Trust in Times of Trouble

Trusting God is easy when things are going well. The challenge comes when our lives get thrown upside down.

Recently I’ve been diagnosed with cervical cancer.  As the shock and hurt of this dreaded disease hit our family again, the storm that rocked us the most was that the best option for me in treatment of this cancer would be to surgically remove my uterus along with my cervix and pelvic lymph nodes. Not only do I have to face this dread disease of cancer but I now have to come to terms with the fact that Michael and I will never be able to have biological children… If you read my blog you probably know that we have struggled with infertility for a number of years already and what you might not know is that we have been trying for 7 years including 2 years of intense fertility treatments. You always have hope, even when you think you have given up. You keep trusting and hoping that your miracle will happen. Losing your womb however closes this door forever.

Now we can talk about Trust again… What does it mean to “Trust God”? Do we only trust Him when He is following our plan for our lives or do we trust Him to have the best plan for our lives?

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

Right in this moment my path doesn’t look very straight and my future doesn’t look very bright but I can be challenged to keep trusting in the Lord. I know that He has a plan for my life. It might be a different plan from the plan I had but it is the better plan. I need to acknowledge Him and He will make my path straight in due time.

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Sacrifice

Do you know what it is to sacrifice?

I’m not talking about those selfish sacrifices, where you sacrifice time of relaxing to train for a competition, or where you sacrifice the sweet delights of dessert for the sake of losing a few kilograms of weight. I’m talking about giving up something that means a lot to you for the sake of someone else or for the sake of the Gospel.

Paul shares his experience of sacrifice in Philippians 3 : 8

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…”

In other passages Paul mentions everything he suffered and how he often went hungry, was persecuted, beaten, chained and suffered… Why?

Why do we sacrifice? What motivates us to make those sacrifices? Any sacrifice, whether selfish or unselfish, is motivated by a passion or a love for something or someone.

sacrifice-of-the-saviorIn the scripture above Paul gives us a peak into what motivates him to suffer loss and sacrifice. He says, “For his sake…” Who is this person who makes it worth it for Paul to suffer the loss of all things? This is the person of Jesus Christ. The One who left his throne in Heaven to dwell amongst man, to suffer and be crucified for our sins so that we can be reconciled to God. The One who was willing to humble Himself to be put to death on a cross!

That is the ultimate sacrifice. It is this love and this sacrifice that motivates Paul to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel.

How about you? Are you making sacrifices for the sake of Christ? Have you come to fully understand the extent of Christ’s love for you when He died on the cross? Does His love motivate you to make sacrifices?

If you ever find it hard to make a sacrifice for the sake of Christ, think again on His sacrifice for you.

David-Livingstone.jpg“Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger now and then with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.”   -David Livingstone

 

Coming to terms with loss

In the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to comfort and console many who are experiencing bereavement. Loss of a family member, a friend or even a pet. It is devastating to lose someone you love, and trust me when I say that I know what it is to lose someone you care deeply for to death.sculpture2_645_469_55

But through all of this I feel the pain of loss even for something I never had… a child…

The Lord has been so good to us and has blessed us in so many ways but sometimes there is this empty ache in my heart when I feel the loss of the child I may never have.

I read the Bible where it encourages me to be content in whatever circumstances I am and I feel guilty for not being content with all the many blessings that God has given me.

I read the Bible where it encourages me to trust in the Lord with all my heart and He will make my paths straight and I am thrilled with how I can rest in my Abba Father with my circumstances and know that He is in control… but the pain doesn’t go away.

Over time the pain gets better but then it comes back and it overwhelms me and I feel like Peter looking at those waves, willing myself to look away but I can’t! I’m sinking! Jesus help me! This is a continuous battle.

I am grateful that I have a wonderful husband, I am grateful that we have a roof over our head and food on our table. I am grateful for the vehicles we have to be able to move around as well as the means to put fuel in the tank. I am grateful for our cat and her beautiful personality. I am grateful for all the many gadgets and other blessings we have like clothes and shoes etc. I am grateful for the mornings we can sleep in because it’s just the two of us and I am so grateful to God for giving us this time together as husband and wife. But OH!… I long for a time where there will be a little body in my arms. I long to see my husband as a father. I long for those pyjama drills and dirty nappies… It probably sounds like I am crazy… Am I?

But through all of this, I am grateful that in my heart I still find that there is a peace and a trust and a knowledge that God, my Father, knows best and will provide what we need.

” We know that He works all things together for the good for those who love Him.”

