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Paul & Mariana Craesmeyer

Johannesburg, South Africa

Newsletter Update:

Read the Craemeyers' last newsletter. Click on Newsletter in the right side bar.

Email Update:

November 2, 2017

 

From Paul:

... and that's the power of prayer!

Greetings in Christ Jesus, precious brethren! Your prayers have been answered in a wonderful way! We are so thankful to have prayer warriors like you along side us.

We've send an email requesting prayer, and here's how the Lord responded: On Mariana's Grandpa: Mariana and Mathias made a perfect trip over to Brazil (there wasn't even turbulence!), and arrived in time to spend two whole wonderful days with her Grandfather before he passed away into the presence of our Lord Jesus. The look on his face when he saw them was priceless. Grandma too. "Mathias is so big!" And then on the third day of their arrival he passed away. It was painful, but also very healing for Mariana to be able to be there and say goodbye. She also had so very many opportunities to comfort others with the hope that we have in Christ. Such opportunities have continued all these days, so now we're thanking the Lord for so many open doors and praying that these people will trust Jesus Christ to receive His gift of eternal life. Plus, Mathias has been on top behavior, which is such a comfort and a blessing. Next week they'll be back here in South Africa, Lord willing.

Your prayers have also been heard regarding the trouble with the Krugersdorp leader-in-training. We've had a few corrective talks over the last year, but our last one (last Thursday) was the best of all. Thank you so much for your prayers! There was much humility and openness, and in the Lord everything was sorted in a very positive way. Some of the other brethren who were concerned were so relieved when they heard that everything went well with our meeting that a fully grown man teared up visibly. The Lord is too good to us. What a wonderful God we serve! And what a wonderful team of prayer warriors we have! And the feedback we get from you... wow... Thank you so much, brethren. Thank you so much!

Love in Christ,

Paul

 

Email Update:

October 23, 2017

From Mariana:

Dear Brothers and  Sisters,
Greetings from South Africa!

Life is busy but not without trials.

As some of you know, my grandfather is very ill in Brazil. His bone marrow stopped working and he would need a transplant, but being 81 years old, that is out of the question.
It has been difficult to be far away, but by the grace of God and the generosity of some very special friends, Mathias and I are flying to Brazil tomorrow morning (Oct 24th) to stay 16 days, until Nov 9th.

I was partly raised by my grandpa, so we are very close. Over the years I have shared the gospel with him several times, but I will do it again, Lord willing!
Please, pray that I will have God's strength, patience and love through this difficult time.

Thank you and blessings to you all!

Mariana

 

From Paul:

I don't mind dividing forces every now and then to get the job done in different places at the same time, haha! I'll miss my wife and son for a couple weeks, but I also know that this is no time to be absent from the work here. We've been running into trouble lately. 

There's a bit of strife and division in the larger grace movement here in South Africa, and we're begging the Lord for correction and healing  so that the gospel can move forward unhindered. 

And there's also trouble in the Krugersdorp church. One of the leaders in training needs fervent prayer. There are some things our apostle said that we love to make our own... but not "all in Asia have abandoned me"... If there isn't a change of heart we'll have painful losses.

Yet while ministry has its share of hard times, and while we do not intend to shield any of you prayer warriors from it, the saying remains true that the Lord is good all the time!

So let's end with some great news: one of our young men from Lehae in Soweto, Charles, has surprised us this week with a fantastic message from the Word! His teaching on Eph.2:11-18 was deeper than I ever expected from someone whom I was hearing for the first time! He has plans to begin Bible school next year to train for the ministry, but he's already practicing. His heart is in the right place, and his skill is more advanced than most of our students at Bible school, so we're excited with the way the Lord is multiplying our future leaders. What a pleasant surprise! In Lehae we already have 5 people in training for the ministry, and we expect great things from the Lord!

So please, keep praying!

Hugs in Christ Jesus, our mighty Lord and Savior,

Paul

 

Email Update:

May 1, 2017

From Mariana:

Hello Brothers and Sisters!
I hope you are all doing well.

Next week we celebrate six months in South Africa! Wow!

There are many reasons to rejoice! We are more into the culture now, we understand almost a hundred percent of what people say when they speak English, and we are very busy with ministry!

The Portable Classroom Project is up and running. Not every church or teacher embraced the project all the way, but the ones who did are showing great results. I just visited the new church in Daveyton, Springs last Sunday, and they asked for 20 more kids chairs for Sunday School. What a joy it was to see that there were actually enough kids to use all those chairs!

