Dear Wake Chapel family,
Hot and cold...sunshine and snow...such a contrast between two "worlds." We flew from a warm summer in South Africa to the snow in Washington DC! We arrived in a snow storm a little over a week ago and drove down to Martinsville...arriving at Penny's parents' home at 1:30 in the morning! It was a long day! God was gracious, the weather was a bit treacherous but we arrived without incident.
In spite of the great contrast, there is a great similarity to each world...excitement! The excitement of the Christmas season was added by the anticipation of graduations...yes, more than one. The schools in South Africa follow the calendar year so our graduation at the Union Bible Institute is in late November. The Zulu people know how to celebrate special occasions; graduation is not just a day, it is a week of jubilation! There are services every night with a guest speaker, special teas, and mini celebrations throughout the week and then the day finally arrives. The chapel fills as family and friends file in to see the culmination of three years of study.
For most of these students, there have been many sacrifices made to make this opportunity to study a reality. For some, they had to leave wife and children to study, some had to sell precious possessions to pay for school, some had to give up profitable careers to study for ministry, some balance work, ministry, and studying, some faced huge challenges both emotionally and physically to study.
Graduation becomes a great celebration of God's grace and mercy in their lives as they complete their studies and look forward to serving in ministry. We praise the Lord for his presence in the lives of these young men and women as they graduate and pray for them as they go out to minister. One young man, who just completed his one year Bible certificate, Sizani Mxoli, has become very special to us. He would love to complete a full degree at UBI but his church is eager to have him back to serve. Please pray for him as he ministers and also seeks God's face as to whether to continue in his studies.
Please pray for Mr. Mokone as he is one of the "young" men who is a bit older than some of the other students...he has a wife and child, experienced many of the hardships of apartheid, and is eager to minister God's word to a hurting world. He has experienced many injustices and yet has a spirit of grace and love that permeates his life. So often, we allow the wrongs done to us to weigh us down, rather than forgiving and moving on. We learn from many of these students of real forgiveness, in which no apology or remuneration is given for the wrong, but just as "for Christ's sake" God has forgiven us, they forgive on that basis. (Ephesians 4:32)
We then arrived in the States for another graduation celebration. Our daughter, Kathryn, graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. We are so proud of her as she has endured her own hardships being far from us as she worked and studied. Please pray for her as she looks at options for graduate school. She is still working and volunteering as she begins the application process. She is a blessing.
We are in the preparation process of reporting back to our support team as well as just taking some time to reflect on this past term of ministry. It has been a time of growth, challenge, and blessing in both ministry and our own personal lives. We praise God for all that He has accomplished and give Him the glory. We look forward to visiting with many of you and sharing what God is doing in South Africa. We are on home assignment for only six months and we have over 40 churches as a part of our support team, so we will see as many of you as is possible.
We are living at 915 Walnut Street, Winston-Salem, NC. We still have our Skype number 336-793-2463 with the Skype name mfundisihesman, if you would like to contact us or stop by for a cup of coffee!
Thank you for partnering with us in this privilege of sharing Christ.
We love you, pray for you, and praise the Lord for you!
Paul, Penny, Kathryn, Joshua, and Michael Hesman
Our mailing address is:
P. O. Box 267
Hilton, KZN 3245