Romans 8:28

Tribute to my Mother

This mother’s day as I was pondering the amazing woman that my mother is, I lost myself in the complexities of all the wonderful things my mom did for me and the love she showed to us.

Many dimensions of incredible would need to be summoned to provide an adequate description of my mother; I don’t think anyone will fully know or understand how amazing she really is.

My mom was barely 20 when she was first called “mother” after my birth. I was her firstborn of 5 very active and naughty children. She sacrificially gave of herself as she poured out her immense boundless love for us. My mother brought us up in the incredible ways of God and taught us to always choose the high road. She often read to us from the Bible telling us its many exciting stories.

Sadly, to my deep regret, we broke her heart many times, and yet she always loved us unwaveringly. I often saw her on her knees earnestly praying for us with tears running down her cheeks (I’m sure she still does).

She often had to endure our frequent complaining and raging ingratitude, behaving like spoilt brats. She took it all on her shoulders, listening lovingly to our point of view, sternly correcting our misbehaviour, and tenderly disciplining our wrongs.

My mother reminds me explicitly of the passage in the Bible in Galatians 5 which speaks of the fruit of the Spirit. I was privileged to be witness of her life and consistently saw her displaying each of the fruit of the Spirit.

“ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”

Galatians 5:22

LOVE: My mother loves constantly, relentlessly, unconditionally, sacrificially, selflessly, and without regard to cost. My mom’s love is bigger than even I can comprehend but that which I have seen of her love, amazing as it is, is not the whole of it. There is so much more veiled behind her beautiful smile.

JOY: My mother has a marvellous sense of humour and frequently made us laugh. She always helped us see the sweet side of a sour situation. She would wake us up in the morning singing songs and filling the room with joy and gladness.

PEACE: When all around us was chaos, Mamma was the rock that remained constant; though most others around would be in turmoil and distress, my mom had a peace which seemed to surpass all understanding – and we could feel her peace emanating from her presence.

PATIENCE: My mother is patient beyond understanding. My mom has hope when all others have given up already. She often sat up with me through the night helping my stubborn brain memorize vast amounts of information when I was studying for Matric.

KINDNESS: My mother is kind. Countless individuals were beneficiaries of her great kindness. She was always willing to help others, stand in for duties when others couldn’t be there, and she never spoke a bad word about anyone.

GOODNESS: My mom is perfect! She often apologised for just thinking about doing something wrong.

FAITHFULNESS: My mom is faithful to the bitter end. Her loyalty to God and His Word is unwavering; Her faithfulness to her husband is impeccable.

HUMILITY: Never a proud look or a haughty attitude have I seen from my mom!

SELF-CONTROL: My mom always exhibits self-control. She controls her actions and her reactions like no one else I know. Never have I heard her speak out in anger or lose control of her calmness.

My mother is like an angel, the closest thing to perfection on this earth – and if there is anyone who can disagree with me on even one point, I would blatantly call you an ignorant liar!

Mamma, you are the best mom I could ever ask for. I LOVE YOU and deeply appreciate all you have done for me from the first day till now. Although we are far away now and circumstances don’t allow us to meet often, I hope and pray that I will see you again soon.

You were an amazing mother and still are. I love you and pray for you often!

Happy Mother’s Day

Mission to Malawi Part 2

Witchdoctor Steps Forward
In another village of the Lower Shire Valley we had been ministering for 3 days we were confronted by a similar blindness and resistance to the Gospel. The church members, including the pastor, had no idea what the Good News was and when we explained the problem of sin, they all admitted that they would go to hell if they died.

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They understood that their sin had separated them from God and earned them His wrath, yet they had no idea how they could be set free from this disastrous problem. On the last day of our ministry here after many had joyfully responded to the Gospel preaching – as if they had heard the Good News for the first time, a woman who was a leader in the church stepped forward in deep contrition and remorse with loud cries. She said that she has a burden on her heart that she needs to be rid of. She confessed that she is a witchdoctor, though she doesn’t want to be, and she is often forced by evil spirits to do things she doesn’t want to do. But this day she confessed her sin of witchcraft, and sought Christ for freedom from this bondage. We praise God for her and for the many others like her who have been set free by the Good News of Jesus Christ.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” 
John 8:36

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Valuable Resources
Much of the vital literature and resources that we have distributed and used for teaching and training have been extremely valuable in assisting these desperate and eager believers and their gratitude is evident and encouraging.

