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History
Introduction
Growing the church
Building the church
The new hall/manse
Stretching the church
Training the church
Purpose statement
Our vision
Conclusion
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FOREWORD

History has always been a reminder of God at work; Empangeni Baptist is no different as we look back and testify to the faithfulness of Christ to His Church. Looking at the history of Empangeni Baptist, it is appropriate that the theme for the 35th Anniversary Celebrations is "To the Glory of God." This is the primary reason for the church's existence and what the goal of the church ought to be.

The true history of Empangeni Baptist Church is still beginning. This takes place through the legacy left in the lives of individuals who have been transformed by the grace of God and the impact they have had and will still have in the community. Heaven will testify to how much of an impact Empangeni Baptist Church will have into the future.

 

It would be wrong at this time to just reflect on the pastors of the church, as if they were the ones who made the history of this church, but we must acknowledge the input of its many members who, over the years, have given themselves faithfully to serving the purposes of God. There are also too many people to mention by name, but they are not forgotten.

 

It is my prayer that this document will be a blessing to you and to future generations. My thanks to all who have made these 35th Anniversary Celebrations become a reality. As has happened in the past, now we must move forward "To the Glory of God!"

Bruce Mackenzie

May 2004



HISTORY OF THE EMPANGENI BAPTIST CHURCH

During 1968 members of the Natal Baptist Association visited Empangeni with a view to starting a fellowship.

 

In October 1968 the N.B.A. called Arthur and May Holgate to pastor the Baptist work in Empangeni. In order to achieve this, Rev. Holgate took early retirement from the teaching profession. They were accommodated in Arntzen’s Trading Store, Mavamhlope (white thorns) on the old road to Eshowe which was 10,6 kms out of Empangeni opposite the Bruce-Dunn’s old farmhouse.

On 12 February 1969, the Baptist fellowship of approximately twelve members met together for the first time, on the spacious veranda of Arntzen’s home. Mrs van Noordwyk played the piano. Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three come together in my Name, there am I with them", is indeed true of our humble birth; this was the start of the Empangeni Baptist Church.

 

By the next Sunday, 2 March 1969, it was decided to hold morning and evening services in the Empangeni Public Hall. Average attendances were 12 - 15 members. The foundation families were the Svenssons (Arnold was the Secretary/Treasurer), Colleges, Carstens, Bothas, Proberts, Cockwells, Loots and Nells. Sunday School had an average attendance of 15. Weekly prayer and bible study groups were held in various homes; the Baptist Women's Association was started by Mrs May Holgate and a Young People's Fellowship was organized by the Cockwells.

 

The Holgates then moved into town, to S Peacehaven Flats, and the work flourished. The Lord gave these pioneers a promise for the work - Acts 20:24 "However I consider my life worth nothing to me, the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" and also a promise for the building fund - Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus".

 

Memorable Sunday School picnics were held on the Svensson's farm, Ekhupumaleni and there was a wonderful church camp with missionary friends, the Stevens at Cape Vidal

The early work was cradled in prayer, but it was not without sorrow because in 1970 May Holgate was called home. She had been a great encourager and devoted worker in the early years. Rev Holgate continued to serve the fellowship until August 1972 when the Church was formally constituted by Rev George Dennison with 17 foundation members and the deacons being Arnold Svensson, Brian Cockwell and Ken College.

 

Rev B.A. Foster,  Baptist Union missionary in Zululand, served the congregation during the interim.


GROWING THE CHURCH

The church then called Rev Patrick Hams and Mrs Joan Hams. They arrived with their son, Lloyd, on 3rd April 1973 and were accommodated in flat 413 Hamilton Lodge. They later moved to their house at 5 Addison Street. The induction service was held on 15 April 1973 and Rev Theo Pass officiated.

 

Rev Hains felt strongly that the Public Hall was not an appropriate venue for church services. Being the local cinema, tawdry advertisements and the refuse of the previous evening's entertainment was not a suitable place in which to worship Almighty God. In February 1974 services were commenced at the Junior Primary School Hall, the venue being acquired with Mrs Corbette's help. There was an average attendance of 37, and 7 people, including Dr Leon van den Berg, were baptized in a service attended by 100 people. There were now 8 — 9 musicians including Merle Hancock, Ruth Prescott, Beryl Johannsen, Sandra and Beverly van Rooyen, Mariaan Smit, Lorna and Lyn van Aardweg and Siegie Reavell. A choir was commenced under the leadership of Ruth Prescott. A highlight of the year was a week of ministry on Revelation, led by Rev M. Gordon. On 17 August 1974 a successful church picnic was held at Siyaya Beach, Mtunzini. In January, deacon Ron Eardley became the first theological student from Empangeni Baptist Church.

