Month: February 2014

Celebrating our senior members: Learning from the elderly

As in life, the elderly or senior members of the New Apostolic Church have always been regarded as the backbone of the congregation. They are rich in experiences of faith, endurance and are great examples of love. This February in the NAC, South East Africa region, we celebrated our senior members, who have remained steadfast through the most difficult of times and who continue to encourage others with their unwavering support. Many activities, special gatherings and outings, have been scheduled this month, honouring this highly-esteemed element of the church’s membership to show appreciation and love.

As the international NAC theme for 2014 is Labour in Love, I began thinking about the importance of the elderly, and if South Africans in general, revere and take care of our aged population. Do we appreciate and love them for the strides and contributions they have made to the church and society? Do we truly learn from their wisdom? In addition to our spiritual guidance, do we ask the elderly for advice and assistance, given that they have also walked the path many young people do today?  Do we honour and respect that they are rich in perception and insight, and do we understand the impact their experiences can have on or lives?

There is so much we can learn from our elders who have a lifetime of experiences to share with us — if only we take the time to listen says Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The wisdom of our Elders. “Learning from the past is important not only for humanity as a whole, but also for every individual. Just as nations can learn valuable lessons from the history of previous generations, so too, can we learn from those who have come before us.” There is a treasure chest of gems just waiting to be discovered, he continues, and we can learn much from the people of the Bible and from the many biographies out there. “The study of history is not about learning facts as much as it is about learning lessons from the past. Scripture teaches, “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past.” The Bible tells us to study history so that we will learn from it. But let us never overlook the gift of the elderly in our own lives. We can learn from them so that our lives will be better; then we can pass on their lessons as well as our own to future generations.”

Learning from our elders cuts across various paths in our life, even in the professional domain, where many of today’s young people generally believe they are smarter than their senior counterparts. Phil Holberton, Respect your elders, learning from retired professionals says whether we are beginning our careers, halfway through, or playing the last couple of holes of this golf tournament we call work, we can always benefit from those who have gone before us – particularly retired professionals. Retired professionals, he adds, have invariably experienced the same thoughts, questions, doubts, insecurities, successes, etc., that we are experiencing or have experienced. “How wonderful it is to see a road map from others to help us along our own journey. Don’t get caught in a common trap, however. Don’t be too proud to not ask for help from someone you might think is “over the hill”. Usually when a thought like that crosses our mind it indicates we need some experienced help sooner rather than later,” he says.

I came across an article referencing a book entitled, 30 Lessons for Living.  The book offers practical advice from more than 1 000 elderly people from different economic, educational and occupational strata in America. Here is a summary of their thoughts which resonates with many other stories heard from our elders

ON MARRIAGE A satisfying marriage that lasts a lifetime is more likely to result when partners are fundamentally similar and share the same basic values and goals. Although romantic love initially brings most couples together, what keeps them together is an abiding friendship, an ability to communicate, willingness to give and take, and a commitment to the institution of marriage as well as to each other.

An 89-year-old woman who was glad she stayed in her marriage even though her young husband’s behaviour was adversely affected by his military service said, “Too many young people now are giving up too early, too soon.

ON CAREERS Not one person in a thousand said that happiness accrued from working as hard as you can to make money to buy whatever you want. Rather, the near-universal view was summed up by an 83-year-old former athlete who worked for decades as an athletic coach and recruiter: “The most important thing is to be involved in a profession that you absolutely love, and that you look forward to going to work to every day.”

Although it can take a while to land that ideal job, you should not give up looking for one that makes you happy. Meanwhile, if you’re stuck in a bad job, try to make the most of it until you can move on. And keep in mind that a promotion may be flattering and lucrative but not worth it if it takes you away from what you most enjoy doing.

ON PARENTING The demands of modern life often have a negative effect on family life, especially when economic pursuits limit the time parents spend with their children. Most important, the elders said, is to spend more time with your children, even if you must sacrifice to do so.

