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Msindisi Newsletter # 71

September 3, 2010

SALVADOR & DIANNE’S MSINDISI MONTHLY

NUMBER:      71.       AUG 2010

PO BOX 1481
VRYHEID 3100
KWAZULU NATAL
SOUTH AFRICA
+27 (0) 728311008
Email:  msindisi@gmail.com ,
salv.di@gmail.com

Moriel KwaZulu Mission Website: https://morielkzn.wordpress.com

Personal Website: http://msindisi.googlepages.com

Dear Friends and family,

At the moment we are in Piet Retief, visiting our friends Olaf and Charnel and sharing mutual encouragement of each other’s faith. It has been almost 3 months since we last saw them. They travel a lonely and hard walk. There are no suitable churches it seems that they can be part of in their area. Many are into charismatic teachings and things such as word of faith. We recommended a church that they might be able to check out and we hope that they might get good fellowship there. We have been able to share some encouragement with them from Matthew 24. It speaks of the exhortation to endure to the end throughout whatever persecution or tribulation we may have to go through before the Lord comes for us. It was a lovely time of fellowship and we will be doing part 2 tonight.

In last month’s newsletter we mentioned that Mesuli, a young lad who had asked to be baptized, has since asking, got cold feet. We have followed up with him and he seems to have shrunk back from that decision out of concern of what his father may think. We have left the ball in his court and pray that the Lord will convict him. Whether he gets baptized by one of us or by some other believers the important thing is that he obeys the Lord. During this month we went to see Mesuli, and his school choir, sing at the Natal Youth Choir concert in Vryheid. We were able to take Celani and her children to see the different choirs perform wonderfully. It was a very pleasant event.

For those who don’t know, we have made friends with a guy, called Jabulani, from Alpha. A month ago, Salvi was asked to pray for him. He was too weak. A week later Salvi visited and found out that he was feeling a little better and walking about. Salvi tried to witness to him and speak about ancestral spirits but he didn’t look interested. Salvi said he would bring his bible the following week and speak then. When he came back Jabulani was so open about hearing it and was agreeing with everything Salvi was saying. Then Jabulani shared that he had prayed and God had showed him in a dream that the other pastors were preaching lies. Upon being asked when he got that dream he said it was the day after Salvi last visited. Salvi gave him his bible and then asked about his medication and it seemed like Jabulani has AIDS. When Salvi left him he looked so downcast. 3 weeks passed without seeing Jabulani and when Salvi returned to speak to his family Jabulani turned round to them all and said, ‘There are no Ancestral Spirits!’ To which a girl replied, ‘There are!’ After sharing from the word about the subject Salvi handed out tracts about God delivering us but with a certain young man Salvi decided to give a different tract about where our home is. The man looked puzzled but started reading it. Jabulani asked Salvi to wait for him and everybody left except the young man reading the tract. Salvi felt he should speak with him and the guy was fairly open and of a friendly disposition. During the course of conversation Salvi felt impressed to tell him ‘The Lord knows the pain that is inside you and he can heal your heart.’ He replied by saying that he had a lot of pain in his heart and asked if God can heal his child. He was comforted that God can turn all things round for His glory and was shared about the story of Joni Tada but he needs to repent from his sins, believe that Jesus took his punishment and give his life to the Lord. Salvi does not preach to people about God healing hurts, so it was totally out of character. But Salvi shared that he doesn’t know what is hidden in his heart but God sees it and He used these circumstances to minister to him. Please pray for him, his name is Sibonelo. After speaking to Sibonelo, Jabulani came back and they started speaking about the Lord. Salvi asked him if he had given his life to the Lord. ‘Yebo’ he replied. ‘When?’ Salvi asked. He said the day that Salvi last visited. Jabulani came the following Sunday to church and said that he had shared with the local Zionist preacher that he is teaching lies. The Zionist preacher said, ‘But the ancestors speak to us.’ Jabulani replied, ‘Yes but God tells us not to do it.’ When we picked Jabulani up the Zionist preacher came and asked for the bible references about ancestral spirits. Last Sunday the Zionist preacher came to our church meeting and shared that he has changed his mind about ancestral spirits. We tried to encourage him that he still needs to turn to the Lord to be saved. Salvi has started discipling Jabulani and found out that Jabulani cannot read… That explains why the Lord in His grace gave him the dream! So yesterday Salvi taught him, with his mother and another relative present, about repentance from dead works. Afterwards we started the first literacy class with him and the 2 relatives. AEIOU were covered and we will see if they can remember them next week. We had so much fun as they tried to remember what sounds the letters represented. They looked excited by the prospect of learning to read. Please pray for Jabulani and Mr Khumalo, the Zionist preacher.

