Jesus.net Conference 2019

 

My trip to the Netherlands was exciting, illuminating and filled with first-time experiences. One such example was the fact that I had never attended a conference on a boat before. A part of the Jesus.net conference program was hosted on a large boat that sailed through the beautiful channels of Rotterdam. We received training, learned more about the global vision and got to dine and interact with some 120 international delegates representing 30 countries who were on the same ministry journey as we were.

The theme of the conference encouraged us to lay aside all our distractions and pursue “Only Jesus”. The theme song is by Casting Crowns and I would encourage you to listen to it here.

The main sessions were beneficial for our context because their focus was on equipping us to become better stewards of the resources (people, time and money) we have and on moving forward. Other additional sessions that I attended were How to Work with Volunteers, Work as a Team and Collaboration with other Ministries such as YouVersion and A Miracle Every Day. At the end of the conference they asked key questions to help us take the next steps. In other words, what are we going to do with what we learned for the next 18 months?

Another “first” on my list was our field trip to the Jesus.net office located on the 4th and 5th floors of a building called The Water Tower. The 5th floor is an open plan office with windows all around and the names of the different countries partnered with Jesus on each window – each according to their geographical direction. These are for the purpose of praying for each of these countries on a weekly basis. It was great to not only learn about the different strategies but to also take a moment to pray for them.

The cherry on the cake was the 10 year celebration of Jesus.net. One of the founding members, Jan-Willem Bosman, shared with us the history of the past 12 years, how they came up with the stepping stones strategy and what the next steps are for Jesus.net. The celebration was hosted at St Laurens Church, one of the few buildings that survived the bombing of Rotterdam in the Second World War. With worship and testimonies from all over the world, it was truly amazing to see what is being done to continue the legacy of Jesus. One of the cool things was that Pravani could watch the event from home and send me WhatsApp messages about her excitement. Here’s the link to the 2-hour video of the event.

With all said and done, I am excited about what we are busy with. What I am walking away with is a few names of people with a similar role as I have in other countries – to learn from and share encouragement. I have clear goals that I want to achieve in the next few months and I have a desire to see other African countries catch this vision and run with it. Lastly, I want to say thank you for your investment into our ministry. May it be monthly or every now and then, thank you. God is using you to make it possible for us to do this work. For those who receive our WhatsApps or follow us on Facebook, thank you for your prayers during this journey.

May you all be blessed in the name of Jesus.

Nicholas

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Growing from online to face-to-face

I have been waiting for this time. I have been preparing and looking at the door, awaiting the moment to equip the saints for ministry online. It has begun. But not in the way I thought it would a year ago.

My initial expectation was to start training people online from the get-go, leading up to a face-to-face encounter. Since then, I began to understand the need for a face-to-face training in order to kick-start the online interaction. This need was in fact expressed by our national leadership team who wanted to be trained in sharing their faith online.

I took our first course – Sharing the Gospel Online, and made it an interactive lesson in a class setting. It felt a bit silly giving an evangelism training to this group – some of them had been sharing their faith for over 30 years! But who better to challenge and get feedback from? After the first 5 minutes of nervousness, I was enjoying and engaging well with the group. These experienced witnesses were excited to learn how to take an online approach to the Gospel.

10 days later I was again given the opportunity to present this lesson – but to a church. I received a list of people that registered – a total of 8 names. The morning of the training I started with 16 individuals and at the end 12 completed the course.

This is a great start. In my reflection time I noticed a few mistakes and things that I can do better. Now I look forward to doing this training and taking the ones that want to go further and develop them to become e-coaches.

Please pray that I will find men and women of faith who will accept the challenge of being an e-coach. Also pray that more people will begin registering for our courses.

Thank you for your prayers

Nicholas

March Ministry Update

In October last year, we as the Digital Strategies Team created specific goals that we wanted to achieve this year. It is amazing to see how things are falling into place. One of our goals is to partner with 2 churches per year that have a strong online presence. At this point, God has given us opportunity to partner with 3 such churches. We are very excited about the possibilities these partnerships hold.

One of the highlights on our calendar is coming in May. We will be attending a conference in Holland hosted by Jesus.net – the organisation that created the online platform we are currently using. It will be an opportunity to learn from the creators, network with other groups that use the same tools and get exposed to other ways to get searchers to our content. God has provided 90% of my budget for attending this event and He has done it in record time. If you are interested in finding out more, please click here.

A big part of my ministry focus is to train up e-coaches who, when qualified, would be able to serve as coaches for people who subscribe to our online courses. One of our female missionaries is a mom of 4 small kids who doesn’t get much time to go out in order to do ministry. I approached her last year and challenged her to become an e-coach for ladies that access our platform. She gladly accepted. Over the past 7 months she has completed 6 courses (as seen in picture) and is equipped enough to be an e-coach. She did this by setting aside just 30 to 120 minutes a week.

As the Digital Strategies Team we are excited about the progress we are making in this young strategy. But each of us on the team are experiencing challenges – health, finances and different kinds of opposition. We believe the enemy is using these things to try and rob us of our joy. Pravani and I have lost a few ministry partners over the last 3 months, and the reason was the same for all of them, they are going through tough times. I appreciated them telling us. We could pray for them and thank them for being part of our team.

