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How to Pastor a Township Church under Lockdown – TGC Africa

Sbu: And initially, maybe its from ignorance, I was like I was shocked for the wrong reasons I think cause I was like what is this thing? Why are you shutting down our churches? Whats this? Who are they to shut down our churches? And we trying to meet! You know I was like hey! We need to hold up the flag of Jesus, youre not gonna you know? Coz in my mind I was like, this is an attack. You know, this is the time to pray right now. You know?

Introducing Sibusiso Mlotshwa

Blaque: Welcome back to The Gospel Coalition Africa Podcast. My name is Blaque Nubon. It certainly has been a crazy time. South Africa is officially on lockdown. And from just a previous podcast that you listened to, things have dramatically changed. But we’re still hopeful. We still trust in the Lord. And today, we’re gonna be speaking to another special guest, who’s gonna intro himself shortly. And we’ll just get into how people are actually doing on the ground. Again, we are doing these interviews over telephone because we cannot be in the same space. But without wasting any more time. Sbu, would you just wanna intro yourself? Tell us a bit about yourself and your family as well man. Welcome to the show by the way.

Sbu: It’s good to be with you guys.

Blaque: Thank you.

Sbu: My name is Sibusiso Mlotshwa. I’ll just go ahead and you just press whichever parts you want to press in on. So yah. You dont want to leave me to myself! Sibusiso Mlotshwa, married to Sihle. We’ve been married six / seven years somewhere there. By God’s grace, we have 2 kids. We have a 3 year old and we have a one and a half year old. So, try and imagine how we’re handling COVID-19 with these 2 young ones running around.

Blaque: You’re home schooling now?

Sbu: Yeah, now we’re home schooling. We are forced to home school. I had dreams of reading, and doing much work but yeah.

Blaque: God has His plans.

Sbu: Yeah, so we had to adjust our plans. Yeah we had a son. We lost our boy last year. I don’t know if you know about that?

Blaque: Yeah I heard about that.

Walking with the Lord

Sbu: Yeah so, you know, it’s been a year since we had our Wenzile. He passed on last year February. Difficult time for us, so we had to really walk with the Lord and kind of seek good counsel. We’ve seen God’s grace. In walking with us and just through people, the Council and just the love of the church has been with us. So, we are a year in and yeah – you know – its just my wife and I and Lubanzi and Sibongile. That’s our family now.

Blaque: Yeah. That’s really tough man. And I think it just does make you press into the Lord more. I mean from where I am standing, I only have one child. And I can only imagine the pain that you’re going through. I cannot even put it in words myself. And we’ve been praying for you, ever since I heard that.

Sbu: Oh wow, thanks man.

Blaque: Always just keeping you in our prayers.

Sbu: I know, you’ve always have a love for the streets man!

Blaque: But I’m really glad that you are willing to even share that with us. And I know that there’s people who are listening to this. If it’s okay with you, that they would pray for you as well. You know, I mean time flies. I didn’t even realise that it’s already just passed a year. No, we’re definitely with you in our prayers brother.

Sbu: I appreciate it man.

Blaque: I actually never asked you, like, I think I know the answer but I’ll ask you anyway. Where are you from? Where were you born?

Born in Witbank

Sbu: I was born in Witbank.

Blaque: Oh yeah?

Sbu: It’s called Emalahleni now.

Blaque: Yeah!

Sbu: I don’t know if you know Witbank but it’s in Mpumalanga.

Blaque: Witbank!

Sbu: Yeah, one of those small town and stuff. But yeah, from Mpumalanga originally. In Extension 5. We set out to extension 5 right there. We’re from there. We’re from there, grew up there. My family is still there, and my sister, my parents. Everyone is still there. But I came through to Pretoria. So I feel like Im part of Pretoria. I’ve been here for so long.

Blaque: And now you are currently based there in Pretoria?

Sbu: Currently based in Pretoria, Yeah.

Blaque: That’s good bro. What are you currently busy with now? And how long have you been doing that?

The Church in Mamelodi

Sbu: So, I am a pastor in Mamelodi. I pastor a church called The Church in Mamelodi (TCM). Yeah, I’m not very creative, I know.

Blaque: Nah! Actually the first time I heard it, I thought, thats like the dopest name ever!

Sbu: I was like, looking through the New Testament, and I was like man. I see The Church in Corinth to the church in….I was like yeah, we’re The Church in Mamelodi! That’s who we are!

