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.