 

An urgency to have their own Baptist place of worship had gripped the hearts of the growing congregation and a building committee reserved a site in Panorama (corner of President Swart and Apollo Avenue) on the edge of town. When the borough was not prepared to let the church have this site at a special price, but insisted on the full purchase price of R25 000.00 the church had to forego this expensive she. After a day of prayer and fasting, God graciously led the committee to investigate cheaper alternative sites on the corner of President Swan Avenue and Cassia Road i.e. lots 1997 and 1998. These were secured on 26 September 1976 for R500.00. Les Wilmot, with the help of the Leisegang vehicles, soon organized forty loads of sand to make the plots less swampy. As a result of the Councilâ's rejection of architect Peter Moirâ's plans, an apse and foyer were added to the church. In January 1978 building operations commenced with much joy and thanks to God. In April a Bible was placed in the foundation of the Church to remind the congregation that only God’s Word could be the foundation of a Baptist Church.

 

Meanwhile, the life of the church progressed. The congregation had increased to 70 members and 7 baptisms were conducted in the Wilmotâ's swimming pool at 37 Fynn Crescent. In April 1978 Thelma Winterbach became the editor of the church magazine "Tell-It"; previously Rev Hains had edited the newsletters. The youth work at this time was exceptionally strong with Brian Cockwell, John Pitout and some High School teachers being very active.

 

On 12 August 1978 the church was officially opened by Hughie Bissett and Lee Wilmot. Rev Dave Meaker gave a challenging sermon. The van Rooyens had donated the carpets and stage curtains, the Hodgsons the electricals, and the Wilmots the bricks for the paving at the back of the church. Hughie Bissett had built the pulpit and John Pitout had laid out the gardens. The program made the reason for success clear, The building of our Church has been a team effort. One of the highlights of the year was the Christmas Play produced by the Sunday School and directed by Thelma Winterbach.

A highlight of 1979 was the family camp at Nyala Game Ranch, which Rev Leigh Robinson led. The deacon's retreat was held at Kwanzimela where the teachings of the booklet "Surrender and Serve" were shared. Other memorable events were the stewardship instructions of D. Mac of the USA and Dr Johannes van der Colff's ministry based on Psalm 51.


The very first youth camp, that later became summer camp in Kimberly, was during the July holidays. Mom, dad and Kevin Beaumont took a group of us with a combi to camp. In the early morning on the way there, Kevin was driving and rest of us decided to have a time of prayer, all of us closed our eyes, including Kevin; it was only by the grace of God that we arrived at camp in one piece and at the right place.
Debbie Hodgson.

 

On 17 December 1979 Rev Hams left Empangeni to accept a call to Bethany Baptist Church in Verwoerdburg.



BUILDING THE CHURCH

A call committee under Rev Charles Smith led to Rev Erwin Barry Paynter and his wife Valerie arriving in Empangeni on 1 April 1980. On 13 April, Rev Milton Staley led the Induction Service. The Paynters were accommodated at 11 Willow Way, which was later purchased for R29 000.00 as the manse. Later a carport was enclosed as a study and a combi was donated to the church. The Paynters occupied this home for 18 months at the end of which time the bond was repaid.

 

Once again the church dreamed a dream, saw a vision and wasted no time in executing the plans. The need of a hall was felt very strongly and the task was investigated. Without any funds available, but with a simple trust in God's provision, a "sod-turning" ceremony was held during October 1981. The plans for the hall would cost R29 000.00. A new adjacent property, lot 1995 was acquired for the new manse. The old manse had been sold to a cash buyer at a considerable profit and the building of the new manse began on 12 July 1982, and the Paynters moved in by early December.

 

Both the hall and the manse were officially opened on 5 March 1983 in a ceremony conducted by Rev Milton Staley, the co-ordinator of the Natal Baptist Union.



