For many years, the Shofar Headquarters had found a home at the Oude Molen Campus in Stellenbosch. For our staff and members, this had been “our” destination to connect with the church leaders and Shofar family. Every conference, training opportunity and meeting brought precious memories of the vibrant growth of the vision God has graced us with. It truly was a launch pad for many ministry opportunities for almost ten years. After two years of waiting, we have once again found a place we can call “home” and are excited to nestle in at our Shofar Campus in Franschhoek. This is also the home of the Shofar Institute, which is quickly becoming a landmark for every Shofarite.
The beautiful Franschhoek Christian Fellowship Church, in the woods at the bottom of Franschhoek mountain, became a Shofar church in 2001 after Pastor Anton and Christelle Myburgh started to pastor the church in 2000. Johnny and Deleste Bell, founders of this ministry, have always had a passion for missions and church planting in the Ukraine and it was evident that their hearts overlapped with the heart of Shofar to reach the nations. A Bible School was established on the Franschhoek church premises to enable the ministry to equip people to fulfill the work of the ministry and it produced stellar students through the vibrant “Bos Kerk” as it was known at the time. Unfortunately, the vision for the Bible School began to wane somewhat, but the premises was since used as a Christian campsite, Eagle’s Nest, that still reached many people for the Kingdom.
Since 2014, Shofar’s leaders decided to develop Eagle’s Nest as a training facility for all of Shofar’s training opportunities and to start a full-time residential campus that can train leaders to plant churches and impact communities. The idea of making the Shofar Institute the training arm of Shofar started to come to fruition in 2015, when the first full-time students found their residence at the newly birthed “Shofar Institute Campus”. In 2016, the number of students has doubled and we’re trusting to see many more leaders raised up, thereby restoring this premises to its original mandate from God.
Training is core to Shofar’s growth in the future. As more churches are planted, there is a greater need to raise up second, third and even more generations to fulfill the original mandate God has given us. The only way to do this is to train people in the principles that one almost takes for granted as we have grown into a multi-generational ministry, and especially as we endeavor to reach beyond South African borders. Since we have more than fifty Shofar churches and an expanding network church movement, it’s important for us to spend time with the newcomers in order for them to catch the heartbeat of Shofar as a movement. As custodians of the vision God has given us, Shofar’s apostolic leadership team is responsible for protecting and building on God’s original mandate. In doing so, we endeavor to keep the leadership team as close as possible to the engine room of Shofar – that of training.
After much consideration, Shofar’s apostolic team, in consultation with the Franschhoek church elders, decided to move closer to the Shofar Institute and bring the dynamic staff and resources of Shofar Headquarters to the Shofar Institute. This serves to bolster the vision God has given us of reaching nations and generations through disciple-making, leadership development and church planting.
The campsite has truly developed into a fully fledged campus and offices for the staff. Not only is the facility in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Franschhoek, it also serves as a place of peace and quiet for healing, restoration and building up the saints to do the work of the ministry. A great deal of building has taken place over the past few months and we need to expand a lot more in the coming months to cater for all the needs of both a training facility and an administration hub. Please see the collage of photos below documenting the progress made.
The mention of Canada always conjured up thoughts of a cold, distant place where South African medical professionals go to escape long hours in government hospitals. After having received the call to go to Canada for so many years (sounded by many Shofar members who moved abroad), we responded by visiting one of the most beautiful places in the world.
After numerous inquiries from Shofar members in Canada, Rudi and Jeanne Botha, who had been faithful members of the Paarl congregation, contacted us in 2014 with an appeal that we become serious about the expansion of our efforts to Canada. They committed themselves to come to South Africa for our Ministry Training Programme and as it was evident that their intentions were serious to see God’s kingdom come in Canada, we wanted to explore God’s hand in this.
Making use of a very wide network of friends and family all across the country, we spread the news of the Canada Camp. As Canada is such a vast landscape with four time zones in one country – the greatest challenge was to get everyone connected in one place! Every region in Canada feels like a country in itself with its own governmental structure. Eventually, we decided on Calgary in Alberta as it was the most central location for everyone to meet.
Myself and pastor Fred went to the Canada Camp in the last weekend of April this year to meet with those who had responded to the camp invitation. Great was our surprise and joy to find a group of 18 people who are resolutely passionate about God’s kingdom – it really felt like family! Not only did we experience love and a wholehearted welcoming of each one that joined us for this weekend, but hearts truly connected and there was a sense of urgency to see God’s kingdom come. From this weekend, some of the group members have given us an indication that they have a desire to be a part of and continue what God is busy doing in Canada, and we have committed to hosting more ministry input camps in the near future.
