Month: November 2016

I always tell people that I have the best job in the world, and I truly believe that! I have served at Baptist Theological College now for almost 5 years and continue to enjoy serving the Lord in my hybrid role as Missiologist and Registrar. While I agree that these role balance my life out with a sense of tension, I love being able to lead in certain aspects, while still serving the mission of God and inspiring students to live out the Missio Dei (the Mission of God) instead of the Missio ME! I find it amazing how God uses my consistently to my calling, and to the passage in Romans 15:20 that He left with me as a deep impression when I first sensed His call into ministry.It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation”. God keeps me true to the following ways:

  1. God is using me the way I am wired– sure, there are new elements of gifting and empowerment that I see constantly, but God is using my personality, history, skills and complete makeup in a unique way to add value to His work.
  2.  The more I have served God’s purposes selflessly, the more passionate I become about His Kingdom and not my own. It is easy to serve others when we expect something in return, however, the greatest reward is not serving with this in mind, but serving God from within and with all that is within and trusting Him with our very lives.
  3. God uses me more as an initiator, visionary and strategist- knowing HOW God uses me will allow me to make decisions that impact on the details of my ministry. I am not pretending to be someone that I am not, and I do not desire to serve in ways that will detract from Christ’s glory- rather, all that I do, is in order that God’s name and fame take pre-eminence.

Having served at BTC in this role and celebrating 65 years of equipping Believers for ministry, I would like to share with you two of my personal highlights (more to follow later):

Highlight one: Launching our Frontier Gap year ministry in 2013 is one of my favorite memories of time spend with the group, seeing them grow and be stretched. We have also adopted a least reached people group and a missional ethos as part of the Seminary DNA and regular mission trips, prayer walks, street evangelism campaigns and the like are held.

Highlight two: Being a part of a turnaround project with administration and the Department of education has been a wonderful challenge and a much needed opportunity for God’s abundant grace. We have managed to turn a corner and are fact becoming a world-class African Seminary.

 

If you are able, join us on Wednesday 30th November at Rosebank Union Church from 19h00 for our 65th Graduation Ceremony as we celebrate God’s continued faithfulness.

DH

It’s the MOST wonderful time of the year! This is a full-length clip from Ridgecrest Family Church’s Christmas Carols service this year. I find great joy in the fun-filled activities of Christmas, but what I enjoy more is seeing each part of our congregation being involved and playing an important role in the functioning of the church. Our church may not be perfect- we’re far from it, but what we are seeking desperately and with great intentionality, is to impact our community with the Gospel and see our community being transformed by the power of Christ. This last weekend is evidence of the heart of our people in the Christmas market we hosted as well as the carols service- each one played a role and the results were phenomenal! By God’s enabling, we desire to be a city on a hill- a church with an impact that goes DEEP and WIDE!

 

DH

 

I just LOVE the American Holiday of Thanksgiving- what a wonderful opportunity to focus one’s attention on thankfulness to God and to others for what they mean to us. I have noticed more and more that Christians are tending to err on cultivating the art of grumbling with a taste of complaining that is often times driven by our consumeristic, self-centered society, where MY wants and needs are the MOST important. The truth is, Christianity is the most joyful ‘religion’ in the world- our joy and gratitude stem from the fact that OUR GOD REIGNS! There are a multitude of reasons to embrace gratitude and and a number of verses that you can consult. Why not take a moment to read one of these:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Psalm 136:1 ESV Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Colossians 3:15 ESV And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Ephesians 5:20 ESV Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:10 ESV But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Psalm 118:28-29 ESV You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

God’s sovereignty, greatness and goodness should give us sufficient reason for gratitude; as humans, we’re not the the final or ultimate source of authority, God is. Resultant from His sovereignty, we have a few choices to make today; I’m curious, what will yours be?

  1. Choosing contentment over dissatisfaction
  2. Choosing joy over happiness
  3. Choosing peace over anxiety
  4. Choosing trust over ambition
  5. Choosing patience over instant gratification
  6. Choosing gratitude over grumbling
  7. Choosing life over death

TODAY is the day the LORD has made- REJOICE and be glad in it (Ps. 118:24)!

