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Msindisi Newsletter #80

May 3, 2011


NUMBER: 80. May 2011

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Dear Friends and family,

Since coming back from the wedding at Bernard’s church in Springs this last month has been quite momentous. As soon as we got back we heard that two young Afrikaans men from Louwsburg had been killed in a car accident. We went to the funeral of one of the men which was in Afrikaans but could not go to the other one as one of Phumlani’s relatives had also died and her funeral was on the same day. At the funeral Salvi had the opportunity to preach and Di was deep in prayer. The relative was an elderly Zionist. For those of you who do not know, African Zionism is not the same as the movement that believes that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews. This is a syncretistic religion mixing biblical teaching with practices of ancestral tradition in calling up the dead and retaining the presence of departed spirits to serve as guardian spirits against evil. The Zionist movement from what we have read seems to have originally been against the notion of witchdoctors and saw the conversion of witchdoctors becoming Zionists and transforming certain of their traditional practices to have them labeled as prophetic ministry or healing ministry. Now it seems that witchcraft is accepted by a number of Zionists.

We were praying that the gospel would be preached and Salvi gained the opportunity. On the funeral service sheet was a poem that ran something like this, ‘You are on Christ’s other side and Christ on this side with me. You with Christ and Christ with me. So together we will be.’ Salvi preached that these words were true of those who are born again. The dead in Christ stay with Christ until the resurrection and Christ stays with the believer and while we praise the Lord the dead in Christ also worship Him. But this shows that the spirits of dead saved do not come back to the homes of the living. The Zionist pastors laughed because they knew exactly what Salvi was getting at which was that the ceremony of bringing back the spirit of the dead to the homestead of the Zulu was not compatible with Christianity but Salvi had used their own literature to prove the biblical point. The Christian believers at the funeral were elated to hear such preaching. One Zionist lady told us after ‘I heard the message’ but we said that Jesus said ‘Blessed are those who hear and do His words.’

Di has been busy painting Phumlani’s hut this month. With the wedding approaching Phumlani agreed that Di could get her sleeves rolled up for Thabi’s sake. Normally Phumlani says ‘No!’ when we ask him if he would like something. He is totally unassuming and never seeks to elevate himself. He would always rather take the low road. He is the humblest guy we have ever met. Phumlani has been blown away by some of the gifts he has received in relationship to his wedding and he thanks the Lord for supplying them. He really did not expect anything. Di has also done a couple of clinic runs. A few editions back of the Msindisi monthly we wrote concerning a little boy of the Mtshali Kraal who looked like he had AIDS but his grandmother will not get him tested. He has TB. The last visit to the clinic looked very encouraging as the boy seemed to be doing better. However Di has had to take him to the clinic today so it looks like it is an journey that will contain its ups and downs. Phumlani’s sister in law is a community health volunteer in the area and both she and Di were able to chat about the non-compliance of people in the area to get tested for HIV. People will listen to educators teaching about the virus and how it is contracted and will even be able to answer the questions but education does not change risky behavior or the compliance for people to get tested. Yet there are people who do comply and those people do find help. This is such a picture of the gospel and the message of sin and eternal judgment. But we hope that the grandmother one day will face up to facts and permit her grandson to be tested but that is her decision and we cannot force her.

Some of the Evangelism got interrupted this last month as Salvi had to meet the deadline for his 4000 word assignment for Bible college or he would have failed the module. We were able to house sit this month and this meant that Salvi obtained access to electricity to plug in the laptop and type away. This means that Salvi is now half way through the diploma and indeed halfway through the whole degree itself. He has now started his next module which is on Deuteronomy which he enjoying much better because he is actually dealing with the biblical text.

Also in this month we had Craig and Magda Boardman visit us with their sons. Craig and Magda go to the Bethany Baptist Church in Vryheid and we have such a good friendship with them and other members such as the pastor Jannie, Hendrik and Belinda and Kogie. Magda was able to spend a lot of time with Di and Phumlani also was able to hang out as his boss had given him the day off work for the public holiday of Good Friday. So Phumlani, Craig and Salvi were able to go into Ngenitsheni and preach the gospel to people who had not gone away for the weekend. Craig thoroughly enjoyed the experience and seeing Phumlani and Salvi preach. There is no hype, no fuss and no emotionalism, just a straightforward sharing the gospel from the heart and conversation with the willing about the gospel. God may use many avenues to reach people but we must never lose sight of the fact that it is the message itself that is the power of God to salvation for those who believe. As the words of a song by John Hayworth go:

What did Jesus do without a thousand kilowatt PA,
Flashing lights and coloured smoke to reach the people of His day?
What did Jesus do without flashy suits and fancy cars,
Huge publicity campaigns and handouts and satellites in the stars?