For us, as a family, it was truly very special to see how sons and daughters in the house had taken initiative to sound the call and created an opportunity for us the leaders to visit and scout the land to hear what God is saying. We believe this is such an enactment of our vision as a church, and we are expectant to see the fruit that will come from this.
You can stay updated with developments on our facebook page.
Shofar Institute will be presenting our residential Ministry Training Programme (previously known as Shofar Internship – see Shofar internship article 2016), starting January 2017!
We’ve renamed the programme in order to distinguish it from our Shofar internship programmes running concurrently at our various churches. The programme no longer resembles a gap year, but gives those who want to dedicate their lives to full-time ministry an opportunity to grow in the devotion and ability needed to serve God’s Kingdom.
Students of the Shofar Institute will reside at our campus in Franschhoek. As they take part in this multi-faceted programme, they will grow in character and skill through practical ministry engagement, community life and disciplined study. During the first year, students complete an accredited Higher Certificate in Christian Life. Students also have the option to complete a second year, which includes a diploma in Theology, as well as a third year, resulting in a degree in Theology. The formal study component is presented in partnership with the South African Theological Seminary, a fully accredited academic institution.
Who do we encourage to enrol?
Those who desire to pursue full-time ministry both within and outside Shofar.
Those who would like to complete a degree in Theology.
Those who would like to grow in their relationship with Shofar’s leadership to pursue full-time ministry within the Shofar movement.
Those who would like to experience hands-on ministry and campus life during their time of study.
Our 4-week MTP programme will still continue and our full-time residential students will attend those sessions as part of their programme. We have, however, realised that the shorter MTP training does not always allow enough time for a student’s development and exposure to leadership and therefore the full-time residential programme will help our students grow over the course of a year.
A full prospectus is available online at www.shofarinstitute.org/mtp. If you have any questions about the programme, please email our MTP coordinator Rodé Brand at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Partnership to raise more leaders
We need your partnership in raising more leaders.
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38
Pray with us for more labourers who are willing to reach the ends of the earth.
We need to plant more institutes all over the world to equip and draw leaders to do the work of the ministry. Our first campus is in Franschhoek and you can give toward establishing similar institutes all over the world (see proposal):
This past year’s focus on the harvest was not as much a prophetic season as a wake-up call to our vision as a church to reach nations and generations through disciple-making, leadership development and church planting.
Having so many dynamic and vibrant ministries and activities in our church, the challenge is to keep it simple and make it possible for everyone to take part in what God is doing. “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Habakuk 2:2
We want the vision to be easy to understand and accessible. If we communicate it well, we’ll all know how we, as individuals, fit into it and can keep each other accountable. Specific goals and good communication are tools that help make this possible.
We identified three focus areas for 2015 for the ‘harvest campaign’ and as congregations and small groups, we specifically prayed and gave into these areas this year.
MAY: the Himalayan church network leadership conference
We specifically looked at why we go out to the nations and gave towards the Himalayan church network. The donations were used to equip the pastors with material, equipment and impartation at the pastors’ conference in Northern India. WATCH VIDEO
JULY: our Shofar Europe church plant in the Netherlands
Here we looked at the impact of our church ‘DNA’ and the incorporation of our Malawi network churches into the Shofar family. Contributions toward this project were used to rebuild the main base in Mangochi and equip the pastors at the pastors’ conference.
The ‘harvest campaign’ was an amazing way to unify all of us around our vision, with focused areas of prayer, giving and physical support. It created awareness and excitement in the congregations and the groups who benefited testify of how they felt supported and covered in prayer during this time.
The small group themes contributed towards personal growth around the vision, with action points that helped to make it practical. does it continue?
We’ll continue to build on this structure next year with the theme of ‘God’s building’, which God spoke so clearly about through many of the Convergence 2015 speakers. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16b (ESV)
We want to start the new year in a way that gathers us together around the vision and Activate Sunday on 17 January 2016 gives ministry leaders in each congregation an opportunity to present their ministries and it’s a wonderful opportunity for all of us to figure out where we can lend our skills, prayer and time, as well as encouraging each other with the direction that God is taking us in. “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’.” Luke 14:18 (ESV)
global prayer and fast
It is important to prayerfully count the cost before making formal commitments and the first Global Prayer and Fast that follows Activate Sunday from 18-20 January is a time set aside to ask God what His will for each of us is within the church family.