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Thanks to our generous supporters, we have been able to buy and distribute 72 Chichewa Bibles to eager believers who recited the Ten Commandments in order to “earn” a copy of God’s Word. We have also been able to bless two pastors each with a bicycle to help them spread the Gospel further.

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Please visit our Facebook Page: Watson’s Missions if you would like to see more pictures of our ministry adventures. 

Thank You
Thank you very much for all your prayers, encouragement, and support that you have given to make our ministry here in Malawi possible. We would not have been able to do any of this without your participation. Thank you to those of you who have sacrificially and generously given of your finances which have enabled us to accomplish all that the Lord has called us to do.

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May God bless you thoroughly!

In His service – and loving it!

Michael and Renee Watson

Mission to Malawi Part 1

Dear Friends and Family

We greet you in the wonderful Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

We hope and trust that you are well and that your soul is prospering in the knowledge of the Lord. We are all well and enjoying good health here in Malawi.

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“The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? 
The LORD is the Stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
Psalm 27:1

Answer to Prayer
Our team has been reduced in size as we lost one of our team members – not to death or any illness, but we willingly sacrificed him as a living sacrifice to serve the Lord at a Sola Scriptura Bible College that is in desperate need of help. In our last Mission update, we urged you to pray that God would send someone to fulfil this need; God has answered your prayers. We have released Ryno to respond to the earnest plea for help that came from the valiant old missionary who is single-handedly running this effective Bible College with its vast responsibilities and numerous challenges. Ryno was eager to respond to this need and thoroughly believed that God has called and prepared him for such a time as this.

Mission Overview
We have currently been on this Africa Overland Mission for more than 4 months and have conducted more than 300 meetings in 6 countries including South Africa, Zambia, Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, and Malawi. We have travelled more than 14,000km over a vast variety of complicated, compromised, and corrugated road surfaces and have had only one puncture.

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We have delivered and distributed almost two tonnes of valuable Gospel literature, Discipleship books, Bibles, New Testaments, tracts, DVDs, and MP3 discs.

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We have been ministering in Malawi since 24 August and have conducted more than 150 meetings in the 8 weeks that we have been ministering in this needy, desperate, and hungry country.

Vibrant Mission Partners
We are really enjoying the ministry here in Malawi. The folk here have a deep desire to learn and are desperately grateful for everything we share with them. The Church that we are currently working with is doing a great work of expanding the Kingdom of God here in Malawi. They have a noble vision and vibrant passion for mission work within Malawi. They are especially keen on Evangelism Training to counter the insidious advance of Islam. This Church has already planted more than 280 churches in Malawi and Mozambique.

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The bishop of this church had attended the Great Commission Course and is thoroughly desperate for the training he received to be taught in all the churches.

Frontline of the Battle
Malawi is crucial at this time in the battle against the treacherous advance of Islam. There are many new mosques being built along the roadsides and Muslims are actively involved in “evangelism” (propagation) in many areas. They successfully motivate the local, vulnerable, and gullible people to become adherents of their “peaceful” religion by offering various rewards such as: food, business training and opportunities, education, and other such motivations. Although claiming to be peaceful, the Muslims are aggressively resisting the Church, beating and stoning Evangelists, burning down churches, and in some areas violently protesting against the sale of pork in the local market places. Now is the time that the Church must wake up and counter this sinister advance of Islam. If Malawi succumbs to this Muslim advance, Islam will be in an advantageous position to spread their dangerous false teachings to other neighbouring countries in Central Africa.

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Facing the Challenge
During our time here in Malawi we have mostly gone to areas that are under imminent threat of being over powered by Islam, such as Nkhotakota, Machinga, Blantyre, and Nsanje.

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We have preached in a church that had been burned down by Muslims. We have encouraged the believers to stand strong in their faith. We have taught Muslim Evangelism and conducted outreaches in strong Muslim areas, and motivated, trained, and equipped the local believers to be more actively involved in sharing their faith with their Muslim neighbours.

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Blantyre and Gomorrah
Blantyre is a very wicked city. Some may call Malawi a Christian country, but in the time we have spent in this city, we cannot agree. Immorality is prevalent, prostitution, though illegal, is rife, witchcraft is a strong influence and used by many – even pastors and church members, alcohol abuse is obvious as many drunks stagger the streets at night, and the strong insipid presence of Islam is inhospitably evident by the disturbing loud speakers frequently violating the air with their call to “prayer”.