THE NEW HALL/MANSE

Both buildings were built by the members, who even worked under floodlight in the evenings after work; husbands, wives and if a child was strong enough to carry a brick, then they too were enlisted. What a labour of love and all for the glory of God.

Dan Hodgson

 

The youth,  80 strong, were led by John and Moira Pitout. At least ten served in the Baptist Youth WOW team: dive van Rooyen, William Smit, Sandra van Rooyen, Megan Svensson, Audrey Gray, Debbie Hodgson, lngrid Svensson, Malcolm Hodgson, Melody and Janine Reavell. A number of our youth entered theological bible college: Ron Bardley, Clive van Rooyen, Campbell College, Kevin Beaumont, Ron de Gray Birch, Karen Svensson and Gary Morrison.

 

1989 was my first year of WOW team. On the day before the team was coming to Empangeni our bakkie was involved in an accident We arrived at the Church where the theme for the week was “Bent Out of Shape�, a fitting banner to park our battered bakkie under.

The team musical that year was “Jesus shall reign�; and one of my best memories of Empangeni Baptist Church is the response from the church during the presentation of the musical. During the final section of the presentation, the whole congregation stood as one person. It was a real testament to God’s power and His working through the team’s ministry. It was a highlight for the team and a wonderful memory of the church.

Debbie Hodgson


Rev Paynter attended an EEIII Clinic in order to equip the church for outreach work. A pleasant memory was the purchase of the 32 seater bus, which was used by Hennie Lamprecht to collect the faithful for Sunday School. It was re-sprayed and restored by the men of the church. In May 1985 the attractive Bruce-Dunn education block was begun on lot 1996 and soon completed. A gift of R25 000 from Lummy and June Bruce-Dunn in memory of their deceased son John, and a great deal of dedicated man-hours and hard work saw this building erected debt free. This enabled the Sunday School to be effectively developed as from 1988. On 23 April 1988 Rev Terry Rae paid a presidential visit to Empangeni and Richards Bay.


The first time that I played the piano in the church we sang the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers’s I played sooooo fast that no one could keep up with me and then the last hymn I thought I had better not play so fast so we sang “Have Thine own way Lord� and I played sooooo slow that no one could sing with me either Thankfully it never scarred me for life.
Cheryl Deetlefs

The youth in the late seventies were famous for their stunts of water on the chairs, ice down someone’s back or the pile ups on the floor, the tough guys with my dad at the bottom of the pile. Good old days!
Debbie Hodgson
 
Rev Paynter went to the South West African border as Chaplain 5 times to minister to our men in uniform.

Throughout Rev Paynter’s ministry, an early morning prayer group proved a source of strength to the ministry of the church. In 1988 he was elected President of the Natal Baptist Association and in that time he visited most Natal churches to preach and encourage. He concluded, “The years at Empangeni Baptist Church were some of the most blessed we ever experienced and we thank God our Father for His grace and faithfulness, as well as the enthusiasm, love and dedication of the diaconate and members, which we will never forge�.s The Paynters were called to Sunbury, and left Empangeni on 8 February 1989.

 

The Church has supported, over the years, the Church at Wela near Nongoma. Pastor Alpheus Mlaba received help from our men and youth as they assisted in re-building the manse and refurbishing the church. A borehole with a hand pump was installed.

A similar work at Entoweni was undertaken- the manse, a borehole, temporary lights and water tanks were provided and fitted. The pastor, James Sibiya, was supported financially for a long time and groups from Empangeni Baptist Church not only worked, but also worshipped with the folk at Entoweni.

 

A pioneer work at Amanzibomvu, near Mbaswane, was partially rebuilt by our men. Rev Erwin Paynter outlined the central role which outreach played in the growth of Empangeni Baptist Church. On his arrival, there was a keen attempt to begin a new work at Melmoth, Eventually it became a fully constituted Church, but possibly because of a lack of vision on the part of the Melmoth leadership, it lapsed.

