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Dear Friends and Family
We greet you in the powerful and mighty Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
"The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17
We trust all is well with you and all those who are dear to you.
What an incredible year this has been! God has really been good to us this year and He certainly has kept us thoroughly busy. Starting with the Great Commission Course in January we 'hit the ground with our feet running' and since then we have barely even touched the ground considering the speed at which this year came flying at us and all that has happened in these short months, which we call a year.
The highlight of this year has certainly been the Africa Overland Mission to South Sudan. Since our recent return from this truly exciting, adventurous, and successful Mission we have been wading through all the admin, reporting, repairing, restoring, and cleaning that every Mission expedition demands. My Dad always said, "The job is not done until the tools are cleaned and packed away." Dr. Peter Hammond has always reminded me that, "The Mission is not complete until all the admin has been done."
We were only home for five short weeks before departing on the Livingstone 200 Mission to Zambia before which we conducted a Reformation FIRE Conference in Franschhoek and participated in the Life Chain here in Cape Town.
Africa Overland Mission Overview
The Africa Overland Mission has finally come to a successful completion after 7 months having travelled more than 29,000km, fixed 20 punctures, crossed 14 international borders, travelled through and ministered in 12 countries, conducted more than 390 meetings, and distributed almost 3 tonnes of Gospel literature and Discipleship training material including Bibles, Gospel Booklets, tracts, books, audio CDs, DVDs, posters, and MegaVoice solar-charged audio Bibles.
Thank you for all your prayers, support, concern, and encouragement with which you thrust us forward as we travelled across this amazing, fertile, and dangerous continent on this Africa Overland Mission.
The Goal and Plan
Our main goal for this Mission was to minister in South Sudan therefore we planned our route in such a way that a large number of other countries would benefit from this Mission as well. We took 3 months to get to South Sudan where we ministered for 2 months, and then took 2 months to return home to South Africa. We travelled through and ministered in Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, and Kenya, into South Sudan and then turning South through Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, Zambia and Namibia.
We conducted 18 Great Commission Seminars, 15 Reformation FIRE Seminars, 2 Muslim Evangelism Seminars, and 2 Biblical Worldview Seminars totalling more than 150 lectures and 35 Devotions with a total of more than 1450 participants; we showed the Jesus film more than 40 times, preached 23 sermons, ministered in 14 schools, spoke at 85 midweek meetings, and arranged and participated in more than 40 outreaches.
"But Jesus looked at them and said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'"Matthew 19:26
When God gave me the vision to go to Sudan (and all the countries between here and there) and as I considered all that would be required to accomplish such an extensive undertaking, I realized that we did not have the necessary equipment and resources to even begin this venture.
We had no vehicle, no fuel, no finances, inadequate equipment - all we practically had was faith that God who calls will also provide.
Having been inspired by the example of William Carey and his famous quote: "Attempt great things for God! Expect great things from God!" I resolved to reach higher, dig deeper, and stretch further trusting that God, Whom I believe placed this vision in my heart, would also provide for all the needs that would arise. God did provide in the most incredible ways - beyond our wildest dreams! Within three months, God provided all that we needed to equip ourselves with the necessary and vital gear that such an endeavour demands. Although we did not have enough fuel money to get us where we were headed, we did have enough to successfully embark on our journey. What we lacked in cash we had in faith - God had provided this far and we knew He would carry us the full distance - and He did.
God's Provision at Work
As we travelled over rough terrain, potholed roads, and dangerous bandit territories the tough, relentless 4WD truck (which we named 'Beast') tirelessly hauled a full load of valuable Gospel literature, treasured Bibles, gear, supplies and rations, whilst at the same time nobly pulling the legendary and infamous 4WD trailer which courageously carried its fair portion of the load - even though it temporarily gave us some major difficulties in South Sudan. The upgraded suspension allowed us to carry our heavy load over the rugged terrain, the bull-bar pushed away bush and shrubs in overgrown tracks, the snorkel enabled the truck to breathe whilst crossing deep water, the winch pulled the heavily laden rig out of muddy swamps, and the aluminium canopy kept our valuable cargo dry in the heavy downpours of equatorial rain.
None of this would have been even remotely possible without God having used generous supporters to provide for the many practical needs that such a Mission demands. Veteran Missionary Rev. Bill Bathman, the Chairman of the Board of Frontline Fellowship, worked tirelessly and energetically to mobilize the prayer and support needed to purchase the vehicles and equipment needed and to fund the fuel to keep us moving forward!
Excitement, Challenges, and Disappointments
As you may well imagine, a Mission expedition of this nature will have its 'fair share' of challenges, hurdles, trials, and fun. There were times when we got stuck in the mud - one occasion so bad that it took us hours to dig out the trailer that had almost been literally swallowed by the mutinous mud, and then an hour or two more of digging to get the truck out of a similar condition.
