Pastor Matthews Vilakazi is a man with a vision and a man on a mission:
“I want to be a light to people.
I want to encourage them. I want to be able to share and teach even more.”
And not even the tough restrictions imposed by South Africa’s strict Covid 19 Lockdown have deterred him.
Pastor of Mount of Olives Ministries based in Duduza, he also ministers in KwaThema and Tsakane on Johannesburg’s East Rand. He is a busy man, who balances his time between pastoring and teaching his congregation and working in steel work and maintenance. Pastor Vilakazi is one of the pastors who was equipped at Walk Thru the Bible’s Pastor Circle events.
Launched in 2019, Pastor’s Circle is a new initiative from Walk Thru the Bible Southern Africa which encourages Bible teaching by providing easy-to-use sermons and tools for pastors, as well as a network of support. The aim of Pastor’s Circle is to support the local church – recognizing that pastors face immense challenges that often include time constraints, and sometimes a lack of resources and training.
Prior to Lockdown, Pastor Vilakazi had already been doing live teaching of the Pastor’s Circle sermon series: Choices that Change Your Life Forever (based on Crucible and the life of David) and the sermon series Finding Purpose When Life Doesn’t Make Sense (based on Detour and the life of Joseph). He had already, prior to the Lockdown, reached over 647 people with this material, doing live teaching for at least 10 different groups.
“But I believe God was preparing me to continue teaching this material using technology – even before the government imposed its restrictions.”
Previously as I was teaching the various groups, I got into the habit of recording my teaching. That way, the messages could be used at our church plants in other areas like Tembisa and KwaZulu Natal. And I could also send the message to anyone in my home church who had missed the live teaching.
Now since the Lockdown was imposed and we were unable to meet together in person, I have organized with various groups, that I send them recorded teachings and sermons using WhatsApp. So, I have been able to teach the new sermon series Finding Purpose When Life Doesn’t Make Sense to eleven groups, a total of 798 people, since the Lockdown started.”
The groups that he sends the sermons to are carefully compiled. Some of these are Bible Study groups that he had previously established. Others are groups of people that he has specifically targeted within his community and taught before. Still others are made up people who hear about the sermons, and then ask to also receive them.
“Many times, I will meet someone and after interacting with them for a while, and once they hear what I am doing, they want to be included to receive the sermons. I have also received requests from people I didn’t know before, saying they have heard about these teachings and asking me to send them these sermons and teaching.
After listening to the sermons, the group participants also message me in response. Or otherwise, I contact them to follow up. We have also been able to ‘meet’ afterwards on Facebook to discuss with the people what they have been learning.
I have had so many encouraging messages back in response to these sermons. There are so many people who feel that life doesn’t make sense right now. These teachings based on Detour bring hope and are so relevant. People in my community are facing many challenges with job losses and food security. Everything is worse during this Covid 19 Crisis and people are dejected.
Detour reminds us that just like with Joseph, when things don’t always appear to make sense, God has not forgotten us and is still at work. He will use the challenges and difficulties we go through for His Glory. Just three weeks ago, I heard the testimony of a pastor who for the last two years had given up on Jesus and was demotivated. But now, because of these teachings on Detour, he is starting to develop a positiveness again.
These same sermons have also appealed to non-believers. They tell me: “This teaching brings knowledge and light. All along I had been living without purpose.”
“My wife, Matilda, is together with me in this ministry and she has also been able to teach the sermons on Finding Purpose When Life Doesn’t Make Sense to her ‘Sisters for Life’ Woman’s groups – which reach out to women in our community.”
“These same sermons on Detour have also spoken to me personally…”
“You know, you cannot give what you do not have. Once I have received what is good, I have a passion to pass it on and bring encouragement to others. And these sermons from Walk Thru the Bible’s Pastor’s Circle are good!
I grew up in the church and my father was a leader. From a young age, I was always interested and prepared to learn from others. And now I am learning from Pastor’s Circle.
What I really appreciate about Pastor’s Circle is the ready and easy-to-use sermons. This material brings light and is so easy to follow. The sermons have really helped me as a pastor with my preparation and study. The sermons have good order and structure and fill me up with more ideas. Every time I preach these sermons, I myself advance and learn more.
I will continue to bring God’s Word to people. Walk Thru the Bible’s Pastor’s Circle is helping with this.”
For more information on Pastor’s Circle please click here
Pastor’s Circle is Walk Thru the Bible’s new initiative to encourage Bible teaching by providing easy to use sermons and tools for pastors – as well as a network of support and encouragement.
Following the launch of the pilot of Pastor’s Circle in September 2019, we received many encouraging testimonies – both about the need for Pastor’s Circle and about the relevance of the sermon messages:
Pastor Joseph Mokhoethi:
I have many pressures and limited time to prepare my sermons. I am convinced that Pastors Circle and this material is of God. This is something that boosts me. I can take it and run with it. I can apply it, preach it and bring my own story to it.
