24 January 2017
Dear Pastors and Friends who are praying,
It's always nice when the new school year starts up again. (School started Jan.11th) People come home from vacation and the children are ready to start attending Sunday School again. On back-to-school Sunday the children brought friends who came again the next Sunday as well. We now have 12 new children to visit on Saturday mornings and one woman visitor, who has come two Sundays in a row.
December was a difficult month. Jeff preached every Sunday morning for 6 weeks or more on what it means to be a church member. He made sure everyone had a copy of the church covenant. We've been praying for people to wake-up, recognize their sin for the sin that it is, repent, be saved, step out in faith and learn to do right. We had a church member who stopped selling beer and wine out of her home and then started right back to doing it again. Another member has never divorced the husband who deserted her and is now living with another man. One member insists that she does love Jesus; that she can love Jesus and also love her tribal traditions (that begin with sacrificing a sheep or cow to the ancestors, thanking them for the blessings they've bestowed, and end with plenty of beer for all). We stopped by to visit a man one Saturday and found him drinking in his front yard with a lot of friends. (It was the first anniversary of his wife's death so he was the one hosting this time of remembrance, he paid for the beer, yep, tradition. And yes, his name was on the church roll.) One woman claims that she accepted Christ as her Saviour three years ago but she's never submitted to baptism. She attends Sunday morning services about twice a month. Others claim to be members but stay away for 6 weeks at a time. The monthly offerings tell us that only three families are tithing. At the end of December, Jeff announced that this church no longer has any members! Any one who meets the qualifications and wishes to be a member of this church may stand up and say so next Sunday morning. Our church now has just six members: Jeff and Judy Blanton, John Gqoboka and his wife, who has been bedridden since she had a stroke about a year and a half ago, Anna Fen, and Brandon, a new convert. We are very disappointed that a few others who we believe are saved couldn't or wouldn't promise to keep the church covenant. (Our church covenant is an Afrikaans translation of the same one you probably have on display in your church.)
Please pray for Thandi. This young mother has attended a couple of Sunday mornings a month for over a year and a half. She's been listening. We had a good visit and we believed Thandi was going to bow her head and ask to be forgiven but when it came time to pray she wasn't looking for forgiveness. She really believes that she has cleaned up her life and she's now ready to give herself to the Lord and start receiving all the blessings He gives to His children! And she named all the blessings she had in mind. Aw... I tried going over verses again but she can't see it. Pray for Thandi.
From Mitchell Plain Brother Frantz reports that they have had the joy of baptizing two adults and their Friday Kids Bible Club has started back up with over 50 children in attendance.
Thank you for all your prayers and support!
Jeff & Judy Blanton
During this time, we had a visit from three young women (ages 20 to 26) who have grown up in the church. They came to talk about a New Year's Eve watch night service but ended up giving us an earful; their own list of grievances. According to them this church was doing just fine and was full of young people just like themselves until Jeff Blanton came along! This is their' church. They were the Sunday School children and now that they've grown up - this is their' church. Jeff told them that years ago all the adults had hoped that by growing up in the church their children would believe, trust Christ as Saviour, be baptized and join the church. Since none of them had actually done that, they weren't actually members and wouldn't be allowed to call for a vote to air their grievances. (Yeah, that visit was no fun.)
Recently, on a Sunday night, we were singing choruses out of the back of the songbook. Some of the choruses are almost silly, like:
Shoo, shoo it's hot there,
shoo, shoo it's hot there,
shoo, shoo it's hot there,
it's hot in hell! (sounds better in Afrikaans) We all laugh, but not really a chorus we sing often.
Anna's youngest son, who isn't saved, was asked to choose his favorite and he chose an Afrikaans chorus which translated means:
Jesus is my Saviour,
He is my Redeemer,
He is everything in my life,
Therefore I praise his precious name!
This young man is 36 years old. He grew up in our church and yet never accepted Christ as his Saviour. He chose that chorus and he really sang as though he loves that chorus. He comes to church about once a month. We're still praying for him and others just like him.
Afrikaans lessons are going well. Jonathan and Katie know quite a few words and are learning more every day. They are reading some Bible stories written for Beginner Readers as well as studying our textbook. I also look for passages in the Bible that are fairly easy to read and that repeat some of the new vocabulary words. After all these years I'm also learning more. I have a new dictionary with a grammar section that I love! Some things I picked up years ago by simply listening and learning: I know it's right because my ears tell me that's how everyone says it but this grammar section explains in detail why it's said that way!
During school vacation, we held Thursday morning game days for school age children. While Jeff went to get the snacks one day, I tried to play "motorboat, motorboat, go so slow... motorboat, motorboat, go so fast..." with a couple of children. Well, I slipped in the sand and fell flat on my bottom. Unfortunately under our 2 inches of sand we have hard rock. I was sure nothing was cracked or broken, just really slammed down hard. I called myself, "dumb, dumb, dumb" for the next two weeks as it was hard to sit, stand, sit, stand and I couldn't pick up anything from the floor. Praise the Lord! I have now recovered. I was so tired of being limited in what I could do. It is so good to be able to move.
Thank you for caring about us.
Thank you for praying,
Judy and Jeff, too