The year's team proved to be a great group of people and we had a very productive time in Ovamboland. The team consisted of:
- Ross Bartholomew – St Matthews Church Table View
- Kathy Noland – St James Church Kenilworth
- Roy Turner – St Matthews Church Table View
- Unathi Yose - Christ Church Khayelitsha
- Lauren Douglass – St Matthews Church Table View
- Mawande Tolbart- Christ Church Khayelitsha
- Melody Curtis – Christ Church Somerset West
- Marion Edmonds-Smith – Christ Church Tygerberg
- Sharon Bey-Leveld – Christ Church Tygerberg
- Muriel Bartholomew – St Matthews Church Table View
Our transport was a sponsored Toyota Quantum and one of the team's sedan. This gave us the flexibity needed without costing a fortune in fuel. We are thankful to the Lord for His gracious provision.
We took three days to drive up to Ondangwa, spent 7 days there in ministry and three days driving back. Namibia is certainly the land of long distances. Although some of us have done this journey many times it is still a long, long way.
From the beginning of our time together the team gelled very well and formed a cohesive unit that was a pleasure to lead. The travilling time up is always great as we get to know one another and the return journey forms an informal debriefing time as well. We did have a formal debriefing at Grunau on the way back. As the old saying goes, "An army marches on its stomach", our team was very ably fed by Muriel and her assistant Roy - who persisted in calling her mom and me dad, which caused much consternation wherever we were.
Our overall task this year was to focus on evangelism. I wanted us as a team to sow as much Gospel seed as we could during the short time there. The team stepped up to the task admirable despite a very full and tiring schedule. Breakfast was normally at about 07:30, followed by devotions and then preparing for the day's ministry. We then had to drive to the church we were going to be ministering at, which could be as long as a 2 hr drive. Ministry started at 12:00 but in many cases the people would be there waiting when we arrived so you start connecting almost immediately. Time was first spent with the ladies and men, then the children and youth and then in the evening we showed the Jesus film. Arriving home well after sunset was the norm. We were very well received and it was good to be able to follow up on how many of the folk were doing spiritually. This year it was heartning to find many more than normal who professed to know Jesus. At St Johns Church (Indungungu) 4 of the men declared that they wanted to follow Jesus. When we wanted to show the film at this church the generator would not work but after some skillful negotiating with a local bar owner by Sharon, we got to show the film on the outside wall of the bar, using their electricity. Many of the potential patrons joined us and at the end of the film the owner joined us with cooldrinks for us all!!
Each year we go we are amazed at the poverty and lack of water but our friends there seem to manage. I plan on visiting more often if possible to try and train some of the folk there in business skills so that they will be able to start their own small businesses, thus helping them to break the cycle of poverty that pervades much of the area.
We give all glory to Jeus for the amazing time spent there and the opportunities that we had. We always pray that the imapact we have on the locals will be lasting and thet our Lord will use our efforts for His kingdom.
Ross Bartholomew - Team Leader
Our task in the CfN 2016 trip was clearly given by our leader: We are going to the five churches in Ovamboland to evangelise. A second goal was to develop new and strengthen old relationships with our friends who run the churches there.
My work was amongst the children, and in this context it stretched from babies through to toddlers and teens. I had the help of Lauren Douglass a well-seasoned youth worker from St Matthew’s. She and I share a ‘je ne sais quoi’ type of quirkiness that cut inroads into the children’s shyness. We had each prepared a Sunday school lesson to give at the five churches we visited. I also brought along an audio-visual series of teachings from Genesis. When teaching non English speakers I use an Audibible, pre-loaded with messages in the local language, in this case the Ovambo dialect of Kwashinyama. The recorded message follows the stories in a large picture book from GNM, Good News Media. Thus, if one had time, the chronological Bible story could be explained in a way that the children could understand.
We had taken a few helpers along to Namibia; these were two hand puppets that I used to introduce the lessons. These two characters were a smash hit, particularly as I could conceal my Audibible in the same hand.
Getting back to the lessons and church visits… where do you start when you prayerfully attempt to evangelise a group of kiddies (and passer-by adults) for one half hour, once per year? The task was colossal but we believe that the Holy Spirit prepares and cultivates the soil that we drop the seed into. I had taken my lesson from the story of Jesus calling up to Zacchaeus as he passes through Jericho, I wanted to explain that Jesus Christ is King and Lord and sovereign over the circumstances of men. And so, the theme and the takeaway message for the children was “Jesus came to find YOU, little one”
It was exciting to find that the churches were predominantly filled by children. It was disappointing to find that very little, if any; children’s work was being done in the particular church I visited on Sunday. We sat for two and a half hours in the service which comprised 90% children and there was no teaching for them. We were ready and willing to teach the little ones or to sit in on the Churches’ Sunday school, but neither happened. Happily the situation was different on the weekdays when we went to the church grounds and were allowed to play with the children and to teach them the Bible.
My overall impressions of this trip were that:
- It was superbly led by Ross and Muriel Bartholomew
- From the perspective of team unity it was the best short term mission that I have ever been on.
- Because of the points above, I believe we were able to achieve our goals of evangelism and teaching
- There is a great need for Ovambo speaking children’s workers in this community
- There is an even greater need for clear, simple Gospel preaching and teaching in the Ovambo Churches
- The preschool that runs in Christchurch Ondangwa is an excellent community facility
- The previous CfN mission trips are yielding fruit, evidenced in warm relationships between the SA visitors and the local community.
It was a privilege to serve as a member of the 2016 Team, - with special thanks to Ross and Muriel.
Between the 5 churches there were about 50 to 60 ladies attending. Most of the ladies were very enthusiastic to learn from God’s word. At one of the churches there was little to no response which was very saddening. Some of the ladies were challenged as to which kingdom they belong to, the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of darkness. (References mainly from Luke & Isaiah).
Others were encouraged to use Philippians 1: 1 - 11 as a basis for prayer and thanksgiving, putting in names when needed.
We ended on the last day with encouragement to “stand firm” (Ephesian 6: 10 – 18). These ladies on the last day came from 2 other churches i.e. St Peter’s and St John’s, to attend with the ladies from Christ Church Ondangwa.
The ladies pleaded with us to continue to pray for them and to continue coming back to teach them from God’s word.
From my point of view, if for no-one else, I would continue to visit these ladies as often as I can.
Yours in Christ