Presiding Bishop's News January 2021

“Praise be to the name of Godfor ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are His.
 He changes times and seasons;
    He deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning."

Daniel 2:20-21

Greetings Fellow Workers  /  Sanibonane Bazalwane

As expected, 2021 begins in just as turbulent and uncertain a vein as 2020 left us.  Our world endures changing seasons of leadership, conflict and COVID19 strains.  It’s not always possible to interpret or understand the times and many in our world see no plan in all this global confusion.  Yet, Daniel, the great interpreter, reminds us, that our God has ordained this season and has raised up (and taken down) rulers to serve according to His will not theirs. May the Lord give us wisdom and discernment to serve God’s people in the times He has placed us.  

COVID19 2021

After almost a year of lockdown restrictions, we are still far from a return to ‘normality’.  Its estimated that even with the availability of vaccines it will take most of this year to obtain and administer them. In the midst of this second wave, I’m sure we are all feeling moments of frustration, anxiety and even despair as we endure more days of unhappy isolation. 

Many have voiced their dismay at the Level 3 blanket ban on church meetings, yet other gatherings (e.g. casinos) are allowed.  We agree there are inconsistencies but are also aware of the challenge of containing the virus while also sustaining the fragile economy. Some Christian groups have chosen to take legal steps against the government’s ban, but not all church leaders are convinced this is the best way forward. The reality is that the country is in the grips of a highly infectious second wave and most of our communities are feeling the effects even more directly than the first wave.  Within our REACH family alone, we are now at approximately fifty reported deaths and hundreds of infections and hospitalizations. Clearly there are legitimate reasons for the current precautions.

It is with this in mind that our Executive Committee has chosen to abstain from joining a court action.  We will, however, continue to engage with Government as we voice our concerns and proposals to the National Command Council. They also need our prayers.

I again appeal to all our local church leaders to be well anchored in the face of a wide number of alarming and often conflicting news sources. The times call for level-headed leadership and prayerful perseverance in wisely applied Gospel ministry.  We need leaders who ‘understand the times and know what Israel should do’.

Relief Fund

Our Trustees have agreed to extend our Relief Fund into 2021 as we expect further financial difficulties in several of our church communities. Retrenchments, salary cuts and supplementary income are an increasing reality for local church ministry teams. I invite you to prayerfully commit to making ongoing contributions to this most vital fund.


“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb.10:24,25)

It’s true that the gathered community is at the very heart of the Christian life. It is, however, a stretch to interpret Hebrews 10:25 as an unbreakable command to assemble despite a dangerous pandemic. The context of Hebrews 10 is a word to a church that was increasingly unwilling to meet in the face of ongoing persecution and growing disillusion with the gospel.  We are not in those same circumstances.  We long to meet together, but at this stage it is unwise (and illegal) to organize large gatherings in the face of such an infectious virus.

We can still, however, ‘consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds’ and we must not give up meeting together even under these current restrictions. But this needs to be through online meetings, households, outdoor opportunities and other ways the changing regulations will allow us.  Let us put our minds to finding creative means to connect and to make every effort to encourage each other till the Day of eternal gathering dawns.


You will all be aware of the current social and political difficulties in Uganda.  For some days we have been unable to communicate with friends and ministry partners in the country.  Please keep the situation in your prayers.  Remember especially, Archbishop Kazimba, asking the Lord to give him wisdom and courage as he leads God’s people through these difficult days.

National meetings

At present it is too early to decide how we will convene our 2021 Synod, but we will continue to keep an eye on developments.  All national meetings in our first quarter will be online only.  I am also mindful of the important regional discussions with regards to structural transformation and racism.  I do not want to let this slip off the agenda but also trust you will bear with us as we work through these difficult days.


Our college has successfully managed many challenges as they worked to adjust classes and courses in the light of ongoing COVID19 precautions.  This year will surely see more of the same demand for adjustments and creative measures. Please ask the Lord to guide and sustain our faculty and staff and give thanks for a good 2021 student intake.


“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  (Eph.6:18)

Many have shared what a struggle it has been to spend time with the Lord in these COVID days.  It may sound like a strange problem given that we are largely confined to our homes and have plenty of alone time!  It is, however, not surprising because the problem is more spiritual than circumstantial.  Let us resolve to pursue a more disciplined prayer life, trusting the God who alone changes times and seasons.  It may even be good for us to pray for each other - that we may be praying for each other!

There are hundreds of grieving and infected families that need our prayers.  Your local church networks will have brought relevant names of members to your attention.  Many of our ministers and workers have also contracted the virus over the last year and we are glad to report that most are recovering well. Let us give thanks to God for his daily mercies.