Paul and I are running one of the new branches of the Grace Berean Bible School in Tshepisong, northern part of Soweto. I thought, "Hey, since I will be there every class, why don’t I become a student too?" So I enrolled and I am so happy with everything I am learning! What a great opportunity to dig deeper into the Word!

Mathias loves Math and he kept asking me to study the multiplication table. Today we started it and I am so grateful for his accademic development. I praise God every day for being his teacher and seeing the results! Thank you for your prayers for our son!

 

Mathias Math

There is so much more to say, but I plan to write another letter soon with other updates.

Thank you! Thank you for all the replies! I read them all and they mean a lot! Thank you for praying for us! Thank you for your support, your generosity, your love!

In God’s abounding love,
Mariana Craesmeyer



From Paul:

I'd like to add a thing or two. One of our burdens since February has been partially relieved to day. Our vehicle has been out of operation since the accident, and through the help of some brethren we've been able to make do. Yesterday we finally found a suitable car, and today we brought it home! It is a little thing, a 2007 Ford Ka, but in exceptional condition, and very light on gas! I do a lot of driving to the different Bible studies, so this is a tremendous blessing. Yet we ask for your prayers about the crashed Fiat Palio. We're not being fairly treated by the insurance company. As a third party claim, we're not in the best bargaining position, even though we weren't at fault and it is the other party's responsibility to sort this and compensate us for out totaled car. So they're taking it sooooo slow... It's almost May and we've not even been contacted by an assessor to come and examine the car. Some have suggested suing them, but I believe prayer will work better. A lawsuit will take a huge amount of cash and we'd already be gone from this country by the time it came to an end. This isn't the way. Would you please pray for us in this respect? I know it's not that important, but it has hindered our work in some ways. Anyway, it is so cool that we've got our own wheels again, so that's definitely a cause for praise to God!

Leading the Bible school and mentoring the other teachers and students has been AWESOME! Hey... is hard work really hard work when you're enjoying it so much? (Pictured below is the ground-breaking for the Tshepisong church and location of one of the satellite Bible schools.)

Tshepishong Ground breaking

Tonight two new pastors joined our Bible study in Soweto. We had a great talk afterward about the importance of relying only on the written Word of God as our source for doctrine and practice. This country is overrun by false prophets claiming God told them this and that... It was a good talk, and a door was opened for future fellowship in the Word. I look at Ephesians 3:9 and I pray for these men of God, "...and to enlighten all as to what is the administration of the mystery, which had been hidden from the ages in God" (EMTV). To many our dispensation is still a mystery, but it ought not remain so!

Email Update:

February 26, 2017

From Mariana:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

I hope this letter finds you in good health.

As you can see in the picture, we had a very interesting day this past Thursday.

We stopped at a traffic light and a truck without brakes stopped on our rear! By the Lord's grace, none of us got seriously hurt, except for some sore necks and a sore arm. We felt the Lord's protection: no shattered glass fell on Mathias, who was on the back seat. We rejoice and praise God for His deliverance!

car accident

Yes, we now have a damaged car and will have to deal with all the legal procedures of the insurance company. You would think that wrecking a car would spoil our day. After all, we were having a wonderful family time, discussing the book of Ruth and traveling inside Johannesburg and this guy ruined it! But the Lord we serve is Almighty and Sovereign!

We messaged Pastor Dean and Sister Sheba, and they were almost hopping in the car to come fetch us. We asked them to wait because there was a lot to be decided with the truck driver, the police, the ambulance, the tow truck driver... Besides, Pastor Kekana, whom Paul mentors, lives much closer to where the accident was. But the Padayhags were on hold, just waiting for a word to come to us.

To make the story short, Pastor Kekana came to pick us up even though we told him our car was okay to drive. But he would not accept it. He was so worried, he picked up his wife and they accompanied us all the way to our house, just to make sure we were safe. We got messages of prayers, phone calls, and love from a lot of people. It was beautiful, brothers and sisters. It was one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to us. To see the body of Christ in action, to see the way the Lord cares... almost overwhelming.

This is what we have experienced here day after day. Yes, it hurts a lot to be away from family, to have relationships based on written words and pictures, but the Lord is good! The reminder of His love and care is stamped and displayed on the people He puts in our lives. Praise God!

Please, pray for the negotiations with the insurance company tomorrow. They are supposed to fix our car and provide a temporary car for us meanwhile.

On another note, thank you for your prayers for the Portable Classroom Ministry. It has been working well and we rejoice with the teachers who really embraced the cause, and we continue praying for those who need a little push.

