Diary of a Traveling Pastor: South Africa

“You cannot leave Africa, Africa said. It is always with you, there inside your head. Our rivers run in currents in the swirl of your thumbprints; our drumbeats counting out your pulse; our coastline the silhouette of your soul.”
–Bridget Dore

Classis Southwest U.S. of the United Reformed Churches of North America (URCNA) was delighted to receive, provisionally, the Reformed Church of the Southern Suburbs (RCSS) of Cape Town, South Africa in March 2023. Full reception into the URC has to be approved by the URC Synod in 2024. Rev. Dr. Simon Jooste is the founding pastor of RCSS. The congregation began as a church plant in 2012 and was particularized in 2019. The congregation faithfully preaches the gospel, administers the sacraments, and oversees church discipline amidst challenges unfamiliar to most American Christians. The poverty, violence, and moral decay of South Africa are significant, and the pastoral care required in such a context is all-consuming. In the face of these never-ending difficulties, Rev. Jooste, the consistory, and the congregation of RCSS press on for the cause of the gospel, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

In celebration of entering the URC, a delegation of pastors and theologians was sent to Cape Town in August 2024. Rev. Dr. Brian Lee of Christ Reformed Church DC, Rev. Adam Kaloostian of Ventura URC, Dr. Darryl Hart (OPC elder) of Hillsdale College, and I traveled 30+ hours to serve God’s people. We arrived in the midst of a taxi strike in Cape Town. South Africa has a normal level of violence that far surpasses most American cities, but the taxi strike raised the threat even higher. The rioters shut down freeways, threw bricks through windshields, and burned cars. Five people lost their lives over the course of a week. God’s providential hand of protection was upon us and we were spared from physical harm.

Despite the security risks, we set out to complete the work we were sent to do. Dr. Hart spoke at Stellenbosch University and George Whitefield College. He and I both spoke in chapel services at the Bible Institute of South Africa. Rev. Kaloostian and I filled the pulpit at RCSS on three Sundays. RCSS also hosted a conference on the theme of Christian & Liberal Democracy, Common and Separate. Dr. Hart, Rev. Dr. Lee, Rev. Dr. Jooste, and I gave addresses over the course of two days. It was a very busy but very enjoyable two weeks.

In between the preaching and teaching, we experienced the unsurpassed hospitality of the South African people. The RCSS congregation, which represents every ethnic and socio-economic demographic, was unbelievably welcoming to us. The joy of Christian fellowship with brothers and sisters from the other side of the world quickly overcame our jet lag and we immediately felt at home. The South African braai (barbecue) culture was amazing to experience. I consumed so much red meat during the trip that I suffered from withdrawals after I returned home. It is more common to spot a cheetah in the wild in South Africa than a vegetarian. In addition to copious amounts of beef and pork, we consumed springbok, kudu, eland, and wildebeest.

The natural beauty of the Southern Cape is breathtaking. The juxtaposition of mountains and ocean was bewildering. For us Southern Californians, it was as if the mountains of Big Bear were transported to Laguna Beach. It was truly awe-inspiring. Providentially, we encountered no wild animals that could kill us, of which there are many in South Africa, except for a few baboons. The most ferocious threat came from the licks of Rev. Jooste’s five-pound Yorkie.

Please pray for Reformed Church Southern Suburbs, that they would be faithful in the work that God has called them to do. Please pray for the long-term goal of establishing African Reformed Churches, a Confessional Reformed denomination for the entire continent of Africa. The social and economic outlook for Africa may be bleak, but the opportunities for the gospel are limitless.

©Dan Borvan. All Rights Reserved.

You and read about more of Dan Borvan’s travels from this summer here and here.


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