Assembly work has been conducted in the land of Botswana for 38 years. During that time the Lord has blessed the preaching of His Word. Today six assemblies exist in the country: Serowe, Gaborone, Francistown, Selebi-Phikwe, Maun, and Palapye. Presently seven commended couples and one single sister serve the Lord here in happy fellowship with the local believers. A recently commended brother and sister are hoping to join the work soon.
Visitors to Botswana are struck by the intense heat, dryness, and dust. No place is very far from the Kalahari Desert and yet in the north one finds the Okavango Delta, a large swamp area rich in wildlife. Our diamond mining industry has generated considerable revenue. The government has invested this wealth in constructing good roads, schools, and clinics all over the country. Urban areas are becoming increasingly westernized. The AIDS epidemic has devastated so many lives. The people of Botswana are warm, relaxed, and friendly with a natural dignity and gentleness.
Christian friends who visit have a deeper interest than that of mere tourists. They often remark on the large proportion of young folk in assembly fellowship. Many of these are first generation believers with a delightful freshness in the things of God.
Many wonderful stories recount how different individuals have trusted Christ as Savior. No joy can compare with this! Reaping has come, often after many years of sowing. We continue to learn that patience and persistence are essential. When my wife, Hazel, and I moved down to Gaborone from Serowe in 1984, at first we used our home and garden for gospel work and a Sunday School. For almost two years we saw no blessing but the Lord in His goodness continued to encourage us to go on. Then, in late 1985, two young men were saved, one of whom was a prisoner serving a five-year sentence. He is now a respected elder in the assembly. We were able to complete the building of our first gospel hall in the Broadhurst district in 1987. In subsequent years the Lord continued to save souls and this blessing continues to the present. Just recently three young men were saved in one week. Today, as I write, we have had the joy of seeing another young girl trust Christ.
Children’s work forms a large part of our gospel activity and over the years this has opened doors into the homes and hearts of the parents. Across the country different brethren and sisters keep busy with regular visits to schools, prisons, hospitals, and refugee camps. The printing and distribution of gospel literature is an ongoing need. Sunday School lessons are posted to many who are not otherwise exposed to the gospel. In Gaborone and the surrounding areas we conduct 10 weekly Sunday Schools. Recently we were invited to two new areas of Mochudi village for children’s work. In the local assembly, Wednesday and Thursday evenings are devoted to the gospel and on the Lord’s Day we also preach in the new hall in Gaborone West. A number of young widows have been saved in that area. They struggle to bring up their families on their own. Our regular open-air work has been encouraging of late and we have received a warm welcome in the district around the Broadhurst hall. Children and even a few adults have joined us to sing the hymns and listen to the message, even on a cold winter’s evening.
Seeing souls saved has been only a beginning. The consistent teaching of new believers by example as well as by word of mouth has become an ongoing responsibility. We have found it valuable to regularly meet around the Word of God with those who have been recently saved. This is done on a personal basis, thus complementing the regular teaching in the assembly. Then we seek to encourage every believer to become a soul-winner. God has also raised up gifted local brethren with shepherd hearts; I have learned much from them. It is only when these things – likeness to Christ, a passion for souls, and a care for the flock – become a reality, that the assemblies are truly established. There are no short cuts or quick fixes. This is the work of a lifetime.
Our burden is to take the gospel to new areas. At present we make two weekly visits to Mochudi and also visit Kopong village. For many years we have made annual trips to Ramatlabama on our southern border, living and working in the village for several weeks at a time. Many other towns and large villages have little or no assembly work; places like Mahalapye, Lobatse, Kanye, and Ghanzi would keep any brother busy for years. The Master Himself said, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also” (Mk 1:38). We need to drink deeply of that spirit and boldly move outside our own comfort zones with the gospel. A generous measure of “stickability” also helps.
Join with us in giving thanks for what God has done and for the faithful local believers and elders in each assembly. Please pray for the spiritual prosperity and preservation of the testimonies in difficult days. The enemy is busy and we have had our disappointments too. All of us who work in this land remain grateful for your prayers.