He had the anointing.

How did He cope without tricks of the trade and gimmickry,
Computer banks and telethons, space age technology?

He had the anointing.

So let us try to keep it simple, simple as we can.
Trusting less in the arm of flesh and more on the Son of Man.
Let’s spend less on the methods of the world and more time on our knees.
Let’s trust more in the Gospel’s power and God’s ability to save.

We just need the anointing.

We also saw the arrival of our friend Jacob Meads from Di’s home church, Immanuel Congregational Church, in New Zealand. We see the hand of the Lord in bringing Jacob to us. First, Jacob had been praying about coming out to us before we had it on our hearts to invite him personally as Di felt it laid on her heart. Secondly after Jacob had accepted the offer to come Mark Van Niekerk from Stanger, KwaZulu Natal had spoken at Immanuel about evangelism to Jews in Israel. Salvi had after started speaking to Mark concerning end times teaching and there was much in agreement so that our visit to Mark and his wife last month was of the Lord. And now we find out that the father of Roy, of Bethany Baptist, spoke at Immanuel a couple of months ago. Jacob has started going out evangelizing with Salvi and preached his first evangelistic sermon with Salvi interpreting into Zulu for him. We are sure that Jacob will be writing his own experiences and perspectives of his time here so when his writes his own newsletters we will forward them to you and put them on the ministry website for you to read.

A couple of Sundays ago we had Tony and Sonja visit who were up for the wedding of Sonja’s brother. It was great to catch up with them and to hear some of what the Lord had been doing in their lives. Salvi was able to give some teaching by a guy called Art Katz who has taught some profound messages before his death. It was an encouraging time.

Last Saturday we did a Passover in Bethany Baptist Church which was attended by members of the Baptist Church, our home cell and Phumlani’s church who could speak English. There were also visitors. It was excellent as we looked at what it meant for Israel in coming out of Egypt and then working from that into seeing how that is a picture of our salvation. Salvi taught through the bulk of the service but others were able to contribute and to share. Jannie lead communion and gave a short address, Hendrik and his son did the telling of the Exodus story with the format of four questions, Jacob played his piano accordion etc. and this gave the afternoon a real sense of fellowship. At the end of the Passover we were all left with a real sense of expectation for Jesus’ return, Passover is all about Jesus.

We would also love to pass our condolences to the family of David Wilkerson whose passing has been the conversation of many brethren. David Wilkerson was a voice that stood against the apostasy of the word of faith, prosperity TV evangelists. Salvi’s uncle was one of the many drug addicts that have come to the faith and off drugs through the organization he founded called ‘Teen Challenge’. David Wilkerson was one of the pastors, whose work saw the city of New York decline from being one notorious for gangsterism and crime. The story of how the Lord lead him, as a small time preacher to the streets of New York was turned into the 70’s film, ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’ and is still used by many churches in their outreaches. David Wilkerson was someone who wept at the fallenness of the church and called people back to a separate and dedicated relationship to the Lord. Many of us have not learned to cry in this way. A true prophetic voice is rare these days. Prophets need to weep in grief or they will lose their light. May the Lord raise up voices of discernment who will be disturbed over the backsliding from biblical doctrine and moral purity and from the Lord, who will weep at the coming judgment against God’s people in the west, who will be consumed with the zeal for God’s house and who will be jealous for God’s name and honour in this wicked age without becoming cynical which is something that we all tend towards concerning the rot that has become so widespread.

Finally, please note that our website address is now which contains our newsletter and has the facility for you to leave your comments and questions. Many thanks for all your emails, prayers and involvement in our lives and ministry.

The Lord bless you and keep you.

Shalom aleichem baShem Yeshua, Salvi and Di


1 Kings 17: 1

Without doubt Elijah has been the prophet most talked about in Eschatology. When Jesus asked His disciples ‘Who do people say I am?’ One of the answers was that ‘Some say Elijah the prophet’. When Jesus was on the cross and cried out ‘Eli, Eli lama sabachtani?’ the people thought he was calling out to the prophet Elijah. In Passover, in between the third (redemption) cup and fourth (Hallel) cup of wine, the Jews pour out the ‘Kos Eliyahu’ or ‘cup of Elijah’ and send their children to the door in order to see if Elijah had come yet. The reason for this is that Malachi prophesied that before the day of the Lord came, God would send Elijah the prophet to restore the hearts of the fathers to the children and of the children to their fathers. Malachi 4: 5 – 6. This is one of the reasons that people believe that Elijah is one of the two witnesses in Revelation. The miracles and signs of the two witnesses mirror the miracles and signs of Elijah and Moses, and it was Elijah and Moses who were with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration as a foretaste of the Messianic kingdom that is still to be realized even in our day.