I do want to remind you of a few of our ministers and workers who have been brought to our attention for prayer in recent days (I’m sure there are others we are unaware of and we would appreciate the information for future updates). 

Rev. Denys Nande: Bishop Katenda has informed us of “uncle” Denys’ hospitalization in recent days. He has tested negative for COVID but remains in a general ward.  Please keep this long serving REACH Namibia minister and his family in your prayers.

Bishop Raj Moodley: Please remember Bishop Raj’s family.  His daughter Janine has COVID and son-in-law Sachin has been very ill in hospital with COVID infection.

Rev. Elias Majozi:  Pray for Rev Majozi as he recovers from COVID in hospital.  Lift up his entire family to the Lord as they grieve the loss of his son Thabanzi Majozi.

Mrs Belinda Mhlongo:  Lift up Mrs Mhlongo as she and her family grieve the passing of her husband Bongani Mhlongo (son of the late Rev. Leonard Mhlongo) from COVID19 complications.

Rev. Mike and Gillian Marsland:  Please remember the Marsland’s as they recover from COVID infection.

Mrs Sandra Radebe:  Please remember Mrs Radebe and her family as they mourn the passing of Rev. Lucas Radebe.  A long serving and faithful minister in REACH-SA.

Mrs Sheila du Plooy: Sister-in-law of Rev. Ernie du Plooy. Seriously ill in hospital with COVID / Pneumonia.


I express gratitude to our Father for our REACH family and their ongoing prayers and encouragement.  I long to meet you all face to face and to gather for worship as we sit under the Word together. It has helped me to remember how the underground church persevered for years without the blessing of open corporate worship.  Even though our separation is pandemic rather than persecution related, may the Lord give us that same strength to joyfully endure and creatively connect as God’s family in Christ. 

“Kepha iNkosi yokuthula uqobo mayiniphe ukuthula ngezikhathi zonke nangezindlela zonke. INkosi mayibe nani nonke.” (2 Thess.3:16)

Inkosi Sibusise


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A candle goes out in Africa


Anthony Ive  - Tony –  and his wife Joan came to South Africa from England in the late 1950s and settled in Johannesburg. Initially they worshipped at Christ Hillbrow. Those were troubled times for the Church of England in South Africa (C.E.S.A.) which was struggling for survival. Even though Bishop Fred Morris had recently taken up the rectorship of Christ Church there was still much opposition from other Churches. Holy Trinity Church in Bramley was a Church that had for a time been taken over by another denomination. It had been returned to C.E.S.A. but in a very weakened  state. Tony, together with Murray Hofmeyr, Herbert Hammond and Jaap van Proosdij, became a strong influence in the denomination during the 1960s and 70s.

Tony and Joan moved to worship at Holy Trinity. For many long years he served in various capacities including Churchwarden, lay reader and Synod representative, and was a stabilising force there. He also began playing an increasing role in the affairs of the denomination, first of all as a representative on the Transvaal Advisory Council and then as a member of the Executive Committee.

It was during this time that Tony wrote the book “A Candle Burns in Africa” which traces the history of the denomination from its inception until approximately 1990. This is still the definitive history of the Church for those years.

Apart from being a member of the Executive Committee Tony was elected as a Trustee of the denomination and later as its Registrar. These latter positions he held until he reached the denomination’s retirement age.

On retiring from business Tony and Joan moved to Cape Town and lived in Fish Hoek where they joined St. Peter’s Church, Fish Hoek where Bishop Joe Bell was the rector and later Rev. Murray Anderson.

Tony was fiercely loyal to C.E.S.A. and supported whatever functions were arranged.  Included in this was his support for George Whitefield College. Almost to the last he attended its annual graduation services.

Our condolences go to Joan, their children and their families.

Thank you Tony for your love for the Lord and your service both to Him and the denomination.

Rev. Brian Cameron

News from the Presiding Bishop - September 2016

Our 2016 Synod has come and gone and it certainly has been a most encouraging time. Tokai Community Church and St.Stephen’s Claremont hosted our Synod Service and business sessions respectively. They were excellent hosts and I’m grateful to God for all the Western Cape Churches who worked together for the success of Synod 2016. Our speaker, Rev. Melvin Tinker brought the superiority of Christ to light through his excellent expositions on Hebrews 1 and we all the richer for it.  We also had numerous speakers highlighting various ministries in our regions. Our focus was Evangelism and the Lord providentially ensured a smooth dovetailing of word and testimony. I am also thrilled at the response to the Presiding Bishop’s Charge and particularly the REACH500 vision.  Next year is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and each local church has been challenged to make 2017 a year when, using creative evangelism methods, 500 new people are engaged with the message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. I’m delighted to report that many have already taken up the challenge and I get weekly updates on various evangelistic dinners, outreaches, 1-2-1 conversations that are happening in our churches. Share your events using the  #REACH500 tag.