Blaque: It’s just like such a subtle way of claiming the whole city, or township. Or wherever it is. You know what I mean? When you’re walk in and you’re like, “Where’s the church here?” They are like “there’s The Church in Mamelodi”

Sbu: There’s The Church in Mamelodi.

Blaque: That’s good man.

Sbu: But it’s crazy because now every time I explain – and I say “I pastor The Church in Mamelodi” they are like “yah – but where in Mamelodi?” I am like “no. The name is The Church in Mamelodi.” “No where in Mamelodi?” I am like no that is the name. So we just say TCM.

Blaque: Ah I see.

Sbu: To make it easier. Yah. So I’ve been there for 2 years. Well, at the church. I’ve been pastor there for 2 years. That’s where we are at.

Blaque: That’s good man. And we are gonna talk more about that obviously and get into the culture in Mamelodi and just how COVID-19 has affected you guys with everything that’s happening. But before we jump into that I think a big one for me is how you met Jesus! I actually never asked you that before. How was that experience for you?

Meeting Jesus

Sbu: It’s a question that I… in some ways it should be the easiest question to answer. But, you know, when I tell you sometimes it is difficult to answer. Because as I think back to my relationship with Jesus… I grew up in a religious home. You know, went to a religious church. You know but I didn’t really hear the Gospel, you know, from where I went. So, from what I can remember way back – it’s like remembering stuff just from 12 feet down – I don’t know – I don’t really remember my childhood the best way. You know other people are so good like that. At 4 years this happened! You know I struggle to remember stuff. But I do remember that I think around the age of 12 to 13 years old something happened to me – In my own room.

Nobody necessarily preached the Gospel to me but for some reason I started to read the Bible. And it just took on a different form. It became real.

Nobody necessarily preached the Gospel to me but for some reason I started to read the Bible. And it just took on a different form. It became real. While I was going to church it was just, you know, religion. And my parents were going there and I was going there. But it never affected my heart. It never changed my way of life. And I was reading the Bible – specifically Proverbs actually – you know it just became something to me. It just became very personal. I had very much a powerful experience just being alone in my room. Like reading the Bible for hours. And like praying for hours. And I actually did not know what happened to me at that time. I just knew that I loved the Bible and when I went to church… I don’t know man – sin doubted me – and I don’t know why I felt like I was different from everybody else. Just felt like I was that black sheep, you know?

Blaque: Yeah, yeah.

God in my Room

Sbu: But I didn’t know that actually I was born again! That had happened to me! And I was born again. But I just knew that I loved God and I wanted him to be real in my life. And so – yah man. Religious kid. I was self-righteous. You know, prideful. You know, a thief! Stole a lot of stuff from my mum at a young age. But I don’t know how the Lord did it man. I just, He just came over me and I just started reading the Bible. Started having a wonderful fellowship with Him and from that time on, you know, my journey was upside down. Because even throughout high school I was still going to this religious church where I didn’t hear the Gospel.

I was trying to be this person in the world. But at the same time I was wrestling with what I was seeing in the Bible.

But for some reason the Lord was sustaining me. Privately. But in that there were a lot of ups and downs. Coz I was trying to wrestle with “why am I… Why am I bothered by, you know, when you have to go partying or when you have to do stuff that Christians sometimes should not be doing, it just bothered me. So throughout high school I really had a difficult time coz, you know, I was trying to be this person in the world. But at the same time I was wrestling with what I was seeing in the Bible. And God was just doing an amazing work. So even up until my days at varsity, you know, it still kind of continued – that tension that I had. Until really probably I would say my third year. That’s when I really discovered and I started going to a different church. Then I discovered “oh! There’s other people that actually are more like me!

Blaque: There’s more black sheep!

Sbu: They love the Bible, they are excited about Jesus. I was like “wow!” You know… and from there on… But it’s like I said, it’s not an easy thing for me to say because I can’t give you a date and a time of this experience that I had. I just remember myself having this awesome experience which was God in my room. That’s all I think of.

Gradually Drawn into the Flock

Blaque: Nah that’s amazing man and I think for most of us, even just the Christian experience, it’s normally not the Red Sea parting or the Manna falling from the sky. For most of us it’s just the mundane day to day. You are living for the Lord and yes, you experience His mercies. You see his grace. And for most of us that’s how we were drawn into his flock. You don’t remember a time where you said “ah yes! This makes sense!” But it was a gradual process.

the Christian experience, it’s normally not the Red Sea parting or the Manna falling from the sky. For most of us it’s just the mundane day to day.

