Our Summerstrand Congregation

Alan Preller
October 17, 2014

It's hard to believe that we have been meeting for two years already, but it’s true! Yes, it was just over two years ago that a group of us set out to establish a congregation, meeting on campus at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (what a mouthful!) It’s a good thing we didn’t call ourselves the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Oxygen Life Church Congregation! Instead, we came to be known as the ‘Campus Congregation’. At the same time, we affectionately coined the phrase, ‘The Mothership’ for the main Walmer congregation. All in the name of good fun!

Although we started out meeting on campus, the move to our current venue at Cape Recife school, just off the campus, has been strategic. Not only did it provide a more permanent meeting place, but the Lord has also used it to challenge us to trust Him to reach families and children as well as students. In fact, we changed our name to the Summerstrand Congregation as a result of this. So, although we will always have a big influx of students and a vision to reach the campus, we are also a family church with arms open wide to “whosoever will”.

What is it like being part of the Summerstrand Congregation? Well, firstly, it is great being a “part of the whole”. We are a congregation from within the wider family of Oxygen Life Church, and that is something to really celebrate and be grateful for. We have the support, prayers, love and total backing of the wider church, and it makes a huge difference, as opposed to going it alone.

Then, it is exciting, fun, intense, constantly changing, and challenging all at the same time! We have lots of laughs together and, yes, there are tears as well. Most of the tears come because we are constantly called upon to say goodbye to guys – a reality we have had to come to terms with. People finish their courses and return to their home towns and nations, or get jobs elsewhere, and it is hard to say farewells every year. At the same time, it is exciting, as we are sending these guys out to shine brightly for Jesus wherever they go, and hopefully our input and influence in their lives helps carry them in their new spheres of life. So we are getting used to embracing new people every year, with the joy of seeing their lives turned around as they are loved and discipled into maturity in Jesus. Then, we are also learning to say goodbye as guys leave, but we are not willing to forget them. We are exploring ways of staying in touch with people from other nations who have been part of us while here in Port Elizabeth. In fact, one of our leaders, Joy, will be going over to Germany in her December break to visit Anneke, who came to Christ through us while she was doing a service year in PE.  Wonderful stuff!

Please allow me to salute the wonderful people of Summerstrand Congregation who love Jesus so passionately, worship Him with all they have, give of themselves for others and help carry the beautiful gospel to a lost and dying world. It has been an absolute privilege and joy for Theresa and myself to be leading this group of Jesus-followers, together with Ant, a fellow elder, and other amazing leaders. Once again, this year we have seen salvations, baptisms, deliverances and spiritual growth. New leaders have risen up and the community lifestyle of Acts 2 has been reflected, especially in the guys’ and ladies’ digs. Well done to all! May we continue to grow from glory to glory together, and from strength to strength and, as always, give God  all the glory, all the honour and all the praise!

All the best to those facing exams right now. We lift you up in prayer and pray God’s favour over your lives.



Four12 Conference Day 4: Best of the Best

Shaun Brauteseth
October 9, 2014

Catchphrase of the conference:
Hopa! Brad's spontaneous description of God's excited shout over our lives became the word that defined the week. Brad's very own talk show is reportedly in the works, named 'The Hopa Winfrey Show'.

Best quote:
In a week full of memorable one-liners, this one from Mike Davies probably got the loudest response, both in the venue and in the heavenly realms: "This isn't a conference, it's an encounter with Jesus." 

Best Freudian slip:
In yesterday’s preach about identity, and significance, Ange Verreynne shared how un-athletic she was in school, but that she and her son came in the top three at his recent mother-son athletics day. “I came third,” she said. “I mean, we! We came third!” Too late, Ange!

Best spiritual stick of dynamite:
That would be Peter Chanda from Livingstone in Zambia - sixty years of age and packing the jolt of a large cattle prod. He preached the first morning session today, on living a life of faith, and pointed to Abraham as a pattern of someone whose faith pleased God. Peter could start a party in a graveyard, and he spoke the truth powerfully and with faith.

Best pastries:
The hospitality tent was a hit, mainly because its food had the two main requirements we all look for:
1. It was edible.
2. It was free.
However, some delicacies stood out above others: Those would be the custard pies. They were always carefully hidden under everything else, but the Port Elizabethans shamelessly searched and found them. Every time.

Best moment:
Everyone will have their own best moment of the week, but there was one in particular for me. It was during yesterday's worship, where we were all just singing our own songs, and then it got quiet. It then felt like Jesus walked into the room - that's how tangible His presence felt. I know that He's with us as we worship Him, but sometimes it feels like there's a moment when the King walks into the room. And that’s what we always want – to be in the presence of Jesus. 

And the best part of all:
The Four12 conference, which took place from the 6th to the 9th of October is finished. But our lives that we live for Jesus carry on.  


Four12 Conference Day 3: The Numbers

Shaun Brauteseth
October 8, 2014

22 500: The approximate number of hairs that make up Chad Lahana's beard. On a day when our awesome ladies had a chance to minister from up front, it was appropriate that the man who led worship had enough testosterone to counter-balance all of them. The guy is an absolute legend, and his beard deserves its own ID number.

72: That's the number of cords, each made up of 24 strands, that made up the curtain, or veil, in the temple. It was as thick as a man's hand, and it was torn from top to bottom as Jesus died, removing the barrier that separated us from God. Ange Verreynne shared in the first session about how we need to remove the veils in our lives that obstruct us from God, and that our security and significance have to be found in Him. Excellent word. Had the effect of a large meat tenderizing hammer.

