Faith Bible Blog

Information and Reflections for the FBC Family

“Why I Would Die For South Africa”

One of the unique blessings of graduate school is the friendships & aquaintances that develop during your time there.  During the first year of my seminary experience, I got to know Tim Cantrell.  Tim and his family now minister in Honeyridge, South Africa, where he pastors at Honeyridge Baptist Church.  In addition to
preaching three times every Sunday, Tim teaches biblical counseling
alongside another incredibly gifted classmate from long ago, Josh Mack.

Anyway, below is a fantastic article written by Tim’s wife, Michelle, that serves a (probably unintended) challenge to us –  "Why I Would Die for South Africa"

South Africa has the
best rugby this side of the world, the famous Big Five, fabulous weather,
beautiful cities and friendly people. But it also has its darker side. It is
dangerous to live in South Africa. Crime is rampant. We have the most liberal
constitution in the world. We live in fear of an economic collapse like
Zimbabwe’s. We see all the benefits of this country– including family ties and
a rich history, but are they enough to keep us here? Why risk the
safety of our family? Why gamble with the future university choices and career
options of our children? Why stay?

Why Stay?
We stay because Jesus
calls us to love our neighbour as ourselves. We stay because we are not here by
accident and we have hope that the gospel can transform South Africa. We stay
because we are convinced that a legacy of self-sacrifice and pure devotion to
Christ on the front lines is the best gift we can give to our children. We stay
because we are willing to die to see the gospel advance in this strategic

In South Africa we have
more opportunities to fulfill the second greatest commandment than in any first
world country. The poor are all around us, on our street corners, working in
our gardens and in our kitchens. The hospitals are spilling over with AIDS
sufferers and orphans. James tells us that pure and undefiled religion is to
care for the orphan and widow in their distress. The poor, the orphan and the
widow cannot afford to leave South Africa. They can’t even afford security
fences and armed response. Who will stay and fight for justice for them? "He
has told you, 0 man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to
do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah

Can We Make a

If we stay, can we make a
difference? Think of what a difference William Wilberforce made as he
persevered against all odds for 40 years in the British Parliament to see
slavery abolished. We can make a difference. We can adopt the orphans. We can
care for widows. We can develop residents’ associations that fight crime (ours
has seen a 100% drop in crime in the past 2 years). We can educate the young so
that they will vote with a Christian worldview. We can thus impact politics,
crime prevention and every field of service. We can care for our aging parents,
the AIDS sufferers, and the poor. The possibilities for works of mercy and
justice are endless. This isn’t an optional elective for Christians. It is our
life to be "zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:14).

I could faithfully
serve Christ and the gospel in another country. But I wouldn’t expect to reap
the same amount of fruit as in a desperate place like Africa: "God chose
the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He
promised to those who love Him" (James 2:5). People here see their need
for the Great Physician. People are suffering. We have the cure that they are
asking for. The gospel (a biblical worldview) is the ultimate cure for AIDS and
poverty and crime. In more western countries, people are deceptively
self-sufficient and hardened to the gospel. Why not stay where the harvest is
ripe and the workers are few?

The Task Is Unfinished
Our Christian forefathers
gave their lives to reach South Africa with the gospel, with great results.
Over 70% of the population claim to be Christian. But the job is not done. Have
believers been truly discipled? Do they understand God’s plan for the church,
for the home, for integrity in the work place, the role of government, use of
finances? They are hungry for the truth of God’s Word. We have the chance to give
it to them, through thriving local churches, church planting, radio ministry,
schools, and countless other ministries of truth and mercy. The gospel can
truly transform this country when Christians are taught to obey all that Christ
commanded (Matt. 28:18-20).

Pastors and
missionaries will never change a nation on their own. This only happens through
grassroots godliness: model Christian homes with godly husbands and wives,
fathers and mothers, and faithful children; and godly business people who are
salt and light in their workplaces, who serve in the church, and who finance

What About Our

But what about our
children? Isn’t their safety and future success more important than our
fruitfulness or fulfilment? Yes, our children are our first and foremost
disciples. Their safety is our responsibility. But their souls are our biggest
concern. Do we want to teach them to run away from trouble or to run to the
battle? Do we want to teach them that life is all about how much stuff you can
accumulate and how comfortable you can be, or that life is about serving
others, building Christ’s church, and giving up your life to find it? "For
whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for
My sake and the gospel’s shall save it. For what does it profit a man to gain
the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" (Mk 8:34-36).

I want my children to
follow the examples of people like Jim Elliot who said, "He is no fool who
gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." As I think of protecting
my children, I need to remember that there are other dangers beside physical
ones. I would rather that they lose their lives than their souls. As they
follow God and seek first His kingdom, He will provide for their needs (Matt.
6:33, Mark 10:29-31, Phil. 4:19). If they have a strong Christian character and
work ethic they will not usually have trouble providing for their family
wherever they live (Proverbs 10:4). I choose to stay because I don’t want to
rob myself or my children of crowns that they can lay at the feet of our risen

Are We Testing God?
Am I putting God to the
test by staying here? When Satan tempted Jesus to throw Himself off the temple
and let the angels catch Him, Jesus refused to put God to the test. If I do
something foolish that requires a miracle from God to save me, then I am
testing God. Or on the other hand, if I complain about the circumstances that
God has put me in and demand that he deliver me, I am also testing God like the
Israelites when they demanded water (Deut. 6:16, Ex. 17:1-7). But if I joyfully
carry out my duties in the land God has put me in, cultivating the ground,
fighting the thorns and thistles, trusting Him to care for my family, even
having to turn down amazing offers to go elsewhere, I am not testing God; I am
trusting Him.

So much of God’s Word
encourages us to trust Him and persevere in the midst of trouble and
corruption. For example, Psalm 37 is packed with such counsel:

"Do not fret
because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither
quickly like the grass, and fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do
good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the
Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the
Lord, trust also in Him and He will do it For evildoers will be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land… Mark the
blameless man, and behold the upright; for the man of peace will have a
posterity. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; the posterity of the
wicked will be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He
is their strength in time of trouble. And the Lord helps them, and delivers
them; He delivers them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take
refuge in Him" (Psalm 37).

There is much work to
be done here. So we believe that God wants us to take refuge in Him while we
stay here, not to take refuge in a safer country.

Where Are You Called?
We stay because we are
called to South Africa. When you are called, no promise of greater security or
comfort can lure you away. You are free to enjoy all the beauties of South
Africa without constantly wondering if it is time to abandon ship. How do we
know that we are called to South Africa? Because this is the place where we can
be most useful in God’s harvest field. This is the place where our talents can
best be multiplied for the Master until He returns (Matt. 25). This is the
place where we find the greater blessing of giving rather than receiving (Acts
20:35). This is the place where we can raise our children to be true
self-denying Christ-followers. Unless He calls us somewhere more difficult,
this is where we will stay–to live and even die for South Africa. Where are
you called to die?

Please pray for Tim, Michelle,
and their ministry in South Africa. You can learn some about their church by visiting

Author: John Pleasnick

John serves as a pastor and elder at Faith Bible Church

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