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Address by Rev Mendel Retief
on behalf of the Deputies for Relations with Churches Abroad of the Free Reformed Churches in South Africa
18 July 2006, Synod West Kelmscott, Western Australia, 2006 (Acts Article 96)

Mr. Chairman,
Members of Synod,
Dear brothers in the Lord:

Your little sister in South Africa greets you with great love and warm affection. In a secular world, intoxicated with the spirit of post-modernism, we are inspired by your faithfulness to the Lord and His Word. We thank the Lord for your faith and steadfastness and pray that He may keep you and that you may also increase in the knowledge and the Love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the last 6 years, since Rev. Clarence Bouwman visited our Synod in Bethal as a delegate from your churches in the year 2000, we have come to appreciate you all the more as ties were intensified. We also received much help and support from you since then, not the least in our endeavours to reach out to the disenchanted. We were glad to take the decision on our previous synod, Synod Pretoria of May 2005, to send delegates to your synods and to intensify our ties with you even more. We were also edified by and thankful for the warm greetings from your churches given by your delegate Bert Veenendaal. May the Lord continue to bind us together in the unity of faith and in His love, and to make our correspondence with you fruitful in His service.

Because we all have to fight the good fight of the faith, as the apostle Paul puts it to Timothy in 1 Tim.6:12, and as we have to enter into the kingdom of God through much tribulation, as he puts it in Acts 14:22, and as no church is without the struggle to continue in faith, we want to encourage you to continue in the same faith as we have learned from the apostles. As you have many important and also some difficult decisions to make, we pray that the Lord may strengthen you with wisdom and knowledge so that the congregations may be served in love and be edified by your decisions. And dear brothers, as it is your intention to base all your decisions on the Word of God alone, we also pray that the peace of our Lord will be present, and that His blessing may rest on you.

In South Africa we are at present seven Free Reformed congregations: four in Pretoria, one in Bethal, one in Johannesburg and one in Cape Town. It was a sad development when the small congregation in Springs continued to decline until it had to be dissolved. On the other hand the Lord comforted us with two new congregations as a result of many years of missionary work - one in Mamelodi and one in Soshanguve-North, both in the region of Pretoria. The Lord has opened a door for the gospel to be preached especially among the black and coloured people in South Africa. It seems that they are much more ready and receptive for the Word than many Whites who have grown up with the Word! Although much missionary work is done in the region of Pretoria and Cape Town by the three missionaries, there are also so much more promising possibilities for missionary work. The missionaries are loaded with work and a lack of manpower has become evident. In this situation the words of our Lord is very applicable where He says that the harvest is big, but the labourers few, and that we have to pray the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into the harvest (Mt.9:37,38).

At the moment our churches are also battling with the theological training of our students. At the moment our Black students receive their training at Mokhanyo Theological College which is interdenominational. Our White students prefer to go overseas to Hamilton or Kampen. And at the moment our Brown students receive yet another training which is under the oversight of the congregation in Cape Town. This is surely not a healthy situation and even dangerous for the unity of the bond of churches in future. We are now looking for one training for all, but as we don't have the means to do all by ourselves, we are still struggling and looking for answers.

The political and economic situation in South Africa is still not certain and a constant flow of Whites out of the country is still going on. There is already about 40 000 South Africans here in Perth! And even Afrikaans congregations! Also from our own churches in South Africa, many have left the country for various reasons and some are here in your churches. This reality also has the consequence that many members of our churches are visiting their family and friends here in you churches and travel back to South Africa with news of our Australian sister. It means that our correspondence with you is not only on a formal level, an item on the table of the synod, but also a general topic at the kitchen table. You may thus know that your decisions will also be in the hearts and mouths of our members in South Africa.

We pray that the words of Hebrew 13:20,21 may guide you in your deliberations:

"Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleaseing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."

For the Free Reformed Churches of South Africa
Rev. Mendel Retief


last updated 25 Jul 2006
 
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