News from Keith and Barbie Jackson, December 2020

Merry Christmas!

1It seems so strange that the Christmas season is upon us again so soon. It will surely be a different Christmas for us all.

What a year it has been for all of us! This has been a challenging year for us as we have had to postpone our furlough visit to the UK three times. Today, as we write, we should have been boarding the plane to spend Christmas at home. Because of the uncertainty of the situation in England, and in South Africa, at the time when a decision needed to be made, the trip was cancelled. Fortunately, we will get a refund on the tickets. It has also been a tough year for us as a family as two of our daughters-in-law have experienced three miscarriages between them. During the lockdowns there and here it was hard not to succumb to the feeling of helplessness when we dearly wanted to be close to our family at home. It has been a joy to welcome a new grandson this year too.

Here's an update on what has been happening here recently:

Barbie's Exam:

Thanks for your prayers for this. We were greatly encouraged by the support expressed to us. Barbie worked really hard for three months preparing. We travelled to Polokwane and stayed overnight the night before the exam as it was too far to go. When she arrived she was checked in and welcomed and it was confirmed she was in the right place and they were expecting her. When the tamper-proof exam pack was opened there was no exam paper for her to write. Barbie and the midwifery lecturer contacted the South African Nursing Council immediately. There had been a mix-up. She had been incorrectly entered for the exam and, although they were expecting her, the system had not printed an exam paper. Barbie was told that she actually did not need to write that subject at all! However, they have now said she must write three exams and carry out practicals under supervision as a trainee midwife! This even shocked the lecturer. This is exasperating we have it in writing that her qualifications have been recognized and that she is more qualified than a locally trained midwife. What is more, Barbie now has to apply for a deferment as they say this is her fault! Life here can be frustrating and we are quite used to goalposts being moved. But this feels like they have moved the game to a different stadium! The next exams are being written in May 2021 when we are due to be on furlough. After that, the next opportunity is only in November 2021. This does mean ante-natal clinic will not happen for another year. We constantly remind ourselves that a delay is not a destination, that God has a plan, and that in the meanwhile we will occupy ourselves with other priorities.

Leadership Training:

2Keith has been allowed to train leadership teams from five Emmanuel Assemblies in Tzaneen, about ninety minutes away. He was invited to preach at two churches and the elders got together and asked for some more focussed training for their leaders. He recently did this on a Saturday. Their only comment was the morning session was too short! It looks like we will be working with this group of churches a lot next year.

3Keith has also been invited to produce some training material for Elim Missions. He has recorded a video for the Missions Academy on the subject of "The Arc of Missions in the Old Testament." In December he will be giving a two-hour training session to the pastors and leaders of Elim South America, covering Honduras, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, on the subject of Church planting. This month you can catch him on the Elim Missions Facebook page delivering a message on the Hope of Advent. The training school in Highveld has been postponed until March next

Church planting has also been postponed until next year but Keith will be working with the teams to see what can be done within our lockdown restrictions.

Baby Boxes and Food Parcels:


We continue to supply Baby Boxes to mothers in need as funds allow. Each box contains the essentials a mother needs to get her through the first days of being a new mum as well as a Bible in her own language. We also continue to feed the hungry through the Elim Missions Relief Appeal and any personal gifts we receive (there's a local contact giving us veggies for free on an ad hoc basis). This means we have now been able to feed nearly 3000 people this year. Some of them have now joined local churches through these two ministry avenues. The challenge now is that inflation and the results of Covid have pushed up prices quite dramatically. Some food items are subsidised by the government but we have seen a 25% in general supplies. Coupled with a strengthening Rand, thanks in part to the international political arena shifting, means we are trying to do more with less. If you'd like to give towards these causes please follow the link at the foot of this newsletter.

Barbie's Operation:

7Barbie was struggling with her mobility this year and required surgery to remove a fluid-filled sack from her hip joint and have injections into her spine for two compressed discs. Fortunately, our lockdown regulations allowed Keith into the hospital to drop her off but not to stay. We travelled to Nelspruit, about three hours south of Phalaborwa, for the surgery. That meant Keith had to leave her alone as she was staying for a few nights. We are pleased to say the surgery was a success although she still gets pain if she overdoes it. We are very grateful to have medical insurance to cover most of these costs and for those who support us to make that possible.

Furlough 2021:

We are planning to be on furlough next year in the UK and catch up with as many of you as possible. We also hope to get vaccinated at the same time if a vaccine is available by then (it may take longer to roll out here).

Here are our planned dates for the weekends. We are available mid-week too:

18th     Possible self isolating
25th     Possible self isolating
2nd:     Available
9th:      Available
16th:    All Nations, Reading
23rd:    Available
30th:    Church 180, Paignton
6th:      Available
13th:    Elim, Northern Ireland
20th:    Elim, Northern Ireland

For Prayer

  • Barbie's continued recovery.
  • For the furlough plans next year.
  • For peace in South Africa as Covid fatigue is taking its grip.
  • For our sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren, for their health and happiness over Christmas as we miss them terribly at this time of year.

In His service,
Keith and Barbie

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