Synod Highlights



















Click here for more information on our #REACH500 Challenge 

Post of the Month

Why did God create the World?

- by John Piper



  • Pray for the Lord to open doors for us to share Christ with the nation and our neighbours.  Ask the Lord to ignite a fire in our hearts for evangelism.
  • Be at prayer for our God to bring peace to our troubled country in the areas of criminal activity and the university crisis.

Bishop Glenn Lyons' Charge - 2016

To view and download a PDF version of the Charge click here. 

Greetings to you all in the name of our Saviour.

It is a great joy to be meeting together at St. Stephen’s Church, which this year celebrates 75 years of gospel ministry. Numbers of people have come to know Christ, grow in Christ and gone on to serve Christ from this place. Much of our denomination’s history is also connected to this local church and we give God all the glory for what has been accomplished for the Kingdom through St. Stephen’s, Claremont.

The State of REACH-SA

Last year I noted, with some concern, the relative plateau in our membership, clergy and college numbers. This situation is not going to turn around overnight, but one year later there are already positive signs of action and answers to prayer. I believe the honest assessment of our situation has been a healthy reality check for us and I’m encouraged by the many conversations and proposals that have come my way in the last year. There is also evidence of much creative thinking and planning with regards to evangelism, discipleship and training which really are the three ministry pillars of our gospel work (Evangelism, Edification, Equipping).  I plan to do a yearly focus on one the 6 E’s in the charge. This year will be Evangelism.

I must also add how helpful it has been for me to visit many of our churches and see first hand the varied challenges and opportunities you all face. Many of our workers labour in the context of great social and financial disadvantages yet I am regularly humbled by the attitude of those same workers who continue to persevere in their task without seeking worldly attention or earthly reward. I thank our God for giving us men and women with such Kingdom hearts. To those of you who toil in trying circumstances, with little or no recognition, I assure you that the Lord knows all your labours for Him and you shall not lose your reward.

I’m particularly excited to see more and more young people involved in our churches. I have been to numerous youth, young adult and student events in the last year and have been amazed and encouraged at the sight of hundreds of young men and women with a hunger for God’s Word. I have also had many conversations with gifted, young believers from a diversity of colours and cultures about the possibility of future full time ministry. This is a wonderful sign and an answer to prayer. We give thanks to God for showing us His hand on a new generation and for giving us a part to play in shaping and growing these young followers of Christ.

I also see more and more the value of regional and local church based  Ministry Apprenticeship Programs and they role they play in equipping God’s people for more effective service. I’m grateful to God for our hard working ministers who take time to train and mentor young workers under their charge. I know that many of you could be tempted to more comfortable overseas opportunities or to earning more money in higher paying careers but it’s clear that the Kingdom of God has gripped your hearts and you willingly serve self-sacrificially because of the Jesus who sacrificed to save you. It is a great blessing to be serving the Lord with you.

I’m sure you will hear more in the George Whitefield College principal’s report of the marked upswing in GWC enrollments. This is a wonderful answer to prayer and we give thanks to God for a college that is committed to the authority of God’s Word as well as to the particular distinctives of our Reformed, Evangelical, Anglican denomination. We must continue to pray that our College will be used by God all the more fruitfully as we work together to equip men and women to be effective servants of the gospel in Africa.

I want to spend some time revisiting the five focus points I raised in 2016.

  1. Personal - Strengthening our Workers

The care of our clergy and ministry workers remains a constant concern for me. This year we gather again with faces missing from our ranks due to some or other issue that has resulted in a minister’s exit from ministry.  These situations are a cause of much sadness to me and also a reminder of how each of us continues to stand by God’s grace alone. The combination of our own sinful hearts and the stresses and temptations of modern life do take their toll. Some of our ministers are battling issues and temptations and feel there is no one to help. Some are struggling with physical and mental troubles others are grappling with deep financial, marriage or family difficulties. There are also those who are sinking deeper into secret habitual sins. Even issues of pornography and drug addiction are not foreign to clergy.

Addressing these problems is complex. Admitting them may well be an important first step for some of us. Avoiding them is my first concern for all of us.  I want to urge all our workers to ‘watch your life and doctrine closely’ (1Tim.4:16). Do not allow the daily disciplines to slip away. Be regular in prayer and Bible reading, avoid isolation and maintain transparency with a trusted fellow worker. Let us also avoid the sinful temptation to show ourselves as omni-competent islands of strength. Beware of pride (1Cor.10:12; Gal.6:3). It is boasting in our weakness that causes Christ’s power to be seen in us (2 Cor.12:9).