9 and 10: The ninth and tenth verses of Galatians 6 summed up Melanie du Toit's preach from the second session: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Melanie shared on loving people into a family, describing her own life and the impact God has made on the neighbours in her complex. "He doesn't save souls only to leave them like babies in a gutter," she said at one point. But more than anything she said, it was her heart for people that came across.

5: The number of seats Cliff Hiscock reserved using a single blue jacket before the second session. Legit.

1: That's the number of days that David said he'd sooner be in the presence of God, rather than 1000 days anywhere else. And when you have a time of worship like we had at the 4pm session, you can only agree with him.

41: That's how old Euan MacRae is today. He's a pastor and worship leader from the Isle of Man, and he preached in the afternoon session on purity, and the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit. "Jesus longs to embrace His Bride, but she must be spotless and blemish-free," he said. "If we refuse to submit the desires of our flesh to Jesus, Jesus refuses to submit the benefits of His presence to us." The guy totally radiates the approachability of Jesus, and God's heart for purity came through him beautifully.

And that's it! Just one more day to go...


Four12 Conference Day 2: In Limerick Form

Shaun Brauteseth
October 7, 2014

In honour of our friends from the Isle of Man, this post is written in limerick form. I probably haven't focused so hard on a single task since high school, and I've basically used every rhyme possible in the English language. So without further delay, here's the summary of day 2...

We arrived and immediately went
To find snacks and croissants in a tent
Everything was for free
And all those from PE
Found it all just a little in-tents

Andrew Selley took on the first slot
And shared on the favour of God
His grace is unearned
But today we all learned 
We can grow in the favour He's got

When his time was up everyone knew
He should take on the next session too
So he just kept on preaching 
And God just kept on speaking
And that's why we do what we do

We met later on in the day
With a man with a head full of grey
At our session at 4
Will Marais had the floor
And where there's a Will there's a way

He spoke about raising up sons
And he can, because he's been one
The guy leads by example
He's humble and faithful
And much of his race left to run

There's one person I'd like to still mention
In the front at both this morning's sessions
Peggy's ninety and counting
But her faith is still mounting
Age is nothing - what matters is passion

So day number 2 came and went
It was a day that was well spent
Our God rules and He reigns
But the question remains:
Will there be more croissants in that tent?   


Four12 Conference Day 1: The A-Z

Shaun Brauteseth
October 6, 2014

A is for Andrew Selley, who heads up the Four12 network of churches. The guy is an absolute champ; he’s been graced to lead and to build as an apostle, and we’re behind him all the way.

B is for Brad Verreynne, kicking off the conference this afternoon with the first preach. It’s also for brilliant, because that’s what his preach was. B could also be for biased, which we admittedly are, but he really did share amazingly well.

C is for Cape Town, which is a pretty decent city as far as decent cities go. Okay, it’s an awesome place. But if anyone says it’s better than PE, they’re wrong.

D is for Defensive, which I clearly was in my previous sentence. I repent.

E is for Early. As in, if you want to get a good seat at the meetings, you had better be there early. And have some item of clothing that you can book your seat with. Bonus points if you use a scarf, which covers about 6 chairs.

F is for Furious, the Jeremy Riddle song that launched us into our worship time tonight. God’s love over us is furious!

G is for Greeters at the doors, welcoming everyone. Full marks to them.

H is for Hosting and Hospitality, Josh Gen style. Open homes, open hearts, open lives. A great example.

I is for Insight. And whenever a leader stands up to speak, it’s obvious that they have it, and they got it in the presence of God. We’re privileged to be led by men and women who follow the Spirit, and we must never forget it.

J is for Jesus. Our hope and our reason.

K is for Kilometers. Probably about 2000 or so will be driven by the time we get home at the end of this week. Totally worth it.

L is for Love amongst people that is not just talk, but the power of God in action. You can feel it when we’re together.

M is for those Magnificent Mumbaians (Mumbaiites?) Sam and Fiona Peters, with us from India. After driving in Mumbai, the roads of Cape Town must seem like the peaceful corridors of an old-age home to them.

N is for the Nations coming together: India, Brazil, Zambia, Zimbabwe, the Isle of Man and others. Different cultures, but the same heart for God.

O is for Oxygen Lifers – about 50 of us representing the Port of Elizabeth this week.

P is for the Presence of God. Getting together doesn’t mean anything unless we’re in His presence and following what His Holy Spirit is doing.

Q is for Queen Elizabeth. She has nothing to do with this Four12 conference, but I needed something with a Q. And wouldn’t it be awesome if she had a radical encounter with Jesus? It can happen.

R is for Ratanga Junction, where a few Oxygen Lifers found themselves this morning. There was fear, panicked screaming and throwing up, and that was just in the Cape Town traffic on the way there.

S is for Sunningdale, where the conference is being held. It’s also for Seven Hundred, which is roughly how many people fit into the venue.

T is for Table Mountain. We’re envious of it, okay? We wish we had one. There, I said it.

U is for Updates – daily blogs from the conference so you won’t feel left out.

V is for the Violin, which sounds absolutely awesome when you’re in God’s presence.

W is for Worship. Putting Jesus front and center, and giving white people an excuse to dance without feeling silly.

X is for Ex-Oxygen Lifers, who we miss and get to see on trips like this. They’re excellent examples of extraordinariness.

Y is for the Young at Heart, led by the evergreen Will Marais. If we can all be as passionate as that man by the time we’re grey, this world will be turned upside down for Jesus.

Z is for the Zeal of God over us, which was the title of Brad’s preach, and is a revelation we need to have every single day!