Salvi has been given the opportunity to teach this month at church and has been doing a short series on the Songs of Ascents from a prophetic perspective. It has given the opportunity to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom for some who have not been born again. With Salvi’s voice feeling strained this month it has been great for Phumulani to take up some of the slack at Esihlengeni on a Sunday. It is great to see his confidence and boldness in preaching. He can preach quite loud for someone who is so quiet. Phumulani is the humblest man we have ever met. He is not self seeking, does not want to be in the limelight and only wants to follow and serve the Lord. He is a faithful and trustworthy African disciple of Christ who never asks for himself and would rather give than receive. How precious to find people like him in a continent where so many pastors are busy trying to build up their empires and constantly asking for funds to do so. Phumulani works on a farm but would love to find some work in Vryheid, as something like an apprentice mechanic or some other semi skilled position. He has studied and passed up to N4 level of Mechanical studies, 2 levels shy of a diploma. Please pray that the Lord opens this door for him.

We have managed to finish the building of the outside toilet. All that is needed is for the toilet and sink to be installed, windows puttied in and door put on. Di has relegated her clinic runs, if any are to be done, to a Tuesday morning which means that her Zulu classes are not interfered with as much as they have been sometimes. Certain things are starting to click in with speaking Zulu and those times have been very exciting for her but still a long way to go. She has been able to put a fence around her garden, dig it over and add manure. She got Salvi to help with the erection of the fence and such working together in the garden was a good test of ourr marriage. But we just about managed to pass the test. Lol. The rains shouldn’t be too far away and soon Di will be able to plant. Di has been able to visit kids club again for a couple of weeks and help out. In fact last Saturday Celani sprung on her that she was to teach it. Di was able to share the gospel with the kids and give them a visual aid to take home. Khetiwe has continued going with us to share in Ngenitsheni and her sister, Zanele has also been asking to attend. Please pray for Zanele, we feel that she is near the kingdom. But while Salvi has been preaching, Khetiwe and Di have been able to read bible stories for the children and Zanele is getting to hear the gospel preached to her again and again through these occasions.

We would just like to say thank you to all those who faithfully pray for us and share in this ministry. Our hope is that this newsletter should always be an encouragement to you in your lives and Christian walk. May the Lord richly bless you. We have had encouraging feedback from other newsletters and we want to open the invitation that if anyone would like to write with questions or comments to feel free to contact us. It is an encouragement to us to hear from you.

Salvi and Di

LIVING UP TO YOUR NAME

A SHORT STUDY OF PHILEMON

“[Heb. 8034] shem

a primitive word (perhaps rather from 7760 through the idea of definite and conspicuous position; compare 8064); an appellation, as a mark or memorial of individuality; by implication honor, authority, character:–+ base, (in-)fame(-ous), named(-d), renown, report.”

What is in a name? I have a dictionary called a dictionary of Etymology. Etymology means ‘the study of word origins’. In today’s western culture names no longer carry meaning in everyday life. Names have become merely labels. In Cape Town there is a place called Llandudno. I would think that hardly anyone in Cape Town knows what it means. I used to live in the original Llandudno in North Wales, UK, and through speaking to Welsh speakers I learned that Llandudno means ‘Chapel of St Tudno’. The word Llan means chapel. Tudno was a real person. There is the smallest chapel near there called Llandrillo, which is the chapel of St Trillo. It has six chairs in it and is hundreds of years old. These were real missionaries who pioneered their own work in Wales. In the bible, names are not merely labels to distinguish between places and people. Names are descriptive of characters and events. You just have to read Genesis and the naming of places and children to see the importance of names. Adam named the animals and he named Eve, showing that he had ownership and authority over the animals and had lordship over Eve. Names also gave a sense of identity or character. Just think about Jacob. His name means ‘supplanter’ or ‘deceiver’ because that is the character he exhibited at birth by grasping at his brother’s heel. This was his natural character and this is how he behaved for much of his life. When he wrestled with God he received a new name, a new nature, Israel. Now although this idea of names describing people’s character is common through out scripture we must be careful that we do not think it is so with every single person in the bible. Some bad people had good names. In verse 2 of Philemon, Archippos is named but his name means horse ruler. I do not think we can read much from that one. But it is true that names do indicate something.