Sbu: Bow your heads, and then lift your heads and then..?

Blaque: You are at the alter!

Sbu: I’m not that guy! And it’s amazing cause God saves many people from many tribes, many languages, backgrounds, and it’s testament to His faithfulness and His grace towards us. That he would pick sinners from everywhere. You know? Down in Extension 5! In Emalahleni and he would bring you to the kingdom of His light. Praise Him.

From Solo Christian to Church Planter

Blaque: And so now you are reading the Bible in your room – you are going to this religious church – are you having conversations with your parents? What’s happening? Were you just having this struggle alone until you actually got to Varsity? Because what I am actually trying to get to is how did you even think of planting a church then? Like what got you there? Or did the conversations not happen. And when you got to third year everything clicked and you were like “ah this is what I’m doing.”

My parents probably thought I’m gonna become a Priest.

Sbu: Sure. That’s actually an interesting question because now that I think about it, in high school, I think everybody… You know when you are that kid – like everybody just views you as a religious kid. As a moralistic somebody who does not do certain things. And I think my parents… Maybe I can name the church – coz my parents are Roman Catholic. And they probably thought – coz the route you go when you are very spiritual and religious is that you become a Priest. So they probably thought I’m gonna become a Priest. I think they were pretty convinced that after Matric I am gonna go for 7 years study and I’m going to become a Priest.

‘Crazy Involved’ in Church

And so those conversations… I wasn’t having conversations about full time ministry but man, I was just involved. Crazy involved in church. I was the Chairman. There was a point when I was secretary. I was just like everything that was happening at church I am there.

Blaque: Sure.

Sbu: And I even got involved with, you know, there’s points when I got involved with other churches. Even through that I was on fire man! I was really on fire. Even with the little that I knew at that time. So fast forward. Then I had to study a little bit. Post-Matric. But even during that time I don’t know if… I was just somebody who loved the Bible and was very spiritual. But not really thinking about being a pastor or planting a church. I wanted to be a millionaire man! Yeah. I wanted to be a millionaire before the age of 30. I read a magazine about Tony Evans. I was that guy. Like I was gonna change the world.

I was just somebody who loved the Bible and was very spiritual. But not really thinking about being a pastor or planting a church. I wanted to be a millionaire man!

Blaque: Wow! That was my dream as well. I married a lady named Lilly Million – I didn’t make the million. I married one. But that was my dream as well! By 25 become a millionaire – yah.

Sbu: But you – you are still on the road!

Blaque: I need to make music about different content maybe.

Sbu: Oh OK. Different conversation…

Blaque: So now you are in Mamelodi. How did that happen? How did you plant?

Together for iVangeli

Sbu: Yah so what happened was – as I told you I’ve been in Pretoria what almost 20 years now – since 2002. And so I was part of a group of pastors they call themselves “Together for iVangeli.” These are pastors that have a heart for the Township. Some of you know Township Reformation. There was a group called Township Reformation that started back in the day. So we were part of that group. And out of that group Together for iVangeli grew. They were pastors that were part of the Township. And so during that time I was pastoring a church in the inner city of Pretoria. I just had a heart for the township man. Had a heart for my people! You know you just always feel like no matter where you are you just kinda feel like “man. Are our people getting this?” You know, “are our people understanding this?”

I just had a heart for the township man. Had a heart for my people!

So even as I was pastoring an inner city church I used to meet with those brothers. Brothers from Soweto, brothers from Daveyton. With the brothers from Olieven Centurion… just all over Gauteng. So while I was meeting them – yah man – the love and sharing their stories and their struggles – it just stirred up in me the fact that “man. I wanna do this. I wanna be in the Township.” So eventually, through God’s providence, I then left the church in the inner city. Just as I realised, you know, so many people are coming from the Townships. Guys are coming from Ga Rankuwa. Guys were coming from Mamelodi and guys were coming from Atteridgeville. Coming all the way to church saying “there is no solid church” where they are at.

Blaque: Wow – in the Township.

