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ENG AFM Pastoral Letter 4th Quarter 2021
TABLE OF CONTENTS
– CONTINUE LABOURING IN GOD’S KINGDOM
– TRUST IN GOD ALWAYS
– APPRECIATE WHAT WE HAVE
– CALLED FOR A TIME SUCH AS THIS
I am greatly honoured to pen this article down as part of the 4th Quarter 2021 Pastoral Letter. This is my last Pastoral Letter in my capacity as President of the AFM of SA. For this last edition, I requested my fellow National Office Bearers to join me as we reflect on a last special message and word of encouragement to the AFM church as a whole.
It was a privilege to serve alongside these leaders: Dr J.J. La Poorta (Deputy President), Dr H.J. Weideman (General Secretary) and Past. B. Petersen (General Treasurer). May God bless them and continue to bless our beloved AFM church.
CONTINUE LABOURING IN GOD’S KINGDOM
Past. M.G. Mahlobo (President of the AFM of SA)
I was twenty-five years old when I was ordained as a Pastor of the AFM of SA. Although I had an assurance of God’s calling, I did not have a complete picture of what the Lord wanted me to do. Since my ordination, as I reflect on my forty-two years in the ministry, I am thankful to God for all that He did for me as part of the AFM fellowship. I am also grateful to all my ministry colleagues and members of this church. When I was young, you provided me with spiritually matured people who mentored and guided me. When the ministry became tough, you gave me motivation and when I was hurting I received comfort. When I celebrated achievements, you celebrated together with me.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been with us for almost 2 years. Many colleagues succumbed to the pandemic. Many of our people lost their livelihoods. Adjustments to the new norm are not easy. We had to embrace new ways of doing ministry and meetings. This is possible through multiple technologies such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Zoom. Loadshedding, bandwidth outages and access to data made connectivity difficult for many of us. We had to find innovative ways regarding the church’s liturgical practices such as the dedication of children, laying on of hands on the sick and serving the Lord’s Communion. Water baptism has been halted in many of our churches. If the pandemic persists the leadership of the church will have to give guidance in this regard.
Allow me to thank our Pastors, Assembly Leaders and members of our church for holding the fort during these difficult times. I pray for God’s protection on you and your families. May the good Lord continue to guide and empower you for the present times and the future. May the Lord add to your congregations those who accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord and are baptised in the power of the Holy Spirit. May the flame of Pentecost continue to burn in your services.
We are coming to terms with the fact that the current pandemic is not a “sprint” but a “marathon”. God expects us to fulfil our calling. The fulfilment of the Great Commission cannot be stopped by the Covid-19 pandemic. Early church persecution and all previous pandemics could not stop the church’s witness. The One who called us is the source of our empowerment and sustenance as we continue to labour in His ministry. In 2 Thessalonians 3:3, we read these encouraging words: “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one” (NLT). As you continue to labour in God’s field do so with integrity, sound relationships, accountability and excellence. Mobilise our members to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Embed in their spirits the sense of being sent by God to all creation as transformational agents.
“The fulfilment of the Great Commission cannot be stopped by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
While I will no longer be able to serve you as your leader, I want to assure you that I leave with pleasant memories. It has been a pleasure working together with you, as co-workers in this church. Allow me to also thank all the staff members of the AFM National Office for your dedication to your work.
TRUST IN GOD ALWAYS
Dr J.J. La Poorta (Deputy President of the AFM of SA)
Now that I have virtually come to the end of my active ministry journey within the AFM of SA, it is with thanks and appreciation that I am looking back without regrets. Along the road, I have met many people who positively impacted my life. I encountered many challenges from which I have learned valuable personal lessons and some I could share with others so that they do not make the same painstaking mistakes I made. Through it all, I have seen the Hand of the Lord – the One who called me – manifested in ways beyond my wildest imagination.