What is the Good News?
We had the opportunity to conduct Evangelism Training in three different areas in the city of Blantyre. The church is largely sleeping, not getting involved in sharing the Good News! These Christians are just attending church out of religious ambition, yet have no passion to share their faith with others. When we ask them what the Gospel is, they don’t even know! This is a shameful indication of a lack of basic Biblical understanding. In the Chichewa language, “The Gospel” is directly translated as, “Good News”. There is a desperate need for teaching the Gospel to the Church and for motivating them to take this Good News and share it with others. We have been so surprised at the joy which overcomes these church-goers when they hear and understand the Gospel.

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Hopeless Situation
We have been seriously disheartened by the apathy and lack of passion in the church in Blantyre – so much so that we almost gave up, wanting to just go back home and leave this city to face the imminent destruction that it seems to deserve. The only thing that kept us going on was the thought that, even if we can motivate one individual to become actively involved in spreading the Gospel, God could use that one to bring a Biblical transformation to this wicked city.

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“If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. 
So then, whether we live, or we die, we belong to the Lord.” 
Romans 14:8

Shire Valley Witchcraft
We conducted an intense time of ministry in the Southern part of Malawi known as the Lower Shire Valley. Some of the locals call it hell – because of the extreme scorching temperatures that assault the body’s senses. We experienced temperatures up to 45 degrees Celsius!

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But I believe there is another reason why this place should be called hell, and that is due to the strong presence of witchcraft in this sweltering valley. There are often reports of people literally flying in order to reach and harm others; children are carried away at night by spirits and ‘taught’ the methods of witchcraft and there is a mystical crocodile that attacks and kills targeted individual. Shape-shifting is common as people take on the form of creatures in order to move about unobserved.

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Frustrating Ministry
In one of the villages in this dark region, we conducted an Evangelism Workshop with the local church. We met under a tree because the mud-brick church was too small to host the Seminar. Other churches had been invited to join the program.

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This was great because there were a large number of folk to minister to, but the fact that we were outside opened our meeting up to others too. Even this was great because we had the privilege of sharing the Gospel to the curious crowd that had joined our meeting under the tree. But this also opened up a disturbance of the atmosphere created by the insipid, unhappy, disturbed, powers of darkness that crawled into our meeting place inciting their subjects to unsettled, irreverent, upsetting behaviour which certainly made it difficult for me to minister. Michael had to stop speaking on a few occasions to try to bring order back to the meeting, praying hard that God would bind up these evil forces. The young children specifically were tools of the devil in this regard.

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Darkness Defenceless Against the Light
On one particular night, we were experiencing this same frustration while Michael was preaching at an open air Evangelism Crusade (which was initially meant to be an evening Bible study for the believers), Michael felt defeated and disheartened as he came to the end of his presentation of the Gospel.

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The meeting had been disturbed and interrupted on numerous occasions by rowdy, noisy, stubborn, hard-hearted, hecklers who seemed intent on mocking and trivializing the message and the meeting. Michael had tried to maintain order, and tried to present the Gospel clearly under the difficult conditions, but felt as if he had failed – he wanted to just give up, but pressed on persistently – almost forcing himself to continue. At the end of this meeting, he gave an unenthusiastic altar call, thinking there might be at least one to whom the Truth might have gotten through. There was one, then two. As they were coming forward, the hecklers intensified their jeering, mocking and banter, but these two came boldly forward unmoved by the ridicule that was being poured out upon them. Six others later reluctantly joined these two bold young men. We were astounded that through all the darkness of this situation, God’s Light had shone through to these sincere determined responders.

Silas Freed from Prison
The next morning as Michael was taking his morning walk, he was cheerfully greeted by a young man with a bright face. This was a rare occurrence due to the strong powers of darkness in this area; he therefore eagerly returned his greeting. The young man introduced himself to Michael as Silas and told him that he was one of those who had responded to the Gospel the previous night. Michael then recognized him as the first person who responded amid the jeering and heckling. Silas also expressed his keen desire to have a copy of God’s Word in order to help him grow in this desperately dark area. Michael was very blessed by this, and pleased to give him a Bible and a copy of Biblical Principles for Africa.

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Silas expressed his joy of being set free by the Truth. He has just completed his schooling, and now has a desire to study to be a minister of the same Gospel that has set his heart free.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 
John 8:32

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Tanzania for Christ

Tasting Fruit in Tanzania

Last year during our Africa Overland Mission we visited a town in Tanzania and conducted an intensive week of ministry at a particular church. It was our privilege to visit and minister in the same church this year and to see the fruit of our ministry from last year. The church had taken the teachings they received last year and put them into practice. The change was pleasantly obvious to behold. It certainly blessed our hearts to hear the testimonies and witness the progress that had been made.