A Heart for the Township

Sbu: So that bothered me man. Cause I am meeting with these guys – the pastors – and they are telling me the stories. I am in the inner city. You know inner city is great but it does have it’s limitations in terms of, you know, the impact that you could make. Cause you are constantly in a transition mode. Coz people are coming in and out. They are not coming to stay.

Blaque: Yeah that is true.

I just fell in love with the idea of bringing the Gospel to Mams! You know? Because like I said it is very committed but also moralistic.

Planting a Church in Mamelodi

Sbu: So I was kinda like – man I wish I could be in a place where there could be more longevity. You know? Where I can have a long term impact on people. And so through God’s providence I stopped pastoring that church and then doors opened up for me to be able to go to Mamelodi. So it was very exciting for me because I stayed there for about 6 months just studying and just getting into the culture. Getting to know the people. And then I just fell in love with the idea of bringing the Gospel to Mams! You know? Because like I said it is very committed but also moralistic. In a sense that everyone is religious – you know? Which is probably typical in the culture.

But Mams I think has a bit more soul. You are not gonna struggle to go to the streets, share the Gospel. You know you can knock on people’s homes. People will welcome you to pray for them. It’s very community centred. And so just that whole dream of bringing the Gospel, you know, to that context. One of the first series that we decided to do was Tim Keller’s Prodigal God. And just the impact that we saw there just went. When people started to hear that even as a moralist you need the Gospel. Even as a Christian who goes to church you know you still need the Gospel. Even as the older son, you need Jesus. And so it’s been exciting! Just to live in community. To learn the culture. To learn the language and I have just fallen in love with the place!

COVID-19: Under Attack!

Blaque: With such a rich sense of community COVID-19 must have rocked you guys. So where were you when you heard the news of COVID-19 and what were your initial thoughts and feelings?

Sbu: Sjoe. So I can’t remember exactly where I was. But I’m a person who watches the news quite a lot – probably more than I should! But I think… I can tell you my reaction. I think I reacted in 4 stages no that I think about it. So the first stage is what I would call a “don’t care” stage. Like I was kind of looking at the headlines and there is Africa. And you are seeing that hey there is this thing that has come in China. And is happening and you kind of like… you are at a distance to it. Like “OK this is bad.”

But, you know, 2 to 3 weeks ago, when churches were closing – when they started to reduce the distancing and they said we couldn’t meet – that’s when it hit me. That’s when I was shocked man.

Blaque: Sure.

Sbu: And initially, maybe its from ignorance, I was like I was shocked for the wrong reasons I think cause I was like what is this thing? Why are you shutting down our churches? Whats this? Who are they to shut down our churches? And we trying to meet! You know I was like hey! We need to hold up the flag of Jesus, youre not gonna you know? Coz in my mind I was like, this is an attack. You know, this is the time to pray right now. You know?

Blaque: Sure.

Could COVID-19 be of the Lord?

Sbu: And probably we still need to pray. But I think the stage now that I am in is one of more “OK. This is… this might be of the Lord, you know, to do something in our country, in our society.” So how do we now, how do I now, use this situation in order to bring glory to the Lord? So yah. It rocked us but ekasi you know, it’s slow! eKasi besiphuma, ahh syenzinto zethu, nayntho yabeLungu nayifikile, angeke isihoste thina, asinandaba nalabantu, so its fine. People are outside and you know they are just standing there like “yah neh?” I was even talking to people coming here now and asking them you know what they think of the impact? And people are like “Ah! Sizawuthini, mayikfikele ikfikele” – if it comes to you it comes to you. So yah. People are kinda nonchalant about it. So I think I took on that spirit until it actually hit that this is real.

Blaque: I think obviously the announcement of the lockdown made it very real for most of us. the fact that the President said that we need to be on lockdown for 21 days. We saw a lot of churches just deciding OK. We are going online. They just started shooting sermons, putting stuff up online, creating pages on their websites. People creating TikTok accounts, Instagram accounts and just making sure… There is a big term that is going around [email protected] I thought it was original with my church.

Churches Going Online…

Sbu: What did they do?

Blaque: I am saying we created a page called [email protected]

Sbu: [email protected] OK.

it depends on what you mean by online. So we are on WhatsApp.

Blaque: So I thought it was unique to us. But I think it’s just because I am in my little bubble. But then I started noticing like across the globe people are using the term [email protected] So a lot of people then started just deciding that OK we are gonna do church online for as long as this thing takes. But the implications are probably different for churches in Townships. Can you tell us what happened with you guys? Did you decide to go online? If so what have you done? If not, why did you not go online?