There are certain times where God has demonstrated major signs and wonders in terms of the miraculous. In every time there are occasions where God performs miracles but with Elijah and Moses, we are talking about a huge concentration and demonstration of miracles that affects everything and every body around. The other prophets were not noted for their miracles. Even John the Baptist who came in the Spirit of Elijah did not do one miracle. The first ministry that demonstrated a major concentration of miracles was that of Moses. The second was that of Elijah and Elisha. Thirdly there were Jesus and the Apostles whose ministry carried on into the early Church and lastly there will be the two witnesses with the return of Christ. As I said God may do the miraculous in any age but here we are dealing with specific ministries that had notable, indisputable miracles in a concentrated form. I mean things like people being raised from the dead, red sea parting, walking on water, plagues coming on the earth affecting nature around about and these happening with people that speak God’s message faithfully. Note that we are not speaking about miracles that are debatable or proclaimed by hearsay. These are not miracles of healings where people appear to be healed and are proclaimed as being healed and then end up dying when they stop taking their medication, as has been the case with Benny Hinn and Morris Cerrullo. Out in the open air, on top of a mountain, Elijah called down fire from heaven onto a sacrifice dowsed in water. With simple prayer and without the showmanship of the prophets of Baal, something happens that is impossible to explain in purely scientific terms.

But Elijah’s ministry was there to bring reformation to the northern Kingdom of Israel which had become overly apostate. After the reign of Solomon, because of Solomon’s disobedience in following after other gods, God split his kingdom into two and left Solomon’s son Rehoboam with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The other tribes rebelled and appointed Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, as king over them. Thus there were two kingdoms established within the Israelite nation. The northern kingdom was called Israel and the southern kingdom was called Judah. Both the kingdoms were recognized by God. Both kingdoms went apostate but Israel went apostate far quicker than Judah. God’s splitting of the kingdom was a way of judging the nation and yet still keeping a remnant. Jeroboam brought immediate apostasy by the introduction of foreign worship to Israel. (1 Kings 12: 26 – 33). He did not want the people to worship in Jerusalem because they might return to Rehoboam and he would lose political power so Jeroboam placed two golden calves in Bethel and Dan. Now all of the kings after him followed in his steps until Omri came who was worse than those kings. Omri did not simply walk in the way of Jeroboam, nor did he merely do all the sins of Jeroboam, and neither did he only come in the likeness of Jeroboam. But Omri walked in all the way of Jeroboam. However, no matter how bad Omri was his son Ahab was worse. Ahab not only followed Jeroboam’s example but he did worse. He married Jezebel and turned to Ba’al and Asherah worship, which included sex orgies and child sacrifice. This is the Canaanite practice that caused God to order the annihilation of whole Canaanite tribes. It was in the midst of the reign of Ahab that God sent Elijah.