Share in their activities, and do things with them that interest them. Time spent together enables parents to detect budding problems and instill important values.

While it’s normal to prefer one child over others, it is critical not to make comparisons and show favouritism. Discipline is important when needed, but physical punishment is rarely effective and can result in children who are aggressive and antisocial.

ON AGING “Embrace it. Don’t fight it. Growing older is both an attitude and a process,” an 80-year-old man said. The experts’ advice to the young: “Don’t waste your time worrying about getting old.”

How wonderful it must feel to finally reach this level of understanding and acceptance. From now onwards, let’s embrace our senior members and the elderly, learning from their experiences and wisdom, and ensuring that we apply their lessons to our lives to live a more spiritual and meaningful life.

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Celebrating our senior members: What can the elderly do?

This February in the NAC, South East Africa region, we celebrate our senior members, who have remained steadfast through the most difficult of times and who continue to encourage others in the church and their communities with their unwavering support. This adaptation from Christian resources, doctrinal and practical writings, is a must read for all senior members.

If you are one of those “precious saints” called the “elderly”, you can thank God, for you have arrived at the apex of life. You have arrived at the top of the mountain where you can breathe the rare atmosphere of a long life of experience, knowledge, honour, and have an excellent view that none of those below you have ever seen. Many moons have come and gone in your life. You have crossed many bridges, passed many crossroads, but have come out on top. The wrinkles in your face are marks of distinction that show character traits, laugh lines, and worries. You may have lost your whistle, and you may even be a bit stooped, but thank God you can still breathe and have a sturdy heartbeat. Your beautiful gray hair marks you with honour. The Bible speaks well of you when it says, “the beauty of old men is the gray head” (Prov. 20:29). Now you can dream dreams of yesteryears and feed on the good old memories of the “good ole days.”

You came through the hard knocks of experience and can teach others a few things about life. Life has given you a wealth of knowledge not learned in books. You were not born 50 years too soon. The younger generation have not known the joys of the horse and buggy days, nor driven up to a gas station in the a Model T Ford and filled the tank with a dollar’s worth of gas. They have never had the thrill of riding in a rumble seat along the river road in the light of a full moon. None have had the joy of a one room schoolhouse where the children were attentive. Those were the days when the young ones went home and had some chores to do before supper. Most likely none have had the joy of hitching a ride on the runners of a two horse bobsled. You went to bed by the light of a candle and slept under a featherbed until you were awakened by the crowing of a rooster.

You have seen more changes in a lifetime than any generation has seen since the camel and tent days of Abraham. You saw the evolution of the automobile and witnessed the flight of an open cockpit plane to the modern space ships flying to the moon. You lived in the days before the TV and tuned in on a crystal set as you scratched around with a little wire on a rock trying to find a station. These are the days of the modern wireless fax machines where you type a letter to a missionary in Russia and it will be there as soon as you take the letter off of the machine. Computers are so well known that the children learn the use of them in the lower grades in school.

It is not a sin to get old or to be old. Aging cannot be stopped and it will go on until death overtakes us or the Lord comes for His church. Older folks have a tremendous responsibility to the younger generation coming up behind them. There is a warning that goes along with being in the elite elderly class. The tremendous amount of knowledge and experience that you have obtained through the years needs to be shared with the younger generation. Sin can overtake you and hinder you from sharing the Lord in these challenging years. It may just express itself so as to confine you to utter uselessness. You may have developed a defeatist attitude that makes you think “I am so useless. What can I do?” So you are apt to do nothing. You can be sinful in what you do not do when the opportunity presents itself. All the knowledge and experience that God has given you can be used as illustrations to reveal His truth. There are many college students that do not have or will never have what you obtained in your lifetime.

