Dennis and Jackie Beeselaar left their beloved Cape in 2006 to come and serve the Lord at RUC and we have been blessed by their ministry for thirteen years. They have both poured their hearts into the lives of many people at RUC and they are loved by many. When Dennis became ill with cancer towards the end of 2011 many of the congregation prayed for him and the Lord answered the prayers and spared him to serve RUC for another eight years.  

Dennis’ pastoral heart is evidenced in his care for the ‘flock’ (as he calls them) and he will be missed by many of the ‘skaapies’. It has been my privilege to work alongside Dennis for all of the time he has been at RUC and we have become good friends. I will miss his sense of humour, laughter, care and concern for others.

Dennis as you ‘retire’ from full time pastoral ministry the congregation of RUC wish you God’s blessing and guidance as you continue to serve him in different areas in the Cape. Enjoy being closer to your children and the natural beauty of the Cape. May you and Jackie have some wonderful, quieter years together. 

Thank you for the way you have served God and RUC! 

God bless you both.

About 500 years ago, Michel de Montaigne said: “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.” A recent study has shown that 85% of what we worry about never happens!

I think back on some of the fears we had as a staff and church leadership exactly one year ago, knowing that our Senior Pastor would leave us on 25 November 2018, after 14 years of ministry. These were a few of the fears I heard muttered in meetings: Will lots of people leave? Will the church finances take a knock? What will uncertainty bring?

Well, here we are a year later, and many of our worries never happened. God has remained faithful to us as a church and in many ways it has been an exciting season of trusting God for new things and seeing new people put their hands up to get involved in what God is doing. We have continued to see people come to know Christ, hear testimonies through baptisms, witness new people joining our church and the gospel continuing to grow and shape us in all sorts of ways.

We welcomed Jonathan Crossley (Music Director) and Ansuné Schoeman (Children’s Ministry Director) and watched their impact on the worship ministry and next generation ministry. Other new staff have also been welcomed. There has been a renewed buzz in the staff room at tea times. In 2019, we have seen some of the largest financial gifts ever given to the work of the gospel through RUC- around 5.5 million rand in special gifts over and above normal giving! The quick generosity of God’s people to flood relief for our surrounding neighbours was moving to see. The elders have been meeting in one another’s homes for their meetings. We have prayed together and had fellowship and sought to go beyond purely “business matters”. The health of the working relationship between elders and deacons has been prioritised as we have sought to connect and talk vulnerably about our health. There has been a renewed rallying around our unity in the gospel as we have celebrated the diversity of languages and cultures that God has brought to RUC. We are excited to hear the results of the recent diversity survey that will be released shortly. 

The following were personal highlights for me: Easter with Ellis Andre; “Jesus in the real world” hearing stories of how ordinary people from RUC are living out their faith in the real world; Missions Sunday and a renewed call for us prioritise the gospel going to unreached people groups; Rays of Hope and their ongoing burden for uplifting the poor; the Care ministry and their ongoing ministry as well as their successful Care Conference – I could go on and on.

It has been my privilege to bring God’s Word to God’s people in this season: 

  • The Emotions of Christmas
  • The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23)
  • The Model Church (1 Thessalonians) 
  • Parables (Stories that Read Us) 
  • God’s Forgotten Postcards

Special thanks to all the guest preachers who have assisted in filling the pulpit. What a great season it has been to watch younger preachers grow and develop as they have had opportunity to bring God’s Word.

Another important highlight for us was to host John Purcell from Atlanta, USA as he interviewed 27 staff, elders, deacons and ministry leaders (one hour at a time!) and provided us with a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) of RUC and coached us through ways that we can be more strategic, healthy, wise and biblical in the way we are structured as a leadership. This journey has great potential as we consider how best to adapt our current structures & systems for the next decades. God still has his hand on us 113 years since RUC started and we long to reform and refine ourselves to continue to be all that God would have for us as a church that desires to be healthy, gospel-centred and strategically clear. John Purcell will be coaching us, as elders & deacons, as we begin to wrestle though these issues and come with recommendations to the church in November 2020, God-willing!

