Pastoral Letter: 3rd Quarter 2021

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AFM Pastoral Letter: 3rd Quarter 2021

TABLE OF CONTENTS

– INTRODUCTION
– DIVINE HEALING & THE INCEPTION OF THE AFM
– BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON SICKNESS & HEALING
– AFM WELFARE WEEKEND: 26-28 NOVEMBER 2021
– CONCLUSION

AFM Colleagues,

Due to the restrictions on gatherings, the National Office Bearers could not visit all the regions during this year’s NOB Empowerment Visits. We hoped that restrictions would have been relaxed earlier, allowing us to visit those regions that are still outstanding. Unfortunately, this could not happen and for this reason, I am including links to all the NOB Empowerment presentations and videos in this letter.

The theme for this year is “Step up to the Future.” The presentations include: (i) Our Missional Church Strategy (One AFM Game Plan), (ii) Church Discipline, (iii) Good Governance (iv) Technology and the Church and (v) Major Risks Facing the AFM. Kindly use the links below to enjoy access to the mentioned content:

Download Presentations:

https://afm-ags.org/category/media/

Watch Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMguBPJZpLHYtSymo7ubUs2oXGS28rDn3

I trust that these presentations will bless and empower you! In this edition of the Pastoral Letter, I include a special focus on the subject of healing as well as the upcoming AFM Welfare Weekend.

 

DIVINE HEALING & THE INCEPTION OF THE AFM

Dr Isak Burger (Former President of the AFM of SA) – [email protected]

Divine healing was one of the distinctive characteristics of the early AFM. Just to get an idea of the many healings, these figures give some indication: During the year 1911, there were 2,023 cases of confirmed, supernatural healings in the AFM. The official church magazine (The Comforter and Messenger of Hope) published right from its inception, in every edition, several testimonies by people who were healed. In some editions, lists of people healed were mentioned. This is perhaps the most outstanding feature when paging through those early Comforters.

The early leaders – Thomas Hezmalhalch, John G. Lake and P.L. le Roux – have set the example. It is important to take special note of the healing ministry of John G. Lake. His philosophy about healing was simply that the praying for a sick person must continue until he/she was healed. Near the end of his life, he wrote to P. L. le Roux where he ascribed the high percentage of healings to this sustained praying: “The astounding percentage of those who were healed was, I believe, due to the system we adopted. We insisted that the individual should present himself for prayer and laying on of hands every day until we were satisfied that they were fully healed.”

His philosophy about healing was simply that the praying for a sick person must continue until he/she was healed.”

Lake was opposed to the modus operandi of some evangelists who only prayed once for the sick person, took no further responsibility for him/her and then told the public that the person was healed. This sort of practice, he said, is harmful:

“We well knew that the great majority of those ministered to once were not fully healed. Some of them were half healed; some of them were quarter healed; some of them received a very slight touch of healing; some were touched of God sufficiently to take away their pain and give them freedom and action temporarily. In many of these cases evangelists had these people testify before great audiences that they were fully healed, only to discover in a few days or weeks that they were not really healed, and many in disappointment went home to die.

Because of the commercialized state of evangelistic work, evangelists felt that they could not afford to take time to pray for the same individual more than once; and in a short time they began to teach that accursed teaching that has devastated the ministry of healing that it was only proper to pray for the sick once, that they should not be ministered unto the second time. This was Dollar Christianity. Wherever it was practised and by whom, it is still Dollar Christianity. If we pray for a sinner repeatedly until he is saved and he knows it, and for the baptism of the Holy Ghost, why not for healing?”

“If we pray for a sinner repeatedly until he is saved and he knows it, and for the baptism of the Holy Ghost, why not for healing?”

Divine healing has always attracted people and this was probably the decisive factor that persuaded people to set aside their objections and prejudices and through which the Lord drew the people to Himself. More people in those early days came to the AFM through the healing ministry than in any other way. It is remarkable how many of the first generation members of the AFM were influenced to join the church after seeing or personally experiencing a healing miracle.