Our dependence on each other is not a sign of failure. Our Saviour Himself was born reliant on a mother’s care and a father’s protection. Dependence actually affords us opportunity to serve one another and so glorify God.  Remember that we are all called to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal.6:1,2).

In response to the Synod 2015 motion calling for recommendations on care for our workers I am glad to report that progress has been made.  We are exploring a partnership with a counseling retreat centre in the Western Cape and hope to see more developments in other regions too.

Secondly on this topic I want to add a niggling concern. It is true that some are struggling to work effectively due to ill health and workload stress, but others seem to be nothing other than lazy. Some local church workers are clearly coasting and even idling. This is unacceptable for men and women who have been given such a high calling. Remember that many in our congregations give sacrificially to enable us to commit ourselves to full time gospel ministry. What an awesome privilege! God’s people are right to expect us to give ourselves wholly to the task. I would strongly urge every church worker to take seriously the Bible’s urging to labour faithfully for the Master (Col.1:28,29; 2 Tim.2:15; 1 Pet.5:2). It would be shameful for us to regard ministry as sheltered employment or an easy career move. It would also not be honouring to God to continue in ministry when you are clearly not gifted or willing to work at it. Part of this fault also lies with leadership not being honest and confronting situations early enough. We leaders must be willing to have the hard conversations for the ultimate good of the gospel.

  1. Planning - Seeking Church Growth

Last year I emphasised the importance of intentional planning as essential to moving toward church growth. Every local church should be structuring their year ahead to include community mission and evangelistic outreach. It is also good wisdom for church leaders to take time to learn tools for managing people and projects at a local church level. This kind of skill is not a Bible College responsibility but something every church leader should give some time to. Andrew Heard ( was recently in SA and gave us very helpful seminars on leadership and growing healthy churches. You can download these sessions from the Generate website (

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of J.C.Ryle. This first Bishop of Liverpool has been a great influence to many of us over our years in the Church of England in South Africa. Many of our ministers cut their teeth on books such as Holiness, Practical Religion and Knots Untied.  I recommend you take time to read Ryle if you have not yet done so. Much of his writing and wisdom remains relevant because it is so rooted in Biblical truth.

It has been interesting to learn how Ryle went about his work in a new diocese that was poorly funded and poorly staffed. Their mission field was a city sprawling with thousands of poor working class miners and dockyard workers. His task of reaching the lost seemed almost impossible. Yet Ryle set himself to work and his methods still bear consideration. He set aside much of the day’s formal and ceremonial Anglicanism and even shelved expensive plans for a cathedral. Instead he set to work on what matters most, getting the gospel to the people.  Andrew Atherstone notes:

Ryle's plan was to break up the large parishes into districts of 3,500 inhabitants and to deploy a team of three gospel workers in each - a missionary curate, aided by two lay assistants (a 'Scripture Reader' and a 'Bible Woman'). He looked for them to engage in energetic door-to-door evangelism and to plant a church which should be self-supporting within five years. Liverpool was one of the poorest dioceses in the country, without the significant endowments, in the form of tithe and glebe, enjoyed by some of its older neighbours.[1]

Ryle’s tactics paid off and the Lord grew the churches in Liverpool as masses of people were reached and won to Christ.

Notice a few things about Ryle’s approach:

a. He targeted the high population areas and broke down the challenge into achievable goals. He divided the parishes into smaller districts and deployed a gospel team at ‘ground level’. These workers used any room available to hold gospel meetings and Bible studies as well as entering people’s homes. The new churches grew from these activities.

I believe we too need to break down the vast challenge of reaching our population into achievable goals.  Much work has been done in the past with regards to identifying key population areas and assessing church planting methods. Some of the challenges seem huge but breaking down tasks into bite size tasks makes it easier to get momentum going.  So start a new Bible study in a new suburb before you try and start a new church.

b. There is also something to learn from Ryle’s evangelistic tactics. He put trained people on the ground, Bible in hand and face to face with the people. The gospel workers became a part of the community they set out to reach as they took ‘church’ to the people. In this regard it has been good to see many of our local churches committed to 1-2-1 relational evangelism and discipleship. Richard Borgonon’s recent South African seminars on the Word121 studies have been a welcome help in this regard. I commend this material to you as a vital tool for your outreach and discipleship cabinet.

c. Ryle used lay workers as part of his evangelism and outreach teams. Its interesting to note that this same mixed gender, 3 person home evangelism strategy has been used globally, with great success, by the EEIII evangelism program. I’m pleased to see a resurgence of interest in the new EEII material. Some of our churches as well as GWC will be implementing this course in 2017. The strength of EEIII is that it includes “on the job training”. This should be an obvious tactic because evangelism demands we actually evangelise and not just learn about it. I have yet to be convinced of any better way of learning to share the gospel and I encourage every one of our local churches to be intentionally training and doing evangelism as part of their yearly calendar. It should be every local church’s strategy to be teaching the gospel publicly and from house to house (Acts 20:20).