I am moved when I think of God’s personal reminder to us as a church earlier this year. You may recall that on the first Sunday at the start of the model church series from 1 Thessalonians, a church planter who was visiting RUC for the first time came to the front. He told me that he was on his way to Central Africa for a conference and was merely passing through. He said: “When I left the USA I only had space to bring one book with me and I prayed about who I should give this book to. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I came here today out of all the possible churches and all the possible Sundays. I would like to give this book to you as a sign that God has not forgotten you as a church in this season without a Senior Pastor.” He handed me the book and I asked him: “Did you write this book?” He replied: “Yes!” He had inscribed the inside cover with these words:  “Justin, God sent me to encourage you and RUC today, ‘May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and the steadfastness of Jesus’ (2 Thess 3:5). The title of the book … The Amazing Love of Paul’s Model Church – How the Thessalonians became disciples and reached their region with the Gospel.”

Oh brothers and sisters rejoice with me in pausing and giving thanks to God for all He has done through each of us as we have played the roles He has called us to play in this season without a Senior Pastor. Like Nehemiah we can rejoice that “the gracious of hand of our God has been upon us.”  Yes, there have been challenges, opposition and even conflict. Nehemiah had that too – but yet the evidence of God’s hand upon Him and the people building the walls was too evident to hide!

As this year draws to a close, I want to leave these words with you again from a sermon by Steven Lawson: 

“The God-driven church is one built by God Himself and, thus, is not a corporation, but a congregation, not a business, but a body, not a factory, but a family. In such a church, God is working primarily, not through hyped events, programs, entertainment, or even strategically designed plans per se, but through His Word and by His Spirit in the converted, changed lives of His people. Let us never forget, God anoints people, not plans. He indwells believers, not buildings. He fills preachers, not performances. Not that plans, buildings, or some performances are intrinsically wrong, because they are not. But when they become the church’s chief pursuit and confidence, they are spiritual cul-de-sacs leading nowhere, a cheap substitute for the real presence and supernatural power of God among His people.”

To God be the glory!

The weather is getting warmer, and we can feel that spring is in the air. But, colourful blossoms on the trees are not the only signs of a new season that we’re rejoicing in. As a Children’s Ministry Team, we have a spring in our step and we’re joyfully celebrating a number of ‘new blossoms’ that God has provided.   

The XChange Centre recently got a fresh coat of paint, and we just love the burst of colour. We will also do some more work on the downstairs area during the rest of the year – soon the walls will be decorated with jungle trees and animals, and the classes filled with some toys and props for all our young Bible Adventure Club explorers to enjoy.

While our ultimate aim isn’t to have the best, most exciting buildings and equipment, we do believe that environments play a vital part in our ministry to children. If everyone on our team is like a gardener who plants gospel seeds in kids’ hearts, our environments help to nurture those seeds to take root. We want to create physical spaces where kids feel welcome, excited, and safe to learn and explore their faith. We also want our environments to reflect just how much we value children. There is still a lot of work to be done in this regard, but we are so grateful for the steps we’ve been able to take towards our vision for our learning environments.

The second area in which we’ve recently seen signs of new life and growth is worship at Kids’ Bible School (Gr0-7). Corporate worship is a key aspect of a disciple’s life, and we want children to love and value worshipping Jesus with other members of his family from an early age. Until now, worship has been challenging due to limited resources, and we learned that lyric videos alone are not the most effective way to lead kids in worship. We are so grateful to God for providing us with a new KBS Worship Team. He has sent a group of energetic, faithful, young people who are on fire for Jesus to help lead the songs and actions. We pray that God will grow this team and continue to use each member as they point kids to the gospel and model how to glorify Jesus.

We also hope all our Spark families have been enjoying the new take on Fire Drills! Fire Drills are a tool that Nicola developed to equip parents for discipling their children. Each Friday, a Fire Drill is handed out with the main points from the lesson and some related activities and questions to go through at home. This term, the Fire Drills have been flipped around: instead of reinforcing the previous lesson, the children take home a Fire Drill related to the following Friday evening. In this way, families can work through the Bible passage and topic during the week, and children can prepare their hearts before the next Spark evening.