Proverbs 22: 1 says, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth”. This is saying we should desire to have a good name. Now this is more than just our name signifying something good. When people hear our name it should bring good memories with it. It is about our reputation. When someone says the name Salvador Ung Hayworth, it should not carry evil connotations with it. When someone says your name what connotations are carried with it? In fact this is part of the criteria for picking elders in 1 Timothy 3: 7, where it says of the man that he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach.

Philemon is such a book.

Philemon 1: 1 – 25.

When I have read this letter this aspect of names has really stood out to me. This letter was written while Paul was in Rome as a prisoner under house arrest. We can read about that in Acts 28. When Paul had visited Jerusalem the Jews rioted while he was in the temple. The commander, upon learning that Paul was a Roman citizen, sent Paul to Felix for his own protection. Felix kept Paul in prison until he was succeeded by Festus. Festus wanted to try Paul and hand him over to the Jews because he wished to do them a favour. Paul hearing the threat of being sent to Jerusalem used his right as a Roman citizen to appeal to Caesar and thus he was sent to Rome. There he remained under house arrest but was allowed to have visitors. One of these visitors was a run away slave, Onesimus who had run away from Colossae, from his master Philemon. We will look at him later. Paul was living up to his name. Paul introduces himself in this letter as ‘Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus’. The name Paul means ‘little’. This speaks of humility. He did not hold onto his rights but endured all things for the sake of Christ’s name. Paul was not in prison for wrong doing, but he was there because of Jesus. The word prisoner in Greek is the word ‘desmios’ and it means, ‘captive’, or chained. In other words it was not the Romans who he had been made captive by. It was Jesus who he was a prisoner to. What has this to do with living up to your name? Turn to 1 Peter 4: 15 – 16. Paul was identified with the name of Christ Jesus, he was a Christian. And by going to jail because of his preaching of the gospel, he was glorifying God in this name. He was living up to the name of ‘Christian’. Before anything else we must be identified as Christians. That is before occupation, past times, hobbies, abilities, before anything, Christ must be supreme. In Philippians 3:8 – 9 Paul says he regarded all things to be loss for the sake of Christ and counted them as something not fit for humans, but something to be thrown to the dogs. All human acclamation and achievement was refuse, he said it was all dung. Christ was the name he cherished.

Now who were Paul and Timothy writing to? To Philemon, who may have been an elder, as Paul says that he was a fellow worker. Philemon was in the Colossian community of Christians. But we know from verse 2 that he was definitely host to a congregation of believers. Philemon was a man who was doing God’s will in his life. Now the name Philemon means ‘friendly’. His name tells us about his character. In verse 5 we read about Philemon’s character, of his love and of the faith which he had towards the Lord Jesus and towards all the saints. In verse 7 we read that Philemon refreshed the hearts of the saints. He had given the saints rest and ease. He was a soothing balm on sore hearts, he was a comforter, a Good Samaritan, he was a friend… he lived up to his name. Philemon had a good name and he lived by it. He was friendly. Now read 1 Peter 1: 6 – 7. Peter was encouraging born again believers scattered through out various regions who were facing difficult circumstances. These believers had faith, they had an inheritance waiting for them, and they had a living hope. But why did they have to go through these distressing times? Because, as Peter writes, the trial of their faith, more precious than gold refined in the fire, would result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus returned. They had faith, for sure but faith still had to be tested. As Romans 5: 3 – 5 shows, first there is tribulation, then perseverance, then proven character, then hope and hope does not disappoint because God’s love has been shed abroad in our hearts. It is not just enough to claim to have faith, faith must be tested. Through tribulation comes proven character. You do not prove gold in a frying pan, or a bread oven. You must turn the heat much higher. It is easy to love people who love you back. That is no proof of our love. What happens when you are required to love someone that has wronged you? Philemon was not the only one of his disposition. In fact at the beginning of the letter to the Colossians, (1: 4) we read of their faith in Christ Jesus and their love for all the saints. It was a whole community of love. There were a number of other Philemons loving each other and loving other saints of Jesus. But could Philemon extend that love to a criminal that had wronged him?