Thank you so much for being there! Your replies mean a lot to us!

In His love,
Mariana Craesmeyer

From Paul:

May I please add another request? We're starting another branch on the Bible School in our area!!! It starts in two weeks, and we've got around 9 students enrolling so far. Would you please pray that we can arouse the interest of others also? Would you pray that the Lord would bring all those who have a pure desire to serve Him? And would you pray for us teachers, that we may be excellent tools in the Lord's hands so as to advance the gospel of grace? Thanks for praying with us!!!



Email Update:

February 9, 2017

From Mariana:

Hello Brothers and Sisters!

Hope you are all well!

I just wanted to share the news with you. The fundraising worked and all the kits (gazebos, plastic chairs and tables) for 3 portable classrooms were donated. The kits were given to the teachers this past Sunday and this next Sunday the kids will have their first Sunday School lesson in their new classrooms!

A big thanks to all of you who prayed for this ministry. Please continue as we make it happen with the guidance of our Lord! I will be visiting the churches and assist the teachers. Sister Sheba will come with me whenever she can.

The whatsapp group for the teachers was made, so communicating will not be a problem.

We rejoice in God's wonderful provision and hope this ministry will help the gospel to be spread amongst these communities.

Thank you for your support in prayer!

SS teachers and portable classrooms

Email Update:

January 30, 2017

From Mariana:

Greetings from South Africa!
I hope this letter finds you all well.

I have great news to share with you.

As we visited the churches here, I noticed that they have one thing in common. They have lots of kids that attend regularly, some with their parents, some with relatives, some with their younger siblings. But most of these churches do not have a Sunday School class for these kids.
I also noticed they have good sized buildings, but no extra room for these kids to meet.
So I had this idea of making a portable classroom with camping gazebos. I talked to our missionary partners here and sister Sheba Padayhag gave life to this idea… and it is happening!

So this week there is a fundraising happening via whatsapp among all the churches here. We made a list of what we need and are expecting the brethren here to fund this project, so they feel part of this and give value to the purchased items.
Next Saturday (Feb 4th), sister Sheba and I will do a workshop with the Sunday School teachers, training them further and also explaining how the portable classrooms are going to work. The items (A gazebo, kids tables and chairs) will be delivered to the teachers on a joint service at the Bocksburg church next Sunday (Feb 5th).
I will be assisting the teachers and visiting the churches the first few months to see how things are going. And sister Sheba is creating a group on whatsapp for communication, questions, sharing of pictures, etc.

I have no words to describe how excited I am! This project is my baby! I have always wanted to come and be useful, and I feel this is a great way to spread the gospel with these kids, and hopefully they will invite friends, parents, relatives and they will also hear the gospel.

Please, pray for us! Please, pray for me and sister Sheba as we lead these ladies in love. Please, pray for the teachers to do their jobs in love. Please pray for the kids as they receive God’s love and react to it! May the Lord give us the courage and wisdom to continue serving Him so that many souls can be reached!

Thank you for your support and prayers!

From Paul:

I've got some news too!

As we near the end of January we have so much to be thankful for: we've moved into our more permanent place (cottage on farm), we've started a new Bible study which we intend to develop into a home church (that's in Krugersdorp), we're working with other graduates from Bible School to begin new ministries, and we're even trying to put a dent into the tough economical situation in this country by starting "tent-making" work, with the idea of further training workers in ministry while at the same time working to provide for their families (inspired on Acts 18). Back in 2012 I did some entrepreneur work by making brownies to sell, and I trained others to do it too. Now I'm trying my hand at biogas during my rest time, since we're on a farm, and I hope that can create a job opening or two. Or 3, 4, 5... Now I'm getting into the habit of washing my hands real good before opening the Bible, haha! And no, I'm not thinking of doing carpentry also, for those of you who saw my wife's post on Facebook. That's just something I like to do on Mondays to rest my mind. It's my day off, and sometimes laboring with your hands is just what you need to relax... Besides, we needed the furniture, and I thought it would be fun and economic to build some of it with pallets. Mathias is enjoying the new skills he's learning. He thought it was so cool to hold the sander! After a couple minutes he thought it was too loud and shook too much, but hey... he's 6!

About the Bible study at Krugersdorp, we're working with Pr. Steve Kekana, a graduate from the Bible school. He is on fire! His family at first wasn't too accepting of the grace message, but we've won them over and they're coming along nicely. We meet Sunday mornings and Tuesday evenings, and I also have mentoring meetings with Pr. Kekana during the week. This last Sunday they started collecting offerings for the purchase of Bibles. People are getting involved and beginning to minister, so this Bible study is quickly becoming a home church. We've only been here 3 months - so exciting to be a part of so much already!

