Studies

Invigorated by God’s Word

Dear Friends and Family

I trust that you are well and growing in your love for Jesus and His people.

Renée and I are doing well. We are grateful and astounded by God’s goodness and grace. We thank God for the family, love, fellowship, teaching, and opportunities to serve which we enjoy at our church, Tokai Community Church. We thank God for what He is doing in our lives through our church family.

I have grown immensely in my faith and knowledge of God and His Word through this first semester at college.

Holiday and Work

During this last school (and college) holiday we were able to visit my Dad, Renée’s Mom, and other friends and family in Kwa-Zulu Natal. We were also catch up with a lot of household tasks that have been patiently waiting for attention whilst we have been productively and frantically busy with the demands of the academic term. I managed to find time to fix the ceiling in our home and do some mechanical maintenance to our car which included: changing the timing-belt, doing a service, and replacing the radiator (which actually burst on our drive to Durban – thus the need for replacement).

Renée and I at Chapmans Peak

Renée and I at Chapmans Peak

Refiner’s Fire

I feel overwhelmed with gratitude to God for the privilege of studying at George Whitefield College. I find the lecturers to not only be passionate about the subjects they are teaching, but also vigilant of our personal spiritual growth and walk with God.

I have found my first semester to be exciting and invigorating whilst also being challenging, tiring, and stretching.

The academic demand on students at GWC is immense and intense. All the students in all years and stages of their studies often vocalize the strain they are under. I, of course, am new to this whole academic environment, so I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone in finding the academic pressure challenging.

Academic Pressure and Deadlines

The required reading assignments are near impossible to complete, particularly when simultaneous deadlines are looming to hand in various assignments, which is closely followed by exams. Having said all this, I must add that it is under such a pressured environment that I thrive. I enjoy deadlines and pressure; it helps me to function. I believe this is one of the motivations behind this intense academic pressure – to help students to present thorough arguments for important and difficult topics quickly whilst under pressure. I understand this skill will be thoroughly useful when in the hilt of ministry situations.

Limping Devotions

In the first term and into the second term I was struggling with my private devotions with God. I was struggling to find time to have my devotions; and when I did find time to sit down and have alone time with God, I found that the Bible seemed to have lost its capacity as ‘God’s Word’ and now seemed only to be an academic book. I presented this challenge to my Discussion group (at College) asking that they pray for me that I may be more disciplined at my private devotions and that God’s Word would come alive to me again. They not only agreed to pray for me but also admitted that they have the same problem and discussed ways they have found helpful to remain in fellowship with God through His Word and prayer during this intense time of studies. They also directed me to Steve Rockwell, one of our lecturers, who has in the past given them good advice in this regard.

Valuable Paradigm Shift

I had a very fruitful discussion with Steve Rockwell who encouraged me by pointing out that the struggle I was facing was not unique and many, if not all, students face a similar struggle. He gave me tips on how to approach the Bible in my quiet time and suggested a good daily devotional by D. A. Carson (For the Love of God). But his most helpful advice changed my way of thinking about my studies at college. “Make every subject you study a devotional time with God,” he said, “forget about trying to get good marks and just pursue your studies as a means to get to know God better”. He told me how this approach helped him when he was a student. This advice has revolutionized my studies and made every lecture, book, assignment, or exam become a tool to help me know God better. The result is that not only are my quiet times revitalized, but every aspect of my studies at college have become all the more exciting and adventurous.

My study desk

My study desk

Delightful Chapel

I really enjoy and benefit immensely from the Chapel services that are held at the college twice a week. The Bible is preached faithfully and I find my faith is strengthened through the communal worship. I have been (as all students are) incorporated into the services with opportunities to read portions of Scripture, pray, and serve as a steward. I am also involved in the music team.

God’s Story

As part of our Public Speaking class, we had an assignment to prepare our testimony in a Christ honouring way and present it in class in under 4 minutes. This was a very helpful assignment. My testimony was selected (among others) to be video recorded for an online app called ‘Yes He Is’. The video crew came around during the holiday and recorded my testimony. As soon as they have done the editing, I will post a link.

First Semester Results

I have finally received my Semester marks for last semester.

79% – REACH-SA History
81% – Christian Doctrine Introduction
96% – Greek 1
73% – Mark’s Gospel
79% – Old Testament Introduction
79% – Biblical Theology
75% – Public Speaking
81% – Study Skills

I am very happy with these results and thank God for all I have learnt through this semester. I am excited and eagerly looking ahead to this 2nd semester.

Thank you very much for your prayers, support, and encouragement. We certainly appreciate you walking this road with us.

May God bless you thoroughly and perpetually!