The second Global Prayer and Fast from 18-20 July is another time set aside to pray together and continue to ask God for clear direction – both in the prophetic and in the practical. quarterly combined small groups
These ‘big group’ meetings are informal opportunities for us to give feedback, brainstorm together and share the vision around the focus in 2016. The leadership team will give a small group topic for each quarter that will help us talk about and pray through the vision.
JANUARY: global prayer, fast and consecration
the vision and goals for the year
prayerfully considering our involvement and commitment to these goals
MAY: progress and annual financial feedback
feedback on progress
a look at the current financial position of the local church and region
JULY: progress feedback and global prayer and fast
an update on how we’re doing in reaching our goals
praying for our alignment with the vision that God has given us
DECEMBER: thanksgiving and testimonies
testimonies of God’s faithfulness through the year
opportunities to thank God and reflect on goals achieved
At the end of the year, we look forward to coming together and thanking God for what He’s done in our movement, region, local church and personal lives. So often we get so caught up in the here and now that we forget to look back at what God has already done – the best way to become excited about what He will still do in the future.
Thank you for partnering with us in bringing in the harvest in 2015 and we look forward to a year of seeing God as the builder of our lives, families, communities and churches!
Before returning home from Malawi, Ps. Henry Mkhomanya, leader of our Shofar Malawi churches shared a surprising testimony with me. He said that a local Muslim leader came to him during our visit asking why the white man builds for the black man and that it was probably costing a fortune. To which Ps. Henry could reply that there was no cost, because they are people from the kingdom of God. It was in that moment that we were reminded what a testimony this was to the world!
Sending a team to Malawi was the third focus for this year’s Harvest. We went from 14-30 August visiting our 18 Shofar Malawi churches, offering support, leadership training and renovations to their main base in Mangochi, a township in the Southern Region of Malawi. After our last visit there, we learnt that bicycles were the main form of transport among the people of Malawi. This is why we decided to go back and travel between the villages by bicycle to learn more about the churches.
Our team consisted of members from various Shofar congregations across South Africa and Namibia. The first week we started with six cyclists and four supporting team members completing a 445km journey from Blantyre to Mangochi, visiting the outlying churches to connect, support and determine their individual needs. The other half of our team dedicated their time to the buildings in Mangochi as well as doing outreaches in the surrounding areas.
Week two, whilst most of the team was building, the rest were involved with leadership training, equipping the local Malawian pastors. During our visit we had many encounters while spending time with the people of Malawi on God’s commission. Here are some of our highlights:
our shofar family
What stood out about this “mission” was the tremendous support our team received from all our other Shofar churches in prayer, encouragement and financial contributions towards training material and the building-project, which brought so much momentum to our endeavor.
setting the table
Travelling from church to church on bicycle gave us a chance to witness the effect it had on the Malawian people. By doing this, we also experienced appreciation from the Malawian pastors, who showed their gratitude through the preparations they made before we came. They went as far as cleaning their churches and preparing the way for our 4×4 by making routes through the cornfields to help us reach our destinations. Our brothers in Malawi could really sense our sincere effort to serve them, and we were humbled by the way in which we were received.
salt and light
The people across Malawi knew about our cycling team, as we traveled from village to village we were greeted by children from afar before we entered each little community. Even at the police blockades they greeted us as the known “cycling team going around”.
Back in Mangochi our building team made such a great impact through their interactions and buying of products from local businesses. The whole community knew that the team was busy building a church, and they had many enquiries. This left us with the hope and belief that through pure curiosity the church will welcome some new visitors in the days to come.
hand of God
Our team was so amazingly handpicked by God, with builders, electricians, painters, mechanics and engineers. This allowed us to do much in a very short time. This was/is a testimony of practical people finding their role and contribution in the mission field, reminding us how privileged we are with the people we have in our ranks. To us, what was seemingly a small contribution changed the heart of a community and a nation in a mere two weeks. By making the infrastructure a little easier, we can even plan for future mission groups to go and make a meaningful contribution to the people of Malawi.
no weapon formed against us shall prosper
We did encounter an 8-hour hold-up at the Beitbridge border, due to wrong paperwork, which forced us to leave one of our vehicles at the post. Following this, our trailer lost a wheel, which delayed our cycling team for a day. We came to realise, however, that the hard work and opposition to our trip were insignificant compared to the impact God made during our short time in Malawi.
Before returning home, as we prayed together with the local pastors, I could sense such a transition of ownership and responsibility over the nation of Malawi from both the local pastors and our own hearts. We know that God has a plan for the nation of Malawi and we look forward with anticipation to seeing how He will reveal HIS plans in the future.
Until then, God bless the nation of Malawi, its people and those who will continue to go in HIS name!