Sbu: So no, we did not go online. Because, yah, I pastor a church in Mamelodi. I am ministering to people in Mams and so yah… just doing an evaluation to say “is this the best way to reach our people? Is this the best way for me to… for us to shepherd them, ? Online?” And yah I think it has some value and maybe some others are… whose people are more online than maybe some of us. Maybe that’s a benefit to them. But yah its a reality as we examined… we just kinda saw that no, it just seems like… And it depends on what you mean by online. So we are on WhatsApp.

Blaque: OK.

Using Technology to Connect to Individuals

Sbu: Like we found WhatsApp to be the easiest and the best medium for us. And that’s related to our size. Because we are obviously not as big – I mean you are talking 35 / 40 people – that we have to shepherd. So no, we didn’t go online but we were using the WhatsApp medium. Still SMS. Still Calling. We were finding more fruit in an individual kind of a connection, rather than online.

Blaque: Sure. Has that obviously changed the way that you do Bible Studies and everything else? Care to kind of elaborate what do you do on WhatsApp? Do you send people scriptures? Do you call them? Are you on a group – where everyone is contributing? So how is it working?

Sbu: We are on a group. So I send a liturgy every day. And we talk about… what did you say? Church in the house? What did you call it?

Blaque: [email protected]

[email protected] on WhatsApp

Sbu: [email protected] – yeah. I did not know that. And I think that is what we are doing. [email protected] Just call it that. [email protected] Yeah so we have some sort of a liturgy that we developed just to help people have some sort of structure as they worship. And so every day – literally – you know the scripture in the book of Acts said “daily they started to read.” I started to emphasise on that. Saying “you know guys, this is an opportunity for us to actually now start, you know, daily kind of connecting. Daily connecting with the Lord; daily connecting with each other. Daily praying and stuff. So I started to develop a liturgy for people. And actually this was good for us. Because now, people got to see and learn… because on Sunday people come and we sing, we pray and all that. But we never got to teach people stuff about liturgy, you know

This is an opportunity for us to actually now start, you know, daily kind of connecting. Daily connecting with the Lord; daily connecting with each other.

A Daily Liturgy

The fact that there is a call to worship when you come in. You read a Psalm and there is a prayer afterwards – for intersession – there is a prayer. So I developed that WhatsApp and daily – like tonight – we are sending that out to the guys. Every day at 8pm. You know we go through that liturgy. Everyone opens up their WhatsApp and they see that and you know I gave the message yesterday and we are going through the book of Ecclesiastes. Just looking at it. Somebody is gonna be taking the word today and it will be sent to WhatsApp audio – which I will send to the group. So you go through the liturgy – you go through each of the words. You sing together with your family. You pray those prayer points that we give. And everybody comments on what stood out for them and how it’s impacting them.

And those who are not on WhatsApp – because that’s another complication its a multiple thing. Not everybody is on WhatsApp! You know? Some people don’t have WhatsApp.

Blaque: Sure.

Sbu: So those I, you know, it’s honestly not as easy – because a lot of calling has to happen. Just finding out how they are sending SMSs and stuff.

Some Cannot Afford WhatsApp

Blaque: What would be some of the reasons why they are not on WhatsApp?

Sbu: Can’t afford to have a phone that has WhatsApp.

Blaque: Ah. I see. Sure.

Sbu: That would be the reason. They would wanna be on WhatsApp but, you know. So you have WhatsApp, you have that, and then you do have people that are online. But the majority of people, at least, could be on WhatsApp. So we have used that as our main sort of medium for communication. And then its worked out well, you know? The feedback that we are getting from them tells us that people are getting into the word. So… But it’s a conversation man. It still continues and we are testing these things. And so far that is working for us.

Blaque: And I think even on that last, second last question, is obviously COVID-19 is affecting the Church globally. And a lot of people are changing the way they do church. So church is kinda taking a different shape or form. But like you just alluded to now, the fact that somebody cannot afford a phone that has technology to take them online, is a struggle that does not just plague people in Mams. Its an African thing.

Sbu: Yes.