You see, in this letter we read about one of Philemon’s slaves who had run away from him. Paul seems to imply in verse 18, that Onesimus had wronged him and cost him a great damage. Onesimus ran away. He was like some of us that run away from our problems and seek to start a new life. He did not want to face up to Philemon. So he ran to Rome. And once there, who should Onesimus meet but one of Philemon’s good friends, Paul? Now running away does not seem a big deal to us. We do not think that Philemon would have been that harsh on him, because after all Philemon was a Christian and Christians forgive do they not? But Roman slaves would wear a badge that read, ‘Seize me if I should try to escape and send me back to my master.’ According to John Drane, there were legal penalties for anyone harbouring a slave. Slaves had no rights. Two years prior to this event, according to Dean Farrar, there was an instance in Colossae where a slave had murdered a prefect. In this instance the senate ordered the whole familia of slaves be put to death. Though runaway slaves were not an uncommon phenomenon, the wrath of their masters was not uncommon either. Paul had led Onesimus to faith and now he was in a dilemma. Paul was under obligation of Roman law to return the slave back to his master. But there was a more pressing issue than the obedience to Roman law and that was the salvation of Onesimus’ soul. How does Paul fulfil his obligation while maintaining his love for Onesimus? He gets Onesimus to go back willingly and pleads on behalf of Onesimus. He sends him back to Philemon, (the friendly one, the one who loves and refreshes the hearts of the saints) and tells him that Onesimus is his own heart. (v 12) He says that he would love to have Onesimus with him on behalf of Philemon as that help that Philemon, being too busy, could not be to Paul. But Paul respects Philemon’s position. Paul constantly puts himself at Philemon’s discretion and respects his authority. Paul does not command or compel Philemon to do the right thing? Why is Paul taking this route with Philemon? Why does he leave Philemon with the choice?

John 15: 2. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Now Jesus has made a promise that if we abide, or remain in Him, and He in us, we will bear much fruit. The key to keep from being a fruitless branch is not to strive to bear fruit. It is to remain in Christ and to have His word remain in us and to respond to it. But when we bear fruit, it says that he prunes us so that we may bear more fruit. Why is it when we seem to be doing so well for the Lord and we are in a good place, that God then strips that away from us and we are put into something where we are out of our depth? Why does God not leave it alone? If it is not broken why fix it? It is because God is pruning us, so that we will bear more fruit. Philemon had it good. He walked in love, he served God and he brought rest to the hearts of the saints. Why was Paul now requiring this of Philemon? Why did Philemon have to forgive and love this person who had backstabbed him and ill treated him? It was because God wanted Philemon to bear more fruit. Paul wanted Philemon to do this of his own volition because any obedience done grudgingly would not be of the same quality. Paul wanted Philemon to grow in love and the only way for this to happen was out of a willing heart. He wanted Philemon to live up to his name. In Philemon 1: 20. Paul was basically saying ‘Yes, Philemon, you have brought rest to all these other people, what about me? What about my turn, do you not care about me too?’

