Author Archives: Bob Mathews

Genesis: A story of beginning

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Ok, true confession time. Our first day of the campaign was last Tuesday. None of us felt real confident that there would be much response. We worked hard, and the majority of people we spoke with said they’d come to services. We figured if even half of the ones who said they’d come, actually did come, we’d have a pretty good week. It was quite a disappointment when no one was there at the tent at 6 PM Tuesday evening. By the final amen that evening, there were only 20 present.

blog_baptismSee any problem? There’s a lot of “we” in there. We all understand, of course, on an intellectual level that the work is God’s, but when it comes time for the reckoning (translated: “preacher’s count”) and the number’s lower than what we thought God would provide, we still tend to be disappointed.

God did not disappoint.

We had a wonderful service of worship this morning, the first worship service for the Ondangwa/Onethindi congregation of the Lord’s body. We had 43 in attendance this morning, and the blog_sunday_worship_1contribution (admittedly buoyed by American contributions) was N$862, which is roughly US$86. We ended the week with 11 baptisms, and 3 of the last 4 were people who never had a sit-down individual study with us; they received the word by attending evening worship this week.

We are excited by other things we saw this morning as well – the first business meeting of the congregation, members taking serving roles, and plans to build a small meeting house this week on the land where the Chariot was set up.

Make no mistake – God was at work this week in Ondangwa, and he will continue to work. blog_sunday_worship_3It’s been a privilege to join him in his work this week. As we leave for home tomorrow, we have the same feelings we always have when leaving a mission campaign – glad to be headed home to our families, but sorry to have to leave so soon.

Thanks to all of you who had a part in this work, and will continue to have a part in the days and years to come. Please continue to pray for this fledgling congregation and for the spiritual development of its members.

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Running scared

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Don’t worry about any possible copyright infringement; I have it on good authority Roy Orbison will not sue me for using this as a title.

But it does apply to two individuals this week.

For whatever reason – fear of the water, fear of commitment, fear of being ostracized by friends & loved ones – we had 2 men this week come to the river (figuratively), then skedaddle. One was earlier in the week; one was a man Tommy was studying with today.

I get it. Really. I can understand how difficult it would be to be taught something all my life, then be presented with something that makes so much sense. They’ve been burned before by hucksters, and we had to try our best to show we weren’t there for their money. You may recall I mentioned in an earlier post that there have been multiple times when some church or other would come into town like a whirlwind and leave like a mouse, but not until after they had taken all the money they could.

Bible study, man baptizedToday we were expecting to be busy doing studies like crazy. Didn’t happen. Today being Saturday, some would have the day off. Also, we’ve had 4 days of meeting people, inviting them to study, and evening services, so we were hoping some interest would generate from that. Tommy had a study with 2 men today (one of whom “ran scared”), and that was our only study. Although one man left, the other one was baptized, so we were very thankful for that, and praise God for the increase.

But that’s not all…

This evening at services we had 2 more baptisms! In both cases (one man and one woman), they had been to the evening services at least twice this week, but had not taken part in a study with any of us during the day. We were pleased to witness God adding a total of 9 souls to his church this week.

One more encounter I’d like to describe before I close. A 30-ish woman drove up this afternoon in a Mercedes. Anthony went to talk with her, and I was close behind. She had seen the SOF (“sign out front”), and her first question was “which Church of Christ is this?” We didn’t quite know how to answer that, and she started to explain, “I’m from Zimbabwe…”, and Anthony said immediately that it’s the same one. Her husband is a physician, working at the hospital not far from where we were set up. Both of them are members of the church. So that’s 2 more members for this baby congregation! She said she plans to be present for morning worship.

We will meet at 9 AM in the morning for Bible study & worship, then the Chariot will pack up for its move to Zambia. We will be on an 8:35 AM flight Monday morning, so tomorrow’s post will be my last installment for this trip.

Natural childbirth

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We got to witness 5 babies being born today – 3 women and 2 teenage girls who gave their lives to Christ. Tommy studied with 1 of them and Mike studied with the other 4. The 2 girls are twin sisters. We had a short devotional afterward. All 6 of our new baby Christians were present for evening worship tonight. Tommy gave them some words of encouragement and charged them to continue to study the word and participate in the work of the church.

New Converts

Remember, this is a new congregation here in Ondangwa, and they don’t have a meeting place yet. I went with a realtor yesterday to look at 2 properties to buy, and one today to rent. The ones for sale were way out of our price range, but the rental is a possibility. Mike and Anton will go out tomorrow to try to find at least one alternative so we’ll have a choice.

As if there wasn’t enough excitement to fill the day, our van ran out of gas – and the gauge had shown just above the orange caution range. According to the gauge, we had gas. It was just Mike, Anton, and me, so Anton took a taxi to a gas station a couple of km up the road and brought back some gas. Wouldn’t start. I phoned the guy we rented the van from, and he came & picked us up, took us to the Chariot (it was already after 6, and the evening service was scheduled to begin at 6), and came back for us after the service. Not sure whether he’ll spend the next couple of days shuttling us around, or if the van will be fixed, but we’re ready to have a different kind of excitement tomorrow – whatever that may be. Whatever the Lord has in store for us, we’re ready.

32 studies and 6 baptisms in the 4 days of work (Tues-Fri).