Future Challenges of COVID-19 in the Townships

Blaque: So what are some of the challenges that you foresee if COVID-19 stays in our globe for as long as it stays! You know? Other people are saying, obviously with this lockdown that’s happening, the President has suggested 21 days but it might take longer. So what are some of the challenges that you foresee, as somebody who works with a church in the Township, that this online [email protected] thing might be a challenge?

Sbu: Yah. And it’s good that you qualified it. I think in the short term, assuming that COVID-19 is obviously gonna be with us for a while, I think we are gonna have limitations in terms of shepherding.

Blaque: Sure.

Sbu: Shepherding well. The thing is, like I told you, a lot of our life – and this is true of many other African places and even other Townships. A lot of our life is lived in community.

Limiting our communication to calling and online and stuff – it’s gonna take some time for our people to kind of grasp that.

Blaque: Yeah.

Limited Contact & Limited Resources

Sbu: Like, you know, we are naturally in community. You know. Doing life on life and all that stuff. And so we rely a lot on face to face. So limiting our communication to calling and online and stuff – it’s gonna take some time for our people to kind of grasp that. And so I’m wrestling with that. How do I shepherd my people well? You know? In light of that. And so I think that’s gonna be a challenge that we have to grapple with. But also economic challenges. Some of our people, you know… there are people that are… people are saying – you know its great to be well. Well its not great but for some it might be a blessing to be at home. But for many of our people it is not a blessing to be at home.

Blaque: No.

Sbu: If you think of the kind of homes that people have. Some people don’t have homes. We have people that live in shacks. You know?

Blaque: Sure.

When the lockdown started my heart almost broke as we went to one of the places and I could just see it was dark – with no electricity.

Sbu: Even now I wonder – you know? When the lockdown started my heart almost broke as we went to one of the places and I could just see it was dark – with no electricity. You know I was like man, this person needs to be confined to this for 21 days. And so… yah. Economic challenges. So we’ve had to – and I don’t know if you still want to come to that – the help stuff – but…

Encouragements for Township Pastors

Blaque: Yeah. I think we could even jump into that. Like what encouragement do you have for other pastors who have churches in the Township. I mean Together for iVangeli – you are constantly communicating with your brothers. What encouragement would you have for them? What are some of the things that they’ve said to you that’s encouraging? There might be somebody who is listening to this who is not in South Africa but they are in a Township somewhere else on the Continent. Or a village somewhere else on the continent. So what encouragement would you say to them? And then for churches who are well resourced – how can they get involved in helping you guys?

Growth in Family Worship

Sbu: I will start with the encouraging part. So what this has done, at least for us as we look at it, it has provided an opportunity for us to kind of model and to teach family worship.

COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for us to model and to teach family worship.

Blaque: Yeah.

Sbu: And actually – as you would know – they have broken families. It’s very difficult to think of a nuclear family. They always have, you know, a child headed home. A mother with kids. Or somebody who doesn’t have a father and stuff. And so a lot of us didn’t grow up – you know – with a father and a mother opening the Bible, praying, and leading worship. And so through this here we are very encouraged to see people now that are gathering around the table and getting the sense that they are just doing family worship. Because that’s also been one of my cries – even when COVID wasn’t here. Cause we would preach on Sunday, but then when we go to the homes we are like “man. Are people really getting the word? Are people really understanding what we are saying?”

But now, here is an opportunity for us to really zero in on that. And just say “this is how it looks like. This is how you read the Bible. This is how you pray.” And so you get to be encouraged as people are starting to congregate and to meet together in their homes. And for resourced churches we have also been blessed. We are part of The Union here in Pretoria. Which is Christ for the Capital – it’s what we are about. We’ve got Rooted Fellowship, you have LIG.Punt, you have Die Kruis and then you have us. And so we’ve been privileged to just kind of see that partnership bear fruition. I think some of our brothers were really – just talking to them today and yesterday. In fact when I leave here I am going to another place in Silverton and I am going to be collecting some foot parcels that we are gonna be giving to some of the people in our church that were donated by those brothers.

And so they reached out. They were like “hey, what can we do?” You know, recognising that they have homes, they have warm blankets. They have a bed and there are some people that might not have. And so they said “hey, how can we help you? How can we serve you in this time?” And what a blessing that was! We told them that “hey man, this is what we are facing in our church.” Because you know we are dealing with the community that we have in our church – first of all. So there are so many families – they are stuck in lockdown – but we really don’t know if they are gonna have enough food for that. And so the way in which they can serve us in that way – we are very excited to be able to serve our people in that manner. So thankful! Thankful for these partnerships man. These brothers pray for us and are constantly checking “are you guys OK?”

