We warmly greet you in the name of our Triune God, who has saved us through the foolishness of the Word of the Cross. To us who are being saved, this Word of the Cross is the power and the wisdom of God, which forever remains wiser than men and continually shows us that the weakness of God is forever stronger than men.
As we consider our calling, which came through the Word of the Cross, we truly see that God saved us, not because we were wise, mighty, or noble. He chose us, the nobodies of this world, to shame those who perceive themselves wise. Who else, then, can we boast about except the Lord? What else do we know, and what else must we make known as our mission on the earth except for Jesus Christ and Him crucified?
The Free State Bible Church is committed to proclaiming the witness of God in fear and much trembling, because this message of salvation and eternal damnation is weighty. We are committed to expending ourselves in the service of our Savior. After recommitting ourselves to Him as a church, to recapture the first love (Revelation 2:1-7), we have been experiencing tremendous blessings from God. At the same time, we are seeing Him work among us in a way that makes us see that this great commission work is truly His and not ours. We are mere instruments in the hands of an empowering redeemer.
To show us that He is at work in our little church, God made it clear that I needed to take rest to honor Him in that way. He made it clear that I needed to take a sabbatical from the church that He is building: to rest and be refreshed until He wills for me to return to serve Him in the pastorate on August 14, 2022. He has also caused us to enjoy baptisms at the church, after a very long time of not witnessing Christ’s disciples immersed in water. God has also used various people and churches to support us in encouraging ways. It is my joy, then, to share with you some of the details of these means of grace we have experienced since we last updated you on the work of God in Bloemfontein.
The Kukuni Family – Rest and Refreshment:
I have reported numerous times that I tend to suffer from terrible migraines. As a result, I suffered for a prolonged period, from the end of May to the beginning of June. The doctor started treating me for that. Concurrently, I started feeling fatigued, losing grip on my right arm, and generally feeling like I had labored hard to the point of exhaustion. I continued to ignore some of the physical symptoms until I reached my breaking point.
On the 8th of June, while on the phone with a brother from the church, I started feeling like I was losing sensation in my hands, my speech became incoherent, I started stammering (stuttering), and my heart rate shot up to 138 BPM while resting. I thought I was having a stroke or heart attack because that’s what it felt like to me at that moment. Lord willing, I was able to inform Keitu, and was rushed to the Doctor’s office immediately. He confirmed that something was indeed wrong with me. He put me on immediate leave, and said that I needed to rest because my body was telling me it’s time to take a sabbatical.
My loving church concurred with the doctor, and graciously afforded me the opportunity to go on sabbatical so that I can recover, rest, and be refreshed. The way God’s people responded and supported me overwhelmed me with a sense of deep assurance that I’m loved and cared for by Christ’s people over whom the Holy Spirit has made me an overseer. The people of God were quick to show themselves to be Galatians 6:6 Christians; they honored me as 1 Thessalonians 5:12 and 1 Timothy 5:17 say.
They put the interests of my family before theirs, knowing that I am a pastor who cares for their souls. It was in words of encouragement, prayer, and physical support and provision that God’s people came alongside my family and ensured that we were taken care of during the sabbatical. As such, through generous provision by God’s people, my family could go on vacation where we were refreshed by God by enjoying His beautiful creation.
This time away with my family was very dear, and we realized we needed it. Keitu and I could never thank you enough for your love, care, and concern. Thank you for helping Keitu carry this burden, as she got a fright when I suffered a panic attack on the 8th of June. She did not know how to support me entirely, but God’s people made it easy for her by indeed carrying her burden.
I am still on sabbatical. I plan to do some light reading and work on the research project I should finish soon. This rest time has also allowed me to take some time to rethink some of the convictions and beliefs I have held for a long without doing any personal exegetical work. The Lord is good in that He is refining my thoughts and tuning my heart and mind to be more in line with the authorial intent of passages of any text I look at.
On the 19th of June, we had six baptisms at the church. It was a joy seeing my associate, Brother Tebogo Molefi, baptizing these believers in the presence of covenant witnesses. Some are new converts, and some have been converted for a while without obeying the will of the Lord to be baptized in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Having been baptized and having completed the required discipleship (membership) course, they are now eligible to become members of the church.
