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AFM Pastoral Letter 4th Quarter_2023
We have reached the end of the year! This moment always gives an individual an opportunity to look back and reflect on the past year as well as an opportunity to look ahead to the new year. This is how I approached this last Pastoral Letter of 2023. In addition, I asked my fellow National Office Bearers to also contribute and share what is currently stirring in their hearts. Together, we trust that the messages in this Letter will be a blessing to our AFM Family. We conclude with Christmas wishes as we enter a special and significant season on the Christian calendar.
PART 1: Dr Henri Weideman
(President of the AFM of SA)
Focus on our Holy Spirit Foundations
We are a Pentecostal church, which means we believe in the working of the Holy Spirit in and through the everyday lives of Christ’s followers. In South Africa, we need to keep the Holy Spirit fire burning in our hearts and lives to fulfil our redemptive purpose. I am encouraged by the way most Regions and many assemblies throughout the church have taken up the theme for 2023 and focused on the Holy Spirit’s work in and through us.
“In South Africa, we need to keep the Holy Spirit fire burning in our hearts and lives to fulfil our redemptive purpose.”
For many years we have been talking about the development of leaders. This year it became a reality! By taking a group of twelve young leaders through a yearlong development program, the AFM Legacy Leadership Program is aimed at developing a generation of God-fearing, Christ-like, Holy Spirit-filled leaders who will live, lead, and leave a legacy for the church, the Kingdom and society at large.
The first in-person session of this program took place from 28 September to 1 October 2023 in Centurion (Gauteng). This session focused on the AFM history and background, the ecumenical church space in South Africa, and personal awareness, -knowledge and life purpose. It will be followed by online engagements, assignments and two more in-person sessions early in 2024. If you are interested in knowing more about this specific programme in the AFM, you can refer to the brochure on the website: https://afm-ags.org/afm-legacy-leadership-program/. The applications for the 2024-2025 intake will open shortly.
We also embarked on strategic ongoing leadership interventions for National Leadership Forum (NLF) members. During the 2023 NLF sessions, the following topics were covered: “Leading for Engagement”; “Proactively Addressing Mental Health” and “Strategy Frameworks that Leads to Effective Action Plans” – all of which were conducted by the Themba Thandeka Leadership Institute.
Education and Training Collaborative Agreements
The NLF approved the creation of multiple entry points into ordained ministry, including both the CHE (Academic) & QCTO (Occupational) level 6 and 7 courses. Engagements with the South African Theological Seminary (SATS) continued and resulted in the signing of an RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) agreement for implementation beginning in 2024. An agreement on collaboration in implementing QCTO qualifications, (inclusive of NQF level 2 and 5 qualifications as entry points) was established with Word and Life Academy. This is a highlight for me because it will enable easier and more affordable entry into ministry training for AFM members who experience that God is calling them.
The Welfare Department
The greatest achievement in the AFM Welfare during this time, was to bring this ministry on a more sustainable financial path. This was achieved by several cost-saving actions, inclusive of cuts in some salaries, combining children’s homes where feasible, selling some houses and setting profit off against outstanding bonds, combining posts, and filling vacancies on a subsidy scale. One of the greatest challenges remains the transformation of the way the welfare ministry of the church is perceived and the way it functions, to be more service provider-orientated. We had a successful strategic planning workshop in November 2023 in this regard.
“I realized that building unity and building relationships are directly linked.”
Deepening the Expression of Unity
The visible deepening of the expression of unity on all levels in the AFM is of great importance to me. I continue to engage strategically with leaders, role players and members of our church in this regard and I see healthy but slow progress. I realized that building unity and building relationships are directly linked. We need to talk more about this and work intentionally on building relationships in our local communities.