In His hands,

Michael and Renée Watson
www.mikemissions.wordpress.com

 

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To Know Him

Wow! Where has this semester gone?! Time has flown by so rapidly! I can’t believe it has been 4 months since my last update!?

I have had my head tangled in a ‘cloud’ of books wrestling over some difficult concepts, writing various assignments, exegetical essays, and tests. At the end of last term, I wrote my first Greek exam for which I scored 95%! Starting college at my age, I was uncertain if I would be able to handle the academic pressure and therefore have thrown myself ‘heart and soul’ into my studies. I praise God that, through His grace, I have done well so far. I am thrilled and exhilarated by these studies though it is immensely challenging and stretching me to the limit. I feel absolutely privileged to under the teaching of these passionate lecturers who themselves are astute Biblical scholars.

Brother Bear Grieving

The untimely passing away of my brother’s dear wife on February 26 was a shock to us all as she was suddenly ripped away from her husband, children, family, and friends by an aggressive cancer.

Bear and Kathy in hospital2

Bear and Thistle

Not only did I have to wrestle with my own grief, but I spent countless hours consoling and counseling my brother. I was astounded at the advice and answers I was able to offer to my brother’s hard questions; answers which came directly from the greater understanding of God’s Word I was learning from my lectures just days before. Things I had learned in Greek lectures, Biblical Theology lectures, Doctrine Lectures, and the Gospel of Mark lectures all combined to help me offer useful answers to my grieving brother. I thank God for this learning and input which is helping me understand God better.

Serene Anniversary Rest

Renée and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary in April and took a much needed holiday camping in the Wilderness area. It was great to be away from the busyness of life, no cellphones, no electricity, just basking in the beauty of God’s creation. We floated down the river, did some bird-watching, took walks in the forest and on the beach, ate fireside food, and came back well rested.

Renee and I floating down the river in wilderness

Awesome being in God’s world

Paradigm Shift: To Know HIM

One of my greatest challenges being at college is trying to keep my devotional life with God alive. I have struggled to find time to spend in private devotion and prayer with God. I spoke to one of my lecturers about this and he gave me some magnificent advice which has been exceedingly useful. He encouraged me to not view these studies as academic studies, but rather as devotional studies. “Make everything you study here about getting to know God better” he said. This advice has helped me to develop an attitude of perpetual devotions, desiring to know more of God as I study original languages, Church history, Ancient Near East History, etc. I would ask that you pray that God would enable me to maintain and grow this attitude so that my studies would not just be about getting good marks, but rather about getting to know God more and more.

I start writing exams in a week. I’ll appreciate your prayers as I prepare and study for these exams and as I write.

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement.

In His hands,

Michael Watson

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Theological Studies Underway!

Do your best [study (KJV)] to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15

My studies at George Whitefield College have finally gotten to a raging start. I have been eagerly waiting for this since I got my acceptance letter in October 2016.

Classmates from around the world

The first two days of registration and orientation were very exciting and inspiring. As I met and got to know my classmates and the 2nd years, I was astounded and blessed to find that there are many different countries represented by the students here. In my class alone, I have classmates from Malawi, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, and Ecuador. Among the 2nd and 3rd year students there are also some students from Zambia, Ireland, and Zimbabwe. It has been an absolute pleasure to meet and fellowship with these dear brothers and sisters – I look forward to the next three years we will be spending together in our studies.

Meeting new classmates at tea time

Meeting new classmates at tea time

Greek Language School

The first eight days of college lectures were super intense and invigorating as we started what is called “Summer School” at GWC. This was a focused time of concentrated Greek lectures getting us ready for the official start of our normal study program.

Learning an Intricate Language

We learnt the Greek alphabet, close to 240 Greek vocabulary words, a whole bunch of paradigms, and a ton of grammatical rules! We had stacks of homework to do which kept me awake up to 02:00 most nights. I found the academic pressure to be challenging, but exhilarating! I am amazed at how much we were able to learn over this short period of time. We wrote a test on Friday which counts for 20% of our Greek semester mark. I felt pretty good about this test and trust I will receive a good mark.

Summer School

Summer School

 

An Inspirational Teacher

Our Greek lecturer, Stephen Rockwell, is from Australia and is a very talented,  understanding, and enthusiastic teacher. He has patiently, yet persistently, helped us to understand the complexities of this intricate and detailed language; he has made it fun and captivating to learn Greek. It is tremendously inspiring to begin the journey of learning the language in which the Holy Spirit had chosen to reveal the New Testament. I am excited to learn more, so that I can understand the Bible better and in so doing know our great God better and what is required from us.