 

No less than three attempts were made to commence a new church at Richards Bay, only to be thwarted twice by other groups, who in some sort of takeover bid hindered what had been achieved by this pioneer work. Eventually, Campbell College, just before his military service, was called as Assistant Pastor with special duties at Richards Bay. The Lord blessed this work. Empangeni Baptist Church again was actively involved in preparing for the first Pastor, Louis Marais. Later, an attempt was made to plant a new church at Eshowe where Empangeni Baptist Church ministered for months, only to experience the fatal intrusion of another group. Rev Paynter is of the opinion that “We were spread too thin with too much on the agenda to give this new work all it needed�.

In 1987/8 Gavin and Mandy Damster came to Empangeni to assist Erwin, particularly with the growing youth work.


Sunbury has a special place in the hearts of Empangeni Baptist Church members. Because of a need for a suitable venue for camps and retreats for the growing youth work, Rev Paynter asked Harold Svensson (with his brother Arnold standing by), of the Swedish Baptist  Mission, in Easter 1980, “Sir would you consider selling Sunbury Empangeni Baptist Church?â€?

 

Some 6 years later this mission station was offered to Empangeni Baptist for a sum of R25 000,00. It comprised 6 sturdy brick buildings and 6 wood and iron buildings (including a school of 10 classrooms) on 20 acres near Stanger. The purchase price had to be paid in 3 instalments within a year. This was a daunting responsibility for such a small church, but it was undertaken prayerfully and as an act of faith. A R5 000,00 tractor, borehole, 20 000 lt water tank, a series of plans by Dave Atkins, R30 000 gift of linen from Cape Town, a solar geyser at cost price and endless prayer, perspiration, play and fellowship followed. With Erwin and Val Paynter in the vanguard, and assisted by a band of stalwarts, church planting, training and evangelising prospered wonderfully.

 

When Rev Erwin and Val Paynter moved to Sunbury in February, Brian Dummett was called to be Assistant Pastor. He was inducted as Pastor on 8 August 1989. In December 1991 Brian left to further his studies at the Baptist Theological College in Johannesburg.

 

This left the church without a pastor, and a call committee was established. A number of calls were extended. In the meantime, the church had a successful Lay Renewal Weekend in March 1992. This paved the way for the church to unite and grow in the absence of a pastor.



STRETCHING THE CHURCH

A call was made to Leon van den Berg, a fourth year student at the Baptist Theological College, on 15 November 1992.

Rev Leon van den Berg and his wife Sandra responded to the call to pastor the Baptist work in Empangeni in January 1993. With inspiring preaching and with a meaningful visitation ministry, Pastor Leon formed a sound foundation for growth.

 

1994 opened with the prospect of EEIII, Lay Renewal Weekend, and the Reach and Teach programme. The latter took over from Noah’s Ark Day Care Centre, which began in January 1988 by Barbara Clur and closed in December 1993.

On 12 February 1994 the Empangeni Baptist Church celebrated 25 years since its birth — a testament to God’s faithfulness and leading.


27 April 1994 saw our country enter into its first democratic election. The country was fearful of possible widespread violence and Christians were called to pray. We, as a congregation, responded to the call and corporate and individual prayer was encouraged. The election came and went, a new government was in place with little violence taking place. We thank God for His deliverance during this period.

 

October 1995 saw the leadership seeking God’s vision forward. God’s leading was that the local Church families must be built up together with reaching out and becoming a more Mission minded Church. Yes, God in His wisdom, had made it possible for the Church to sell Sunbury to the Mahon Mission Organisation who specifically reached out to the Zionists. So Sunbury remained a Mission Station. It must be mentioned that 1994/1995 was a difficult time for the Church because of the impending sale of Sunbury. For some it was a sad time as they felt the Church had lost its vision for Sunbury as a means of reaching lost souls and there were those who felt Sunbury was a stumbling block to the Church’s road forward. At times the Church was in a split situation. Prayer and listening to God’s leading were the victors in the end. Yes, God is good in all His ways, even though we might doubt the wisdom of His ways at times.

 

The following was reported in the Missions Report for the AGM of 1996: “We have been delighted to hear exciting news from the Mahon’s at Sunbury.� On further inquiry as to what the exciting news was, we were told that many Zionists are turning away from this sect as men are trained and sent out into the field. God, in His foresight saw that Sunbury can be a light on the mountain lighting up the world.

