Church Planter – Bloemfontein, South Africa
After studying engineering at the University of Pretoria, Richard later went on to study pastoral and theological studies at London Theological Seminary. He and his family subsequently returned to South Africa in 2010 when they received a call from Emmanuel Baptist Church in Johannesburg to head up a church plant in Bloemfontein.
Testimony of Conversion
I was converted in 1994, during my first year at the University of Pretoria. God graciously saved me from a life of nominalism and self-righteousness. As the Lord saved me, I realized that I had no righteousness of my own (Romans 3:12, 23). Rather, my sin was before me and I knew I was in need of God’s mercy for forgiveness and salvation. By God’s grace I prayed and sought forgiveness (1 John 1:9). By God’s enabling, I placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, His perfect sinless life, and His sacrificial death on the cross (John 1:12). As the hymn writer says: "My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly trust in Jesus' Name."
Call to Ministry
In 1998, for the first time, I was exposed to the solid, exegetical preaching of God’s Word. Pastor Ronald Kalifungwa passionately preached the Gospel as I never heard it before. I was further exposed to the doctrines of grace and grew spiritually and I developed a hunger for God’s Word and a desire to become more involved in the life of the church.
As this happened, I became involved in the evangelistic efforts of the church (door to door outreach and the student ministry) and I learned how to share the Gospel with unbelievers. In 1999, I was baptized, after receiving teaching on the subject of baptism, and I was accepted as a member at Lynnwood Baptist Church. A desire developed to serve God more fully.
In the year 2002, the elders of the church started to give me opportunities for public ministry. I got involved in teaching Sunday school, leading prayer meetings and worship services, and then started to preach in the church.
The idea of church-planting dawned on me in answer to the spiritual ignorance and darkness in my country. This especially was the case as we would travel to visit family in Bloemfontein and attend various churches in the city.
The desire to become a better equipped preacher of God’s Word, to become better grounded in the Word of God, and be prepared for the pastorate were often on my mind. In 2007, I took this matter to the elders of the church to seek their counsel. They responded favorably and encouraged me to pursue training. To this end, I pursued pastoral and theological training at the London Theological Seminary (LTS) from October 2008 to June 2010.
My studies at LTS were very enriching and offered many opportunities to minister God’s Word in churches in and around London. My love for the Lord’s church deepened and I increasingly sensed the privilege and responsibility of being a minister of God’s Word.
When we returned to South Africa at the end of 2010, Emmanuel Baptist church extended a call to plant a church in Bloemfontein; this was on the heels of discussions I had been having with the eldership regarding my burden for this city. Since then, our focus had been to prepare and launch “Hope Bible Church” in Bloemfontein. It has been a joy and challenge to see the birth of the church here in Bloemfontein over the last year.