The content and teaching in these sermon tools is 100%. The messages in the sermon tools will help to heal me first, and then I can bring the message to my people. You know, sometimes, we can be ignorant or scared to face hard issues – but these sermon tools will help!
Pastor Saki Moeketsi:
Pastors are very excited about Pastor’s Circle. It so helpful to have direction with sermon points and to understand how to prepare the message so that we can preach it. This is part of the struggle that pastors face. Having sermons that follow after each other is a great help.
Pastor Bheki Dingiso – Arise and Shine Ministries:
Pastor’s Circle brings great content – that the Spirit convinces me is of God!
This will help me so much in my time of prayer and study to preach.
Our communities need these sermons. It reminds me of 2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things you have heard me say… entrust to reliable people, who will also be qualified to teach others”. That is what happened here today! Pastor’s Circle is pouring into us pastors so that we can go and influence our communities.
Pastor’s Circle will help a lot. It brings a new perspective. The sermons are easy to use, easy to understand and easy to take back to my people. I will use this to train the students in my Bible School. You know I see myself in some of these messages. I saw where I failed – and left God out of my life.
I have been waiting for this. This is a blessing. I know Scripture, but today I have been equipped more as a pastor. I have experienced lots of giants, disappointments and challenges. I had decided I was quitting. But today, after attending pastor’s Circle, I got the courage to keep going.
Pastor Eddie Komane:
I love the interactive and inclusive nature of Pastor’s Circle and the sermons. This is different – it’s so refreshing and enlightening. The sermons are well researched and I could relate to them. The sermon tools are user friendly. This will be used to effectively advance the message of the Gospel.
Pastor Simon Otwang:
As a pastor I face many pressures. I am not supported by my congregants – and so I also have another job. There are also commitments to family. Always time is a problem – time to prepare my sermons. Pastor’s Circle will help me greatly with these ready to use sermons.
Pastor’s Circle brought us closer as pastors. These are great sermon tools from Walk Thru the Bible and I will use them.
Pastor Solomon Mahlangu:
I am busy each day with many challenges – as a result I end up doing my sermon preparation late on a Saturday. These ready to use sermon tools will really make things easier. The content is relevant to my people.
The sermon tools from Walk Thru the Bible are a great concept to help with the preaching of the Word. This will help me to grow as a pastor. I am definitely coming back to Pastor’s Circle!
Pastor Brain Mabena:
It is always a challenge to find time to prepare sermons and to find good material. The sermon tools from Walk Thru the Bible Pastor’s Circle will be so helpful.
Pastor Jeremiah Boshumange:
I often just don’t have the time I need to prepare sermons. This material from Pastor’s Circle will really help in conveying the message of our Lord.
My ministry is really street preaching and evangelism – outside hospitals and to shift workers who don’t manage to get to church. I can use these sermon messages for this.
Pastor’s Circle has helped me learn how to preach. It will help me a lot. I have little time to prepare sermons. Now I can use these sermon tools – I will pray and bring my stories to the messages too.
For more information on Pastor’s Circle please click here
“KidZ at Heart (KAH) has as its aim ‘helping children fall deeply in love with Jesus’. Here in Southern Africa our partnership with Walk Thru the Bible has been so instrumental in launching our international ministry. The success of this partnership really was a big part in KidZ at Heart going global.
There is such a sense of God’s timing and favour in this partnership. Of great assistance were the existing structure and support networks that Walk Thru the Bible Southern Africa were able to facilitate.
This partnership here in Southern Africa is now also a model for us, that we have tried to replicated in other regions.
By God’s grace, KidZ at Heart now does children’s ministry training in over 45 countries with over 10 000 teachers already trained. Over 3 million children worldwide have been impacted.
Here in Southern Africa our partnership with Walk Thru the Bible has been so instrumental in launching our international ministry.
Gordon West (right) pictured with Patrick McWhorter, head of KAH Africa Ministeries
Plans for Southern Africa
We now have local trainers in place in both South Africa, and more recently in Zambia – who are fully qualified to train the local people in the KAH modules. We are so excited to see them grow in ownership for their geographical area and developing the people there. Please pray with us as we now also start to develop this model in Malawi and Zimbabwe.”
For more information on KAH please click here
We have been so encouraged by the testimonies we have received after KidZ at Heart training events:
“I had come to the point where I felt really despondent as a teacher and unsure about whether I should go on. But after doing the KAH training, I have learnt how to minister to the spiritual needs of the children. I now have new vision for my teaching.” ~ Anonymous
“One of the most powerful lessons I learnt from KidZ at Heart (KAH) was to be able to teach children how to hear from God for themselves. You can actually see it on the faces of the children – their expressions change as they realize that God speaks to them too.
The KAH training was so valuable – so much so, that we will be running it at our church again next year. It really impacted our teachers spiritually and also provided valuable skills and practical ‘how to’s’ in terms of reaching and impacting the children.”
