News from Keith and Barbie Jackson, March 2022
Full Steam Ahead!
Sometimes life can seem overwhelming. Certainly, as we are now enjoying reduced COVID restrictions, although there are still many in place that affects churches, we have a new sense of freedom. Yet costs have risen exponentially too. We know this is a worldwide phenomenon and that you're all feeling financial pressures too. As local travel and churches have opened up, so have the ministry opportunities, which is a challenge with record-breaking fuel prices.
On long drives, we have slowed down (although we always stick to the local speed limits anyway) to try and eke out a tank of diesel as long as we can.
Amid such times we are reminded of 2 Corinthians 9:8: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
The promise of God for us, and for you too, is that there may not be enough for every luxury in life, but there will be enough for every good work. As the saying goes, “He provides for all our needs, not all our greeds.” We are so grateful for your continued sacrificial support during these difficult times.
We had a meeting with Emmanuel’s District Committee and they are keen for the recommencement of church planting in the Limpopo Province. We are awaiting the hear what kind of budget will be allocated to this.
We then had a call from the General Superintendent of Emmanuel Assemblies to ask Keith to reinstate the national church planting initiative. Keith was asked to head this up in January 2020 after the success of two local church plants. Well, we all know what happened in early 2020, and so only one team meeting was held. Keith is meeting with the team soon to talk about the training of church planters and where we should target. The aim is to go where Emmanuel is not - South Africa is a big place!
NYAKALENG Roof Finished!
Thank you to all those who gave specifically to the roof project of one of our church plants in Nyakelang. The roof is completed!
We will be holding a revival week in the new building. It is incomplete by UK standards (building controls are loosely applied in the rural areas) and the congregation are working super-hard to get windows in and pit toilets commissioned.
The pastors send their heartfelt thanks and invite you to come and see it!
Understandably, the Ukrainian situation has meant that a new ERA appeal to help refugees has commenced and the support we received for feeding programmes here has ceased. We are so grateful for all your help during the pandemic.
The pandemic and the instability in Europe have led to a record-breaking level of unemployment and food costs respectively. Unemployment is officially at 35% now but does not include those who have given up searching for work and are unregistered. If those are included it is estimated the actual unemployment rate is around 48%.
In Limpopo UNICEF, based on government figures, say that multi-dimensional childhood poverty is affecting 83% of children. Multi-dimensional poverty includes things like access to secure food supply, quality education, drinking water, crime-free environments, parents in employment and so on. Limpopo is now officially the poorest province in the country.
So, the food programme was a lifeline to many. We estimate, through the ERA appeal and personal gifts, we fed around 8000 people over an eighteen-month period. We are grateful for those who still give a designated gift each month for food, so we can help around 25 households with basic food each month.
Tony and Beryl Leavesly served in Elim as pastors and then Elim missionaries here in South Africa.
We had come to know them from our Eastbourne days, when Mrs Hodge, Beryl’s mother, was a member of the church. Although we had moved when Mrs Hodge received her home call, it was Keith’s privilege to speak at her funeral.
Tony, after some health issues in the last few years, passed away earlier this year. We were thrilled to be asked to minister at his memorial. Barbie brought the greetings from Elim General Superintendent, Chris Cartwright, and Elim International Missions Director, Iain Hesketh. Keith ministered with the word.
It was a lovely few days down in Kwa-ZuluNatal. We are sure Beryl would appreciate your continued prayers.
National Leadership Day
With the easing of restrictions, Emmanuel Assemblies held their first in-person conference in February. Keith was asked to speak at two of the three seminars on the subjects of “Leading in Times Such as These”, and “How to Lead the Church Post Covid-19, the Effects and Changes.” Around 53 Emmanuel Churches were represented and it was a real challenge to ingest international research, contextualise it and deliver it in a way that was relevant to the pastors and hundreds of lay leaders who were present.
Pastors and Spouses Day
We were privileged to bring some teaching recently at a district day held for Pastors and their spouses. We were asked to bring teaching on marriage, which we really enjoy doing. We did things a little differently and ‘tag-teamed’, which was really enjoyed by the group of about 20 pastors and spouses. We taught on the ‘Spiritual Aspects of Marriage’, ‘Conflict Resolution’ and ‘The Unique Pressures on Ministry Marriages.’ This teaching was then followed by another pastor on how to conduct funerals!!!
Emmanuel Assemblies recently held their postponed Annual General Conference. It was a ‘voting’ year and it was proposed from the conference floor that the current leadership remain in office until next year when we will have another ‘voting year’ so that we will be back in sync with the constitutional requirements. This was carried with a large majority. We will have a regular conference in September this year. Here, unlike Elim, there is a vote for the National Executive every two years, not every four years.