In some areas the road was so bad that we actually had to carefully edge our way around huge lorries that were stuck in potholes so large they should be called 'swimming-pool-holes' or 'lake-holes'. There were times when we had to use armed escorts to get us through the ambush alleys, whilst at other times we were irritated and harassed by corrupt officials looking for a bribe, and once even threatened at midnight by a drunken police official armed with an automatic rifle.
We also had plenty of mechanical breakdowns sometimes in dangerous bandit rebel territories. On one occasion took us 5 days to repair our trailer whilst even having to dodge bullets and take shelter behind our rig until the dust had settled. We faced many rivers with broken bridges, some easier to cross than others. Some we were not able to cross at all and had to find a way hundreds of kilometres detour around another way.
All this we joyfully endured in order to reach, teach, train, encourage, and equip our Christian brothers and sisters, to preach the Gospel where it is seldom heard, and to inspire Churches to get involved in a great new initiative called Reformation FIRE for Africa.
We have had some amazing experiences on this Africa Overland Mission and we have met some incredibly lovely people who love God and are passionately seeking to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. We saw God at work in many different church denominations, in harsh circumstances, and difficult environments. We were blessed to be witnesses of the fact that God's Gospel is alive and powerfully burning in the hearts and lives of many individuals all over Africa whom we had the wonderful privilege of meeting and ministering to.
Malawi Muslims Meet the Master
Amongst the Yao people in Malawi there are a number of courageous Christians who have started a small church against terrible odds. They live in a strong Muslim community that persecutes the Church. Any converts to Christianity get beaten, stoned, stripped of all their possessions, and thrown into the street as outcasts. It was an immense privilege to minister with these noble believers. We were showing the Jesus film in this area with much trepidation, not at all sure how the Muslim community would react to such an invasion of their religious beliefs. We were amazed to see many Muslims coming to watch this film. At the preaching of the Gospel afterwards a significant number of them made a public confession of faith in Christ Jesus!
Chaplains in South Sudan
One of the main goals of this Africa Overland Mission was to minister to the chaplains of South Sudan, the newest country in the world that has suffered some of the worst persecution whilst fighting Africa's longest war defending Faith and freedom. This certainly was one of the highlights of the entire Mission. These chaplains were eager and excited to receive training, encouragement, and equipping. Some of those in our training seminars were of the original group of the first chaplains ever trained in the SPLA by Dr Peter Hammond in 1996. They were still fervently and effectively serving the Lord fulfilling their God given duties against terrible odds. I was really inspired to see the fruit of the work that Frontline Fellowship had done in the early years in support of these suffering Christians. One particular chaplain has now started and built 3 churches and has trained others to minister to soldiers on the frontline of the border war with the Arab North.
Gospel for Soldiers
I think that the ultimate highlight of this entire Mission was the amazing opportunity I had to preach to soldiers at the general parade of the division headquarters of the SPLA military in South Sudan. There I was standing in the middle of the parade grounds surrounded by hundreds of soldiers in uniform standing to attention as their commander handed his soldiers over to me to preach the Gospel to them. These soldiers were responsive and attentive, listening with a keen ear and a sparkle in their eyes. The electricity of this moment was magnified due to the fact that this was taking place in what used to be an Arab-Muslim military headquarters during the war years and had only recently been liberated. An abandoned mosque ominously loomed in the near background as I shared with these men, who daily face the dangers of death, the importance of being right with God through the Blood of Jesus Christ.
Kasese Keen for Knowledge
We were blessed and almost blown away by the response we received amongst the pastors and churches in Kasese, Uganda - a small town on the foothills of Mount Rwenzori which the locals call 'the Mountains of the Moon' (due to its snow-capped peaks). We preached in 7 different churches on the desperate need for Reformation in our societies and churches focusing on the core of the Gospel - calling folk to return to Biblical repentance and away from mere selfish, comfortable Christianity. The pastors openly admitted, in front of their congregations that they have been guilty of using the church as a means to selfish gain - that they have been preaching a weak and watered-down Gospel, and they proclaimed their immediate repentance. Some said, "This is the message that we need to hear", "Please come back and continue the work you have started", "You have stirred up our 'comfortable churches' as a bee hive is stirred up by stones thrown at it", "We will have resistance to this message here, but we must proclaim the truth even though it will anger some pastors." There was such great gratitude for what we had shared with them that they showered us with lavish gifts and insisted that we return to Kasese to be their permanent missionaries. We praise God for this response and for their joy in the truth.
Congo for Christ
We had an incredible opportunity to minister in the DR Congo at a very dynamic mission focused church. We conducted a 4-day Great Commission Seminar which was well-attended - even though we started with the first lecture at 06h00 in the mornings. The pastor of this church is on fire for God and is enthusiastically seeking to involve and enlist his church members in evangelistic outreaches in their community and this is why he invited us to conduct an Evangelism Workshop at his church. I do believe that we have been vigorously effective in inspiring many to get involved in fulfilling the Great Commission in their own areas.