What are things you can help with?

  • You can pray for the Digital Strategies ministry. We are small team taking on a mammoth task. People see our ministry as the future of evangelism – it gets them excited and they want to see quick progress but even things that seem easy to create require more time, resources, expertise and people than they seem. We want to create quality tools for ministry, therefore our progress takes some time.
  • If God lays on your heart to invest in our ministry, please contact us or look at our give page.
  • If you would be open to introducing us to your friends or small group at church so that we may challenge them to invest in our ministry, please contact us.

Thank you for reading this update, may you have an amazing Easter.

Nicholas

Digital Progress

Good day ministry partner,

We, the Digital Strategies team, desire to have an effective and growing ministry. Accountability is what will help us get there and sustain it. Unfortunately, such accountability cannot come from our neighbouring countries because we are the first team in the region to utilise an online course-based system for evangelism and discipleship. Our accountability therefore needs to come from the original hosts of the Jesus.net platform (they are based in Holland). Every 2 to 3 months our team hosts a skype call with our Jesus.net representative – Arjo de Vroome. He provides the coaching, accountability and encouragement that is helping our team move forward and stay on course.

At this stage, things feel a little slow. We are beginning to understand how to use Google ads to effectively aid our objectives. That is, we are learning how to word our adverts in an appealing way; how to use key words that will link online searches to our pages; and create pages that are relevant and interesting. It is all trial and error, but we are learning and improving with every month. The reason I say every month is that we choose a theme for each month, create a page and link the page to our ministry platform. Every month we evaluate the previous month’s effectiveness and identify areas that need improvement.

Another focus point of ours is church partnership. My colleague, Fanie, has been cultivating a relationship with our church, Doxa Deo, to use our platform to help them engage the people that view their church services online. Things are falling into place and I trust this process will provide me with prospective e-coaches that I can train within the upcoming month.

As we are learning about our ministry, we welcome all the assistance we can get. If you are skilled at using Google ads or are interested in developing content for our online pages, please send me an email. If you are interested in becoming an e-coach you are also welcomed to send me an email and I will get you all the information you need.

Have a blessed day,

Nicholas

Getting sharper

Ecclesiastes 10:10
“Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.”

The above-mentioned verse of biblical scripture was brought to my attention during a leadership course in 2008. I was taught the value and wisdom of keeping yourself sharp – to pursue growth even in your areas of strength. Speaking of areas of strength (or giftings), the Bible has something to say about that as well:

Romans 12: 7-8

7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

In these verses we are reminded that our gifts (given from God) are to be taken seriously, honed, perfected, taken to a standard of excellence and most of all, to be done with gladness in our hearts. After taking the Strengthfinders assessment by Gallup (you can find it online here), I came to understand that my top strength is Communication. The Comms Lab – a workshop organised by our human resources department was an ideal opportunity for me to grow and learn. Some of the topics covered were: Gestures, Eye contact, Movement and Sound. Every day concluded with a drill where we could practice telling a story using the lessons of the day. Here’s a video of my story told on the day we learned about Gestures:

This week-long course was a blessing to me. Especially because Nicholas chose to stay at home that week so that I could grow. One of the major things I learned was that when one is a good speaker the audience doesn’t remember her fantastic gestures, eye contact or loud voice – they remember the content of her talk! I want people to remember what I said, not how I said it. But now that I know better, I am going to SAY it better!

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Looking at 2019

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe we are already in the third week of 2019. Time is just moving at a rapid pace. But we have so much to be excited about for 2019. But we also know of a few challenges that lie ahead. As a family we still have our Cape Town ways and we are still getting used to being back in Pretoria, so this year we will focus more on building our Pretoria community and connecting more with our families. One of the big ways we are trusting to build community is being part of a new church. Doxa Deo Brooklyn, our current home church, is planting an English church in Hatfield. This is an answer to prayer, because we have been trusting for an English Doxa Deo closer to our home.

Vincent started preschool this year and he is loving it. This past weekend he told us more than once that he wants to “go see teacher”. This was heart-warming for us as parents because we can clearly see that he is enjoying school. He will have 2 years of preschool to prepare him for Grade 1. We are trusting that the combination of preschool and occupational therapy will help with his speech development.

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With Vincent at school, Pravani and Kiran will be spending quality time together in the mornings. Pravani realised on the first day how much Vincent kept his brother entertained. Things are going well and Pravani will soon start potty training with Kiran.

From a ministry perspective, we also have some highlights lying ahead. As the Digital Strategy Team, we are looking at building partnerships with churches and ministry strategies, to help them reach their target audience using our online platform. We are also on a constant learning curve and part of this learning curve will be attending a Jesus.net conference in Holland in May. We will also be refining our content on our platform, as well as creating webpages that we can advertise through Google.

Pravani and I will also take a sabbatical in September. This is a 6 week break from ministry that all missionaries in Campus Crusade for Christ are required to take after every 7 years of ministry. We look forward to taking this break and spending quality time as a family.

We are excited and overwhelmed at what needs to happen in this year, but we know that we need Jesus in everything that we do, and we rely on your prayers carrying us day by day. Thank you.

Nicholas