It was over a period of six years that we felt the Lord calling us to serve Him and when we became convinced of His call, He showed us that Botswana was His choice for us. In 1991 we were commended by two assemblies in the UK to the grace of God for the work of the Lord. Botswana is a land-locked country situated in the center of southern Africa. It is a politically stable developing country with a population of approximately 1.7 million. The Kalahari desert occupies half of the country so the climate for much of the year is very hot.
We arrived in Botswana at the beginning of 1992 with our three children – Andrew, Beth, and Philip who at that time were 12, 10, and 7. We commenced language study and gradually began in a little way to use what we had learned. It was five years before we began to feel comfortable in Setswana which is spoken throughout Botswana. In 1998, after six years in Serowe, we began gospel outreach in Palapye. Work amongst children and a weekly bookstall eventually led to an opening in all the local primary schools for the teaching of the Word of God and for three weekly cottage meetings. This meant that by the time we moved to Palapye in October 1999 we were already known by local children and many adults too. The Lord graciously enabled us to purchase a number of derelict buildings on two adjoining plots which we began to refurbish and alter. One of these became the Gospel Hall and another, a home for ourselves.
Initially, the Hall was just a very small building, but in 2001 we felt the need to extend, as the existing accommodation was proving to be too small. In the goodness of the Lord we were able to start extending and these developments have been a testimony to local people and an encouragement to believers in Botswana as to the way the Lord provides. We ourselves have been greatly encouraged to see how the Lord has exercised the hearts of saints in different parts of the world, some of whom we have never met.
The number of children attending Sunday School has steadily grown and a good number of Secondary School students attend the Bible Class where they hear the gospel preached each week. Quite a number of these also attend the adult gospel meetings on a Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. A number have been saved and some have been baptized. In August 2003 we had the privilege of meeting together as an assembly for the first time. That means there are now six assemblies in the country.
For the first few months, there were just seven of us in fellowship and we are still very small, but this year we were greatly encouraged when a young man from the assembly in the capital, Gaborone, was transferred to Palapye with his work, which means that we now have five brethren who are able to preach the gospel and take part fully in all the meetings.
In the last 12 months, quite a few more young people have professed salvation and we would value prayer as we seek to teach them the Word of God and to establish them in the things of the Lord. All of them are from non-Christian homes where there is no encouragement to live a life of godliness. They constantly face difficulties and problems.
Sunday and Wednesday evenings we gather together with these believers specifically to teach them basic truths. Nothing can be taken for granted and we have discovered that it is only when you begin to teach young believers from a totally non-Christian background that you realize just how much they need to know and learn. It is easy for those of us who have been brought up in Christian homes to forget how much we actually learned by example as we were growing up.
The work in the Primary Schools continues week by week in term time and over 12 months ago, the Lord opened a door for access into schools in five villages outside of Palapye where we now also teach the Word of God on a monthly basis to the top four years of primary schoolchildren.
For the past four years we have also been privileged to take weekly assemblies in the three Junior Secondary Schools here in Palapye, where we enjoy complete liberty to preach the gospel. Please pray that this freedom might continue. Many of these students may not reach their 30th birthday because statistically, they could already be HIV positive and will die prematurely of AIDS. We therefore feel the urgency of getting the gospel across to them before it is too late.. We have been called upon to take many funerals locally and sadly, quite a number of the Sunday School children are already orphans, being cared for by grandparents or other relatives.
In recent years, we have had help from a few ministering brethren from the UK, who have visited us and have given us, here in Botswana, a few weeks of their valuable time. Their teaching has been greatly appreciated, not just in Palapye but also in the assemblies in Gaborone, Francistown, and Serowe where they have had series of meetings.
Our eldest son is with us here in Palapye and is hoping to find employment here, as he has now finished his University studies. Our daughter is teaching in the UK and our youngest son is living with her in the Manchester area whilst studying at University. We miss them greatly.
We value your prayers as we seek to serve the Lord here. Botswana today is a land of endless opportunities in the service of the Lord. We need much wisdom daily and look to the Lord to guide us in the sphere of service in which He has placed us.