Pride often raises its ugly head during these older years and we are apt to blame all the sins of the present on the younger generation. Many of the sins of the youth have been passed down to them by the older folks. They did not create the drugs, invent the TV, raise the tobacco, make the beer and wine, invent the movies, create the modern dance with its unholy sexual gyrations, create the modern music with its syncopated beat and degrading words. We cannot blame them for bringing the theory of evolution and materialism or the modern trend of sex into our schools. It may be that we have failed the young folks in their youth. Older folks may have been guilty of the sins of impatience, indecency, irritability, criticism, moroseness, gossiping, selfishness, cantankerousness, or a bad disposition that has repelled them.

We may have been so busy enjoying ourselves making money and creating our own pleasure that we failed to notice those around us that were silently watching us and perhaps afraid to say anything or ask any questions. It is possible to have lost a vital testimony of joy in the Lord in front of them. It may be that we were too busy making a living and developing a hoarding spirit and a miserly attitude that we have lost our time to witness to them of the things in life that really count. They may not have seen what the Apostle Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). We surely have missed some golden opportunities but it is never to late to change a few things. It is never too late too serve the Lord instead of ourselves. God is merciful and will forgive our failures if we confess them to Him. He can make you as beautiful as a rose in full bloom if you will turn these latter years over to Him. These can be the golden years of your life. You can still be a blessing to be around when your life shines for Christ. People will seek you out for help, guidance, and advice. The wise counsel of older folks is precious.

Capitalise on your memory. You have lived to see more changes in one life-time, than any past generation has ever seen. You lived during the times of the development of the automobile, airplane, radio, telephone, TV, electricity and all its gadgets; modern medicines and a thousand other things. You can remember when gasoline was seven gallons for a dollar, stamps were two cents, a basket of peaches was fifty cents and all the rest that comes to your mind. You have so much to talk about from the “good old days” that you could well entertain the younger ones for hours. Do it. The younger generation has never experienced what you have gone through.

You have the advantage of perspective and can make good use of it. You have a vantage point in these golden years that the younger ones do not have. It is like standing on a mountain of years and looking over the valley of time, so that you can see relationships, connections, failures, successes, dangers, lessons that those who live in the valley of youth do not see. You can help them. Your years are now valuable for the sake of counsel and advice. What a way to serve the Lord! You are so much needed and can become a stabilising influence to this “now generation.” How do you know but what God called you “to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

Moses’ best years were the last 40 of his life. Life for him began at 80 when God used him to deliver the Jews out of captivity in Egypt. He died at 120 and still a good man physically, and if it had not been for that one act of disobedience he could have taken God’s people into the promised land. “There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face” (Deut. 34:10).

Joshua who succeeded him likewise was amongst the elderly and led God’s people to go in and conquer the land. God said to him, “be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9).

Caleb too was one of those elderly men that God used to spy out the land. He said to Joshua at 85, “give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spoke in that day … if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said” (Josh. 14:12).

Likewise Anna, the prophetess, a widow of great age, about 84 years of age, “which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (Luke 2:37) during the time of the birth of Christ. Surely there is room for you among these who served God.

Do not expect that you will be a Moses, or a Joshua, or even a Caleb, but there is still the possibility that God can use you if you make yourself available to Him. Someone has said that “availability” is our best gift to God. Your life in Christ can be a blessing to many that come across your path. Make sure that you radiate Jesus above all else. These latter years of your life can be the golden years. Let them shine for the Lord. God needs the elderly as well as the young people to serve Him. Thank the Lord that you are alive and able to serve in whatever way He may have for you. You cannot change your age and may even grow older if the Lord shows more grace. These may be your retirement years but do not retire from serving the Lord in some capacity. Make them a new beginning now that you have more time.

You can serve the Lord right where you are. There are many things that older folks can do. The older woman can teach the younger woman the art of being a good mother for example. The men can become deacons in the church, teach a class, or be an usher. Let your church leader know that you are available and he will find something for you to do. Begin by giving yourself completely to God. That is what it means by making yourself available.