One of the six who were baptized is Zarlus. Zarlus has been a believer for many years, but was never baptized because he held to the Reformed Presbyterian view of paedobaptism. As far as I can remember, this is an issue he wrestled with during the time my former associate, Pastor Richard, was still pastoring us. After Pastor Richard left in 2018, I met with Zarlus regularly to discuss all matters of life issues pertaining to godliness, including the importance of being baptized as a requirement for membership at the Free State Bible Church. After many years, towards the end of May, Zarlus let us know that he was ready to publicly confess and declare by being immersed in water, that He is an obedient follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Brother Tebogo baptized all six brothers and sisters (which in God’s providence aligns with our series in 1 Corinthians, and I had just finished preaching 1 Corinthians 1:14-17 a few weeks before), with Pastor Rocky Stevenson assisting. Since then, a few other adherents have conveyed interest in being baptized, so please pray that we will continue to see these kinds of visible fruits of the grace of God in the lives of His people. This physical evidence of a life of obedience to Christ in the presence of covenant witnesses is one of the most important means the Lord uses to demonstrate that being a Christian means we have died to sin, been baptized into Christ and His death, and we now walk in newness of life observed by those in whose presence we publicly confessed that we belong to Christ alone.
The Lord has shown me that my true ministry supporters are first and foremost those called by the will of God in Bloemfontein. They are the sanctified ones in Christ Jesus, and called as saints. Before and after my health scare, I saw the grace of God at work in their lives. If you visit our church now, you will see ministry supporters at work. I am very encouraged by what the Lord is doing by using the members and adherents who have been enriched in Christ such that it seems as though we are not lacking in any gift in the church.
The joy that filled my heart two weeks ago when I sat under Brother Tebogo’s preaching on James 1:5-8 is inexplicable. He preached the authorial intent and the exposition was edifying. The Lord is truly at work. We went through some very difficult months as a church to a point that it felt as though we would never be where we are today, but God had His plans. Pray for Brother Tebogo and his family and the church as they support him while I am away. Ministry can be burdensome, but thank the Lord that people in our church understand that, and have deep respect and honor for those who labor at preaching and teaching the Word of the Lord.
Not only are the members and adherents of the FSBC the closest, faithful ministry supporters; we have been blessed by men who were released by their churches to encourage us while I’m recovering and resting, and to also help Brother Tebogo to rest as he has a full time job. Immediately when Pastor Stuart Chase heard that I had a panic attack, he and Pastor Quintin Starkey visited our church. Brother Stuart preached for us from Habakkuk 1:1-11. In addition, Pastor Rocky Stevenson also visited our church and preached for us from Psalm 13. This past Sunday on the 10th of July Pastor Marco Scouvert with his dad, Marty, visited us. Brother Marco preached on Luke 14:25-33. Towards the end of the month Pastor Siya Pantshwa will visit us with his wife Nicole to encourage the believers at FSBC.
Conclusion and Prayer Points:
- Thank God for Keitu, who continues to be my true help and gift from the Lord as she helps me to serve the Lord better.
- Praise God for the continued support by HeartCry. Brother Sean Reece reached out to me when I needed someone like him the most after my panic attack. Your words of comfort and care and your immense contribution towards my recovery, rest, and refreshment cannot be quantified.
- Thank the Lord for good health. I feel recovered and have not had any major problems since going on sabbatical. Thank God for His creation. The beauty of His creation and the enjoyment of it truly refreshed me and my family.
- Thank God for the generous support I received from the people of God at Free State Bible Church. Pray for God’s blessings upon His people in His church.
- Thank God for baptisms and pray for more conversions and baptisms.
- Pray for Brother Tebogo as He will continue shepherding the church through the study of the book of James.
- Our kids will resume homeschooling soon. Pray for Keitu and them to be fruitful.
- Many of the church members and adherents are away due to school holidays. They are returning soon. Please pray for their safe return and to excel in worshiping and serving the Lord in the church.
- Pray for the upcoming membership interviews for the adherents.
- Pray for financial sustenance. We serve trusting in the Lord to provide for us. We do not want to complain, grumble, or worry yet we are aware that times are tough financially for us and the people of our country in general.