DH

In this interview, Desmond Henry talks to Michael du Toit, a final year student at BTC Southern Africa about the Lausanne Movement and particularly some of the helpful resources available online. Michael is seen as a young leader within this movement and participated in YLG2016 earlier this year. This post is a reminder of an African saying that goes like this: ‘If you want to go fast, you go alone. If you want to go far, you go together.’ This was very much the heartbeat of the Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering 2016 (YLG2016). We can do more together than we can do apart- the mission of God necessitates unity in the body and love displayed in a spirit of togetherness (on mission)!

From what I can see, God is raising up a new generation, the mercy generation, that will be used of God in great ways across the globe in mission initiatives for His glory. Michael has grown tremendously in the last few years and shares in the Vlog a little of his journey as a means of encouragement to you. Michael’s first exposure to Lausanne was in my first-year lecture on the Lausanne Covenant, why not start broadening your horizons and reading what God is doing globally by subscribing to the Lausanne Global analysis. After all, we need the WHOLE Church taking the WHOLE Gospel to the WHOLE world in order to not become a cul-de-sac on the Great Commission Highway of Mt 28. DH

Justine Ubsdell is a final year student at the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and will be graduating with her Bachelor of Theology at the 2016 congregation of the Seminary. This research was submitted as part of one of her subjects and I thought this would be useful for you to consider seeing the topics of evangelism and social engagement are at the forefront of discussion on many fronts.

 

You can download her research project here:

justine-ubsdell-social-gospel-and-evangelism.

 

Serving in Pastoral ministry is never an easy role, and the road can often be fraught with many hazards and obstacles that can easily derail you from serving God’s purposes. According to a recent pastor and student survey conducted by the Department of Missiology at BTC, these are five struggles of South African Pastors that emerged you might find informative.

  1. Pastoral Co-dependency- many pastors struggle to find a balance between how they ‘see’ themselves (equippers of Believers) and how they exercise their leadership through influence. Around 12% of pastors struggle to delegate to lay leaders and about 1 out of every 4 pastors serve tirelessly and find the need to multitask because of the lack of time or commitment from lay leadership. Around 16% of pastors need all their decisions ratified by a Church council or Board creating frustration and laxity among congregants, prohibiting the effective management of Church ministry and structures.
  2. Personal growth and connection- Around 73% of respondents indicated that they did not attend a regular Pastor’s Fraternal and that those who attend usually stick within their denomination. Many pastors have unfounded perceptions of their peers because of this insular focus. Interestingly, the bulk of South African Pastors receives input from peers through one-on-one contact and ‘coffee’, indicative of a broad-based breakdown of confidence in denominational structures, which will most likely increase the need for networks without direct authority structures, and without the baggage of history.
  3. Community impact and transformation– Many pastors struggle in the area of evangelism and transformation of individuals and families and feel ill-equipped and resourced to care for people effectively. Evangelism is heavily reliant on events and Sunday sermons at a local level, and most money is channelled to the periphery toward evangelism in outlying areas that would not have a direct impact on the local church growth. Around 42% of respondents indicated that the bulk of new church members were from other churches in the area, which indicates an increasing need for effective evangelism and integration of new Believers.
  4. Effective Christian discipleship – Most Evangelical pastors would admit to a dire need for their ministry to focus on discipleship, however, most churches are geared more to reach the unsaved, but lack clarity regarding a process of discipleship that works for their congregation; moving Believers toward greater spiritual maturity. There is a direct correlation between transfer growth in South African churches to the growth of Christians in our Churches.   
  5. A dynamic relationship with God– many pastors indicated that they struggled on a daily basis with maintaining devotional integrity. 1 out of 3 South African pastors do not have a consistent quiet time and about 1 out of 6 indicate that ministry consumes all their time and they find it hard to meet recreational needs. I would imagine that there is a direct correlation between the lack of dynamic relationship with God to pastors leaving the ministry for secular employment.

 

What are some challenges you face, or you know others face that have not been included above?

My Story

By desmondh

Sharing one’s story can be a powerful tool for encouragement and challenge. My story, is not so much my own story, but one that is intimatly linked with God’s mission and I want to share with you, briefly, how God can use your life and shape you into the person He desires. I trust that my story will reflect glory back to God, and that as you read this you will have time to reflect on your own journey with God and be challenged to embrace God’s hand at work.