d. One other thing to note about Ryle was his absolute heart for the lost regardless of their social standing. The class system was a huge divide in 19th century and was deeply ingrained in society. It's not that hard to see similarities to our own history.  Ryle’s words are still relevant:

“I never will admit for a moment that the working classes in Lancashire are not to be won to Christ, if the proper means are used. It is false to say that naturally they are a bit more inclined to infidelity or immorality than other classes. They are all descended from the same parents, Adam and Eve, and are all born with the same hearts and consciences as the highest and noblest in the land. But they are what they are, apparently Godless and non-worshippers, simply because they are ‘let alone,’ never visited, never spoken to, never dealt with lovingly, as Christ dealt with the Samaritan woman. They are a field which, if rightly cultivated, is capable of bearing a rich harvest to the glory of God.” [2]

In our country we continue to struggle with prejudice that has seen racism elevated again and again to levels of national debate. Scandalous tweets and hate speech have been regularly highlighted often overshadowing the good relations the majority of our country pursues and enjoys. It must certainly go without saying in this Christian gathering but I say it now to put it on record.  No racism (subtle or overt) is acceptable among ministers of the gospel in REACH-SA. We must do all that we can by all means possible to reach all the people of our country for Christ.

This connects us to my next point.

  1. Partnership - Building Gospel Work

I have continually called for cross cultural partnerships as an effective way forward in a country with such vast economic disparity. As I have travelled around I have been thrilled to see evidence of strong gospel relationships between our suburban and township churches. I know that there is much more to be done and crossing cultural, social and ethnic boundaries does not happen easily. Homogenous groups come naturally and pragmatic desire for church growth may even encourage such an approach. Yet in Christ we are called to express our diversity in unity and so we must do so intentionally. A vibrant, ethnically diverse, local church is a powerful witness to a country still struggling with division and prejudice. I pray that our God will make us more and more a reflection of the united Body of Christ to the world around us.

In considering partnership I also want to highlight the benefits of creative gospel partnership through establishing community projects and mercy ministries.  Many of our township or inner city contexts can be reached for Christ through creches, day care centres, feeding schemes, clinics and schools. I commend the yearly Love Trust Conference to you as a great opportunity to hear and learn more about reaching our communities through education initiatives.

Our universities are also essential targets for evangelistic attention. Many people in ministry today can trace their conversion to their university or young adult years. We would be foolish to ignore such a key sector of our country’s population. During this synod meetings will be taking place to discuss ways to strengthen our partnership and focus resources on building a more effective and unified gospel network on our university campuses. I particularly encourage all student workers to attend those meetings.

  1. Planting - Widening our REACH

I am happy to report that the New Projects Fund has benefited from a healthy surplus this year and for this we give much praise to our God. You will hear more on this during the financial report. In these difficult economic days God’s provision is not to be taken for granted. I am also grateful to God for our local church congregations who continue to pay their levies. Your commitment makes you privileged participants in the work of planting and supporting new gospel works. One encouraging result of this New Projects plan is that it shows us it is possible to manage our current financial model in such a way that we can set aside significant funds for gospel work in our poorest communities and key population areas.  I believe there is even more we can do in the future, but this is a promising start.

The real challenge now is for local churches to put their teams together and get working. There has already been plenty of work done in identifying key population centres and many strategy and planning meetings have been happening. I’ve also had some promising exploratory meetings with various local church groupings who have an eye on future church plants. Remember, it's not up to the denomination to plant churches. Local churches plant local churches. Our REACH-SA trustees have helped to set aside some ‘start up’ financial resources, but brothers and sisters, the ball is now in your court.

  1. Praying - Acknowledging our dependence

This seems such an obvious point to emphasise. Yet from my own experience it's often the biggest struggle. I’m concerned that prayer does not have the same urgency in our churches as it did in former years.  I’m also not seeing it modelled or taught to our congregations.  I once asked a large church youth group if any of them had family devotions or Bible time in their home. Not a single hand was raised. Has the Christian culture of family and corporate prayer also been swallowed up by our increasingly distracted society? I myself have been recently rebuked for too often reaching for my cell phone before my prayer diary in the mornings.

“Unless the Lord builds the house the workers labour in vain” (Ps.127:1). We cannot work unless God works in us, therefore we must pray.  In the new year I intend to renew our focus on the annual Ascension Day of Prayer (and fasting). I also want to urge our regions to make adequate time for group prayer during regional meetings and gatherings. Our country needs revival and we must be persistently praying for God to be at work in our land. The Great evangelists of the past recognized the power of prayer and always recruited intercessors for fervent prayer during gospel preaching events. And the Lord answered their requests!  Prayer and evangelism are inseparable.