 

Sunbury, to this day, is still impacting Zionists in South Africa under the mission ZEMA. Financial resources gained from the sale were used to support Steve Richards to be trained and serve on the Doulos Ship for two years. A team also attended the Love Southern Africa 96 Conference at Wits University, followed by an outreach trip to Siavonga in Zambia. A young Zambian man was left behind to continue the work established there.


“Reach and Teach�, a training ministry for sewing suffered a severe setback as all their machines were stolen. However, the women rallied around and machines were donated so that this work could continue. Pastor Alpheus Mkwanazi was of great help in translating and leading the women to the Lord as they sewed.


1997 was a violent year and saw the escalation of crime in all areas of the community. A huge outcry took place when one of Zululand’s finest surgeons was murdered. We as a Church joined in the protest march that took place at the time, and also in prayer, committing the crime situation to the Lord.


On March 3, 1997, the Christian Helpline, operating from the Church grounds, came into being. 157 cases were dealt with by July 28, 1997. An extract from the AGM report of 1997 reads: “God provided wonderfully in every cent needed for the project, stationery, advertising, even a VW Combi with its fuel, insurance and maintenance costs covered for a substantial period in advance. The Combi is used mainly for the transporting of rape victims between the Rape Crisis Centre and the District Surgeons in Empangeni and Richard’s Bay. This also creates an opportunity for outreach as we are able to pray for the ladies and give them the Zulu version of the Ultimate Questions booklet. This ministry was discontinued late 1997, but God has replaced this firstly with the Prayer and Care Ministry that has developed in to the Clinic Ministry at the Clinic, which is run once a week from the Church buildings. And the Hospital Ministry has also come into being due to the need that was being felt.

 

Murmurs of a local casino were first heard during the this year, 1997. Little did we know then that this would become a reality in the town by 2003.

The week of September 1-7 1998 was the week of outreach which we, as a Church embarked on. The speaker was the Reverend Conrad Mbewe of Zambia. The total community was to be reached with talks to Church Leadership, Community Services, Police, Businesses, Empangeni High School, Bible Studies, local ministers, Youth Coffee Bar, a Men’s Breakfast, and the Ladies’ Spring Tea. This was a daunting task, but the Lord was present and many were moved to commit themselves to Christ.

 

Leon will always go down as the man who got involved in the community and was loved and respected by all with whom he came into contact.

As Pastor Leon van den Berg had left us for Wychwood, Germiston, we as a Church formed a Call Committee, and in prayer turned to the Lord for guidance. The Lord’s plan was to leave us without a Pastor for 2 years. However He saw to it that the pulpit was filled with men who could bring God’s undiluted Word to the Church. The Church went through a trying time and many tears were shed, but we came through it all the more spiritually filled and mature. Membership remained constant and 9 baptisms took place.


The Church felt we should look to see where God was working and then join that work. The Scripture we leaned on while looking to the Lord’s leading was 1 Corinthians 2:4-5. He led us to ZMO (Zululand Mission Outreach) which is a tent ministry operating in rural Northern Zululand. We visited the area of operation and were convinced this was where the Lord wanted us to assist. We have been prayerfully and financially involved ever since. We have helped with the training of team members at Barberton Training Centre. We have also visited the tent on numerous occasions to show tangible support. God is blessing His work with the establishment of churches and filling them with converts. We have been humbled to see rural folk walking many kilometres to attend an evening service and then walking home again in the dark late at night. We are still involved in this ministry.



TRAINING THE CHURCH

September 1999 saw the arrival of Pastor Bruce and Jenni Mackenzie. With his arrival a breath of new life was felt within the Church. Bruce brought with him the "Purpose Driven Church" concepts of Rick Warren. Jenni introduced the Ladies' Book Club.

March 2001 saw the Church adopt the purpose statement and vision of the Church, as stated below, both of which would help in our pursuit of becoming a Purpose Driven Church.



Purpose Statement

We are here to glorify God by strengthening the body and equipping believers in the task of ministry and evangelism for the expansion of Christ's kingdom.

The two Scripture pillars on which this statement stands are:

Matthew 22:36-39 "Jesus said, Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul ... and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like it. Love your neighbour as yourself".

Matthew 28:19-20 - "Jesus said, Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you."