Suffering Devotions

Throughout these eight days of Summer School, we were blessed to start the day with deeply insightful devotions from Phumezo Musango, Geoff Gertzen, Shane, and Frank Retief. Strangely enough, these very encouraging Devotions were all centred around the topic of suffering and God’s plan through it all. Strange, not because of the suffering we as students were facing due to the difficulties of learning an ancient language under immense pressure, but rather because a very dear friend of ours had just been admitted into hospital with stage 4 melanoma brain cancer. This has been a very difficult time for us as we have had to see our young friend, in the prime of her life, suddenly faced with the reality of immanently passing into eternity and her beloved family falteringly grappling with this nasty surprise.

Morning Devotions

Morning Devotions

Pray for Kathleen

Please pray for Kathleen Joubert (van der Westhuizen) who is currently undergoing radiation to give her a better quality of life for her last days here on this earth. Pray for a miracle, but also pray for her family who are struggling to come to terms with this devastating reality of the fragile mortality of their beloved mother, sister, daughter, wife, and soul-mate. Pray that God will hold them securely in the palm of His hand.

Kathleen and Craig at Feylin's wedding in November 2016

Kathleen and Craig at Feylin’s wedding in November 2016

Grateful Financial Assistance

On a happier note, I have been supremely blessed that our church has offered to pay for my tuition fees this year and also to have been awarded a bursary from the GWC Trust to assist with our living expenses whilst I am at college for this year.

This financial assistance is most valued and appreciated by Renée and I. Without this financial assistance we would struggle to meet our financial demands that are increased by my full-time studies. We celebrated with great joy and praise to God when we were informed of the financial assistance made available to us by the GWC Trust and Tokai Community Church.

May God’s purposes be fulfilled in our lives as we seek to know Him better and to make Him known to others.

Thank you for your love and support.

In His hands,

Michael Watson

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2017 Off to a Massive Start

Dear Friends and Family

I greet you in the mighty and merciful Name of the King of God’s Kingdom, Jesus Christ.

“He [the Son of Man] was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshipped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His Kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
Daniel 7:14

I hope you are well and that you had a restful and blessed Christmas time with friends and family. I hope that you have had a good start to this new year.

mike_renee_ny2016

May 2017 be a blessed and prosperous year for you!

I am excited about this new year and there is much I need to tell you about (it has been a while since my last update and so much has happened).

GWC

I am trilled to announce that I have been accepted at George Whitefield College to study for a Bachelor of Theology degree which is a 3-year program.

George Whitefield College - Morris House

George Whitefield College – Morris House

I started studying GWC’s Explore Course in January 2016 and completed 2 Modules passing both with distinction. These part-time studies gave me such a thrill and excitement as I gained vast increases in my knowledge about God and the Bible – I found that there was so much I didn’t know and yet needed to know in order to be more effective at my missionary work. This inspired me to pursue full-time studies so that I may be a more responsible preacher (and to know God more and know how to please Him better).

I enrolled and have been graciously accepted at George Whitefield College; it is with great excitement that I look forward to learning and studying about our Great God.

I praise God for His hand in my application process to study next year at George Whitefield College and for His provisions of financial assistance from our church which has generously agreed to pay my tuition fees.

I pray that God will quicken my intellect and cause me to have a smooth transition into this academic environment and also that God will help me to give adequate attention to the Vision and Priorities of High Light Africa through these next 3 years of study.

Solar-Powered Jesus Film Kit

I am pleased to announce that High Light Africa is now the proud owner of a Solar-Powered Jesus Film Kit which has been made possible by our generous financial supporters and partners. This is a completely mobile and off-the-grid system particularly designed by myself to present the Jesus Film in remote rural villages. This kit is currently capable of accommodating an audience of 200 people, but can be easily upgraded for more viewers by simply adding more speakers.

Jesus Film Box

Jesus Film Box

Jesus Film Kit

Jesus Film Kit

Jesus Film - Solar Charger

Jesus Film – Solar Charger

Jesus Film - Speaker

Jesus Film – Speaker

Jesus Film - Projector

Jesus Film – Projector

Jesus Film - Tripod

Jesus Film – Tripod

Jesus Film - Screen

Jesus Film – Screen

Jesus Film - Poles for Screen

Jesus Film – Poles for Screen

High Light Africa – Malawi

As I will be focussing on my studies for the next 3 years, I thought it prudent to set up High Light Africa (HLA) in Malawi where we have co-workers and colleagues who can continue with the vision and priorities of HLA whilst I am otherwise occupied.