There is always need for prayer warriors. You can be an Anna and spend much time in prayer. Every aspect of the work of the church needs prayer from the janitor to the pastor. This is especially true of missionaries on the field. Get in contact and see what they may need prayer for. Shut yourself in with God and pray. Pray for revival in your church and in our land. We surely need it.

Prayer_2386297bYou can take some time for correspondence. Many missionaries rarely get a letter from home. It would be like a refreshing rain in drought to them. Many are lonely and walk out to the mail box every day and have no mail. It is also true of the young folks who are away at college. Let them hear from you. Make your letters homey, and tell them about what you are doing, church activities, the weather, or just about anything. Encourage them. The pastor will give you many ways you can serve. He would be pleased to have you offer yourself to him to serve in some capacity. You could begin by making a cherry pie and taking it around to the parsonage.

Being a “senior saint,” better terminology for believers, simply means you have entered a new and wonderful phase of life with different opportunities. Retirement years can be among the most fruitful of your life for Christ, if you will make them so for Him. If you are now free from your life’s occupation and its responsibilities, you are more free to better serve the Lord. There are ways you can serve Him. Begin these years with the joy of the Lord and thank Him that He has kept you all these years and given you an opportunity to serve Him now in a different way. There is still much that you can do at your age. It need not be a time crisis for you. If you are alive, breathing, and in fairly good health, you can surely praise the Lord. Believers never die anyhow. They just pass on into eternal glory with another opportunity to serve the Lord.

* Article by Al Troester; edited by Stephen Ross. Published on Christian resources, doctrinal and practical writings

 

Celebrating our senior members: caring for the elderly

indexWhen the father of South Africa’s democracy, the late Nelson Mandela, took ill in 2013, it brought to light the health care needs of the country’s elderly. An article by Anita Powell, Mandela’s care spotlights S. Africa healthcare needs for elderly, indicated that South Africa’s elderly population is at an all-time high – about five percent of South Africans are over the age of 65.

However, the nation’s growing elderly population is becoming increasingly marginalised as most health care programmes are focused on the young. The elderly are traditionally revered in South African society, reads the article, but in the past few decades, South Africa’s elderly have taken on a new role as they shoulder the responsibilities of a generation lost to AIDS. Many South African households are now headed by the elderly.

What does this then mean for us younger South Africans? And how do we, as New Apostolic Christians, labour in love for our senior members and elders?

During the New Year’s Day service, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider reminded us that we live in such a connected society of communication and yet we all have so little time. Having time for others and helping in concrete ways is important, he said to members, adding that faith in Jesus Christ is exhibited through works produced by love. Concrete actions for the benefit of our neighbour are a firm component of our preparation for the return of Christ. To love our neighbours, which includes our senior members and the elderly, also means to share their burdens, in other words, to help alleviate the things that bring them suffering.

During the month of February, the NAC, South East Africa region, celebrated our senior members, who have remained steadfast through the most difficult of times and who continue to encourage others with their unwavering support. In order to assist in coping with the realities of advancing age and future existence, our senior members are cared for through frequent personal visits and support by their ministerial leaders.

Snippets of some of the activities:

On Thursday January, 23, Apostle Joubert held a senior members event in Gezina. Accompanied by Bishop Naudé and the district leaders of these two districts, District Elders Hinrichsen and Smedt, arranged a fellowship with the senior members of their respective districts. The Apostle discussed and shared with them important aspects of the Holy Spirit and its revelations in our lives today as is explained and outlined clearly in our New Apostolic Church Catechism. In line with the theme of labour in love, the Apostle also expressed his desire that we hold each other up in prayer. 

On Saturday January 18, Apostle Page visited sister Evelyn Hodgkiss, a 90 year old pioneer of faith at her home in Walkerville, Johannesburg, accompanied by her Priest, Vincent Plaaitjies. The Apostle and Sister Hodgkiss spoke about many things, including the proud moment of her confirmation. In addition, when she was 13, she also read a special farewell poem during a divine service to the then Assistant Chief Apostle H F Schlaphoff in Salt River on July 9, 1936, wishing him well on an upcoming trip to the United States.

