meetings. Oh and parentings THREE little kids!

Part 1: Making Disciples

Julio, Nate, Luke, Martin, Antonio and JP

My head is swirling as I sort through how to share all that HE is doing here. It truly is too long, our last update coming in April. I wish I had strived harder, but will continue to do so, and get out more frequent updates. It is our goal for these to be monthly, not quarterly updates, as God is up to so much! And we treasure and thrive on your prayers. That is where the work is done. Once we, as partners in HIS Gospel, surrender in prayer to HIS will, then HE can do HIS work! This reminds me of my home pastor, who often prays from Zechariah (4.6) before our Sunday morning service, “’Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord who rules over all.” 

We are breaking this upcoming series of updates into our core passions and prayers for our ministry here;

  • Making Disciples
  • Planting Churches
  • Developing Communities

I have been praying for six men to disciple and several to disciple me. I have been able to sit down with a number of young men in different stages of life from high school, to university, and working in careers. I praise God for a young man at Mountain View Baptist Church, who heard me speaking about my passion for discipleship, approached and requested me to disciple him. Martin is German and studying exercise and sport science at Stellenbosch University. We have been working through Ecclesiastes as he is seeking a lot of wisdom with all the upcoming life decisions of a university student preparing for the next phase of his life. Julio is another young man I have been blessed to spend a lot of time. Five years ago, I discipled Julio while teaching him to play drums. I would say he plays better than me now and is currently studying to be a filmmaker. What an opportunity to jump back, five years later, and keep walking the Way with Julio! Also five years ago, Luke was figuring out his post-high school direction. Praise God for his call into full-time ministry. Luke has now finished seminary and was called by Mountain View Baptist Church to join Pastor Mark in full-time ministry in April. I have the privilege to walk with Luke through life and work with both of these South African pastors to serve and seek new opportunities disciple our own and reach the lost with the Gospel. We are working through My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Kyle is a young man that is sorting through life and feels so familiar to me. He is seeking direction and purpose and we are just discussing biblical perspectives. The Lord has presented a few other men who have expressed interested in spending some time together discussing life and faith. So grateful for the 4 men the Lord has already brought to encourage and sharpen me as I, Lord willing, do the same for them. 

Julio, Nate and Kyle

Pastor Dave Drullinger, fellow ABWE missionary, and I have been meeting for discipleship since shortly after our landing. I have treasured his help in adjusting to life here and learning from him about ministry in South Africa. One of his ministries includes the Ministry Training Centre which I am pleased to be participating. 

Beginning this upcoming term, I will be teaching in the Ministry Training Centre at Mountain View. This is a free four-year training program running Sunday evenings for two hours. I will be teaching Survey of the New Testament this term, beginning the 21stof July and Survey of Christian Doctrine in term four. I am very excited to wrestle through the truths of God’s Word and how this applies to the lives of believers. 

And now introducing your new favorite part of these updates. Many of you ask about how Lauren and the family our doing, so we’re going to hear from the source herself. She has agreed to write a “little bit” of a family and ministry update from her own point of view…

A “Little Bit” from Lauren

Lauren with Henry

Even though my ministry is first and foremost to my family, I crave time with other mothers and my kids crave time with other kids their age. We were very used to having playdates, attending a play café, going to mom groups and just being around other kids. That has been one of the hardest adjustments- finding other mom friends, who “stay at home”, and have kids around my kids’ age. I have a good friend who we met when we were here 5 years ago who has 1 year old twin girls. She invited me to a “mommy bible study”. I’ve been going for about 2 months now and it has been such a breath of fresh air. We gather, drink coffee, watch the kids run around and discuss a chapter of a book we are reading, (Parenting- by Paul David Tripp). We’ve been able to make some good relationships and organize some play dates, so God is blessing that time. It been good also to pick the brains of mothers and help me with things like schooling in the future, places to take the kids and just all kids raising children in South Africa. 

Lola playing at Mom’s Group

The kids are adjusting well. In the beginning they were missing friends and family and things like the zoo, museums and play cafes. So we tried to have “family fun day” on Tuesdays to show them other fun things around us. And they definitely don’t disappoint! So we try to get them excited about things and I think it working because NO ONE in Ohio can hand feed and pet giraffes or live 10 minutes from the beach. But they are champions and really thrive in all situations. We visit other churches and they can’t wait to go to the kids class. Sometimes I wish they were shy but in this season of life it’s just perfect. Henry will turn 1 in a month, Lennon will turn 4 a week later, and Miss Lola is living up the 2 ½ year old life! God is good!

Lennon meeting Gerry the Giraffe

Watch your inboxes for the notice next week about Part 2: Planting Churches! So much more to share! Don’t mean to abuse it, but something’s brewing…

“‘Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord who rules over all.” Zechariah 4.6