Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Outreach to South Africa

By Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr.

My wife and I had the privilege of flying to South Africa on Thursday afternoon, March 14, for two packed
Pipas with Pastor Slabbert le Cornu (left)
weeks of ministry in a land with a rich history in the Reformed Faith. Pastor Slabbert le Cornu, whom we met through our 2012 South African graduate Louis Cloete, organized the trip.

The first week, I was very busy. We stayed in Pretoria with a very sweet couple, Andries and Mandi Opperman.  Both of their fathers are pastors in the Reformed Church of South Africa (GKSA). Sunday morning, I preached on 1 Cor. 1:30-31, “The Glory of Grace,” at Rietvallei Reformed church, an English language congregation that belongs to the GKSA. Our friend Brian Wingard is one of the pastors there.  Sunday night, I spoke at an Afrikaner language congregation, Bet-el , after the evening service on “The Confederates and the Slavery Issue.” The GKSA is the mainline Afrikaner denomination, known by some through its university, Potchefstroom. Unfortunately, the denomination is beginning to wrestle with issues like women’s ordination. Some churches already have approved women deacons and some have begun to ordain women elders. We met many godly pastors, as well as many godly laymen and women in that denomination.

Monday, I gave two lectures at the college of the Afrikaner Protestant Church, a smaller Afrikaner denomination that is very committed to Afrikaner language and culture. I lectured first on the biblical basis for seminaries and related that to the work of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The second lecture was on the need for piety in the life of the theological professor and student. Sissy and I had a delightful lunch with the members of the faculty.

Monday evening, I delivered a lecture for Juventus , a program to train primary school teachers with a Reformed Worldview. I lectured on “Reformed Theological Training and Education in the 21st Century.”

Tuesday, Slabbert and I left at 5 a.m. to drive to Potchefstroom. Prof. Stoker was our host. I lectured on “The New Covenant Sabbath – Sunday” (see photo left) and “The Place of Children in the Covenant.” It was a great experience to visit this famous Reformed university and divinity school. We arrived back in Pretoria at 10 p.m.

From left, Sissy Pipa, Dr. Sonya Miskin, Dr. Pipa
Wednesday morning, we drove to Mukanyo Theological Seminary. The principle is Dr. Brian Devries, and Dr. Brian Wingard teaches theology there. This school has been developed to minister to black African students and pastors. I preached at their chapel on “Prayer in the Life of the Minister.” We visited Nekela, a clinic for terminally ill AIDS and cancer patients. The clinic is operated by 
Dr. Sonya Miskin (see photo, right), wife of Dr. Aurthur Miskin, who pastors the English-language congregation where we were on Sunday morning. He also teaches at Mukanyo. We also visited THEMBALETHU Christian Community Center (see photo below), an after-school center for orphans. Both the clinic and the center are operated by a nonprofit ministry that also runs the seminary.

Thursday we drove to Randburg (suburb of Johannesburg), where I lectured on “The Holy Spirit and the Unique Power of Preaching” at John Wycliffe Theological Hall. Jim Wright is the principal, and our good friend Dr. Mark Herzer, who is an adjunct professor at GPTS, serves as an adjunct at Wycliffe and was there while we were.

Friday morning, we visited the Afrikaner Memorial, that depicts the Great Trek (Afrikaners migrated north from the Cape Town area to found a Christian state). Friday night, we began a conference at Bet-el congregation. I spoke twice Friday night and three times Saturday morning. I spoke on the “Uniqueness of Reformed Preaching,“ “The Qualifications and Duties of Elders” (addressing as well women in office), “The Spirituality of the Church, Psalm 87” (also critiquing missional strategies), “Church Government and the Marks of the Church,” (with discussion on criteria for leaving a denomination, and “The Law of God and the Sabbath Today.” The messages at Bet-el are on SermonAudio, posted April 16, nos. 1-5.

Saturday afternoon, we drove back to Randburg, where we stayed with Jim and Pat Wright. Jim is the principle of Wycliffe Theological Hall. Sunday morning, I preached on 1 Cor. 1:30-31 on the “Glory of Grace,” at Grace Family Church ( a church plant of the English Reformed Church that operates a college and is pastored by Chester Chummie. Garth and Kate Randall, who work at the college, also aid at the church; and Sunday afternoon I preached on Psalm 100, “The Purpose of Worship,” at a combined service of the church and the college (see photo, right).

The second week, we rested and did some site-seeing. The two most notable things were visiting a Lion Park and touring Soweto, the famed Johannesburg suburb which was the site of violent protests in the 1970s and 1980s in the black struggle against Afrikaner culture and apartheid.

God was very gracious to us; we came away with many new friends and a great love for their country. Sissy and I want to thank all of you who prayed for us, as well as those who gave to the seminary’s mission travel fund.