23rd November 2017
It is probably an understatement to say this last week has been eventful!
As many of you will know, Deb and I were in Harare, Zimbabwe at the weekend. This was a trip that had been booked months in advance, our sixth visit to that great nation and to our friends in River of Life Church. We always keep a close eye on news coming from there, and although we knew that the vice president had been sacked a week or so earlier, we did not expect this to be the start of events that led to an apparent takeover by the army and Mugabe being placed under house arrest just a day before we were due to travel!
Naturally, it raised questions about whether or not we should go. We sought counsel from our friends on the ground and also spoke to fellow King's Church elder, William Dalziel, who was already in Harare. Everyone was able to reassure us that, at least for now, everything was peaceful. Deb and I prayed, talked and both felt certain that we should go and stand with our brothers and sisters in Harare.
There has been much discussion about whether or not this was a coup. Some have said that it could be described as 'a very Zimbabwean coup'. True, there were far fewer people on the flight into Harare than normal, but our impression on landing and then driving across Harare was of a country that felt both calm and cautiously hopeful. The army presence, what we saw of it, seemed low key and determinedly friendly.
We arrived in Harare on Friday and left on Monday, and over those four days we had a taste of the rollercoaster ride of hope and disappointment that Zimbabweans have lived with for years. On Saturday, as tens of thousands marched through the streets of Harare, we adjusted our programme so the River of Life Church leaders could join with the masses celebrating what they hoped would be the end of the Mugabe era. That evening we met with some of the Harare church leadership teams and listened to their own experiences of being on the march. Many described it as a street party, and their happiness and optimism were infectious.
On Sunday morning I had the joy of appointing and laying hands on three new elders and then preaching at the River of Life services. This is a church which we love and where we feel very much at home, and to be with them on this Sunday in particular was an honour. Then on Sunday evening we sat with our dear friends Scott and Claire Marques and watched Mugabe's live televised address to the nation. Expectations were high: WhatsApps were flooding in, people were recording it live and we were taking selfies to remember the moment, ready for what everyone believed was going to be his resignation speech. As his rambling statement continued for twenty minutes, it gradually became clear that he was stubbornly refusing to go. What a crushing anticlimax! For a while I was stunned – I'd seen a glimpse of what Zimbabweans have been going through for decades. So the four of us prayed together before retiring to bed, declaring once again our faith that God is sovereign and will have His way in Zimbabwe!
We are now in Cape Town and taking the chance to spend some time with Steve and Anna van Rhyn from Jubilee Community Church, another excellent church. I have also had the joy of spending an afternoon with their eldership team. Just before we met Steve and Anna on Tuesday evening, we received a message to say that Mugabe had resigned! As we watched footage of crowds of people celebrating on the streets of Harare, we shared in their joy and relief and the four of us drank a toast to our friends in Zimbabwe!
Zimbabweans are a people who have suffered greatly for many years, and their patience, tenacity and resilience never fails to impress us. The faith the church has shown, and their determination to continue to share the gospel and express God's kingdom in whatever way they can, is inspirational. To have walked these last few days with our Zimbabwean friends has been a huge privilege. We continue to pray for this great nation, for peace to continue and for God's purposes to be fulfilled.
Deb and I return to London on Friday and we are looking forward to being back at King's on Sunday.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
24th November 2016
Deb and I have just returned from an excellent trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe. After a six-hour delay in Harare, and some doubt as to whether we would actually make our connecting flight to London, it is good to be home.
Being part of the Newfrontiers family brings many joys, not the least of which is the opportunity to have relationship with churches in other parts of the world. We had planned a couple of days holiday in Cape Town before flying onto Harare and took the chance to visit Jubilee Community Church. In fact we landed on Sunday morning after an eleven-hour flight from London and drove straight to the first of their services! They have recently become a multi-site church, with a second site launched in the very centre of Cape Town just six weeks ago. It was so encouraging to see both their sites full – what amazing growth and momentum!