Rev. Barnet Phiri, who is a long time friend, ex-bishop of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Malawi, passionate about Evangelism, a great leader and preacher, humble and selfless, and a local indigenous pastor in Malawi has graciously agreed to and accepted the role of being the director of High Light Africa – Malawi (HLA-M).

Over the last few months, Barnet and I together with a lawyer from our church have been formulating and constructing the Constitution of HLA-M. This will be the legal document that defines and regulates our organization in Malawi. This hard and diligent work is almost completed.

We are hoping to formally adopt this Constitution at the founding meeting we plan to hold in Malawi in April 2017 on our next Mission to Malawi. We will appreciate your prayers and support in this regard.

High Light Africa expanding to Malawi

High Light Africa expanding to Malawi

TCC Ministry

Renée and I are thoroughly enjoying being part of our new church – Tokai Community Church (TCC). We are blessed to sit under the clear teaching of the Bible and also to be a part of the life of the church. Renée has been leading the Girls Teen Connect group since October and I have been privileged to be included in the music team where I play guitar on some Sundays. I also help with maintenance at our church.

I was privileged to join John Shane with some of the outreaches he is conducting in the Westlake Village in Steenberg. John has been running the Soccer Club where the boys of Westlake are invited every Saturday morning to play soccer at a lovely soccer field that he (John) has arranged for them. There are normally between 20 & 30 boys who pitch up (sometimes even more). At half-time, John usually gives them a short encouragement/exhortation from God’s Word. I was once given the opportunity to speak to the boys from the Bible.

I also joined John on a couple of Sundays at the Westlake Community Fellowship which is a small gathering of believers and their kids who gather to worship God and to listen to the Word being preached.

Camping Trip

Over Christmas Renée and I went camping with some friends at a bush-camp near to Greyton. It was a wonderful time of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Camping at Champagne in Greyton

Leg of boar roasting over the fire

dsc_0743-2

We enjoyed many camp fires

As for our plans in 2017:

Besides for my upcoming studies, we also have plans for some missions this year. During my study break in April I plan to conduct a mission (with Renée) to Malawi. And then during my July study break I plan to conduct a mission (with Renée) to DRC.

May God bless you thoroughly and perpetually!

In His service – and loving it

Michael & Renée Watson
“That His glory may dwell in the land.” – Psalm 85:9b

michael@highlightafrica.com
renee@highlightafrica.com
www.highlightafrica.com

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A Fruitful Studious Frenzy

Imminent Exam

I am so enjoying learning about Jesus and His mission here on Earth, I excitedly find myself so wrapped up in my studies that time seems to stand still and speed up at the same time. I am thoroughly enjoying this rush of knowledge about God. My brain feels numb and jelly-like as I press on diligently in my studies because I desire to do well in my Explore the Life of Jesus exam coming up on Monday. I not only want to do well in my exam, but I want to remember this and apply this for the rest of my life!

IMG_20160825_085109

My study station

Application to George Whitefield College

I am busy filling in my application forms for George Whitefield College as I plan to pursue a Bachelor of Theology degree starting next year.

When I started the Explore Course earlier this year, I was ‘blown away’ by the amount of knowledge that came rushing to my attention from the pages of the study book and I realized that I am lacking the critical theological training that would cause me to be effective in my missionary work. This whet my appetite to know more about our Great God and to know more intimately the Scriptures which are the revelation of Himself which He has given to mankind.

Though I am benefiting greatly from the Explore Course, I believe that I would benefit more intensely from full time studies at GWC.

Please pray for me as I prepare my applcation and that I will receive a favourable response from the College.

Mission to Malawi

In 3 weeks, I will be heading out to Malawi for a 18-day mission trip. I am so encouraged by the way that God has provided for the needs of this mission up to this point. My heart is overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness. I still don’t have all that is needed, but I trust that God will continue to provide until all resources will be available.

I will be ministering in various locations in Machinga District, specifically among churches that are in dominant Muslim areas. I have been working with these churches for a number of years and I praise God for the faith of these believers who worship God giving thanks to Him for the immeasurably valuable gift of eternal life they have received through Christ.

I praise God for His provision of funds to purchase Bibles for these believers, many of whom are from a Muslim background and can’t afford a Bible of their own.

Please pray that God will have His hands on the preparation of this mission, for the schedule as it is being arranged, for the people I will be ministering to, for the preparation of my teachings, and that God will continue to provide what is lacking to make this mission effective and a success for His glory.

Mission Icon

Malawi Mission – September 2016

May God bless you and fill you with the knowlege of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

In pursuit of the knowledge of Christ

Michael Watson
http://www.highlightafrica.com
michael@highlightafrica.com
“That His glory may dwell in the land.” – Psalm 85:9b
Unleash the Light!

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