To aid the advancement of healthy, God-centred, Christ-exalting, Holy Spirit-saturated, and faithful Bible teaching churches established in the needier areas of South Africa and the African continent as a whole as the Lord sees fit to prosper our work.
We desire to serve as co-workers by partnering with obedient men who have responded to the call of God and are particularly ministering in needier contexts. By helping these ministers, our intention is not to create an unhealthy dependence from the local churches they serve in. However, we are also cautioned not to be cold or indifferent to gospel work, no matter the risk, at whatever cost. We would rather take the risk to support a godly man and suffer loss than be too cautious to do nothing while many remain without a shepherd.
We would be too narrow minded and wrong to think that there are no faithful bible teaching and believing churches in some of the needier areas of our country and continent. There are many godly pastors who preach the word faithfully and have given their lives to the cause of Christ in these areas. We have partnered with some of these men and are greatly encouraged by their zeal, diligence and faithfulness for which we are most grateful to God.
However, we would be naïve and ignorant to assume that the work of the Lord is thriving in these areas. As we look to these areas, we cannot help but be overcome with the same emotion that overwhelmed our Lord when He felt compassion for the people in Galilee who were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. No statement better suits the condition of these areas than the words of our Lord, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Our response cannot be anything else but to “beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His Harvest.” Matthew 9:36 – 38. We can only name a few, if any, evangelical churches in these areas that are able to support their pastor, sustain their congregational ministries and plant other churches with their own resources.
In an age when the wealth and health prosperity gospel has had widespread influence, we must be succinct to clarify that by “healthy” we do not at all refer to the size of a church building, or the magnitude of its financial forecast and budget or even its reputation of the miraculous (often false) in the community within which it functions. We define healthy by the standard of sound words laid for us in the Scriptures and which was once for all handed down to the saints Jude 3. A healthy church is one that has an elevated view of Scripture as the authoritative and final word of the living God 2 Timothy 3:16 – 17, 2 Peter 1:20 – 21.
In a healthy church, people are drawn primarily to the biblical preaching of the Word of God, even more than they are to singing and camaraderie of fellowship as important as these things are. Of course there are other marks of a healthy church, such as the faithful observance of the ordinances of the Lord’s supper (Matthew 26:27, Mark 14:23) and baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13, 1 Peter 3:21), qualified men in leadership roles (1 Timothy 3:1 – 7, Titus 1:6 – 9), practising the one another’s (John 13 : 34 – 35, Romans 12:10, 16, 13:8) and many others, but we believe all of these stem from a lofty view of Scripture.
A high view of God is inevitable when you have a high view of Scripture. It is in the Scriptures that we get a glimpse of a thrice holy God who is separate and different from us and will not approve of evil (Isaiah 6 :3, Habakkuk 1:13). Man and his needs are not ultimate, God is. Any church that places man or his needs above the glory of God is a danger to society. In a secular world where self-ism reigns, man needs to hear that he exists from God, for God and to God. To borrow the mantra of bible teacher John Piper “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” Again, the North African Bishop of Hippo got it right when he said, “God has made us for Himself and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Him.”
The great American theologian, Jonathan Edwards put it this way “All that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God’s works is included in that one phrase, the glory of God. The beams of glory come from God, and are something of God and are refunded back again to their original… So that the whole is of God, and in God, and to God, and God is the beginning, middle and end in this affair.” In summary, the glory of God is the sum of all of His attributes. When Moses asked to see the glory of God, God proclaimed to Moses that He is sovereign in His grace and compassion (Exodus 33:19), He is a covenant-keeper, longsuffering, full of steadfast love and truth, acquits sin and is just (Exodus 34:6 – 7). A man of God must do all that is essential for his preaching to be God-centred by teaching his people all that God has revealed of Himself in the Scriptures, which are contained in the Old and New Testaments.
No modern day theologian can say it better than Michael Reeves “ If we want to know who God is, the best thing we can do is look at Christ. If we want to live the life to which God calls us, we look to Christ.” In essence, to be God-centred is to be Christ-centred because a Trinitarian focus is a Christ-exalting focus. Jesus stunned His disciples by telling them they had seen the Father (John 14:7). Being simply dull of hearing and perhaps remembering the words of Jesus that God is Spirit and no man can see Him (John 4 : 24), their representative Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father (John 14:8). Rebuking their unbelief, Jesus re-iterated that they had seen the Father because they had seen Him (John 14:9).
The Apostle Paul explains to the Corinthians that to be Christian is to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4, Colossians 1:15). There is no institution on earth where the Lord Jesus Christ is so intent on displaying his wisdom and glory as in the church (Ephesians 1:6, 3:10) . The church is the body of Christ (Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:12 – 27) and His bride (Ephesians 5: 22 – 33). Such union between Christ and the church must drive us to live carefully and orderly with full reverence to Him in order that His name will not be blasphemed among the Gentiles (Romans 2:24). Attaining to such stature can only come through faithful preaching of the Word that is distinctly Christ-exalting (John 3:30). May the Lamb of God receive the full reward of His sufferings through the salvation of souls in these areas (Revelation 5:9 – 10).
The Holy Spirit has been subject to greater blasphemies in our century than perhaps in any other time. Critiquing the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement, Pastor John MacArthur says this, “It is deeply ironic that a movement supposedly devoted to honouring and emphasizing the ministry of the Holy Spirit in fact treats Him with such casual contempt and condescension. In practice, charismatics often seem to reduce the Spirit of God to a force or a feeling… the sovereign glory of His holy person is exchanged repeatedly for the hollow shell of human imagination. The result is a movement whose most visible leaders—televangelists, faith healers, self-proclaimed prophets, and prosperity preachers—boldly claim His name while simultaneously dragging it through the mud.” As sharp and pointed as that statement is, we need to also be careful of cold religion which excludes emotion and excitement, in an overreaction against the false modern day apostles and bishops.
A church saturated with the Spirit of God will love His Word (Psalm 119:97), preach it faithfully (2 Timothy 4:2), live by it fearlessly (Colossians 3:16) and sing it fervently (Ephesians 5:19). The Spirit of God no longer provides new revelatory insights to prophets (Hebrews 1:1 – 2, Revelation 22:18 – 19) but simply reveals to humble sinners truths already recorded in the Scriptures and illumines our minds to understand them (1 Corinthians 2:14 – 16, 2 Corinthians 4:6). A proper understanding of the Holy Spirit and His role is crucial in the needier areas where we seek to see the gospel of Christ advance.
A church whose aim is to be biblical will not compromise in order to be “relevant” to the culture around it, but rather will seek to conform its community to the Word of God through faithful contextualisation. As the Baptists have historically become known as the people of the book, we believe this is a fitting title for any local church that seeks to be healthy according to God’s definition. Our prayer is that as more healthy churches are strengthened in these areas, more healthy church plants will become established and the nations reached.
Needier areas involve:
- Rural areas
- Small towns
- Inner city contexts
These areas have been categorised as needier based on the following
- Low ratio of known evangelical churches compared to the size of the population
- Lack of resources (literature, full-time ministry staff, meeting facilities) in the local churches to edify members and reach its own people and communities
- Unmet financial needs of the ministry labourers
- Absence of males to take on leadership positions
- Limited exemplary and godly families to initiate and oversee church ministries