I also want to express my heartfelt thanks to my life partner in ministry, Susan, our children and grandchildren for the joy and happiness that they brought into my life and ministry. Some colleagues have been with me in ministry during many struggles, memorable moments and experiences – I want to thank them for their assistance. I do not want to venture into listing names in the fear that I might leave someone out by mistake and that this could cause unnecessary strain on future relationships. When they read this document, they will recognise themselves. I would like to share some final thoughts with you:
Stay Focused & On Course
In ministry, it is significant to stay focused and on course towards your calling. Romans 11:29 declares that: “…since God’s gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable”. When a person is called and have been empowered with certain charismatic gifts, one must always remember (i) the purpose and the calling and (ii) that the charismatic gifts are to build up the Body. It is not to be used as tools or instruments of manipulation or to brag about one’s own ability. It comes from God and will always remain the property of God through His Spirit. Its purpose is to build the church and enhance the mission of God in the world.
The calling and the charismatic gifts bring with it an anointing that opens up doors and breaks down every yoke of resistance. Remember, you are called by God and must stay focused on Him and His interest. Never use the calling, charismatic gifts and anointing for any God-dishonoring purpose.
Trust In God Always
Trust in God with all your strength and lean not on your own understanding, strength and abilities. You have been called to do God’s work with His power and in the strength of the Holy Spirit. Wherever you go, whatever you do always remember to trust in God. He is our protector, provider and sustainer in ministry. Many people will come across your path who think they can take that special place of God and make you dependent on them. Be careful about those seemingly, kind and generous people who support you in ministry with ulterior motives. They will give to you and your ministry to remind you that they are important resourceful persons in your life.
“Trust in God with all your strength and lean not on your own understanding, strength and abilities.”
Be Faithful Till The End
You have been called by God into ministry, who is faithful and just to supply all your needs according to his riches in glory. Your faithfulness and allegiance must under all circumstances be to God and God alone. To the members of the church in Smyrna the Spirit said to be faithful until death. To be faithful is a costly exercise that in many cases may demand the ultimate price. When you uttered the words of Isaiah 6: 8: “Here am I, send me” you declared yourself willing to pay the price for the calling in ministry.
Stay well and be of good courage, God is able to do exceedingly above all your hopes, dreams and expectations.
APPRECIATE WHAT WE HAVE
Dr H.J. Weideman (General Secretary of the AFM of SA)
Looking back over the last 5 years and also looking forward to the future, many things come to mind. In the limited space of this article, I will mention 5 of those closest to my heart:
Our Rich History & Pentecostal DNA
In the National Office, I am often reminded of and appreciate our history and the leaders that played a role in our growth over the years. I realised again the importance of staying true to who we are as a Pentecostal church. The AFM is certainly not a perfect church, such does not exist, but it is our church and we have been planted in South Africa for a definite and God honouring purpose. As people of the Holy Spirit, living and working on the frontline of a secularising world, we must do everything in our power to strengthen our DNA and give expression to our values of Integrity, Excellence, Relationships and Accountability in our everyday lives.
We are blessed with several seasoned and experienced leaders who remains a rich reservoir of corporate memory and learning capabilities on which developing leaders can and must draw. I firmly believe that no leader “expires” – they only enter another season of ministry.
Unity and Diversity
Our vision statement says: “We see a church accessible to all people, celebrating our unity and God-given diversity, empowering our members for caring and changing communities to the glory of God.” We need to appreciate that our journey towards unity comes a long way. Many leaders, Pastors and members played a crucial role and sacrificed a lot to bring us where we are. The achievement of structural unity in 1996 was a remarkable milestone on this journey that still needs to continue, as we treasure and strengthen our cohesion.
We should celebrate our diversity as an asset in our ongoing development and growth process. This diversity is expressed in a bouquet of cultures, languages, traditions, learning experiences, stories, ways of expression and liturgies. None of which are “better” than the other, just different. We can appreciate and learn so much from each other, as we participate in the multi-faceted existence that the AFM has to offer.
Our Local Assemblies & Members
The church exists on a local level before it exists on a regional and national level. The National Office and Regional Structures of the church exist because local assemblies are planted, developed and grown. Our leaders, Pastors and members are all assets of equal importance and should be treated as such.
When done right, the local assembly is an extremely powerful transformational influence in its community. Every member has a role to play and must be empowered to live their lives as people on a mission. The mission Jesus sent us on when He said: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you…” (John 20:21). The AFM started out as and should continue to be a missional movement in which every member is an active part of the team and not a spectator.