Before we look to the year ahead I want us to reflect on something we possibly take for granted. You will notice that this charge and our Synod agenda contains little or nothing to raise the eyebrows. It’s highly unlikely that our synod discussions will make headlines in any newspapers.

We are not meeting this week to clash over the authority of the Bible or the exclusivity of Christ. We have no contentions over the definition of marriage or the sinfulness of fornication and homosexual practice. We are not fighting over liberation theology or debating the ethics of abortion and euthanasia. Other denominations have found themselves deeply divided over these issues and many are fracturing. The Anglican church is, of course, right in the middle of such battles and is, to all intents and purposes, a deeply divided communion. But here at the REACH-SA synod we are talking about the gospel and how we can more effectively reach the lost and disciple the found. Praise God!

Yes we must thank God for our gospel unity but we must also guard against complacency. I suspect that greater pressure will come our way as society swings further and further away from Biblical values. Opposition to the Evangelical faith is becoming more militant. We are also surrounded by many priests who say what the itching ears of society want to hear. We must be ready and equipped to guard the gospel and not shy away from tackling the tough issues of the day. To that end we can also be thankful for a Bible college that provides us with sound Biblical training and clear Reformed scholarship. We can also be grateful for the broader Anglican Evangelical network which helps and supports us through fellowship and shared resources. May the Lord continue to keep us united in the gospel and committed to living by our motto:  “God’s Word above all things”.

Looking Ahead

Next year will mark 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  In October 1517, Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church door and set off a chain of events that has changed the world. I anticipate that this historic milestone will garner little interest from the non Christian world and perhaps not much more from the Christian world. I also suspect that whatever publicity the Reformation does receive will be largely negative.

Certainly we know better than that. Our Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church in South Africa has continually stood firm on the doctrines that the great Reformers rediscovered and proclaimed. Our God has graciously brought great returns from the faithful preaching of His Word.

The Reformation also had a ripple effect on society. As the Word of God spread, hearts were changed for Christ. In turn priorities changed. Education became important, care for the poor and the sick also improved. Society changed as souls were saved. But we must not miss the heart of it all - the return of the gospel to the people. The message of justification by grace through faith reverberated across Europe and on into the world. We must not forget or play down what God accomplished through the Reformation.

Some circles are making noise about the 500th anniversary marking the end of the Reformation. I believe this is not the case. The gospel of justification by grace through faith is still the separation point between true believers and mere religious observers. It also continues to be the great divide between Protestants and the Roman Catholic church. We cannot relegate the essence of the gospel to a minor difference. We hold to the Reformation cry that sinners are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, through Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone.

The Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God and is our final authority, not human reason, not modern society and not the Church. The message of the Bible is about what God has done for us not what we must do for God. May God help us never to compromise on this salvation truth.

Through the years the doctrine of justification has endured much attack intentionally and subversively. Yet God in His kindness has preserved and grown His church on the backs and blood of those first Reformers. We owe a great debt to Luther, Calvin, Cranmer and a myriad of other witnesses who put their lives and comfort second to the cause of Christ.  We owe it to them to examine our own lives and ask of ourselves how greatly we value this precious gospel of justification by faith.

That a holy God loves sinners like me is an astounding truth that runs contrary to every sinful thought of the fallen mind. But God has shone His light in our hearts and by grace awakened us from the dead and brought us to life in Christ. We would be foolish (nay wicked) not to do all that we can to share the light of Christ’s saving grace with a dark and lost world around us.

To that end, this is my challenge to you for 2017 and the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation:


To put it simply, the goal I give to every local church is to share the gospel with 500 new people in 2017.

I am not talking about church attendance, but intentional face to face sharing of the gospel through 1-2-1 meetings, home evangelism, evangelistic events (with record of responses) and similar tactics. You will need to be creative and courageous in your outreach approach. You will need to take time to assess your community and use the resources at your disposal. Yes, use door to door and traditional evangelistic events but also look for the doors that our society and culture unknowingly gives us. There are many opportunities on our doorstep (literally). Did you know that the PokemonGo game is bringing teenagers to the front doors of our church buildings?  In this gaming app, every church is a Pokemon Gym or PokeStop. This means many teenagers are visiting your church property every day. (If you don't know what I’m talking about ask the nearest teenager.) My own local church had its first Pokemon visitors to youth some weeks ago. What are you doing to invite these welcome trespassers to hear the gospel?  Maybe try offering free Wi-Fi or free coffee? Maybe have some outdoor activity that provides opportunity for people to connect. Be prayerfully thinking about creative ways to engage people with the gospel.

