Ministry Opportunities in an Off-Balanced JoBurg

The streets were nearly desolate in May as I drove to the recently-reopened hardware store. It was only a couple of weeks since lockdown had been lifted. Then something caught my eye (I wished I had a camera!) At a major but quiet intersection was a single beggar. His usual paper cup was now attached to a long bamboo stick with "Social Distance" scrawled on it. 
What's not normal: seeing these streets this empty.
What is normal: seeing a taxi running the red light like this.
Normally, this intersection would typically have 10-20 people soliciting the stopped cars, but not that day. Gone were the people in branded shirts and hats handing out auto service flyers. There was no sign of the acrobats with painted faces, or the opportunistic window washers, or the vendors peddling phone chargers, paintings, and inflatable Spidermen. (Presumably, there weren't any potential carjackers either!) This one beggar had the whole place to himself.

Over the last few months, ministry in Johannesburg has been like that intersection: strange and challenging, but full of potential. We've been eagerly seeking the Lord's help to make the most of the unique opportunities these days continue to bring!

We'll tell you more about them, below.

Counseling Conferences

Last year, two pastor friends in Nelspruit and Richard's Bay invited me to come and teach the members of their churches how to give counsel that is firmly rooted in the Word of God. This month, after many months of restrictions on inter-provincial travel, I was finally able to teach weekend conferences at these two precious churches. We covered about 2,000 kms and got to see some interesting parts of South Africa!

It was such a joy... 
  • ...to spend time with these dear groups of believers and the faithful shepherds God has entrusted to care for their souls.
  • ...to see many glimpses of people already starting to apply the truths of Scripture to specific situations in their lives.
  • ...to do this trip as a family, giving Rachel many opportunities to be involved and letting our girls observe too!

Learning from Job

Next week, Lord willing, I'll be finishing our sermon series on the book of Job. Pastor Robin and I have been tag-teaming through the book on Sunday nights. It has been such a challenging and enriching book for me personally! It's particularly made me more careful about the counsel I give. (You can catch one of my recent sermons on Job 38-39 here. This was a great passage to study before going on safari!)

Equipping Lay Leaders

It's been a challenging year for all the guys in our leadership training, but the fact that we're finishing with 22 of the 26 we started with is a testimony to their diligence and reliance on God's strength!

To keep the training from being purely academic, I've enjoyed helping connect these brothers with opportunities to serve the body of Christ. It's been wonderful to watch these men step up into many new roles: preaching, teaching, leading small groups, overseeing ministry teams, etc. 
In February, I taught a workshop on how to exposit Scripture.
Here, the guys are working together to identify the structure of a passage.
Next year these guys will join us for a portion of the Antioch Counseling Training course, which I'll be teaching again. We've also had many people from the church family sign up for the counseling course, which is a huge encouragement to me. I'm excited about seeing many people in the church equipped to be able to better counsel and disciple one another to maturity in Christ. 

We praise God for people eager to help one another grow, especially at this critical time! This Sunday we will be doing another baptism and welcoming seven new members. Our church has also welcomed a surprising number of new visitors in the past weeks. Many of them are people who have recognized their sin during the Covid pressures, and are eager to find a church that preaches a great Savior!

Ironmen Reboot

"Would anyone still come?" We decided to transition our Friday morning Ironmen Bible study from Zoom back to in-person in September. The group had enjoyed a bit of a resurgence online, at some points involving brothers from 4 different countries. But virtual attendance is a lot easier than meeting at the church at 6am!
By God's grace, we've had a great turnout, and often welcome new visitors! It's a testimony of God's work in these men's lives and their hunger to know Him better. We've been studying through the book of Daniel together, which has been extremely practical. I've especially been challenged by how Daniel and his friends handle 3 different situations where they must choose to obey God rather than men (Ch. 1, 3, 6).

Church Planting and Revitalizing

Our church has become very excited about partnering with our brother Jonathan Kilmek in planting Living Stone Bible Church in the Fourways area of Johannesburg. It's a delight to send many godly families from our church to help establish a church in this bustling, but thinly-churched area.

With international borders now open, we're also looking forward to welcoming missionary David Fall back to South Africa very soon. The Falls are coming with the desire to help revitalize a small church in Westonaria. This mining town changed radically when then mines dried up, but a few faithful families have kept the church going. Antioch has been sending "delegations" every month to encourage them, and the members are longing for someone to teach them the Word of God. We're thankful that David will be able to provide that consistent shepherding they long for.


Family Fun with the Floreens

Here are a few fun videos we've made over the last several months.
Family Worship at the Floreens': During lockdown, I challenged the parents in our church to use the opportunity to strengthen their habits of family devotions. To get the ideas going, I'd recruited several families from the church to make a video of what their family does, and started with ours. (12:36)
Rube Goldberg Machine: This is just fun! We spent one of our family days making an elaborate contraption. This is the final product! (5:16)
Beautiful South Africa: Between my teaching weekends in early Nov, we took several days of family time to explore the surrounding areas of South Africa. We saw some wonderful things, and it was a great chance to dust off my camera again! (4:01)


You are an encouragement to us!

Finally, we just wanted to say how encouraged we are by each of you who continues to love us, pray for us, and support us. We thank God for each of you, and because the Lord often brings you to mind, we pray for you often. 

We know this year has brought trials for nearly everyone. If there are some specific ways we can be praying for you, won't you please jot us a quick note? It would be our privilege to bring those particular requests before the Lord.

Much love,

Matt & Rachel
Abi & Naomi

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Matt & Rachel Floreen • 13248 Roscoe Blvd. • Sun Valley, CA 91352

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