Monday, February 9, 2009

Awesome study day at Lamontville!

The township of Umlazi, on the south side of Durban, is very large, and has the largest number of Bible course students at the Bible Education Centre, compared to other areas of the city. Since there is a Good News Centre in nearby Lamontville operated by the 2010 initiative, this made a great location for a study day near all these students. So, all BEC students from both townships (who have been active within the past year) were invited to join us on Saturday, 24 January, for a day with God's word.

We had at least 45 visitors attend. We say "at least" because it was impossible to get a true count of the house; there was some inevitable coming and going. We do know that we had 60 chairs, and they were all used, plus some people standing. There were roughly 20 volunteers and members of the local congregations helping out, hence our estimate, which is probably on the conservative side. It might have been 50.

People started arriving before the announced 9:00 start time. We've always been told, and have seen, that published start times are never the real start times here. You publish a time earlier, and plan to actually start later. We arrived to set up a little after 8:30, planning for tea & biscuits at 9:30, and getting the sessions going at 10:00. On this day, the folks who came were clearly eager and arrived early; we had a good crowd by 9:30. We launched right at 10:00, with a nearly full house. Before long it was full to overflowing.

The program included an international group of speakers: Dumisane Qwabe, a local brother, was the president and gave the second talk. Bro David White from UK led off, Paul Zilmer (USA) did the talk after lunch, and the wrap-up was by Bro Matthew Blewett, also local. The theme was "Good News of the Kingdom of God", with individual talks on "How to Study the Bible", "Jesus is Coming Back!" (delivered in isiZulu), "The Kingdom of God on Earth", and "Your Future: What Will It Be?".

Jane Zilmer organized the lunch and a group of helpers to prepare and serve it -- including the cooking crew led by Dan Egginton with several of the young local guys helping out.

All in all, the day was unlike anything we've seen in North America. First of all, just the number of people interested. But beyond that, they all paid close attention, all day, and took notes! These people are truly serious about understanding the Bible's message. It was delightful to see. At the end, they spontaneously gave Matthew very hearty applause--he is a very dynamic speaker, and they clearly appreciated both him and the whole day.

Now, of course, we have to think about what to do next for these folks! We're thinking in terms of a monthly half-day program, but many details have to be worked out. We'll probably also try to get into Umlazi; we got feedback that transportation is even more of an issue than we thought, and there would have been even more attendees if they hadn't had to get to Lamontville. And then, there are many students in other areas round about Durban...lots of work to be done!

God has already greatly blessed the launch of the work in Durban for the new year. We pray for His continued guidance and blessing, that His name may be glorified!

Paul and Jane Zilmer, US

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