Orphans Amazed at the Gospel
We thank God for the inspiration and ability to have been able to connect with the young children at some of the orphanages and schools for under-privileged children in some of the areas that we visited. It was amazing and inspiring to see their rapt attention on their faces with their wide-open eyes and half-open mouths as we explained the Gospel message to them using illustrations and illusions that helped them to understand clearly the importance of what we were sharing with them.
Dr. Livingstone I presume?
As this year is the Livingstone bicentenary, we took particular effort to find and film as many memorial sites relating to this legendary missionary explorer as we possibly could. We were honoured to be traveling in the footsteps of the best friend that Africa ever had. We not only visited many memorial sites, but also spoke to various folk who still cherish the life and legacy of this great hero.
We felt a little bit like how Henry Morton Stanley may have felt when he was in search of David Livingstone in 1871. Though we knew that we would not find him alive, we were in search of the legacy which he left behind. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Dr. David Livingstone is indeed alive in the hearts and minds of many who cherish and love his work in Africa.
The fruit of the work of David Livingstone was beautifully evident particularly in Malawi where magnificent church buildings have been erected in honour of his work.
Not only are the structures impressive, but also the Church itself is thriving and spreading rapidly across the country. Other countries such as Tanzania and Zambia remember and appreciate him for fighting against the Arab slave trade, as does Malawi, but the Malawians primarily appreciate the fact that he brought Christianity to their land.
Livingstone 200 Missions Conference
We have been privileged beyond measure to conduct and participate in the Livingstone 200 Missions Conference in the town of Livingstone, Zambia. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great missionary pioneer, Dr. David Livingstone and 16 November marks the anniversary of his discovery of Victoria Falls. Frontline Fellowship arranged and conducted a Missions Conference in honour of David Livingstone. I was one of the speakers and Renée handled the catering for the conference.
David Livingstone's steadfast example has been used of the Lord to inspire many hundreds of men and women to devote their lives to African missions.
Before his last Mission to Africa, David Livingstone issued this challenge: "I beg to direct your attention to Africa. I know that in a few years I shall be cut off from that country, which is now open. Do not let it be shut again! I go back to Africa to try to make an open path for commerce and Christianity. Will you carry out the work which I have begun? I leave it with you!" (www.livingstone200.org)
Frontline Fellowship has recently launched a bold new initiative called Reformation FIRE. This is a call to Christians and Church leaders to test all things in the Light of God's Word and to work towards a Biblical reformation where our churches, communities, and countries will be governed by Godly principles.
The Reformation FIRE Conference was held in Franschhoek on 30 October, the day before Reformation Day. The venue was the spectacular historic Dutch Reformed Church which served our purposes immaculately. The conference was well-attended and a great success. I took the Devotions in the morning and presented a report on the various Reformation FIRE Seminars that we conducted on the Africa Overland Mission. (www.reform500.org)
The Life Chain is an annual international prayer rally and peaceful placard protest against the abortion holocaust. The Life Chain this year was held on 6 October. Up to a million Christians in approximately 1,800 locations around the world took part in the various Life Chains.
In Cape Town we were about 130 Christians that formed a Life Chain on a traffic island near the V&A Waterfront to proclaim the sanctity of life. We distributed thousands of Gospel leaflets and stood with posters and placards for 2 hours to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Renée and I are moving to Durban soon where we will continue to work under Frontline Fellowship as missionary field workers. Although we reluctantly leave behind the beautiful scenery of Cape Town, we are eagerly looking forward to the new possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead.
This will also enable us to help and spend time with our gorgeous, delightful mother who has been nobly battling cancer for more than 7 years and gallantly continues this battle.
Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. David Livingstone
As we look back on this incredible, successful year which includes the Africa Overland Mission, we are struck with a deep realization that none of this would have been remotely possible without your contribution. God has used your efforts to make this year a success. Some of you gave of your finances, resources, and literature; some gave of your time in prayer and encouraging emails or messages, some of you hosted us, whilst still others contributed advice, wisdom and skills. We would like to thank each and every one of you for your support in various ways. May God richly reward and bless you for your generous involvement throughout the year.
I firmly believe that God answered the many prayers that went up to His throne room from your knees, hearts and lips. He provided for us when we were lacking and desperately in need, He protected us from bandits, rebels, and enemies when we traversed through troubled terrain, He strengthened us when we were weak and tired from months of ceaseless labour, and He inspired us and lifted our spirits when we were downcast and disheartened.
May God continue to be your joy and strength and provide for your every need.
God bless you richly and abundantly!
Yours in His service – and loving it!
Michael and Renee Watson
Missionary Field Worker
Frontline Fellowship P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725 Cape Town South Africa Office: +27-21-689-4480 Email:
"And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be Saved…" Mark 16:15-16