Assembly in Local High School
It’s been 17 years since Keith last did a school assembly! But he went to the local high school to speak to 1000+ students as the regular speaker couldn’t go. He figured if he crashed and burned, they wouldn’t have to invite us back.
Afterwards, the head-teacher said he is going to speak to the leadership team and start booking us in for the main assembly and the weekly year group assemblies. He also told us that 44% of their students do not have both parents at home - that’s not single-parent families but kids whose parents have left them with friends or grandparents - while they work away or have died. He says the kids are struggling with poor self-esteem, rejection and abandonment, which is affecting their education.
We are grateful to God for the opening door.
Leadership Training in Steenbok
CP Khosa, the Deputy General Superintendent of Emmanuel and leader in Steenbok, called a few weeks back and invited us to come and minister to the local fraternal churches on the subject of “Developing Leaders and [Gaining] Support from the Church.” It was an unusual theme, but here the local church committees sometimes rule with an iron fist!
We made the six-hour drive with the plan of holding a special church meeting on Friday night. Sadly, due to repeated power cuts and a massive storm, that meeting was cancelled as we waited outside the church. The roads were muddy rivers and impassable without a decent vehicle, and not safe to negotiate in the pitch darkness.
The Saturday morning seminars were attended by over thirty different churches, each sending a pastor and one or two lay leaders. Around 14 different denominations and streams were represented. They admitted to some apprehension at having a “white, foreign missionary,” come and talk to them. After the first session, they were booking us in for later in the year and planning next year too. We don’t take such favour for granted but are grateful that God seems to enable us to communicate across such diverse cultural boundaries.
Saturday night we had a similar problem to Friday, no storm, but no power. We waited it out and six people turned up when the lights came on. We had a relaxed Bible study with them. In some ways, that was more rewarding than the crowds of the morning.
Sunday, we spoke in Steenbok and Ngwenyeni Emmanuel Assemblies. A few years back Elim Missions funded a borehole at Ngwenyeni. The borehole is still used but during the pandemic, they could not grow crops. However, the only other borehole in the village failed and so the church took on the role of providing fresh water to the entire village. It cost them a lot more in terms of electricity, but the whole community now know the church. What’s more, the church has grown during the pandemic too! God makes a way!
There is still no progress with Barbie’s midwifery registration here. Our protestations have seemingly fallen on deaf ears. In the meantime, Barbie has enrolled in a breastfeeding course to help her fulfil her practice hours. She is still registered in the UK (a requirement here for her to be recognised) and she has to show practice hours and continual professional development to the authorities in the UK. It’s an Australian based course, and although online, because of the time differences her first session was at 2 a.m.! Fortunately, her online assessments will be at a more reasonable hour!
She continues to give out baby boxes wherever we go and knits jumpers and hats furiously! Bibles are still a challenge to obtain but hopefully, the supply chain will settle down soon.
Keith’s father, Les, is still deteriorating but has lasted longer than expected! We would love to visit him when we are back in the UK, however, this may not be possible for various reasons. Thank you for praying for him.
Costs, Travel and Meds
As we said above, costs here are rising rapidly. During the pandemic and travel restrictions, we were getting nine weeks to the gallon! Now we are back to a fuller schedule of travel. Coupled with this has been a problem with Keith’s diabetic meds. Last year in the UK our doctor put him on a new medication, which is working well; his sugars are well controlled. However, our medical aid here has refused to contribute anything to this as it’s a new treatment and not common here. Therefore, we are having to pay for this ourselves. Given the other rising costs, Keith has gone without this for several weeks at a time to enable us to travel and minister. If you could find it in your hearts to give towards his medication, we’d be so grateful.
The Promise, Keith’s first Christian novel, is out now on Amazon, paperback and Kindle. Check it out! The Elim Missionary book club really enjoyed it.
Link to Amazon
We shall be back in the UK for the Elim Leadership Conference in May, Our itinerary is already full, but here is where we will be should you have a free Sunday to come and say hello:
2nd May: Flying to the UK
3rd May: Arrive in the UK
8th May: New Life Church, Crewe. 9th-11th May: ELS, Harrogate.
15th May: All Nations Christian Centre, Reading.
22nd May: Micklefield Elim, High Wycombe,
29th May: Westcliff Elim, Westcliff.
4th-10th June: Northern Ireland, ministering with Ireland Missions Director.
12th June: Vale Elim Church, Wantage.
19th June: Southampton, for the dedication of our gorgeous granddaughter.
22nd June: Flying to SA
23rd June: Arrive in SA
Pray for Barbie’s course to go well.
Pray for the continued distribution of baby boxes and food.
Pray for the church planting initiatives.
Pray for Keith’s dad, Les.
Pray for Keith’s medication situation.
Thank you for standing with us.
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