Lastly, our routine at KBS (Gr 0-7s) received some ‘spring cleaning’ this term. We now begin the morning with a fun game to break the ice and make everyone feel welcome. The game is related to the lesson, and introduces the children to what they will be learning in an interactive way. After that, the children have their time of teaching and discussion, and this takes up the bulk of our time with the children. We end the morning all together in the hall for praise and worship, and the kids can be collected here at the end of the service.

We have ordered things in this way for a couple of reasons. First, this helps us to love our team better, as they can always have a set time for their lessons. When the teaching time was at the end, lessons would often get cut short if the main service came out early. Our teachers are now able to plan their lessons knowing exactly how much time they will have. Secondly, we found that a game at the start helps children to feel relaxed and ready to learn (They are also more likely to remember the lesson than the fun activity if it’s to the closer end!). Finally, by coming together at the end for worship, the children can respond to what they’ve learned about God and be reminded that they belong to a big, special family.

As we look back on the year so far, we celebrate all that God has done in RUC’s Children’s Ministry, and we excitedly look forward to continued growth and fruitfulness. We pray that we’ll see God’s kingdom grow even more, that young hearts will keep being transformed and that each child will impact the world around them for Jesus’ glory in all seasons of life.

The parables of Jesus are not just stories we read. They are stories that read us. They unmask us to see ourselves in the mirror of the characters portrayed.

Jesus the master story-teller is able to disarm us with parables. We let our guard down, we enter in, we feel the emotions, we make value judgements on the story and then bam! … the truth reads us! That’s you and me in the parable! Pharisees, tax collectors, leaders, disciples, sinners, the lost, the found, the wise, the foolish, the ready, the unprepared!

But the parables don’t just read us, they read us in the light of Kingdom realities. They make the unfamiliar realities of God’s Kingdom plain to us, using everyday realities like: coins, seeds, soil, trees, barns, rocks, fields, pearls, animals, lamps, food, feasting, sons, workers, judges, etc.

But the parables don’t just illuminate truth, they also conceal truth. Jesus said in Matthew 13:13: “This is why I speak to them in parables: ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.’” There is mystery to the parables. There is truth to be mined beneath the surface like treasure hidden in a field. The parables read our inability to respond to truth. Everyone has ears, but not everyone hears their meaning. Those who hear and respond are revealed to be his disciples, but those who don’t remain in darkness. 

Won’t you pray that Jesus would open your eyes to the truth of who you are in the light of these stories? Won’t you pray that you will be astounded by the divinity & humanity of the God-man who is able to package eternal truth in word-pictures that even a child can understand?

May we be like those first hearers of parables of whom it was said: “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority.”  (Matthew 7:28-29)

We’re living in times where everyone is incredibly well connected. At any moment we can have a chat or a face-to-face video conversation with a friend or family member anywhere in the world. We have access to unlimited knowledge at the tip of our fingers. We have countless social media connections and have often intimate knowledge of what is happening in the lives of all sorts of random people. We know where they went on the weekend, we know when they last exercised (and how far or how fast they ran). And similarly, many people know all sorts of personal details about our own lives. Often a person’s emotional well-being can rise or fall on the attention (or lack thereof) that these little titbits can garner for them. Increasingly our very identities are being shaped and formed by these virtual audiences. 

And yet, how many people actually KNOW you? How many people genuinely know or care what is going on in your heart? How meaningful is your connectedness?

One of our core values as a church is Significant Community. We long to see every member connected into the life of the church through meaningful friendships and gospel centred community. The reality is that, as far as normal church sizes go, Rosebank Union is quite large; and as a large church, it is very easy for people to come and go each week without ever being genuinely known or loved or cared for. Consequently such a person’s experience of real church will inevitably be superficial and a bit cold. They may enjoy the worship service, they may be fed by the biblical preaching, they may be encouraged by hearing testimonies or in times of reflection and prayer, but their growth towards maturity in Christ will be stunted without relationships where they can be known, loved and cared for. 

In scripture, the church is described using a number of different organic images. Jesus said that he is the vine and we are the branches and that if we abide in him (stay connected to the vine) we will bear much fruit (John 15). The church is also described as being the flock of God – a community that follows Christ and receives care, protection, and leadership through Jesus Christ, the good shepherd (John 10: 11-16; 1 Peter 5: 2-4). And the church is also well described as being the body of Christ where Christ is the head and we all form the various parts according the gifts and grace God has given us (Romans 12: 4-5).