God stretches us and brings us to the end of ourselves. We see this with Peter. His name was originally Simon, the hearing one, but Jesus gave him the name Peter, which means a piece of rock, like a boulder. He was supposed to be immovable, steadfast, in the image of the bedrock, Jesus Christ. And what happened when it came to the crunch, after Jesus was captured and taken to Caiaphas? He had protested that he would never forsake or deny Jesus, but when push came to shove, he caved in. He did not live up to his name. What was the answer to this? Jn 21: 15 – 19. Jesus asks him a question 3 times. ‘Do you love me?’ One question was given for every denial. Peter had denied Jesus by the fire in the court and now Peter has to face up to Jesus near the fire that Jesus had made. Jesus does not let him get off Scott free. Yes, Jesus showed decency and respect to Peter, he fed him just like the others but there is no pretence with Jesus. He knows exactly what we are and what we have done. Peter had to face Jesus about it. He asks the first time, “Simon son of John (Jonas)”; you see Jesus does not call him Peter but he calls him Simon. And you have this sense in the text that during this time with Jesus, he is Simon Peter but after being confronted with Jesus he becomes Peter once again. It is stretching it far to apply it to the whole of the post resurrection appearances but this is the way it seems here. And how does Jesus confront him? He puts forth God’s ideal. He says, ‘Simon, son of John, do you ‘agape’ me? Do you love me with God’s love, with a stong unconditional love, no matter what?’ And how does Simon Peter respond? ‘Yes, Lord, You know that I ‘phileo’ you, you know that I am fond of you, I like you.’ What is Jesus’ response to that? Does he say well that is just not good enough is it? No, instead he commissions Simon Peter as a pastor. Again a second time Jesus puts forth God’s ideal, ‘Simon son of Jona, do you ‘agape’ me?’ And again a second time, Peter just does not make the grade. ‘Yes Lord, you know that I am fond of you.’ Peter is honest. He does not pretend like nothing has come between them; he tells it as it is. He did love Jesus, he could not wait to meet him but it was not God’s grade of love that he had. But the third time Jesus asks differently. He says, ‘Simon, son of Jona, do you ‘phileo’ me? Are you fond of me? Do you only like me?’ And this is what gets Peter. You see he is broken over his sin and his failure. He is back to being Peter, he is back at the cross. ‘Yes you know it Lord, you know all things, you know that I am fond of you, that I only like you. I cannot fool you. You know. This is how I am. I am not the macho tough guy that I thought I was, I am not rock solid.’ But look at verse 18. ‘Hey Peter you never were rock solid for me, you did what ever you wanted. You did what pleased you, but look, one day you will get to a place where you will live up to your name, you will be a rock, you will go to your death for me’. And what was it that restored Peter here? It was the grace of God. That is what Jesus showed Peter all the way through and it would be by Christ’s enabling that Peter would be able to live up to his name, live up to his calling.

It is just like Paul wrote to Philemon’s group of Christians in Colossians 1: 9 – 12. In verse 10 Paul prays that they will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. How is that possible? Verse 12 says that God had qualified them to share in the inheritance. He has made it possible. The answer is in Him. In verse 11 he prays that they would be strengthened with all power, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience. He is the one who qualifies. Now how does this relate to Philemon? As far as we can see, Paul was confident of Philemon’s obedience. It was almost like Philemon’s acceptance of Onesimus was in the bag, so to speak. But not even Philemon is so strong to love just as God loves. Paul knew this and this is why I believe that he starts and ends this letter wishing grace on this household. In verse 3 Paul wishes Grace and Peace. Why grace? They needed grace because grace is God’s influence on the human heart. May God influence you and help you to forgive, to let go of the hurt because sometimes we cannot do it ourselves. And why peace? They needed peace because Philemon and Onesimus were not at peace. They were at enmity with each other and Paul was dying to see reconciliation. So much so, that Paul followed the example of Christ and took on himself the price of Onesimus’ crime. Paul said, charge it to my account. But Paul ends the letter in verse 25 wishing grace upon Philemon’s spirit. Though Philemon was being stretched God would enable him to live up to his name. This is not even to mention about Onesimus and the fact that he also was brought to live up to his name.

But for us, we bear the name Christian and the world is watching us. It is easy to bear that name in the good times but God wants to stretch us. Maybe we have blown it like Peter did but God can restore. We can seek his strength and grace to help us. Maybe we are more like Philemon, with a good reputation. God may want to prune us or stretch us so that we will bear more fruit. Let us not think we are self sufficient, but seek His grace to help us to do so and by God’s grace we will.

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