Pretoria South Africa

New Mexico Baptists from three Pecos Valley Baptist Association churches recently traveled to Pretoria, South Africa to host VBS and basketball camps with a local church in the city. In all, 62 children made professions of faith during the first 2022 recent trip. SN5961

In many areas around the earth, God is using His servants from New Mexico. South Africa is one of those places. The ongoing missional partnership between Artesia Baptists and Hope Baptist Church, Pretoria, South Africa, draws New Mexicans to fly halfway around the world, at least twice a year, to spread the Gospel.

This past summer, 13 Pecos Valley Baptist Association church members traveled to Pretoria, South Africa. "South Africa needs Jesus; and, the African nations, in many ways, look to South Africa for leadership," First Baptist Church, Artesia, Pastor Ty Houghtaling said.

The association financially sponsored six members of First Baptist, four members of Calvary Baptist Church, Roswell, and three members of Hermosa Drive Baptist Church, Artesia. Their respective churches commissioned them to go and make disciples. Together, they teamed up to lead VBS and coach basketball camps in Pretoria.

The basketball camps started in 2019 with about 30 kids. This past summer, the team ministered to 150 children and young adults, ages 9 to 25, and more than 20 coaches. "I can love God and basketball" was a theme that resonated with adults and students alike. It also spurred leaders to pursue additional programs in the future.

Throughout the week, students learned basketball skills and strategies and memorized and recited their Bible verses to their New Mexican coaches. Team members also intentionally shared the Gospel with South African coaches and used several one-on-one opportunities to discuss Jesus. One coach reported that he "recommitted himself to Christ after years of drifting."

"Our prayers have always been that we would be intentional with the Gospel when we travel to South Africa," Houghtaling commented. That goal was accomplished through basketball camp and through the daily, morning VBS led by the team. This year's VBS was the largest the team has experienced. The story behind the growth testifies of God’s work in the life of His Church, a work which spans across denominational lines.

Hope Baptist Church uses a facility owned by the Dutch Reformed Church. Historically, the two churches have kept a working but "distant" relationship, Houghtaling noted. But this year, God's Spirit "actively knitted these two very different churches together for His good," he said. Teams from the two churches served together "seamlessly" to glorify God and lead 62 children to make professions of faith.

Pray specifically for those young Christians. God could raise them up to answer the team's prayer that the "church [in Pretoria] would see the multiplication of disciples [and] that churches would be planted as a result of new leaders being grown from with their communities." From that vision, the team is praying that one day, "every community, every person, through the entire continent of Africa has a Gospel-believing church to attend."

Continue to praise God for the increased unity between Hope Baptist Church and the Dutch Reformed Church. Ask God to bless the ministries of both churches and the lingering impact of each VBS and each basketball clinic.

A second 2022 team traveled South Africa in mid-November.


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