In all these images, the concept of being connected, or belonging is very important. The bible knows of no such thing as unconnected Christians. 

Because of this, one of our goals as a church is to have every member connected to some form of group. 

It may be a serving team where people can use their gifts to serve together

It may be a workshop or class where people can learn together or share together during some specific life stage (like a marriage course or Griefshare or bible course)

It may be a social community where people can connect with like-minded Christians (like KnitWits or Section Community)

Or it may be a Community Group or Life on Life Missional Discipleship Group where people can people can come together for intentional discipleship and bible study. 

In whatever way suits your life and availability, we want to encourage you to Get Connected!

We are currently in a preaching series in Psalm 23. Psalm 23 has been described as: “The Psalm of Psalms”, “The pearl of Psalms”; “A jewel of pure gold among the many jewels of Scripture”, “The nightingale of the Psalms” – as the weeks go by we can add our own descriptions to this Psalm.

These are some of the lessons I am learning as I preach through the Psalm:

Lesson 1 

We must not neglect “famous” passages of Scripture

We can neglect to study Psalm 23 because we think we know it so well. Perhaps we have just assumed we know it well. Perhaps the saying, “familiarity breeds contempt” has permeated our lives more than we realise.

Os Guinness, in a book I read some years ago said that the first step towards compromise in the church is: assumption! When we assume we know some truth of Scripture, we no longer investigate those sections of Scripture. The next generation never knows why we believe what we believe because of that assumption. Guinness says that it is a slippery slope from: assumption to abandonment to adaptation and finally assimilation and into compromise.

We need to revisit the beauty of “famous” texts so we can enjoy again why they became “famous” in the first place. What a joy to experience right here in Sandton, South Africa, in 2019 why Psalm 23 has sustained, comforted and encouraged God’s sheep down through the ages.

Lesson 2

We must slow down when we read Scripture to experience Christ!

A lady came up after a recent sermon in Psalm 23 and said, “I am so grateful we are only doing one verse per week. I think that covering one verse has been just enough for me to handle, remember and take out into each week.”

Often our Bible reading can just mirror our high speed bandwidth culture of information overload and superficial reading. Psalm 23 lends itself to slowing down and reflecting on each word and causal relationship in the text. Mining the depths of Psalm 23 involves understanding the background and context; applying it to our lives takes consistent work and time. Only when you slow down do you see truths that you would normally miss. Meditating is learning to “lie down in green pastures” and digesting God’s Word so it reshapes our hearts and lives! You may know Psalm 23, but do you know the Shepherd of Psalm 23?

Lesson 3

Applying God’s Word in daily life is hard!

Knowing the Psalm is easy, but knowing its reality is hard! Seeing evil and feeling afraid comes easily to sheep, but allowing the nearness of the Shepherd to overshadow your skittishness is hard!

In the week following the sermon on Psalm 23:2 we had a week of loadshedding and traffic jams. It took me 3 hours one day to drop kids at school, get to work and home again. It was hard for me, the preacher to practice what I had just preached and to “lie down in the traffic” even as our city clawed their way to work.

Some of you have shared how God has used the first few verses to expose secret sin and to begin a process of restoration. Other have shared how your Shepherd has been sustaining you in very difficult times. Applying God’s Word is hard, but despite our weakness as sheep, in Christ we have a great Shepherd who is leading us!

Oh Lord may this truth reshape our reality! “The Lord is my shepherd!” Amen!

by Paul Schamberger

New missionary flat at RUC is like a home from home

RUC recently announced the opening of a spacious new flat on the church’s property for visiting missionaries and their families.

Paul Schamberger asked Jenni Kurten, Missions Co-ordinator, and Erin Wiesner, who project-managed the refurbishment and the furnishing of the new accommodation, about the flat and its purpose.

 

P: What is the rationale for this flat? Don’t RUC missionaries have their own homes to go to when they return for breaks or holidays?