A statistic I heard from the Billy Graham Organization is that on average 5% of people who heard the gospel became followers of Christ. This means that (under God) if you share the gospel with 500 people in 2017 you could have 25 new believers in your church in 2018.  I believe this is a target every one of us could aspire to reach, even our smaller congregations.

It's important to also maintain a culture of relational outreach in our local churches. Statistics show that about 80% of new visitors come because of a friend's invitation.[3] That teaches us something about the importance of a people loving and welcoming local church family. We naturally become inward looking so we must constantly work against that tendency because the Gospel drives us to be outward looking (Matt.28:19f). You may also need to do some practical assessment of your local church context. Is your venue “user friendly”? Will it be easy for a visitor to enter and be shown a seat. Is there something a newcomer will not understand or find off-putting? Sometimes we can be so used to an in-house obstacle that we don't even realize it's a deterrent to a visitor.

We must also harness the internet and social media culture which holds so much attention for people today. Lets use it to spread news of gospel events.  Recruit people in your church who know how to use advertising methods and graphic design tools. Produce good quality online tracts, blogs and pictures for people to see. We live in a very visual and multi-media age. Lets take advantage of it. Make sure you also share the images of your events and activities so we can encourage and pray for each other. Its also good to share ideas for evangelism for the rest of us to try too. I look forward to seeing lots of #REACH500 posts and pics in 2017.

Brothers and sisters, let us make 2017 a year of Evangelism. There will be numerous events celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in various ways. We too should rejoice in the rediscovery of Grace. I can see no better way of celebrating Luther than by giving all of our efforts and harnessing all of our resources to proclaim the gospel of justification by grace through faith to a whole new generation living in our beautiful land and continent.

Lord give us Africa for Jesus.  Amen.


[2] Ryle, J.C.  Charges and Addresses -   Light by   Kindle (loc.1304)


News from the Presiding Bishop

The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
    he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the Lord stand firm for ever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations.”

(Psalm 33:10,11)


This Psalm has been a great comfort to me lately.  Our world is punch drunk from blow after blow of senseless killing and terrorist bombings. There are numerous tensions and troubles across the nations. Each week it seems we are shocked by yet another unthinkable atrocity, the continuous outworkings of hearts given over to rebellion.

I have also only just realized that I write this letter on the anniversary of the St. James attack and speak as one who has personally experienced what it's like to be on the receiving end of similar horrific violence.  Yet I also remember how our God worked through such a dark time to bring His people together and to their knees. He graciously turned our country from the brink of catastrophe and many also came to know Christ.  I look back on those days and marvel at how the Lord sustained us and accomplished amazing things as His Word was proclaimed.

So, even as much doom and gloom finds fresh headlines, I am  comforted by the truth that our Lord Jesus sits on the Throne and His plans will not be thwarted by the evil intentions of men and devils.  Let us hold all the more firmly to the faith we profess and pray all the more fervently for God to be at work in our land as we hold out the Word of Eternal Life.

The Lyons family recently enjoyed a refreshing mid year break and are now well rested and full steam into the new semester.  I’m very grateful to the Lord for blessing me with a family who love the Lord Jesus and willingly play their part in His service.


Glenn, Jesse, Joseph & Sandra Lyons enjoying time on the Garden Route

The third term has a packed agenda for REACH SA.  Many of our local churches are busy with gospel outreach programs and evangelistic events this semester. This is a wonderful sign of spiritual vitality in our church communities and we pray the Lord brings much fruit.  This week the Bishops meet at George Whitefield College to interview applicants for ministry.  We look forward to spending some good time with the college students and we give God grateful thanks for raising up more workers for the harvest fields.


Bishops visiting GWC this week

Our annual Synod takes place in Cape Town from 6th to 8th September.  The opening service will be at Tokai Community Church and the Synod Business Sessions will take place at St. Stephen’s Bible Church in Claremont.  Rev. Melvin Tinker will be joining us from the UK to bring the daily Bible readings. Find out more about our speaker on this link.

I also want to commend the REACH-SA  website to you.  The blog has regular news updates as well as articles from our various clergy and other contributors.

Lastly I am so grateful for your continuing encouragement and prayers.  We know we do not stand alone in this task and I give God grateful thanks for the prayer friends who call to the Lord on our behalf.  Jesus is building His church. Amen!

Every blessing to you all


Post of the Month

Lets be Frank; Thought for the day

- by Frank Retief via Christian Book Discounters



  • Pray for the Bishops as they interview applicants for ministry at George Whitefield College. Ask the Lord to give them wisdom and guide their decision making.
  • Pray for our country as they go to the municipal elections on August 3rd. Many churches are setting up 24 hour prayer chains and adopting local voting stations for prayer.  Perhaps your church might consider this too.
  • Pray for the upcoming REACH-SA Synod in Cape Town.  May it be a great time of encouragement for all. Pray that our God will give fresh impetus to our gospel vision of reaching our country and our continent for Christ.