I grew up in a conservative South African Baptist Church where Scripture was highly valued and expository preaching was always seen as a strong point. I fondly remember time spent as a child memorising Scripture. Sadly, my motivation was wrong; I was trying to be the top of my class and win the prize at the end of the year for having memorised the most Scripture verses. I often won these prizes as my competitive spirit motivated me. However, despite my motivation, these verses have often rung through my mind over the years, and I have found that having studied God‘s Word, it has been a light to my path.

 

My life up to that point had been simple, and so too was my conversion to the Christian faith; it was not spectacular in any way. I committed my life to Christ at a young age and found myself drifting away from the Lord due to life circumstances and choices I had made (and not all of them were good). The path I chose was one of bitterness and hatred spiced with anger and later, regret. Let me share some of my story with you. I am an illegitimate child and I was brought up by my mother. I had to learn that God does not make mistakes and that I was on this planet for a purpose. My family has always been in conflict ever since I can remember, and I found myself drifting further away from my circumstances and my faith into a pseudo-reality, where I drew strength and gained reprieve from my life situation.

 

My childhood was humble to say the least, and left me feeling estranged from my family, from peers and from God who I blamed for His passivism. Looking back now I can say that I never really had many true friends, my pseudo- reality prevented anyone from getting too close and exposing the reality of my life. God intervened in my circumstances through the preaching of one of South Africa‘s true prophets; Angus Buchan. I clearly remember being in high school and attending a Christian crusade meeting being held at my local Church, where God brought me back into the fold and where I was baptized and forever changed.

 

What had changed? My family was still in conflict, my circumstances were unaltered. But, what made the difference can be described as a ‘God- consciousness’ that had invaded my life like never before. For the first time in my life I felt the urgency to forgive, mend, restore and move forward. God became the centre of my being, my motivation changed from self-centeredness to constantly looking out for the interests of others. My conversion to faith had become a relationship with my eternal father; I had become a follower of Christ, and had resolved in my early years to dedicate my life to serving my heavenly Father‘s purposes. So the journey began.

 

One of the first things I did, besides involvement within my Church, was get involved in weekly outreach. I will never forget the lessons I learnt through serving others- especially those who were not as fortunate as I was. Johnny Buchner, a former South African Springbok Rugby player, and I went to the Ruimsig Squatter camp every week where we met with fellow believers and conducted a Bible study in a local shabeen (tavern/ bar). I learnt more from my interaction with the members of this community than any sermon or Bible study, not that they are unimportant, but for the first time I began to realize God‘s design for my life and my life purpose. Ever since those early days I have always embraced every opportunity for service in missions, and went on several trips to places like Dikwepi near Polokwane and other places in the surrounding areas where God shaped my understanding of what it means to be His people, what it means to be Church. When I was a youth pastor at Florida Baptist Church I led several mission trips to the Transkei, and always encouraged people to serve God through missions. I also represented the Baptist Union Missions Department as the first short- term missionary to North Africa. My Church was mission- minded, I was mission- minded. Since then I have discovered that mission-mindedness is not nearly enough!

 

I have changed a lot since those days, and I thank God for every opportunity He has afforded me to this day. I have been privileged enough to work in my home Church where I grew up in the faith. Also, to work under a passionate and effective evangelist who taught me the value of a vital and dynamic relationship with the Lord. This has significantly shaped my understanding of Christian ministry. I have had the honour of working alongside a seminary president who has shaped my understanding of the Christian faith and who has taken tremendous risks in giving me opportunities to serve and grow in Church life and the academic world. I thank God for the myriad people He has brought along my path that have impacted my life in greater ways than they perhaps would ever realize. God has been faithful to His Word, and has begun a work in my life that He alone can bring to completion. I thank God most of all for the wife He has brought into my life and for the love and support she continuously gives, and also for the many sacrifices willingly made along the way in fulfilling what God has in store for us. God has blessed us with three beautiful daughters that fills our lives with great joy, and contribute toward church growth too :).

 

I trust that the content here will be of great benefit to many in their journey with the Lord, serving God’s mission.

Des