Sister Evelyn Hodgkiss displaying her confirmation certificate dated 1937.

Sister Evelyn Hodgkiss displaying her confirmation certificate dated 1937.

The gospel is universal: 23 February 2014

And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. — Mark 13: 10

Message

The gospel—the message of salvation—is universal. It applies to all, both living and dead. In Christ’s Olivet discourse he describes natural disasters, famines, and war, and foretells the persecution of Christian congregations. However, these references are merely heralds of the return of Christ. It is God’s saving will that the gospel even be preached in these circumstances to all the nations.

Core Points

  • The gospel is universal. It applies to all nations, to those on earth and to those in the beyond.
  • A sign of the end-time is the proclamation of the gospel to all the nations.
  • Let us intercede on behalf of the many nations, for example, the “nations” of the disappointed, the joyless, those who act without love, and the deluded.

Charity: 19 / 20 February 2014

If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? — James 2: 15–16

Message

Our belief in Jesus Christ prompts us to become active in charity. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1: 22). This call to action in the epistle of James is closely related to the thought that faith without corresponding works is dead (James 2: 17).

Core Points

  • Jesus Christ is our example in charity.
  • Love for our neighbour alleviates need in our interpersonal relationships and allows us to coexist in harmony with others.
  • Our charity is also called for in view of the upcoming divine service for the departed.

Our Promise: 16 February 2014

But let your “Yes” be “Yes”, and your “No”, “No”. — Matthew 5: 37

Message

Our yes to the triune God incorporates both word and deed. This call of Jesus is related to our faith and our attitude toward Him—it is a call for a clear and unequivocal profession: yes to Christ and no to Satan.

Core Points

God’s yes to us is firm and evident in:

  • Jesus Christ,
  • His promises, and in
  • The gift of the Holy Spirit which we have received.

Our yes to God is a profession to Him. The yes that we have given once should also be followed by our second yes, namely the “yes of perseverance”.

NAC-SEA Music School makes strides in music education

NAC-SEA Report 2013The NAC-SEA Music School has created more opportunities for its members throughout the working area to further their music development via the church’s internal resources, said District Apostle Patrick Mkhwanazi in a letter to congregations in the South East Africa district.

The school, started by the late District Apostle Johann Kitching in 1999, was assessed at the beginning of 2012, and the importance of creating more opportunities was realised. “We then employed District Evangelist Henry Kayser in 2013 as a full time Music Development Leader at the NAC-SEA Administration office and I am very pleased to say that this has produced favourable results to the extent that we now have music facilities in practically all major centres in our working area,” said the DA in his letter.

District Evangelist Kayser is responsible for the Music Development of the entire NAC-SEA district and will be working closely with the respective bishops and their appointed area coordinators. He is supported by the music workgroup under the leadership of Apostle Abraham Page. Much progress has already been made with the support of all stakeholders, as numbers at the school increased from 13 to 165 during 2013.

Music has always formed an integral part of the New Apostolic Church and is therefore promoted extensively. The NAC has various choirs, ranging from the congregational choir to the area or regional choirs, that meet regularly for practice and rendering of musical programmes. The playing of instruments and formation of orchestras is encouraged from the earliest ages. Since musical training is not always accessible to all NAC members, the NAC-SEA Music School was established to ensure the learning and teaching of music and instruments. From the beginning, a principled decision was taken to reach out to members (students) in the economically disadvantaged areas in and around Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Since its inception, the music school has tuitioned many members, activating tremendous growth in the music field. Students have a variety of musical instruments to choose from, including strings, brass, woodwinds, organ and piano. As part of the curriculum each student that enrols with the school is given an opportunity to enter for both practical and theory examinations through various academic institutions in the region. There are also internal evaluations done with each student bi-annually by professional music teachers who are contracted to the school.