1 Kings 17: 1. Here Elijah is introduced without genealogy. There is a little debate about what the term Tishbite means. Some people say it is named after a place called Tisbeh, east of the Jordan. Some people say it is named after a place called Thesbon of the Arabians which would make Elijah a Gentile prophet. But whether he was Gentile or Jewish His God was the God of Israel. Elijah’s name is in Hebrew ‘Eliyahu’ which means ‘My God, Jehovah is He’. This is in opposition to Ahab and the people of his kingdom who were of two opinions that not only Jehovah was their God but also Ba’al and Asherah were their gods too. Israel’s problem was not that they rejected Jehovah and the worship of Jehovah as true but their problem was post-modernism. That is to say that Israel could not believe that truth was exclusive and that Jehovah could not hold all the truth. If rains had failed to fall and Jehovah had not answered their prayers for rain, then surely it was because Ba’al had control of the rain. Israel believed that there was much that they could learn from the surrounding religions of the day and thus started a form of ‘Emerging Judaism’ such as people like Brian Maclaren have sought to do with Christianity. However Elijah is much compared to Melchizedek because of the mysteriousness of his origins, so mysterious that according to Matthew Henry, some Jews thought that he was an angel. But the scripture shows us that he came from among men and not from heaven. Like James wrote, he was a man with passions like us. He was a real human being who felt the way we felt. But why does the scripture tell us nothing about his parentage? Like Moses, and John the Baptist, Elijah had to be presented in scripture with some level of obscurity to lead up to the ministry of someone else. Moses was of the court of Egypt but had to be lead to the wilderness for 40 years. Hence he came out of nowhere and although he delivered Israel out of Egypt he could not bring them into the Promised Land. But another who grew up among them, Joshua would lead them. John the Baptist was born to a priest but had to be lead to the wilderness before starting his ministry. He came out of obscurity so that the people asked who he was. He was known as John the Baptist, not John the son of Zechariah. However everyone knew Jesus’ parentage and where He was from. Both Moses and John prepared the way but Joshua and Jesus would lead to victory. So with Elijah, there is an element of obscurity but Elisha was the son of Shaphat and we can read about his background before he was called. The difference with Moses and Elijah to John the Baptist is that they were regarded as greater than their successors. Moses was the greatest prophet and Elijah was the great prophesied herald before the Day of the Lord. But when it came to John, he had to stress that the one who came after him was actually greater. Why the difference? It is different because Jesus is The Messiah, the Son of God. Although a type or picture illustrates something of the truth of Jesus, it will not mirror Jesus in every detail because it is only a shadow of the reality and not the reality itself.

The second thing we notice in the first verse is that Elijah was a servant of the God of Israel. He tells Ahab that he stands before the God of Israel. If Elijah was a Gentile then it tells us about the depravity that existed among the Israelites that God had to shame them with an obedient Gentile to provoke them to jealousy. But it is not necessary to believe that Elijah was a Gentile to see God’s plan for using Gentiles. We will see that truth with the ravens in the next chapter when we will look at God’s provision for Elijah and the widow of Zeraphath. But Elijah was a servant of Israel’s God. This servant mentality is vital to someone with a prophetic ministry like Elijah. When you are doing many signs and wonders, it is essential that obedience marks your every step because with such power comes the opportunity for pride. It is endemic to human nature to let the praise of man puff you up. When I was at high school I used to get very good reports at parents’ evenings, not great grades but good reports. My dad, seeing how pleased I was about myself, stopped me going to parents’ evenings with him because I would get a big head. But as Paul told the Corinthians ‘Knowledge puffs up but love builds up.’ Is there anything wrong with knowledge? No, in fact Paul praises them for their knowledge in the first chapter but there is much wrong with pride. But Elijah’s mentality was different. He stands waiting before the Lord, ready to do what His master told him and we will see this worked out in the next session. The Hebrew word ‘amad’ here translated ‘stand’ is the same in Psalm one where it talks about not ‘standing’ in the way of sinners. It is used in a variety of applications. It means to take ones stand and can suggest immovability. It can be also used of a soldier standing upright on his watch, or of a priest standing before the altar after everything he has done in sacrifice. In other words as the Vines dictionary indicates, it does not mean standing there galmless doing nothing but it includes everything a person does in ministering before God. A servant is continually at God’s beck and call.

Thirdly we can see the authority that God placed on Elijah. Elijah said that there would be a drought for three and a half years. This is very similar to what the two witnesses do in Revelation 11: 3 – 6. Remember what Elijah said to Ahab. Elijah is somewhat unique in his ministry. Many other prophets would tell the kings, ‘Thus says the Lord.’ Elijah does not say that here. He says that the rains would come by ‘his word’. In Revelation it says that the two witnesses have power to shut up the sky during the time of their prophesying and to strike the earth with every plague as often ‘as they desire’. There is a sense here that there is no waiting on the Lord for every single action but they may act according to their own desire. Now before we start to misinterpret this passage into thinking that it is possible to order God to do certain things let us turn to James 5: 17 – 18. How did Elijah cause the rains to fall again? Did he just demand that it happen? No he prayed. Now in the text of 1 Kings 18 we do not actually see Elijah praying for the rain. Rather Elijah prays for God to hear the prayer and because of his obedience God would send fire from heaven. We will look at this again when we get to this portion in Elijah’s ministry. But this is just to say that the scripture indicates this is the product of Elijah’s will, or Elijah’s word rather, but then scripture also shows it is ultimately down God’s will. In one place, Elijah does not pray for rain but in another place scripture says that he did. What does it come down to? Elijah knew God’s will. Elijah knew what God wanted and prayed accordingly. When Elijah prayed that God would answer his prayer, it was not just for the fire to come from heaven but it also included the rains because it was all part of his ministry of restoring the people’s hearts back to the Lord. 1 John 5: 14 – 15. We also know that Elijah bowed to the earth after the fire had fallen and the wicked prophets were slain and no doubt he also prayed for rain there too. The basis of God answering Elijah’s prayer was Elijah’s obedience in everything he executed concerning this event.