Relating the history of a well-known pastor in the early days of the AFM, a Mrs Z. Rennie wrote: “The late Pastor Charles Heatley came into the church a hopeless cripple, on crutches, and went home saved, and literally leaping for joy, healed by the power of God. He often testified that when he got home, his wife had a big fright when she heard a man running up the stairs – she had been listening for the sound of crutches – but to her joy, it was her husband, healed.”

One could rightly ask today: “What happened to this distinctive characteristic of the early AFM? After all, it is one of the foundational pillars of our church.” More information on this subject is available in the book “The Fire Falls in Africa” and can be obtained from the AFM Head-Office:

Send an e-mail to: [email protected] 

R100 per book (excluding the courier fee)

BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON SICKNESS & HEALING

Past. M.G. Mahlobo (President of the AFM of SA) – [email protected] 

In this article, I would like to look at why we get sick. I would also like to touch on whether God can be the source of our sickness. I would then conclude with what the Bible says about healing, how can I get well and help others get well too. The issue of sickness is broad and complex. In dealing with this question, I want to propose three factors. These are human-, spiritual-, and environmental factors.

Human Factors

In certain instances, we become sick because of human factors. These include:

  • Neglect of our bodies. When we neglect our bodies, we expose ourselves to all kinds of ailments.
  • Harmful substances. We run a risk of being ill when we indulge in harmful substances, such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and tobacco.
  • Non-compliance with hygiene and safety measures against diseases exposes us to all kinds of infections.

Spiritual Factors

  • God factor. In the Old Testament God inflicted boils on Egyptians (Exodus 9: 8-12). God used ailments to punish Israel when they were disobedient. In 2 Samuel 24:15-17, God sent pestilence that killed 70,000 children of Israel because of the sin of King David. The Psalmist, in Psalm 119:67,71 makes a connection between afflictions and disobedience to God’s statutes (Ref. Exodus 15:26).
  • Demons. In the New Testament, we read about people who were sick because of demonic powers (Mark 5:1-20).

Environmental Pollution Factors

  • Sometimes sickness is caused by conditions of squalor. In Deuteronomy 23:12-14 we see the importance of hygiene and sanitation.
  • In January 2020 the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cited the absence of water, toilets, soap, and water management in health care facilities among the most urgent global challenges of this decade (WHO and UNICEF. Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP 2017). 

Is sickness something given to me by God? The response is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I have already alluded to God using sickness as punishment or corrective measure in one of the previous paragraphs. This is specifically in relation to the Old Testament and not necessarily in the New Testament. One of the consequences of sin in Genesis 3 is death. Sickness is part of the death process. Sin has rendered our bodies vulnerable (1 Corinthians 5:1-2; 15:42-44). Each one of us has a body that is in the process of perishing. In the New Testament, God is healing the multitudes instead of cursing them.

“In John 10:10 Jesus declares that He came to give life in all its fullness.”

How can I get well? There are many views and opinions about healing. Christians need to go to the Bible for direction and guidance:

  • Have faith in God. In three Bible passages, Jesus healed people and told them “Your faith has made you well” Mark 5:34, Luke 17:19 & Mark 10:52.
  • Confession. In James 5:16 we are instructed to confess our sins to each other as a preparation for our healing. This, however, does not mean that every sick person is ill because of a secret sin that he/she has committed. This was a mistake that Job’s friends made regarding Job’s sickness.
  • Accept sufficiency of God’s Grace. In 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, Paul relates his prayer to God for healing from his physical ailments. He prayed three times and in all instances, the response from God was: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul accepted God’s grace above his ailment.
  • Consult accredited physicians. Christians should not shy away from undergoing medical processes to establish their condition of wellness. The Bible refers to medical treatment used, such as bandages (Isaiah 1:6), balm (Jeremiah 8:22), leaves (Ezekiel 47:12) and oil and wine (Luke 10:34). References of Doctors are made in the Bible. These include Matthew 9:12; Luke 4:23 and Colossians 4:14.