PART 2: Past. Rudi Coertzen
(General Treasurer of the AFM of SA)
The year 2023 was a year where I was stretched and challenged to serve our Master with greater vigour. Our theme for the year, Keep the Fire Burning, helped me to focus clearly on what is important. Every time I spoke, I realized, the fire must burn brightly. As we started the year with our NOB Empowerments, I was fortunate to interact with all our pastors and leaders. I enjoyed engaging with our leaders and asking and answering difficult questions. From my perspective, the empowerments were a great blessing to me, and it helped me to grow in my relationship with God.
All the different department conferences were well attended and the energy from the leaders of the departments, energized me. The youth was like the youth is, exuberant and loud and lots of dance and songs. The women impressed us with a well-organized, well-attended and colourful conference in Durban. The men did excellently in their coming together and the Children’s Ministry presented an educator training event in Cape Town. Our church is busy and moving all over the country. Our National Ablaze Conference in Cape Town brought all the different parts of our church together. It was a wonderful experience for everyone who attended.
“Our church is busy and moving all over the country.”
Between all the activities we held a lot of meetings, and I experienced the Hand of GOD and the inputs of the Holy Spirit in our meetings. We are a church and if we do not allow the leading of the Holy Spirit, our work will be in vain. Something that not many members know is that we as NOB meet every Tuesday morning on Zoom to discuss matters of the church, but also to pray. We have regularly interceded for our pastors, their families, and our members. It often happened that we prayed for issues that were unfolding in our country. Prayer is our weapon! I am looking forward to 2024 as we are planning and praying for great things to happen. May you and your family have a peaceful festive season and experience once again the blessing of the great gift, Jesus Christ, that was sent to us.
PART 1: Dr Henri Weideman
(President of the AFM of SA)
Prayer and Fasting
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 (NIV) encourages us to “Rejoice always, pray continually, (and to) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
“Prayer and the belief that God answers prayer, remain foundational to our faith as Pentecostal believers. “
Prayer and the belief that God answers prayer, remain foundational to our faith as Pentecostal believers. As the leaders of the AFM in South Africa we are calling on all our Pastors, Assembly Leaders, and members to make a determined effort to rejuvenate and energize our focus on prayer and fasting during the month of January. I ask every Assembly to facilitate times of prayer and fasting during January 2024. Monday, 15 January to Friday, 19 January 2024 is marked as a focus week in this regard.
Five video clips will be made available on the AFM of SA’s social media from 12 January 2024 onwards. The clips can be used in WhatsApp communication over the five days or as a point of departure during prayer meetings. The video clips will focus on “Prayer is…”:
- Our direct communication line to God.
- An expression of thankfulness.
- Sharing our hearts with God.
- About aligning our hearts with God.
- Anytime and anywhere.
I acknowledge the fact that our Assemblies function within a diversity of circumstances and therefore I do not want to be prescriptive on how you should structure this month and the focus week of prayer and fasting. I however urge you to consider this important matter and to find a way that will work effectively in your context.
Let us be reminded that we should not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present our requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4: 6-7).
Focus On Foundational Spiritual Principles
Whatever we say about being a “missional” church boils down to a challenge: We need to rediscover and strengthen our spiritual identity and how we live as (Pentecostal) Christians in a world that has moved past being centred on the values and principles of Christianity.
“…rediscover and strengthen our spiritual identity.”
Our plan to be more missional in how we spread our message, must never only rely on conceptual forms of our drivers, being Discipleship, Empowerment, Community Involvement, working with other churches (Ecumenical Involvement), and being well-run (Good Governance). It must be based on building a deep connection with the Holy Spirit and on taking practical action.
As Christians, the things we do like praying, helping others, being together, and sharing our beliefs – are not just for our own benefit. They are about showing how God’s love can change the world. We are meant to go out and show this love in action, by being kind, forgiving, and giving hope to others.
The church is a product of and also an active participant in God’s mission. We are all missionaries. Every believer and every local church are central to God’s mission and must discern where and how He is moving in their specific context and join up with Him. To do this effectively, we need to continuously cultivate a renewed spiritual identity and life as a community of Jesus followers.
“…showing how God’s love can change the world.”