Our Vision

A Church

  • that impacts the community with God's love.
  • that meets the needs of the whole family.
  • that has an accepting environment.
  • where every member ministry is a reality.
  • where the preaching of God's Word is relevant and practical.
  • that is truly missionary minded.
  • where all activities are intentional.
  • committed to developing meaningful and relevant worship.
  • committed to developing dynamic and relevant youth ministries.
  • which is a culturally diverse family of believers.
  • which sees Christians coming to maturity in Christ.
  • which sees Christians enthusiastic for evangelism.
  • which sees broadening and deepening fellowship within the Church.


Resulting from this step, training seminars were introduced and led by Bruce, which focused specifically on Christian life and service. It is the aim that all in the Church will go through the Classes of 101 to 401, thereby making each a better servant of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Church and in our different work places.

 

Dorcas Aid used our facilities during the year, when they moved into the area to assist with the Cholera problem of KZN. As can be imagined, the Church got involved with prayer support, grocery donations, packing food buckets, and distribution of the same. Tracts were also in the buckets so that God's gospel reached homes where it was normally not heard.

 

The Casino was a real threat in Richards Bay and the churches had united to oppose this move. A legal battle was begun between the Richards Bay Ministers Fraternal and various parities who had an interest in the Casino. Sadly the case was thrown out of court after a long long and many expenses. Unfortunately, in the process, the City council approved a temporary site in the Industrial area in Empangeni which appears to now have become a permanent site.


The Mtunzini Fellowship approached us to assist in filling their pulpit when Jim and Jill Buske moved away. We gladly assisted and many of our men preached there while they looked to God for a Pastor. This position was filled in January 2004, when Gerrie and Paddy Swart of our Church moved to Mtunzini.


Pastor Elijah Mkwanazi's "Gospel Car" was very busy during the year, visiting Swaziland, Gauteng, Botswana and the Northern Province. Yes, this friend of our Church is a real inspiration to us at his age! It is incredible to see a man well into his nineties still driving and seeking to exalt the name of His Saviour.


Ponto da Ora, under the leadership of Pastor Ernesto Miambo, was given partial support by our Church during 2001. A group of our Church's men went on a visit to this work and to ZMO preaching points during 2003, and were amazed at the hand of God in the rural areas. They returned excited and resolved to get involved in a building programme during 2004/5 in the Jozini area if the Lord so willed it.


The Youth during these years were not forgotten. Far from it, they were taken under the wing of caring leaders which can be seen by the steady increase in numbers over these years. The 2001 Report says "To say that God is working at Impact (High School) is an understatement - He is moving in truly wonderful ways. He has injected enthusiasm and a passion for Jesus into our leaders and our numbers are growing weekly. We praise Him for this." And the same can be said for The Lord's Army (Pre-school to Grade 2) and JYPS (Grade 3 to 7).


Aids, the silent killer, was all around us in the community. A group of Christians (two from our congregation), led by the Lord, decided to walk in faith and do something for the resulting orphans.

AIDS has had a dramatic affect on life in the rural areas and this has created a huge orphan problem. These communities have little or no idea about a God that loves them and sent his Son to die for them. But before we can tell them the gospel, we must first show them His love so that they will be ready to listen and understand.

 

MusaweNkosi Ministries was formed in October 2001. MusaweNkosi means God's grace in Zulu. We are a group of Christians who want to show God's love to orphans and the community in a practical way To date we have 200 orphans on our books but this is being added to weekly.

We work in two ways, firstly by assisting those grandparents or relatives who are able to look after the children to receive the foster care grants that they are entitled to. To enable them to go to school we pay school fees and buy stationery that the children need. We are also feeding those who are most needy.


Secondly our aim is to build cluster foster homes. This will be for those children who have no relatives to care for them or whose relatives are abusive. We also feel that God designed the family for a reason and we want these children to have Christian guidance and grow up with a family pattern. Elaine Charlton


The Sunday School saw a need and reacted and the following is an extract from the Sunday School Report for the 2003 AGM: "Our project to raise money to buy a bicycle has been reached, and it was great for the children to experience what has been done to provide a need to MusaweNkosi."


2003 was the year of technology for the Church, as we saw the introduction of the laptop and projector for the praise and worship, and messages on Sundays. These facilities are proving invaluable for all types of occasions at the Church, so it was away with the old (overhead projectors) and in with the new (lap top computers and such). There is a true saying which says "It is always safe to assume, not that the old way is wrong, but that there may be a better way."