My biggest prayer request is regarding the difficulties of ministry. English isn't the first language of the guys I'm working with, and they often have trouble expressing themselves clearly. I can get used to a heavy accent, but choppy phrases with poor vocabulary hinder understanding a bit. To add to this, spiritual attacks are frequent and it's easy to notice there's a lot going on in the invisible realm. Racial difficulties haven't really been an issue, praise God. His love surpasses appearances. 

A special word of thanks to those whose sponsorship keeps us going. The Body needs every part to work well. Thank you for your support!

Love in Christ, 


Email Update:

January 16, 2017

From Mariana:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

After a lot of praying and talking, we came to a decision.
We decided we will continue homeschooling Mathias from Monday to Thursday, and he will attend Vineyard Christian School on Fridays for games and sports.

I would like to thank all of you for your kind words, for caring and for helping us with your prayers. It was a tough decision. I fell in love with the school, how Bible oriented and Bible focused they are, but I still felt the Lord leading me to continue in my journey as my son's teacher. To be very honest, it is not always easy to teach our child in a language that is not my own. But the Lord has helped me and I am sure He will continue to carry us through this. He is faithful even when my English is not, haha. :)

I praise God for the life of the school principal, who has shown an open heart and a willingness to help us, to the point that he will not charge us anything for the days Mathias will attend. Also, the first grade teacher has been such a blessing and is providing me with their book list, so we can buy them from the school and use them at home.

I added music, gardening and some other new things to the first grade curriculum. I will also try to go out with Mathias once a week or once every two weeks to learn something about the culture of this country, to see some animals, or even to go to the library or to a museum. 

Thank you! Thank you for battling with us!

In his love,
Mariana

 

From Paul:

Wow, in 12 years we've never had so much feedback on any of our letters! Years ago we felt lonely in our work, yet the Lord has definitely changed that scenario. We thank you for taking the time to write, to be involved in our lives. We appreciate it so much! 
A special word of thanks to those who took the time to share your advice, especially to those who did it in a graceful, non-legalistic way. The grace dispensation certainly has plenty of grace-full people, and we praise the Lord for that! All of the feedback was useful, and we appreciated learning with you. Thank you for your thoughts, your advice, and most of all for your prayers. We could see the Lord moving in all this, and we know it was due to your intercession.
Again, thanks for taking part in our lives, precious friends!


Mathias

Email Update:

December 5, 2016

Dear Friends, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It’s been a whole month already! Last week, on December 1st, we celebrated our one-month anniversary here in South Africa, and I, Mariana, would like to share some things that are in my heart with you all.
Before we came, we felt confident about language because we knew people spoke English here. Well, South Africa has eleven official languages, and yes, most of the people do speak English. But they speak South-African-British English, and some with a very heavy accent because of their mother languages. Sometimes people don’t understand our American English, and we were not able to understand their English either. So we are trying to change our English little by little to be better understood. Mathias is the best one in that area. How wonderful it is to be a kid! Also some words are different in a very funny way. Traffic lights are called “robots”, ketchup is called “tomato sauce”, paper towels are called “kitchen tissue”, and toilet paper is called “toilet tissue”, a barbecue is a “braai”. But the funniest are diapers. They are called “napkins” or “nappies”, so you can imagine the waiter’s confused look when I was at a restaurant and asked if he could bring me more napkins! I should have asked for “serviettes”. Oh, what fun!
This has been the time of our lives! Being in a different country, learning so much of other cultures and serving the Lord at the same time! Yes, we are having trials. Right now, at Christmas time, I miss my family like crazy. But I never came here thinking it would be easy. I came with the mindset that I always have to remember: Lean on God when you have bad days! Go to His Word, go to Him in prayer! That has been my motto since we arrived. Am I grateful for His faithfulness and for that wonderful promise we have in Phillipians 4:7 where it says that the peace of God will guard my heart and my mind through Christ Jesus! Praise God!
Just one prayer request before I go. I just finished kindergarten with Mathias. I have homeschooled him and it has been such a blessing to our family! But because the Lord has not given us more children, despite our desire to have a big family (He knows what’s best for us) we’ve sensed that Mathias is in need of more social contact and sharing time with other kids. We are praying to find a small school for him, that teaches in English, so he will make friends and learn the culture while he learns the normal curriculum of a first grader. Also, we think it is a great way to meet parents and share the gospel with them, and with the school staff. Would you, please, join us in prayer? Please, also pray for my heart as I have to let my son go.