Following a few days off enjoying Cape Town, and an afternoon with the Jubilee elders, Deb and I flew on to Harare. This was my fifth visit to Zimbabwe in as many years. One of the benefits of repeated visits is the ability to build real relationship with the people there and Deb and I greatly value the friendship that has developed with Scott and Claire Marques and the other elders and wives at River of Life. It was a joy to preach at all five services on Sunday, to see 31 responses for baptism and witness the amazing growth they have been experiencing as a church. All this is set in the context of a nation facing increasing political and economic uncertainty, so it is tremendously encouraging to see the robust faith and growing unity amongst all the churches there. There is a sense that this is a country waiting for resolution, like a woman waiting to give birth. These are important days for Zimbabwe – please continue to pray for them.
We arrived back in London early Tuesday morning following a long flight through the night, but I could not resist going into King's to see our new offices. Over the last ten days the team have been working hard to get us settled into our new premises at the Lee building. Our staff outgrew our offices in Catford many years ago, so six years after purchasing our Lee building it is great to at last be able to provide a comfortable working environment for those who serve us so faithfully.
This Sunday I will be hosting a membership morning. This is for anyone interested in finding out more about what it means to become a member of King’s – there is still time to sign up if you have not already done so.
God’s church is flourishing both at home and in other parts of the world. I am looking forward to being back with my King’s family this Sunday, knowing that as we gather to worship Jesus, our voices join with countless others from around the globe. Wherever we are, whatever our circumstances, God's name is being praised and His church marches forward.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
16th June 2016
It was such a joy to have Scott Marques and Renee Cunningham with us in January, when we introduced the work of the Ebenezer Agricultural Centre in Zimbabwe to the church. As many of you will know, Scott Marques is the apostolic leader for DNA, a part of Newfrontiers, and Renee Cunningham is the director of Ebenezer, a church-backed, Christian project which trains young adults in farming and business methods, whilst also offering them Christian discipleship. King’s is keen to develop its links with the church in Zimbabwe and with the Ebenezer Project in particular, and so with this in mind, Malcolm Kyte took a team from King’s out to Zimbabwe in March to visit the churches in Harare and Bulawayo and to see some of the many social action projects they run. We hope this will be the first of many such trips.
As part of a packed schedule, Malcolm and the team spent some time at Ebenezer and were very impressed with the work that goes on there. They discovered that one of the most acute needs at the centre is for improved accommodation for their staff – one staff family is currently living in a tent! After consultation with Renee and Scott, we set a target to raise £20,000 from King’s to build that family a new house. We held our gift days a few weeks ago, and I am thrilled to announce that once again, the people of King’s have excelled in their generosity: We have gone way beyond the original target and raised the amazing amount of £35,000! Renee and her team will be able to put this to great use. King’s, thank you again for being such a generous community.
This coming Sunday is Father’s Day and I am looking forward to speaking on the subject of fatherhood at the Catford and Lee sites. Malcolm Kyte will be speaking on a similar subject at Downham, where the service will include dedications. Please come along this Sunday ready to mark Father’s Day, to worship our heavenly Father and to give thanks for dads.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
12th May 2016
What an amazing weekend we have just had, with a total of nineteen people being baptised at our Catford and Lee services on Sunday. As always, it was fantastic to hear the different stories of people’s journeys towards finding faith and encountering Jesus. What is more, two people became Christians and ten responded to say they too would like to be baptised, including one of those who had just responded to salvation! Wow, praise God! This weekend it is our Downham site’s moment, with another four people testifying in word and deed to the risen Lord Jesus and taking the step of being baptised. We will be praying for another fruitful Sunday!
I do find these moments such an encouragement - witnessing each life transformed is deeply moving. With this in mind, as we approach our Annual Giving Review, I hope that we will be encouraged that our generous and sacrificial giving is bearing fruit in many lives. Please take a look again at the short video notice I shared with the church recently:
On this occasion, we are asking everyone to review their regular (revenue) giving, to review their regular multi-site giving and also to bring an additional one-off gift towards our multi-site fund. We take a monthly multi-site offering towards the fulfilment of our vision here at King’s but on these next two Sundays, 15th and 22nd May, it’s a multi-site offering with a difference: we are looking to raise £20,000 for the Ebenezer Project in Zimbabwe, where we have a growing relationship.
So as we approach the next two Sundays, let us continue to be a people who excel in faith-filled giving.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.