February Newsletter 2021
Greetings Fellow Workers
These many months of COVID related regulations are certainly testing us all. No doubt we are all feeling weary and are even perhaps unaware of how much toll the stress has taken on us mentally and spiritually. We may find ourselves emotionally bouncing between despair and anger, our spiritual disciplines can decline and moral carelessness can set in. In a world of social distance, we must beware of social isolation. Thankfully, our current regulations still allow for legitimate means of staying in contact. Technology and our summer climate present us with helpful options to keep connected. As Paul encouraged the Galatians, so we should also encourage each other. Let us not become weary of doing Kingdom good. These strange times and circumstances do not mean an end to godly conduct, pastoral care and calling the lost to Christ. We just may be doing it a little differently!
The latest regulations have opened the door for a return to limited public church gatherings of up to 50 people. Home and social gatherings are still not permitted, but the local church building can be used for services, small groups and other ministries through the week. I would also advise churches to take advantage of outdoor allowances for up to 100 people – weather and space permitting. It might also be wise to encourage our members to return to the discipline of Sunday meetings by live streaming the gathered service and uploading the recording at a later time. Obviously, data costs and limitations are a huge factor in many of our communities and that needs to be kept in mind. I also want to commend our REACH churches for their good attention to sanitizing and social distancing protocols. This too is part of your witness.
Life and Death Concerns
News of new COVID infections reach our office on an almost daily basis. We estimate that we are now over 1000 infections and 100 deaths just within our REACH congregations. Our hearts and prayers go out for all those who are mourning the loss of loved ones. I’m also aware that many people have not told us they are ill or that they have lost family or church members. The latest national statistics do point to a downtown in current infections, but ‘sensible caution’ must still be the order of the day.
Many leadership forums speculate that South Africa may not revert to a more ‘normal’ lifestyle before the end of this year, possibly even into 2022. Slow rollout of vaccinations, viral mutations as well as economic and political complications all mean that we will face many more difficult days. The goal for us is to continue to find ways to take the gospel of eternal hope to an increasingly lost and confused world. It is by this gospel that we also strive to wisely and lovingly care for our communities. Ministry models will adapt and change, methodology will need to be tweaked, but the gospel message remains the same. Never compromise on the message of the Cross which will always be ‘foolishness to those who are perishing but the power of God to those who are being saved’ (1 Cor.1:18). If we adapt the message to entertain the lost, we will all likewise perish!
Bishop Martin Morrison will be stepping down as Gauteng Area Bishop and Rector of Christ Church, Midrand at the end of March 2021. Bishop Martin has been a minister in REACH-SA since the mid-1980s and was consecrated bishop in 1993. He has played a valuable role in the leadership and growth of the denomination. Under his oversight, Christ Church Midrand has grown into a large and vibrant church community. Christ Church Preparatory School and College grew out of CCM and has become a highly regarded educational institution. Many other ministries and church plants have also sprung from the ministry hub. We can also add Bishop Martin’s missional network across Southern Africa, the establishment and growth of Love Trust as well as the launch of Gospel Coalition Africa. We are so grateful to God for all the Kingdom gains the Lord has given Bishop Martin and we give God all the glory for using His servant so effectively.
Bishop Martin will continue in his role at Love Trust and the Gospel Coalition Africa as well as maintain his African ministry networks. Many exciting doors also continue to open through Love Trust which has helped to expand our gospel reach through ECDs and other township educational endeavours. Bishop Martin is also willing and available to assist others looking to minister in this field.
REACH-Namibia continues to grow and several new church congregations have been launched in the last year. There are now over 30 congregations and there is even a church plant in southern Angola. We give thanks to God for the ongoing ministry growth even through much adversity.
“Let us endeavour to keep connected in every legal and wise way and to keep upholding each other in prayer.
- Pray for Bishop Martin and his wife Jean as they begin a new chapter of their ministry life.
- Upcoming National Executive and Trustees meetings. That the Lord will unite and guide us as we lead the church forward. Pray that the gospel will always drive our decisions.
- Pray for the many who are recovering from COVID infections:
May the Lord sustain us through this critical time and open new doors for us proclaim the gospel of grace across Southern Africa and beyond.
Mayibuye iAfrika kuJesu
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” Psalm 28:7