First off, this wasn’t just a random trip to warmer climes to escape the onset of winter! It was a significant, God-ordained mission that had its roots in the historic relationship between the UAFC in Africa and the HCN in England. The UAFC in Africa, which has thousands of congregations across South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, was birthed out of the UAFC in England, though we changed our name in the UK in 2001 to better reflect our purpose.
Over the years contact diminished and relationships drifted but when Arthur and Lesley Vos from UAFC Cape Town visited us in March this year, we felt the Lord was saying a reciprocal trip was called for. And there were good reasons why we felt Graeme Hotter of New Zealand, Keith Rudman of Stroud (but originally South Africa) and myself from London – were the right team to go. We all came to faith in the UAFC in Africa and we all trained together for the ministry at the UAFC Bethel Bible College in Johannesburg – “Class of ‘82”!
But a more important reason was that we felt the Lord had burdened us with a double-edged message for the church – firstly that the unity of the church is critical to city transformation and the success of our mission (John 17:23) and secondly that increased intimacy in our personal relationship with God is the key to the end times revival we’re all longing for.And so the three of us spent three weeks ministering in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Boksburg and Vereeniging. I took my guitar to lead worship at many of the meetings and the Lord blessed us with some amazing times of intimate worship. We had the privilege of praying for many as people responded to the messages, and I had the opportunity to speak to several city-wide gatherings of pastors to share the stories of the world-wide phenomenon of church unity and city transformation.
On the 23rd to the 30th September 2019, a team from The Gospel Centre went on a mission trip to the city of Medgidia, Romania to help out the organisation, Stepping Stones Mission. One of the missionaries who joined this team, Jermaine Bernard, shares his thoughts of the trip.
The Romania mission trip was the first ever Gospel Centre mission trip where it was open for anyone within the congregation to join and serve. Among this who went, we all had our personal reasons for going to Romania and The Holy Spirit spoke to each of us in different ways. Initially I had no intention of being part of the mission team when the trip was first proposed. But after a weekend away and at the very last moment, I felt God put a real burden on my heart to go and film what was to take place on this mission. This was a great opportunity for me to exercise my purpose. Something that I continue to learn more about is that God has always put it on my heart to encourage people to find their purpose or their gifting. Through capturing the heart of what was done in Romania, my hope was that it would encourage others to do mission work either abroad or here at home within their community and that it will also help people to discover their purpose, skill or gift that is buried deep within them.
Although my sole motivation in this trip was to provide a tale of what happened in the mission field, I was also there to serve the community in whatever way possible. There were many things to keep us busy. Painting, teaching the kids, mentoring the teenagers, leading worship and many other things. There were also opportunities to challenge us physically and spiritually. For those who know me well, know that I love a good snooze! So from dealing with the jet lag and being roomed with two snoring bears (who will not be named) to not having the home comforts and knowing there is work to be done, I found that this was a good challenge for me. Each morning we had to rise early to spiritually prepare the team for battle. Some of the group went out to do home visits, which involved praying for people in the local community. Whilst others stayed behind and teach the children basic numeracy and literacy skills. Spiritually we were all challenged to do something that was out of our comfort zone and fear did grip us. But when we seeked God and understood what He had put in us, we had the confidence to do what He called us to do.