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Christmas Family Update – 2007

December 23, 2007

As you all know, we are missionaries to Africa, which would be the classic missionary locality. When many people think of missionaries they think of some person from North America or Europe sitting in an African hot tub (big black pot with vegetables in it – they exist, I’ve seen them) surrounded by dancing natives in the middle of the jungle. It’s not quite like that. The locals have cell phones, many have cars and some are college educated. But, there are also many who still live much as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. And even here in this continent of vast contrasts and where every religion known to man is practiced, the birth of Jesus is celebrated. The commercialism of the season has made it here as well, though not as bad as in the States. But, I wander. Back to the purpose of this letter, an end of the year update and greetings.

The Lord blessed us this year with – Surprise! – another child – Surprise! Kids are great. His name is Luke Augustine Plodinec. I wanted to name him Luke Danger Plodinec so he could say “Danger is my middle name!” Karen would have none of it. At least I’ll always be able to quote the movie line to him, “Luke, I am your father!” Look, he’s our sixth kid. After that many you don’t worry about bruising their psyche with a little bit of a strange name. Even the name he ended up with, Luke Augustine Plodinec, is more than any kid should have to bear. One of our friends said “That name is like a punch in the mouth.” Thank you Lord that little Luke is healthy.

The rest of the kids are doing well and getting big. Stephen (17) and Timothy (16) are both taller than dad who is 6’4”. Kimberly (14) is 5’9” and Catherine (8) and Michael (6) are growing like weeds. They do grow so fast. Lord willing, Stephen and Timothy will be going off to college in 2009 in the US. Karen and I miss them already. Stephen, Timothy and Kimberly are on the web, they all have blogs and “Facebook” pages. You can see what the latest events in their lives are by visiting them online. Links to their blogs are on our web site, http://www.plodinec.com.

We are pretty much used to living in Africa. In some ways it is just like living in the US, in other ways it is too different to even try and explain. Safety is always a concern, you just learn to be careful; please continue to pray about it. This is Africa, so political stability is an issue. Also, last summer our whole town ran out of water for two weeks and the power goes off 4-6 times a month, but usually only for a few hours at a time.

Everyone is very involved in our local church. I help share the preaching on Sunday evenings and teach Sunday school once in a while. Stephen and Timothy teach Sunday school to the grade school kids, Kimberly helps with the little kids and babies Sunday morning and evening. This year Karen was pregnant and then has been taking care of baby Luke, along with home schooling the kids, running the home and putting up with Steve, which are four fulltime jobs.

The ministry at seminary is going well. Last year we accepted 25 new students, 21 showed up for the first day of class. This year we accepted 22 new students, over half from countries other than South Africa. We will have around 70-80 full time students, depending on how many of the foreign students are able to get study visas. After being here two years I am more convinced than ever that this is the way to reach other cultures with the gospel. The men we teach are already in ministry and they are their culture. They take what we teach them in class and go right back to their churches and immediately apply it. They are reaching their own people. They are planting churches. They are evangelizing and discipling the next generation of African church leaders, and then they are sending them to us for further training. The school has been in existence for ten years and we are now getting new students that come from churches being pastored by our graduates. This is 2 Timothy 2:2 in action! – “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” A traditional church planting missionary is decades away from that kind of effectiveness, if they ever attain to that level of acceptance.

By the way, you must come and visit us. Yes, it is a long way. Yes, a plane ticket does cost money. But, we can use your help, even if it is just for a week or two. If you can’t make it then send your mature ministry minded high school or college age kids to come and minister for the summer, or for all year. They can stay with us. There are always a few American young people here ministering in the church and with our local church based missions organization. They are leading in the youth group, ministering to the younger kids, working at church, working at the mission, going out on missions trips, doing evangelism and doing all kinds of other ministry. They will be busy and they will love it. It will change their lives.

We hope and pray that you know the One whose birth we celebrate this time of year – Jesus Christ, Lord of all – and that He has changed your life, and continues to do so. Let us know how you are doing. Missionaries love to hear from people back home.

Steve, and Karen, Stephen, Timothy, Kimberly, Catherine, Michael & baby Luke,

Acts 20:32, “I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

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