The students, upon reaching a high standard of playing are then absorbed into the mass orchestra and have the opportunity to perform at major musical events of the church. They also form part of the NAC culture by playing in the smaller orchestras at regional or congregational level during divine services.

In March 2013, the DA underscored the following outcomes pertaining to music for the NAC-SEA working area for 2013 to 2014 – singing families, music leadership structures at Bishop area level, effective new hymn learning in all congregations, a positive drive to increase music development in all township congregations, the music school is to be established in entire NAC-SEA working area, a focus on Sunday School singing, and translating 300 english hymns into Setswana, Zulu, Sotho, and Portuguese. In addition focus areas, as entrenched in the Music Vision Statement of the church are, creating a culture in music appreciation, developing standards through acquired knowledge, achieving excellence together with enjoyable and enthusiastic participation, and expressing our love for God and society through music.

For more information, contact District Evangelist Kayser on 082 387 1532 or on his office number (011) 6074300. Alternatively, click here for a list of Gauteng music school venues and local teachers. Members in the other regions within the district will be informed as soon as their details have been finalised.

Click here for further information on some of the outcomes achieved in 2013.

The service of Christ: 12/ 13 February 2014

Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” — Matthew 9: 10−12

Message

We are to be aware that Jesus turned to all people without discrimination. The account of Jesus sitting down to a meal with tax collectors and sinners is related in the context of the calling of Matthew. Jesus’ table fellowship with people who had transgressed the law clearly demonstrates God’s loving care for the sinner.

Core Points

  • The Son of God became human in order to provide help for those who are sick with sin.
  • The fact that He turns to sinners in particular in His love is incomprehensible to many.
  • The more we become aware of the love of Christ for us, the greater our love for Him will become.

Let go of your old life: 9 February 2014

And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. — Mark 1: 16–18

Message

Those who follow Jesus are prepared to let go of their old lives.

It was not the disciples who chose Jesus, but Jesus who called them to follow Him. At once they left whatever it was they were doing. Jesus became the new focal point of their lives: they focused on His example, had many conversations with Him, and sought to learn of Him. They left behind their nets with which they had earned their livelihood as fishermen until then. Their previous lives apparently were no longer of any concern to them. The disciples had been given a new task and a completely new outlook: they were now to bear witness of that which they had seen and heard and thereby lead many of their contemporaries to Jesus. In so doing they were also to share with others the same love with which He loved them. We too are elected by God and have been called to follow the Lord. The love of the Lord is to define us and give us a new perspective. This means that we must make certain decisions and let go of our old lives.

Core Points

We have been called to follow the Lord. Out of love for the Lord we are to let go of our old lives. This includes:

  • Seeking our own advantage without regard for others,
  • Knowing better all the time,
  • Making accusations and reproaches, and deriding others.

We direct our attention to the return of Jesus Christ, everlasting life, and our fellowship with the Lord.

We remain with the Lord: 5/ 6 February 2014

But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” — Ruth 1: 16

Message

We remain with the Lord and thus dare to pursue our future path in faith. The widow Naomi wanted to leave the land of the Moabites in order to return to the protective environment of her Jewish family. She thus told her two daughters-in-law, who had also been widowed, to likewise return to their families. Ruth did not agree with this idea. She wanted to remain with Naomi. Ruth no longer identified with her own Moabite people, and decided instead for the people of Israel and their God, who would now be her God too. With this decision, however, she gave up not only the protection her own family would have afforded her, but also her means of living. Ruth’s decisiveness is to be an example to us such that we too remain with God.

Core Points

Let us remain with the Lord, even if:

  • Things are not always perfect in His house.
  • We find ourselves in situations at times that we do not understand.
  • We feel as though the Lord has abandoned us at times.

Disappointment and sadness will not cause us to leave. With the Lord we will dare to pursue our future path.