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We were kept very busy during our time there as our host pastor put us to work, speaking at churches, schools, and a college. We conducted two Reformation FIRE seminars there and screened the Jesus film, or The Passion of the Christ film, on almost every evening. One night, as we showed the Jesus film, the nearby mosque tried to compete with our sound system. They sang and chanted on their horn speakers, pushing the volume up to what was obviously maximum, because after two hours their sound system burned out.

“I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

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Ngorongoro Crater Exemption

Unfortunately we were not able to visit the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania where we had hoped to minister among the Maasai. This was due to the disappointing fact that the Conservation Authority did not accept our request to be exempted from the exorbitant fees that are required for tourists. We had prayed hard and sent letters to the Conservation Authority 3 months in advance, following all the required protocol, but it seemed as if God had shut this door firmly.
 

Free Time Well Used

Seeing as we had almost a week of free time on our hands, we took a few days to rest and recover, as by this time, Michael and I were down with a bad spell of flu. We then offered the rest of the time to our ministry contact in Malawi who was very happy to receive us earlier than expected.

Rest, Recuperation and Recovery

We erected our tents at a beautiful idyllic lakeshore beach where we camped for a few days to rest and recuperate before the next phase of this Mission.

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This seemed like a piece of heaven on earth – a tranquil bay along the beautiful shore of Lake Malawi where the beach is white, the sunlight dances as it sparkles off the crystal clear and calm lake water, the birds chirp their melodious song as they play in the branches of the trees that shade the lush green grass that carpets our restful campsite. This place is like a paradise!

Michael and I had been desperately ill with the flu, often succumbing to coughing spells which left us with raw throats and restless nights. This paradise campsite and welcome break in our busy ministry schedule had come at just right time to allow us to recover from this annoying virus.

Sola Scriptura Bible College

We had a wonderful time of ministry at the Sola Scriptura Bible College in Malawi where we conducted a Great Commission Seminar, distributed valuable books and literature to the 74 students, donated DVDs, Audio CDs, MP3 Discs, and Discipleship books for the college library, and delivered World Missionary Press Gospel Booklets, tracts, Broad and Narrow Way Posters, and other Evangelistic resources for their frequent outreaches.

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Relentless Retiree and Reformer

The Sola Scriptura Bible College is one of five colleges that have been established in South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, and in Kenya. The man who has been used by God to start these efficient Bible Colleges is now in his late 70s and still pushing on hard in this race that God has set before him. He is a great example of tenacity, perseverance, self-sacrifice, productivity, and triumph. In his old age, this passionate Missionary is running this Bible College in Malawi with very little help from others. His one other colleague has left to return home to South Africa.

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Desperate Crisis!

This tough old Missionary is doing the work of five strong young men. It breaks my heart to see him left in this challenging and demanding situation. This is a shocking reflection of the blatant reality of the lack of young people responding to God’s perpetual call to Missions:

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?'” Isaiah 6:8

 
This tired, robust, stalwart Missionary earnestly made his plight known to me declaring, “We are facing a crisis situation here. I will be left all alone here to run the college single handed. I will not be able to manage alone. Please, we need help. Aren’t there any suitable young men who can be sent to continue the work here?”

Who Will Go?

Please pray for the Bible Colleges that are being run by this valiant Missionary. There is a desperate shortage of workers at most of the Sola Scriptura campuses. There is lots of work that needs to be done. Our Mission has now loaned one of our Field Workers to assist Sola Scriptura in their crisis for the rest of their academic year.

 
“Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the labourers are few. So pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust labourers into His harvest.'”Matthew 9:37-38 (Amplified)

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Africa Overland Mission

Our Africa Overland Mission team has, in the first 11 weeks, travelled over 12,000km, through 6 countries, conducted 210 meetings, including 8 Reformation FIRE Seminars and 5 Evangelism Training Seminars. 2 months of ministry in the field, still lies ahead.

Grateful Hands and Hearts

Thank you very much for praying for us, for encouraging us on our ‘Watson’s Missions’ Facebook page and on sms, emails, and WhatsApp, and for giving of your finances that purchases diesel, Bibles, food, and shelter which enables us to persist in fulfilling our Missionary calling of ministering the Gospel in Africa. May God richly reward your generous giving.

“For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.” Mark9:41

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May God bless you thoroughly!

In His service – and loving it!

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