Blaque: Sure. No that’s good and I think its a word for everyone else who is listening. If you are in contact with churches in villages and townships – especially with what’s happening with COVID-19 please do reach out. Please get in contact and find out how brothers and sisters are doing. Because obviously this thing has affected all of us but the socio-economic effects are hitting us differently.

Sbu: Yes.

Blaque: So I think it would be gracious of us. And I mean as the beatitude says, you know, those who have received mercy show mercy. So I think it would be helpful for us to reach out and give a helping hand.

Sbu: And what was actually neat about it was – and this probably could be another tip for those who might be resourced to be able to do. Assume that those churches don’t have basic resources. You don’t have to pray about that! Just assume that the people are there. Because it’s very difficult for people in disadvantaged places to reach out for help. It’s really… well at least that’s my experience. It’s easier when those who are resourced say “man, we are here. How can we help?” Then they open the door. But anyway, I just wanted to call that out.

Blaque: No that’s good – that’s good bro. Yeah it’s a good word. Anything we can pray for specifically for your church and your family during this time?

Sbu: Yeah man. Pray for wisdom and discernment for our people. Especially some who are still… who do have access to online. Especially for discernment in terms of false doctrine. Because you know this is a great time, in terms of online. But it also opens up people to a lot of influences. We just need wisdom and we just pray that we would… that we are also teaching and trying to also pray for our guys to be discerning in terms of what to listen to and what not to. So that would be helpful. Also pray for us that we might shepherd our people well. As you said, this is new ground. This is new territory and we are all trying to shepherd people as best as we can. We have to wrestle with limitations and you know we have to make decisions and calls in terms of which one is effective and which one is not and all that. So just pray that we do that well.

Blaque: Sure.

Sbu: And that the unity of our people would be in tact. Because that’s another problem. It’s another concern you have. To say “Eish, after this man, is it..?” It could go either way. You know? People could really be excited to like “hey man – we miss church!” Or it could go the other way where it’s like “man – eh. Maybe we don’t need to meet after all? I’m fine on my own.”

Blaque: Yeah! “I’ll stay online…”

Sbu: So we want this to kind of like keep the unity going of the church. So that people can understand that gathering is important. And so that’s been my prayer and my cry.

Blaque: That’s brilliant man.

Sbu: Pray for fruit as we preach our messages via WhatsApp. As we put more messages online to non-Christians. I just preached a message yesterday and I was just amazed. Our guys just took it and sent it to a lot of people. I was just amazed to see how that message sent to our church can just be used for good – you know – for others.

Blaque: Yeah.

Sbu: So pray for that. That more fruit would come from that.

Blaque: I definitely will do that brother. We really appreciate you being with us and spending your time with us. And I think just shedding some light and helping us to understand better what is happening in Mams. And I think it will also just give us – or it has, rather – given us insight of how this has affected you guys. You know what I mean? Because we are in different contexts and so therefore we think what’s happening in your context is happening everywhere else. But that’s not the case.

Sbu: Yes, yes.

Blaque: And until we do reach out like you said we will never know. And so I think we should reach out especially now. We have time, we are at home . We can call, we can WhatsApp we can email, we can… whatever it is! We can reach out to our brothers and sisters.

Sbu: I appreciate you guys reaching out.

Blaque: Yeah!

Sbu: Yah – just The Gospel Coalition Africa – thank you for your voice – for our continent and for our context. I am looking forward to more stuff coming out from you guys. Thanks.

Blaque: Thank you so much man! Really appreciate your time. And with that said thank you so much for listening to this. And I hope that you were encouraged. Please do share it with other people who will benefit from this. And again please pray and pray and pray. Specifically for what Sbu shard with us – but again – pray for the Church globally as this virus affects all of us. Pray for the guys on the ground and I think a vital prayer that you mentioned now – pray that as Satan attacks us – because he will attack us in this time – that God will protect us from all of that. Because we are at home, we have idle minds, have idle hands. And we can easily get tempted to turn our backs on the Lord and not trust him. So let’s pray and pray and pray hard for that. So with that said we just wanna say thank you and grace and peace. Sbu thank you again man for being with us.

Blaque: Sure.

Sbu: Thank you man. Cheers.

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