J: Almost all have sold their homes and have gone to be missionaries full time. We have one or two missionaries who still own their South African home, but they would invariably have a tenant living in it.

The flat can be used by RUC’s 23 missionaries who work in SA, elsewhere in Africa and around the world. But there are others who work in the missionary field who are attached to different missionary organisations, and they can also be put up here.

We moved the previous missions flat to this part of the building as it’s larger and has an extra bedroom and bathroom. Whereas the old flat had only one bedroom, accommodating families with kids was awkward. Now we can even accommodate short-term teams, who might come from overseas to serve with Rays of Hope.

E: Sometimes we have missionaries coming from countries such as Malawi or Zambia because they need medical treatment either for themselves or for a sick child, and need affordable accommodation. Often they can’t afford to stay in a b&b or to rent rooms. We can lend a helping hand.

Most visiting missionaries are faced with financial constraints because missionary organisations don’t pay salaries; the missionaries have to raise their own support. RUC supports its own missionaries up to 30% of their support needs, depending into which category they fall, so they have to raise the balance of 70%+ themselves. Fortunately, generous support tends to come from RUC members, but also from other churches and related organisations.

 

P: How many couples can stay here at the same time?

J: We accommodate one family at a time. When people come back with a crisis to cope with, such as a medical emergency, or a planned furlough, you don’t want anyone else living in your space. For groups, the flat can sleep up to nine people, dormitory-style. This would be ideal for a team of young adults on a short-term missionary trip. There would be room for all of them around the dining room table.

We are fully booked until June 2019, and therefore might still call on members to put up visiting missionaries in their homes.

 

P: What kind of work had to be done to the new flat?

J: No extra building was required, but it did need more than a lick of paint! Except for some furniture from the old flat, everything was donated. You cannot believe the generosity of our church member when the call went out to help furnish the flat. For some items we had to arrange transport, but people mostly dropped off their items right here – anything from cushions, carpets and pictures to a dishwasher! Amazingly, we didn’t get a single duplicate item except for a double bed! This item we could give away. We also received a donation of R5,000 which was perfect as we could buy linen for the children’s room and other small necessities.

 

P: Who does the cleaning?

The church’s cleaning staff is fully occupied, so we outsource that function. While people are staying here they are responsible for their own cleaning, washing, ironing, whatever. And they cook their own meals.

 


 

Erin Wiesner, who is an administrator at the church, was seconded as the project manager for the renovation and refurbishing of the new flat.

 

She has intensive boots-on-the ground experience in construction and maintenance work, including issuing tenders, getting quotes, writing contracts and conducting the ensuing negotiations; liaising with the Church Council, which has to approve all expenditures; tracking down reliable suppliers; building-site co-ordination; knowing and complying with all relevant municipal regulations; selecting and employing a trustworthy handyman, and so on.

She has the perfect recipe for ensuring that all work get done properly, on budget and on time: “I am very good at nagging,” she smiles. “It’s a gift.”

Erin estimates that the total cost came in “under ten grand”.

 

Erin says the actual work on the flat took about six weeks to complete. It entailed a thorough clean-up of the premises, the installation of plumbing and electricity, and having all the walls repainted. The refurbishing took another month.

 


 

Wendy Lock of RUC, who is linked to Wycliffe Bible Translators, has been teaching missionary children at Faith Academy in Manila, Philippines, for 15 years. She was the first tenant to move into the new flat recently.

 

Wendy has stayed in the previous flat numerous times, and expected to do so again this time round.

“I thought I would get a mattress to put on the floor. Instead, I was told I could move into the new flat. The last one was a blessing, but this one is amazing!

 

“We don’t have dishwashers in the Philippines, or hot water that comes out of a tap.

 

“It’s lovely and it’s so quiet. In the mornings I make some tea and just sit and have time with the Lord while the beautiful sun comes streaming in. It’s like a haven to me. I have been staying here for six weeks, but have been away for some of the time.

 

“I have a small one-bedroom apartment below someone’s house in the Philippines, but don’t have a place I can call my own here. I have been staying here for six weeks. So it’s great to be able to stay in the mission flat when I’m here on furlough.

 

“I feel so blessed by the church that cares for us missionaries in such a beautiful way.”