 

This has proved to be true in this case and these items have been used by God to glorify His name.

Dreams were once again to be realised as 2004 started, with two great events taking place in March and April. Firstly, our first “School of the Bible� was held on the Church premises. We were able to accommodate all the men who attended at the Church, with two ladies being hosted at a Bed & Breakfast. The School was a great success and we are confident the Lord will use the knowledge gained to His glory in the rural areas. This ministry is on-going with training taking place four times annually. The School runs similarly to that headed up by Rev Ron Wesson. All accommodation, meals, recreation and support are provided by our Church.

 

Secondly, the Church approved the removal of the two front rooms off the stage which had become obsolete, thereby extending the Church and making the stage usable. The impossible happened and within two weeks of commencing, the work was completed in time for the 35th Celebration.


We were young, just married and arrived in Empangeni in 1977. Cecil and I knew very few people here and coming from a Baptist background found it very difficult to settle down in any of the local churches. We journeyed some 160 km every weekend just to fellowship in our home church. God knew us and our needs, so He brought across our path our dear friend, Dan Hodgson, who was Cecil's boss at the time. One day he lovingly told us, "God brought you to Empangeni because He wants to use you here and he invited us to Empangeni Baptist Church. This was the time of the Apartheid Government and so we were the only people of colour in a predominantly'White' church, We thank and praise God for the love of brothers and sisters in the Lord who made us feel very welcome. Although we were very involved in the Indian Baptist church we tended to hold back for fear of 'what the people would say'. This was a very barren time in our lives and we prayed that God would use us in some way God intervened, and Henni Lamprecht, who was then Sunday School superintendent, approached me (Rita) and asked if I could help with Sunday School as Sunday School secretary. I was overjoyed, for now God was using my gift and talent for His Glory. I praise God! So began our involvement in the Baptist work here in Empangeni. We were blessed with two beautiful children who were fortunate to grow up under the ministry of Empangeni Baptist church. We praise God for His servant, Erwin Paynter who taught the Word and was instrumental in leading our children to the Lord and then through the waters of Baptism. Even though our children have left home now, we stand assured that the head knowledge of the Risen Saviour will never leave them because the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Empangeni Baptist will always hold a special place in our hearts. Over the years we have seen the back walls broken down to accommodate more worshippers and then most recently we've seen the front walls broken down again to accommodate more worshippers. We have grown spiritually over the years under the ministry of God's faithful servants and we thank God for every one of you. We wish Empangeni Baptist many, many more years to the Glory of God. Cecil & Rita Pillay.



CONCLUSION

As with all documents of this nature, certain information may have unknowingly been omitted and some information may have been incorrectly stated. Should you come across any such error, please write to Box 455, Empangeni, 3880 in order for corrections to be made


TO THE GLORY OF GOD!

APPENDIX

PASTORS

Arthur Charles Holgate (May) - October 1968 -August 1972

Patrick Eaton Hams (Joan) - April 1973- December 1979

Erwin Barry Paynter (Valerie) - April 1980 - February 1989

Gavin Damster (Youth Pastor) (Mandy) - 1987-1988

Brian Dummett (Jenny) - August 1989- December1991

Leon van den Berg (Sandra) - January 1993- November 1997

Bruce Alan Mackenzie (Jenni) - September 1999-Present


E.B.C. YOUTH WHO ATTENDED WOW TEAM

Debbie Hodgson

Audrey Grey

Megan Svensson

lngrid Svensson

Kim Taylor

Candice PiIlay

Sandy van Rooyen

Lyn van Rooyen

William Smith

Malcolm Hodgson

Jason Currie

Lester PilIay

Clive van Rooyen (Fantasmagora)

William College (WOW Team Director)


E.B.C. YOUTH WHO ATTENDED THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE

Gary Morrison

Ron de Gray Birch

Kevin Dames

Campbell College

Karen Svensson

Ron Bardley

William College

Clive van Rooyen

Kevin Beaumont

Ron Eardley

Jason Currie

Lester Pillay


As we look back we can see how God put the puzzle of our lives into place piece by piece. When we came to Empangeni God knew then that we were not yet what we would be and He was working in us.

 

Random pictures from our photo gallery

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