2024 NOB Empowerment Visits
The NOB felt led to continue the focus on who we are and how we must live as Holy Spirit-filled people and church in 2024. This time around with the focus on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. During the 2024 Regional Empowerment visits, we will focus on the theme:
FAN INTO FLAME – the gift of God, which is in you.
Based on 2 Timothy 1: 6: “Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you. (NIV)” and “Stir up the gift of God which is in you. (NKJV)” We will share on the spiritual gifts, sound teaching, our testimony and unity. In support of our theme, I give over to Past. Selby Khumalo (General Secretary) to share what is stirring in his heart regarding our 2024 FAN INTO FLAME theme:
PART 2: Past. Selby Khumalo
(General Secretary of the AFM of SA)
Maintenance of the Spiritual Fire
We are a community and people of the Spirit and Fire, having been “…baptised with the Holy Spirit and Fire.” (Luke 3:16, ESV) This fire of God is a sign of spiritual renewal, consecration, and empowerment. We must maintain and ensure that this spiritual fire is kept burning in us and in our spiritual family. This is God’s fire and not a manufactured fire – maintaining its burning is our entire obligation and commitment. Let us continue to FAN INTO FLAME the gifts of God which are in us:
“…His message becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones, and I become weary of holding it in, and I cannot prevail.” (Jeremiah 20:9, BSB)
“Do not extinguish the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19, BSB)
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…” (Ephesians 4:30, BSB)
We are excited to spend time with our Church Family on this very significant theme. Kindly take note that the dates and venues of the 2024 NOB Empowerment Visits have been confirmed and I can share this information with you:
PART 1: Past. Barend Petersen
(Deputy President of the AFM of SA)
Good Tidings of Great Joy!
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy” (Matthew 2: 10). “Fear not for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2: 10).
Jesus came as the light into this dark world. It was the star of Bethlehem that led the Wise men to Him in the manger in Bethlehem and they were filled with joy when they saw Jesus. The star of Bethlehem reminds us that all the efforts by the evil one to darken or extinguish the light of the Lord will fail and that He will guide us through this dark and broken world.
There is something uniquely special about Christmas that brings joy, peace, and goodwill to our hearts. The wonder of Christmas has been experienced since the birth of Jesus, throughout the ages by people all over the world. The magnetic power of the love of God, personified by the birth of His Son, continues to draw people to Him and change their lives. His birth reminds us that we too can experience the joy of redemption, of healing and provision.
David confidently declares in Psalm 16: 11: “You have made known to me the path of life, you fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand” whilst Nehemiah proclaims in chapter 8: 10: “The Joy of the Lord is my strength.” Most of us have experienced that, “…when my anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul” Psalm 94:19. May we truly experience the joy of the birth of Jesus Christ this Christmas and the year ahead!
PART 2: Dr Henri Weideman
(President of the AFM of SA)
Jesus, the light of the World!
Over the years different forms of light have been used as part of Christmas celebrations and decorations. In a small way, they depict the magnificent Light that Jesus shines into this world – from the day He was born, until today. Just as the star led the wise men to the new-born King – Jesus, the true light of the world, has come to dispel the darkness in our lives.
Let us remind our loved ones that:
Jesus is the Light of the World: In John 1: 4-5 we read: “In Him was life and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Jesus is the Gift of God’s Love: John 3: 16 tells us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Christmas is a testament to God’s incredible love for humanity. He gave us His Son Jesus Christ as the gift of Salvation to all mankind – the greatest gift we could ever receive.
I grew up in a house where only the young children received gifts on Christmas day and where it was explained that the gifts they received were a reminder of the birth and everlasting gift of Jesus Christ.
I wish all our members, Assembly Leaders, Pastors, Regional- and Departmental leadership, and Committees as well as all NLF members, a blessed and peaceful celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. May you experience times of togetherness and rest with family and loved ones, and may 2024 be an exceptional year of God’s grace for us all.