The air in March was filled with the sweet smells of…well, for the world and commerce it was Hot Cross buns and Easter Eggs; for the believer of course, the joyful anticipation of celebrating salvation at the Cross of Jesus and new life in the resurrected Christ. As the AE team headed for monthly ministry to Bonginkosi in Sweetwaters (one of our Community Transformation projects), we were eager to fill this community’s air with both. Once again, we were greeted with a huge gathering that packed out the church venue and overflowed into the garden outside. Children had accompanied their gogos (grandmothers) to help them carry the ‘goodies’ they anticipated us bringing to share with them.

Joyful smiles and heartfelt praise filled the place during our worship which was led by our evangelist and preacher, Bandile Ngubo. There was an undeniable sense that the people were ready and eager for the celebration of the Passover.

 Our CEO, Theuns, shared a powerful message on THREE of the words Jesus spoke from the cross.

“Woman, behold your son.”         John 19:26                        

Jesus remained concerned about others despite the agony and suffering that He was enduring; his mother and friend in this context. He wanted to ensure that His mother was taken care of and from that time on, John took care of Mary. But Jesus also demonstrates for us that we need to love one another; to care for our neighbours – you are your brother’s keeper. We are all family in Christ, and we need to look out for each other.

Reflect on the cross, and on the people in your life! How can you love them better?

“I thirst!”                                           John 19:28

Jesus said this just before He died. Earlier in the day He had refused the wine with myrrh and gall that He was offered (this was basically like an anesthetic given to lessen the pain and to expedite death) because He wanted to ensure the Father’s will was executed in full – FULL suffering to pay for FULL grace. Through this experience Jesus can fully identify with our humanity and suffering – that being a Christian isn’t always easy, there are times of suffering and even persecution. Jesus understands and therefore can comfort you.

The great exchange: In our humanity we gave God the ability to do what He could never do…to die. And by His grace He gave us the ability to do what we could never do…to live forever.

Reflect on the cross, and bring to the Lord your own suffering and issues of concern and trouble. Ask for his help and grace to endure it, like He endured suffering for you and me.

“It is finished!”                                 John 19:30

Jesus said this, bowed his head, and gave up his spirit. The atoning work on the cross was complete. There is nothing you can add or take away from what Jesus did on the cross, in order for you to be forgiven. Our good works are like filthy rags. Jesus conquered sin and death, the final enemy, at the cross. He is risen! And now He invites you and me to partake in that new life, eternal life with Him. After sharing, Theuns distributed AE’s gospel tract on the book of John to each person, encouraging them all to read at least one page a day in order to build their relationship with the Lord.

Zweli Sokhela (AE Deputy Team Leader & Foxfire Manager) and Siyanda Gumede (AE Foxfire Co-Ordinator), who accompanied the AE team for the ministry visit, sported beaming smiles and constant kindness as they happily assisted with the distribution of gifts of soup, dried oranges and, of course, Easter eggs! Theuns and Bandile joined them as the ‘happy band of pilgrims’ shared the load.

And so, absent elusive Hot Cross buns but empowered by the Holy Spirit and armed by the generosity of others, we were able to fill the Bonginkosi air with the sweet smell of Easter Eggs; moreover, the sweet-smelling fragrance of God’s word and His gifts of salvation and eternal life!

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”    John 15:11 Everyone was in high spirits as the bell of joy tolled loudly at Bonginkosi; least of all gogo Phindeni, who gave us the widest smile ever at the end of our visit there!

A happy heart makes the face cheerful…’              Proverbs 15:13

Gavin John Communications | South Africa

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