|The home of the Swakopmund Baptist Church|
|The Landmark Lighthouse of Swakopmund|
The town of Swakopmund is a quaint seaside resort and popular holiday destination. It certainly is our family's favourite place to be when on leave, particularly in summer when the temperatures in Windhoek soar. The cold Benguella current ensures that this desert town has a pleasant, moderate climate all year round.
It pleased the Lord to establish a Baptist congregation here in 1978 under the ministry of Bob Blevins, a Southern Baptist Church planter. I remember one of the first pastors thereafter whose name was Joe Heyes, a retired business man from Zimbabwe. He was a loving pastor, zealous for the Lord. His flock really loved him. Unfortunately he did not have a long ministry, for died very soon of a heart attack. Pastor Paul Witter in correspondence with me reminded me that the church had 7 pastors prior to his coming.
The church ministry only really began to consolidate under the 13 year pastorate of Paul Witter. Pastor Paul Witter led the church in their building program, and a lovely, functional church building was erected under his ministry. He subsequently accepted a call to a Baptist Church in South Africa.
|The Witter family - a few years ago|
The Swakopmund Baptist Church called Francois Koch who had originally been trained by the Brackenhurst Baptist Church in South Africa, and who had been sent out from that church to do church planting in Ethiopia and later in Somaliland. Circumstances in Somaliland were of such a nature that the Koch family needed to leave and return to South Africa. It was during this time that they received the call to another dry part of Africa. Francois and Shelly and their three young sons Jonathan, Benjamin and Micah arrived in April 2008.
|Francois and Shelly Koch|
The strength of Pastor Koch's ministry lies in his strong discipleship oriented ministry which is coupled to a strong commitment to sound doctrine and expository preaching. He is currently in the process of training men for elder and deacon ministry. The church also sponsors an annual Missions conference. The church is multicultural and every visitor is assured of a warm welcome.
Swakopmund is not an easy place to minister in.
The church experiences a high turnover of people due to work related issues. Swakopmund has become the center of a booming Uranium mining industry, and the mining industry is generally known to have a high turnover in staff. The other challenge is rooted in the relative affluence and the 'holiday' atmosphere of the town. Christians easily become lulled into spiritual apathy through materialism and the tendency to spend much time away in the "great outdoors " of the Namibian countryside.
Please pray for this great work! Please pray for this church and their pastor to persevere amidst many spiritual challenges. Encourage him if you can.
I, for my part am so thankful that we have another church of like minded convictions and passion for the gospel and the world in Namibia.