I believe there are instances when God uses social media and the internet to bring people together that otherwise would never have met. This happened with my fellow Illinoisan/Missionary now great friend Jenny Kohlrus. It also happened when I stumbled upon the blog of Amy Meyers. I contacted her through email about how she and her husband had learned Shangaan (Tsonga). She invited us over to visit a few months ago but unfortunately it was only yesterday that we could finally go and meet them.
Seth and Amy live in a village just outside Elim, South Africa and have just hit the milestone of 10 years in ministry there. They have four adorable children. Amy spoiled us by fixing two of our favorites which she could never have known: chocolate chip cookie bars and homemade pizza with real pepperoni.
Seth shared with us his top three musts for a missionary:
1) You must learn the language.
We discussed that the best way to do that is to be totally immersed in the culture of where you are ministering. When Seth first came to this area he took a notebook and went everywhere asking “What is this?” In Tsonga of course and I can’t seem to find that phrase to write it out for you. As they settled in the village they had three language helpers from the community that would come and teach them. It was a struggle for them as the sentence structure of Tsonga is not the same as English. When trying to ask the helpers about subjects and verbs, they understandably did not know what those were. The Tsonga language has only around 3,000 words. There are words in English that they have no word for which is another challenge. Seth began to preach in Tsonga and he and Amy would translate teaching materials. They would submit what they had translated to 3 different people who would make corrections.
2) Teach the Bible and share the Gospel.
Might seem like a no-brainer but we all need to remember the purpose God has given us. Some bible studies consisted of Seth reading through the book of Romans in their living room which in the beginning served as the place where the church met.
3) Investment of time.
They have had many disappointments. Often who they thought were promising men to take leadership in the church ended up returning to drinking or fornication after several years of being a part of the church. Seth said that building character is the key. The men may know theology but they have no character to live out the theology. Seth meets with a group of men each Saturday to discuss church issues and to have accountability among the men.
One has to be committed through all the disappointments. Their church is 20-30 members but most are not there all at one time. Some members who showed promise have since left the faith. The church is using their offering to begin building a church structure. They have work days and whoever can comes and works on the church. They do not ask for American funds or any other outside funds. This gives the people responsibility in giving and working toward a common goal together.
Their prayer is that God would raise up a man of character who loves His word and can effectively lead the church in preaching and teaching. The Meyers could then move to another village and begin sharing the Gospel and building into the lives of the people there.
Doug and I thank the Meyers for sharing their heart and ministry with us. We wish we would have met them sooner.
Would you take a moment to pray for their family and ministry?