~ Juanita, Sunday School leader, Fokus Deo, Limpopo
“The KAH training really changed me! As a crèche owner, I work with children all day. It was so vital to be reminded again about the importance of sitting at the feet of God and discerning His voice. It’s not about the right or wrong way of doing things, but really about being obedient to what God is telling us to do – because if we are not, we could miss the opportunities that He gives for really reaching a child. We have to be dependent on the Holy Spirit and not fall into the trap of rushing to the next thing. The session on how to lead a child to Christ was also so helpful.
The sessions didn’t just impact me spiritually, but also provided great practical skills and understanding regarding different learning styles. I look forward to the next KAH training.”
“What is amazing to me is how much I grew spiritually during the KAH training. Your heart really needs to be in it – and when it is the children can see the difference – and it works!
I now teach with greater enthusiasm. I always did my best before, but now my lessons are so much better. I also use what I learnt with my own children. KAH is not just for teachers…. every parent should do this.”
~ Rentia, parent and Sunday School teacher
For more information on attending a KAH training event, please click here
We are grateful for the life change in the children and dedicated instructors who are always on the lookout for new schools. We also celebrate the provision of new bicycle tyres – bicycles being the ever important mode of transport to the schools!
God is using otLIVE to weekly change the lives of children in schools across Malawi.
“My name is Chisomo and I am a standard five learner. otLIVE has helped me not to fear the unknown. God can use me in a mighty way as he used Gideon.”
“I am Deborah, a standard 5 learner. These lessons have helped me to obey God – just like Samson’s mother who kept the commands the angel gave her about Samson. I also liked how Samson killed a lion with his hands.”
What the teachers at the schools are saying…
“Firstly, learners are able to apply these lessons in their Bible Knowledge studies – such that last term, they performed well in Bible Knowledge. Secondly, learners are able to narrate Biblical stories correctly because the lessons require a concept of memorization. This is enabling the learners to memorise and apply the knowledge and concepts gained to other subjects.The learner’s behaviour has also improved in aspects of politeness, giving and loving. The learners are able to show these Bible concepts to their fellow learners – for example, following God’s rule to love your neighbour. otLIVE has had a great impact at our school. Let it continue.”
~ Innocent, a standard 5 teacher
“These lessons have helped me a lot in my class in many ways. First of all, my learners have changed their behaviour and are taught how to behave as the children of God. It has simplified my work. Lastly, the program has encouraged our learners to come to school in large numbers – hence we appreciate these lessons at our school.”
~ Jean, a standard 5 teacher
This was the feedback from of one of the leaders of the Holiday Bible Club hosted by Lenasia Church of the Nazarene – where 1900 children participated in otLIVE over the course of the week.
Testimonies from some of the children…
I have learnt that God can make anything happen if you come to him in prayer. God is with you throughout the way. I really liked acting out the Bible with the hand signs and I understand the Bible better now. I didn’t go to Children’s Church before. I hope to go now.
I never grew up reading the Old Testament – so I never understood about Abraham, Isaac and all those people. But now I have started reading the Bible for myself.
I am learning what I didn’t know before and I understand the Bible more. The lessons also reminded me about respecting God and helping each other.
otLIVE makes me want to participate. The hand signs are so fun!
Now I will be able to read the Bible.
I felt good and normal being here. I like the story about Joshua. The lessons also reminded me about respect – and not dissing others and my parents.
~I will remember that it went well with Joseph because he obeyed God.
I like the story of Samson. It reminded me about not letting people force you into things. I also really enjoyed the hand signs and I can do them for my family. I am reading my Bible.
My favourite story was about Joshua and learning to be strong and courageous.
Jacob was a wrestler! That’s cool!
I liked the explaining of the stories. Now the Bible will be easier to read.
I learnt about forgiving and not being cruel to others – like Joseph.
I am happy to be here. I am learning to not swear and to show respect.
These hand signs will help me! I liked learning about Moses – and the waters parting and the staff and the snake. The stories teach me that we must obey God at all times.
And from some of the volunteers…
I am a volunteer here and I have also brought my own kids to attend Holiday Bible Club. What is amazing is that the kids remember most of the otLIVE lesson and are really motivated. The hand signs really help.
The children are enjoying the hand signs. They pick them up easily, are learning quickly and are able to repeat them. They are really grasping the lessons from the stories.
The kids were enthusiastic and excited about otLIVE – eagerly anticipating what they were going to be taught next!
otLIVE really made the stories easier to understand. The actions and hand signs especially helped the kids.
And from others…
“I am learning so much from otLIVE. This has meant so much to me.”
“otLIVE is such an easy and light way to get through lots of content and to understand the Bible.”
“I take leave from work just to help here at the Holiday Bible Club!”
“I will remember the smiles on the kids’ faces. OtLIVE really helped to simplify things – I used to get stuck trying to remember everything!”
For more information on otLIVE please click here