In April Dr. Kevin Backus and I had the privilege of traveling to South Africa to evaluate a potential missions effort there. Two ministers, Rev. Louis Cloete and Dr. Gideon Grobler, had contacted our office late last year inquiring about possible affiliation with the BPC and Presbyterian Missionary Union. Dr. Grobler was recommended to us by one of our newest BP churches, Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Greeneville, TN. Rev. Cloete comes to us from the OPC. The men acted independently; neither knew the other. Both men have a burden for the spiritual condition of the Afrikaner people who are largely in the center of the country. Though the Afrikaners have a long heritage of solid Reformed Christianity, recent generations have departed from the genuine root of that heritage and are effectively secular in their approach to life. Both men are Afrikaner by birth, speak the language fluently (Dr. Grobler also speaks fluent Sotho), and share with us a desire to plant churches and provide biblical counseling, reaching all people groups (with an emphasis upon the Afrikaners) in a nation torn by racial strife, violence, and a growing Marxist ideology.
Evaluating a field is always a challenge. One must take into account demographics, economics, spiritual conditions, other church bodies that may be present and where they are active, what resources are available to missionaries, communications, transportation issues, political climate, and opportunity. Sometimes it is quite clear that the situation is not going to be such that we can work in a given place. Other times, as in this case, much looks very promising. We were very encouraged by what we saw and heard, and learned a great deal about the conditions of the country and what might be done there.
Right now, the first steps are underway at the Presbytery level, as the men are working with the Great Lakes Presbytery to undergo examinations and transfer credentials. The ministry opportunity will be presented to the PMU Missions Council at our annual meeting in August for approval. Much has to be considered: funding, of course, but also what will be the best way to encourage these men in pursuing the Lord’s calling upon their lives. Dr. Grobler already lives there and is ministering to a small mission work he has been able to gather in the past few years, as well as counseling in local public schools. Rev. Cloete is finishing up his doctorate here in the States, and hopes to join Dr. Grobler in mutually supportive church planting and counseling work by 2020. Your prayers for wisdom as PMU examines all the details and arrives at a decision are coveted. Our hope is that both men will be able to be present at the annual meeting to meet the Council in person; please also pray that this will be able to take place.
We look forward to seeing what the Lord will do through us in the months and years to come, and are excited about the possibility that looms before us of a new mission work in South Africa, as He wills.
Dr. Leonard Pine, PMU Field Director