But the question still remains. Whose will brought it to pass, Elijah’s or God’s? The answer was that it was both. The two witnesses receive power to send the plagues to the earth as often as they desire. Just because they do ‘according to their desire’ does not mean that God does not also desire these plagues to happen at the frequency that they do. It is not a case that the two witnesses are sending the plagues according to their desire and God is in heaven saying, ‘No, I do not want it to happen like this’. No it is God’s will for the two witnesses to send these plagues but what you have in the cases of these people is a human will that is aligned with God’s will. It was both Elijah’s and God’s will that the rains came back. It was at the word of the Lord and at the word of Elijah spoken in faith that the rains came back. So the reason that Elijah was able to carry out his extraordinary ministry was because his will was aligned to God’s will. Remember, in Matthew 3: 15, Jesus came up to John the Baptist to be baptized. John saw how ridiculous the situation was because his baptism was a baptism of repentance from sin, but Jesus had no sin. But what was Jesus’ reply? It was not a direct command but an appeal. He said ‘Permit it at this time’. In other words he said, ‘let it happen for now’. He did not say ‘oh no you must baptize Me now’! But Jesus was doing as Paul did in the letter to Philemon. Though Paul had the authority to order him to do what was proper, yet for love’s sake Paul was only appealing to Philemon to forgive Onesimus. Paul wanted him to do God’s will out of his own volition. So Jesus did not want to treat John as a servant or a child but he appealed to him as an equal, though John was not equal. But Jesus did this because John was obedient and we can see John’s will was aligned with God’s. But Jesus did not only compel John to permit this gross breach of seemliness but also gave him a reason for it. It is great to get a reason. God is a reasonable God. Even when He does not explain it, there is still a reason for everything He does and says. When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, even though the disciples did not understand it, there was still a reason behind it, which Jesus said they would understand hereafter. (Jn 13: 7) God is a reasonable God. But what was the reason that Jesus gave to John the Baptist? He continued and said, ‘for it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness’. He did not say ‘It is fitting for me to fulfill all righteousness.’ In Jesus’ work of fulfilling righteousness there was a place for John to genuinely share in that work. You see God made the heavens and the earth. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. You cannot put God in a place where He is obliged to do anything for you or in a place where He is dependant on you. God does not need you or me. ‘As God said to Job, ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth’? ‘Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified? Or do you have an arm like God, And can you thunder with a voice like His?’ God does not need us to exist and be happy. Despite John Bevere’s assertion that God made us because He felt lonely, God is not like man that He would get lonely and need company. God is Trinity; He has always been in company, relationship and community. He does not need us to fulfill His purposes. He could go ahead and do it all without us, but that is not the point. The point is that God does not want to do it by Himself. He desires relationship. He has chosen to accomplish His purposes by using people. For certain purposes God will use the unbelieving, such as for judgment on God’s people, but for His glorious purposes for salvation and repentance God uses the obedient. Elijah’s will, like John the Baptist’s will, was parallel to God’s will and so when the rains came back to Israel they came by both the will of God and as Elijah said, by his own word.

What can we learn about Elijah in this introduction to this series? Elijah’s ministry was dramatic and spectacular. His ministry was a ministry of restoration and of leading up to the ministry of another. Elijah came out of some level of obscurity. And there are times where we are in a wilderness experience and wonder what God is going to do. Sometimes it is overwhelmingly difficult but what marked Elijah’s life was continual obedience. To have a ministry as grand and spectacular as his he had to be a servant through and through. He waited on the Lord. And because of this attitude and obedience God was able to use Him in a way that made it a genuine partnership between God and Elijah. An Elijah does not always have to say ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ An Elijah can simply swear by the Lord that something will come to pass. Elijah could tell it to Ahab straight because his will was completely aligned to God’s. He knew what God wanted; he accepted it and he ran with it without exceeding the things that God said.

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One Comment
  1. Sue Wells permalink

    Keep on keeping on. Grace and peace xxx


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