How can I help others to get well? We can help others get well when we pray for their healing (Mark 16:16-18 & James 5:14-15). We must encourage them not to lose hope. Healing comes from God. Our God, as Jehovah Rapha, can heal us from all diseases (Psalm 103:3). God may not heal us. God said ‘no’ to Moses when he prayed for Miriam (Numbers 12:13-15), and Paul (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). Church leaders have an important part to play. In James 5:14-16 elders or leaders of the church should be informed when members are sick. They are expected to visit and pray for the sick.

AFM WELFARE WEEKEND: 26-28 NOVEMBER 2021

Ashley Theron – Acting CEO of AFM Welfare – [email protected] 

In the past 18 months, people all over the world were affected by a situation that we have never experienced before. The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the loss of lives of family members, colleagues, friends and even Pastors. This is compounded by the loss of jobs and business shutdowns impacting negatively on the income of families – remaining a great concern. The lost time for the education sector might never be recovered. Churches have been greatly impacted by the lockdown regulations limiting the number of people that may attend gatherings. It seems that so much has been lost and that no person, organisation or church is left untouched by this crisis.

When things are tough and difficult in my own household, does God still expect me to reach out to others in need?”

When things are tough and difficult in my own household, does God still expect me to reach out to others in need? When I am suffering, do I still have a responsibility to serve as the hands and feet of Christ? The image of the three crosses on Calvary immediately comes to mind and specifically Luke 23:32-43. It is one of the most precious moments in the Bible. While Jesus Himself were experiencing agony and excruciating pain on the cross, He still showed compassion to listen to the plea of the thief crucified next to Him. Jesus repressed His own pain in that moment to tend to the needs of another.

The implication for believers is clear. Jesus has set this touching example for us to follow. It is an example that stands in stark contrast with the ways of the world where people in difficult situations might feel that self-preservation is a higher priority than giving, sharing and reaching out to others.   Even when things are difficult and tough in our own households, I believe that through God’s grace we should continue to generously give and reach out to others in need. This is also the proposed theme for the 2021 AFM Welfare Weekend (26-28 November 2021).

The AFM Welfare Weekend is an opportunity for the church to intentionally reflect on one of the drivers of the One AFM Game Plan – Community Involvement. By making it a focused weekend, it does not mean that we should not be involved in our communities throughout the year. It only means that we are taking time to re-evaluate the church’s role in making a difference in the lives of vulnerable persons. It is also a chance for the AFM to have a specific weekend, once a year where all Assemblies are invited to unite as one around the same focus, message and activities. (Download more information about the Community Involvement driver from: https://afm-ags.org/community-involvement/.)

One of the most vulnerable groups in our local communities is older persons. Older persons are somebody’s parents, our parents, our grandparents, they are in our churches – they took care of us when we were growing up, it is our turn to care for them in a dignified manner and to protect them. The care and protection of older persons will be our focus for this year’s AFM Welfare Weekend.

The care and protection of older persons will be our focus for this year’s AFM Welfare Weekend.”

The rest of this article will focus on a guideline with practical ideas and suggestions to assist AFM Assembles to make the most of the AFM Welfare Weekend. Each AFM Assembly should decide how their AFM Welfare Weekend will be structured.

Guidelines for a successful AFM Welfare Weekend

Effective Preparation 

  • To make a success of AFM Welfare Weekend involve, prepare and mobilise the Governing Body, all Departments and all assembly members.
  • Prepare spiritually by intentionally reflecting with your leadership and assembly members on one of the drivers of the One AFM Game Plan – Community Involvement.
  • If you don’t have a Welfare Committee, you will need to identify, elect/appoint and prepare a team that will be responsible to organise and manage the programme for Welfare Weekend.