Mathias

Last, but not least, I wanted to say that our hearts are so filled with gratitude! First to our Lord, our Wonderful Father who carries us through and guides us in such a marvelous way! Then to all of you who have been praying for us, sending nice messages and gifts, supporting us in many different ways. Thank you! Every single word and prayer matters! May the Lord continue blessing you and helping you in your daily walk with Him too. To Him all honor and glory!

In His abounding love,

Mariana Craesmeyer

Tea Guests

Email Update:

August 16, 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you so much for praying for our ladies' tea! Not only did we have a very good time but also a very good number of women came. More than twenty ladies heard the gospel, not counting the ones involved in working and helping during the event. It was so good that yesterday we had a second tea, this time here in our home.
Because it was a week day, we had less attendants, thirteen, but it was still such a blessing. On the first one, I shared the gospel in a short message, and on the second, I talked about the importance of the Word of God in our lives.
I am so excited and grateful! Thanks to our Lord for enabling us and thanks to you all for your precious prayers!

As Mathias and I have birthdays in October, my sister, who lives in Rio, gave us tickets to go to the Olympics as our birthday gifts. Mathias and I will travel tomorrow. It will be a refreshing time for some rest and I am also hoping for some good opportunities to minister to my sister and brother-in-law. Paul will stay and continue working with the church plant here, as well as some finishing touches on the South African visa paperwork.

Thank you for fighting and rejoicing with us! I am overjoyed every time I think of what the Lord has done in our lives!

Rejoicing in Him,
Mariana Craesmeyer

Tea Food

Email Update:

January 26, 2016

Greetings in our precious Lord Jesus Christ, dear brethren!

Boy, have I a thing or two to report! Mariana and I feel that the Lord has blessed us so much with this trip to the US! In the last four months we’ve covered close to 10 thousand miles, visited many like-minded brethren, shared in mutual encouragement, and we still haven’t seen everybody on the urgent list! We’ve also begun the process of changing missions, going to another mission field, while at the same time working to have our work in Brazil continue!

Ok, ok, I’ll explain. It’s like this: for some time now the Lord has laid in our hearts the need for further developing our efficiency as church planters, and He opened the door for us to work with TCM on another field for a while. South Africa has a few churches already, but is much in need of development, especially because the field is so ripe and ready. There is an abundance of church seeds, and a shortage of workers to plant them. We felt the Lord calling us to work with the missionaries Dean and Sheba Padayhag, especially in the training of several students at the Bible school who then will go on and plant more churches. This is so exciting!

Both Word of Grace Mission (WGM) and Things to Come Mission (TCM) have worked together for a smooth transition for us. We’ve been accepted into TCM and will be joining the Padayhags in South Africa sometime in October, Lord willing.

Meanwhile, the church we started to plant in Sorocaba needs our undivided attention for a few months so that the leaders can be trained to take over. Our plan is to return to Brazil near the end of March or mid-April to move to Sorocaba and continue the work from up close (we started the church while still living 3 hours away, in Araraquara). I have just received news that they’ve already found a place for us! Isn’t it exciting when the Lord just opens the doors and you just need to walk through them??

With the Lord’s blessings, we will serve in South Africa for a couple of years or so, and then we see where the Lord leads us from there. Our heart’s desire is to return to Brazil to continue planting churches according to the vision we set forth, especially that of working in big cities and training national believers to carry on church planting, yet we are open to the Lord’s leading.

We are praying for our remaining time in the US, that the Lord would use us to encourage other believers toward church planting here in the USA and abroad. We are also praying for the brethren in Sorocaba, that they may be ready for intensive training when we arrive, and that the Lord will cause His work to grow. And we are praying for the finances needed to carry out the work in Sorocaba and then our move to South Africa, all of which will have expenses other than the usual day-to-day living (plane fare, car, new house…).

I have a special request for myself also: I have felt the Lord laying on my heart the desire to continue my formal training. I’ve looked around and found Saint Louis Theological Seminary to be much to my liking and needs. Would you pray with me about pursuing the bachelor’s degree in theology and specialization in missions?  Tuition is affordable and I can take classes online, one class at a time, so as not to interfere with the ministry, while still learning at a good rate. Those missions classes… I’m so looking forward to that!

Love in our precious Savior’s blood,                               
Paul

Paul Preaching