“The AFM started out as and should continue to be a missional movement in which every member is an active part of the team and not a spectator. “
Developing & Emerging Leaders
I am very excited by the number of developing leaders and emerging young leaders that the AFM has. They must be empowered to grow as leaders who embody the DNA, values and ethos of the AFM. They need to be mentored, embraced and given the space to become all God intended them to be in our church, communities and country. If we can do that effectively our future legacy will be secure.
As I said in the beginning, the AFM was planted in South Africa for a reason. Part of that is to be salt and light, to be a changing influence, not only in our cities but in every community where we find ourselves – be that urban, rural, workplace or social spaces. To be moral influencers. People who live with integrity, doing what we do with excellence and accountability and within the context of loving and caring relationships. That is firstly on a personal and local level.
On a national and organisational level, the AFM should be more visible and fulfil its role as an agent and voice of righteousness, moral influence and promotors of the Good News of Jesus’ Love, Grace and forgiveness. The AFM is not the only expression of the body of Christ on earth, but we are certainly a significant part of it. We should believe in our purpose and calling and fulfil our role with determination and passion.
CALLED FOR A TIME SUCH AS THIS
Past. B. Petersen (General Treasurer of the AFM of SA)
“And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment. From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to do” Chronicles 12:32 (KJV).
The world is slowly emerging from the catastrophic Covid-19 pandemic which was the greatest threat to global health in more than a century. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been devastating as many lives were lost and livelihoods were destroyed. We are slowly lifting our heads and our hearts after a season of pain and uncertainty in a rapidly changing world with a shift from what we were used to, to a place of uncertainty. These challenging days is causing the church to reflect on her influence in and on society.
“The Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa believes that the Spirit of God is given to believers to live dynamic and overcoming lives…”
The Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa believes that the Spirit of God is given to believers to live dynamic and overcoming lives and that believers can demonstrate the character, love and power of their Lord, Jesus Christ, in their daily lives. I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 5: 13-16, “…you are the salt of the earth and the light of the world”. In times before modern refrigeration, salt was used to prevent bacteria from poisoning food – salt could literally make the difference between life and death when fresh food was not available. Salt also added flavour to food, and as such the church should live a life worthy of being emulated by the world. Light gives direction and guidance in a time of darkness. When we shine our light before others by living righteously we are making visible the character of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
God has called and continues to call men and women, as He called Moses, in response to the cries of His people and His creation because God cares for His creation. In Exodus 3: 7- 10 we read: “The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
We must understand and appreciate the demands of the times in which we minister. Chronos time refers to minutes and seconds whilst Kairos time refers to the appointed time or a due season. Undoubtedly we are in a Karios period that will determine the trajectory of the world for years to come. The church is called at this moment to rise and meet the weightier demands of our time. Like Moses, we are called with a divine purpose to make a lasting impact in this generation.
“Like Moses, we are called with a divine purpose to make a lasting impact in this generation.”
This time calls for visible Spiritual Authority underpinned by our daily walk with God as Paul commands us in Colossians 2: 6-7: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving”. Our understanding of the context in which we minister will enable us to move beyond the pulpit and give direction, like the sons of Issachar, by the grace of God, to lead our communities on how to respond to the situations people find themselves in.
The Gospel brings home a message that is destiny changing – a change from what we are to what we ought to be. The Gospel brings hope as the Psalmist says in Psalm 126: “…when the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. … Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”
We have personal experience of the destiny changing impact of the Gospel. Through the ages and all over the world, we have powerful evidence of what can happen when leaders, consumed by a vision from God, relentlessly pursue, and then turn that vision into destiny changing realities. We have witnessed the impact God has made in communities where adults, teenagers and children are wholeheartedly discovering who they are in God and what life is all about.
“May God help us to passionately spread the full gospel beyond the walls of the church.”
May God help us to passionately spread the full gospel beyond the walls of the church. We should accelerate the development of competent and skilled leaders with spiritual authority who truly understand the times and who boldly act in anticipation of the demands of tomorrow. I pray that the Lord will continue to use the AFM of SA in an even bigger way to share the life-changing message.
May the Apostolic Faith Mission continue to enjoy infinite blessings!