Get to know the Community Surrounding the Church 

  • To help care for, serve and protect vulnerable persons (including Older Persons) in your community, you need to know who they are and where they live. Take a good look at your town, suburb or community and create a Profile that includes:
  • A database of information on all vulnerable persons, including older persons in your Assembly, and others living in communities surrounding your church including their names, phone numbers, physical address and next of kin.
  • A list of organisations or structures involved in service provision and protection of older persons. This includes Government Departments, SAPS, NPOs and other organisations, health facilities and institutions that are offering services to older persons. (Get to know these organisations and individuals so that your Assembly can conduct a needs analysis and become aware of opportunities for involvement.)
  • For purposes of the 2021 AFM Welfare Weekend the information and services for Older Persons should be prioritised.

Deciding on your AFM Welfare Weekend Programme

You can choose between a two or a three-day programme. The example below is for a three-day programme:

  • Friday Evening. Invite families (include grandparents if they are part of the same household) to a short practical “Focus on the Family” session. Should you be interested, I will gladly share two of my tool kits on (i) How to Develop Family Values and (ii) How to combine Family Meetings with Evening Devotions. You or one of the leaders can facilitate a discussion and break into groups of families to apply the teaching.
  • Saturday morning. Consider a Community Outreach action.

Example 1: Breakfast and entertainment session for Older Persons

Identify and invite all active Older Persons (60 and above – if there are too many 65 and older) to enjoy breakfast and thereafter participate in a concert with them as the performers. Close the session with a short talk on e.g., self-care or a sermon.

Example 2: Reaching out to and spoiling Older Persons

Identify vulnerable or frail older persons in your assembly and community and arrange a team of youth members and/or children’s ministry staff to clean their houses, do chores and run errands, do their hair and nails, do a health check etc.

  • Saturday afternoon. Consider an Empowerment Session where you inform and train your church members and members of your community. I will make a training video available soon to educate the mentioned members on reaching out, caring for and protecting older persons in the community, including a special focus on the different types of elder abuse.
  • Sunday morning – A Welfare Service. 

Sunday Sermon:

Community Involvement is key to the fulfilment of the AFM’s missional calling. Empower your members to better understand this driver and calling. Give the consistent message that (1) when things are tough and difficult in my own household, God still expects me to reach out to others and (2) the abuse of older persons is wrong and contrary to Christian teachings. We will also make sermon points for your consideration available soon.

Sunday Donations-in-kind:

Consider a specific activity where your members are mobilised a few weeks before the AFM Welfare Weekend to bring donations that could include gifts, clothes, linen, towels, toiletries and/or non-perishable food for identified older persons. The parcels of food and toiletries should be prepared before the time and handed out during the morning service to active older persons. Where older persons are no longer able to attend the services, it should be taken to them.

Sunday Offering:

Consider taking up a special offering for the AFM Welfare Department. The special offering can be deposited in the AFM Welfare’s account:

Bank Name: ABSA

Account Name: The Executive Welfare Council of the AFM of SA

Branch Code: 632005

Account Number: 01 05529 076 4

Type: Check

Reference: The name of your AFM Assembly

To further assist you in preparing for AFM Welfare Weekend, you might also find the following resources useful:

https://afm-ags.org/pastoral-letter-2nd-quarter-2021/ 

https://afm-ags.org/protecting-older-persons-against-abuse-an-involved-church-community/ 

CONCLUSION

I understand that Covid-19 does have a great influence on the way church actions and projects are planned. There is no doubt that it has become more difficult to reach out and work with the community due to Covid-19 restrictions. I want to encourage you to stand strong and to consider innovative ways to continue carrying out the Great Commission – even when times are difficult and tough. Even when it is painful and hurting. I am praying for each AFM Pastor, and I know that through the grace of God we will be strengthened and receive wisdom.

Blessings!

M.G. Mahlobo

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