The Colourless Cross

The “R” word is once again making headlines in our country.  It is an unfortunate reality that our nation will continue to be plagued by prejudice and discrimination for generations to come.  The problem of racism is obviously not just something endemic to our country. International news will regularly reveal the reality of race hate in many nations.  It is true, however, that we have a sad history of organized racism in South Africa and we continue to live with the consequences.

While it may be true that some organizations and individuals are using the current racism platform for their own agendas we must not ignore or rubbish this ongoing issue. God's people ought to be at the forefront of declaring and demonstrating just what it means to be reconciled to God and each other.  We know and proclaim that Jesus Christ offers forgiveness and reconciliation of sinners with God but we must also not forget that in Christ we have reconciliation with each other  (Eph.2:14-18).  This is not just between Jew and Gentile, but between all people of all colours and communities.  The only distinction the Bible makes is between those who have faith in Christ and those who do not - from heaven's point of view there are only “sheep and goats” (Matt.25:31-33).

We will not make progress against racism without ongoing prayerful self examination and repentance of our own (often unconscious) prejudices.  It is also right for us not to be passive on this issue but to intentionally demonstrate our unity in Christ to the often confused, divided and angry society around us.  Peace with God and with each other is a precious gift in Christ and we would do well to show and tell it to our nation and to our neighbours.  God has given us a timely opportunity to hold out Christ as we hold hands in Christ.  Let us not let the hour pass us by.

“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28 ESV)

I am encouraged by a number of our churches who are tackling this issue from a Biblical perspective and I commend to you this recent series of interviews and Bible teaching from Christchurch Midrand.

The Gospel and Race 1

The Gospel and Race 2

Written by Glenn Lyons

A Message from the Presiding Bishop

“Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born” (Luke 2:10,11)


Dear Friends


It's not hard to miss the fact that 2015 was a year marked by significant social, economic and political challenges.  I have had many conversations with folk who voice anxious and sometimes even alarmist concerns about the future.  We must not lose sight of the fact that nothing unusual is happening. The Bible is clear that there will always be a crisis on the horizon.  Troubles will come till Christ returns.  We must not be afraid nor discouraged.


Christmas reminds us that our comfort comes not from human sources but rather from Heaven sent solutions.  That is the good news of great joy that we can celebrate and affirm, without fear, into the New Year.  Our Almighty God mercifully chose to gift our condemned world with His perfect Son who took our condemnation upon Himself in order to offer us the favour He enjoys with God the Father. There is no greater or more glorious gift that we could receive by faith this Christmas.  And there is no greater need for the people of our fragile land than to be put right with their Creator and Judge.


Personally, as I come to the close of my first few months as Presiding Bishop I can say that in the midst of a daunting responsibility I am comforted by the truth that God continues to use ordinary shepherds like me to call people to faith in His Son. How especially privileged we are to be entrusted with this message first proclaimed to the earth by angels.


I am also so grateful to be placed a family of churches full of people who are committed to spreading this message and I thank the Lord for my fellow gospel workers who share this same gospel vision.  I pray for our continued Kingdom partnership as we strategize and plan for new growth and church plants in the year that lies ahead.  We are excited about the vision God has given us and we march ahead on our knees, trusting Him for the fruit of our labours.


My prayer for you who are part of our REACH-SA family is that God will grant you a spiritual gift perfectly suited to the particular local church context in which you live and serve.  May you be moved to use your gifts in partnership with God’s people so that together we can be more effective instruments for the growth of Christ’s church in our land.


May the Lord visit our country with the revival it so desperately needs and may He grant you all a blessed Christmas and fruitful Kingdom service in 2016.


in Him


Glenn Lyons

20150903_104733 Word of Life PE service Word of Life new building PE Word of Life new building PE b Word of Life closing function PE Tembisa school visit 3 Tembisa school Love Trust Synod Service 2015 Synod Service 2015 a Restoration Rehab project celebration breakfast PE Meeting Bp Nopece and Rev Mark Derry ACSA KZN Midlands visit KZN Midlands visit 2 Emmanuel PE Missions Food Fair Emmanuel PE am service1 CC Tygerberg visit CC Pmb visit CC Pmb visit 3 CC Pmb visit 2 CC Mzunduzi KZN CC Mzunduzi KZN c CC Mzunduzi KZN b CC Midrand Synod CC Blairgowrie Synod Service CC Blairgowrie 1 Bp Retief CC Tygerberg opening service Bp Nelson visit from W Australia