An interesting, informative, and challenging account of how the Lord has worked in Botswana. It should Produce Prayerful exercise for the work of God in that land and for those who labor there.
Those who visit Botswana are struck initially by the intense heat, the dryness and the vast expanse of bush. Many notice with surprise the country wide development generated by the diamond mining which brings in 75% of our earnings. At the same time, one cannot avoid seeing the stark contrast between the conspicuously wealthy and those who scrape a living from day to day
If your main reason for visiting is to see the assembly work, you will be greatly encouraged. At present there are five assemblies, a total of over 150 believers in fellowship and 13 commended workers from overseas. It is the believers themselves, rather than any statistics, that will inspire thanksgiving to God. You will receive a genuinely warm welcome and feel very much at home in their midst. They are wholehearted in their love and faithfulness to the Lord.
In the last century, godly men such as Robert Moffat labored here. Moffat came out with the London Missionary Society. His life’s work was to translate the whole Bible into Setswana. His daughter married David Livingstone and the ruins of Livingstone’s mission can still be seen at Kolobeng, near Gabarone.
In 1882, F.S.Amot, an assembly missionary, traveled through the country and stayed three months in Shoshong before continuing farther north. He became friendly with the Christian chief, Khama the Great, who assisted him on his journey
Assembly Work Begins
In 1969, three years after Botswana’s independence, Jim and Irene Legge from Scotland arrived in the large village of Serowe. They began to learn the language, preach the gospel and do clinic work. Slowly, despite setbacks and opposition, a small assembly was planted. They also produced translations of good literature to help the new believers. They soon had to face a common problem here: believers were frequently transferred away in their employment. The establishment of the assembly was to take many years.
Another problem, still prevalent today, was already ingrained among the people: many had become familiar with Christianity. Sadly, the faithfulness of early preachers was not matched by their followers and an accommodation had become accepted: one could be a church member and still live in sin; one could Pray to God and then run to the witch doctor.
Growth and Consolidation
Hazel and I joined Jim and Irene in 1982 and after language study in Serowe, the way opened up for us to move to the capital, Gaborone, where there were a few assembly believers. We used our home for the meetings, including the preaching of the gospel. Progress was slow at first, but the growing Sunday School in the garden gave us acceptance with the neighbors. Also, part time voluntary medical and nursing work was valuable in gaining the confidence of local people.
After nearly two years of preaching without any visible results, the Lord began to bless by saving a schoolboy and a prisoner. Both go on well to this day and have become respected elders known for their wisdom and godliness. At present, we have over 40 in fellowship including a number of students who come to study in the capital.
The work in Francistown has also resulted in the establishment of an assembly which benefits from having a number of mature married couples in fellowship. A few years ago a small group of believers began meeting in the mining town of Selebi-Phikwe,although they do need a full time worker there who knows the language. More recently, believers have begun meeting in the village of Maun in the far north west.
All of us have found that children’s work is the most profitable avenue of service. Adults, especially men, remain hard to reach. Literature work, medical work, tent work, prison work, schoolwork, radio work and correspondence work are all employed in an effort to keep reaching out to the people. Our sisters have a special role to play in visiting and encouraging the women in assembly fellowship, including a significant number of unmarried mothers.
The proliferation of cults
The last few years have seen an influx of hitherto unknown groups in Botswana such as the Mormons. Muslims are influential and aggressive in promoting their viewpoint.
The Scourge of AIDS
This terrible disease is touching all levels of society and 40% of mothers attending antenatal clinics are now HIV positive. The future is bleak for them and their little ones.
The Rise of Materialism
Many people are falling captive to the lure of money and possessions. As a consequence, thieves are working overtime these days targeting homes with televisions, recorders, luxury cars and expensive furniture.
If the Lord tarries, it is clear that the young brethren of today will need to be fully equipped to carry the work forward tomorrow and to stand in an increasingly evil day. Spiritual leadership will be of vital importance. With this in mind, we seek to teach and guide those that God has marked out as true shepherds in the assembly
Paul probably never envisioned that assemblies he planted would degenerate so rapidly after his departure. Nor can we predict what the future might hold for assembly work in Botswana. Yet, the joy remains as we thank God for all He has done so far. With Paul, we would proclaim to our dear fellow believers, “We live, if ye stand fast in the Lord” (1 Thess 3:8).
God speed the day when those of every nation
Glory to God triumphantly shall sing;
Ransomed, redeemed, rejoicing in salvation,
Shout Hallelujah, for the Lord is King!