Towards the end of 2015, Jubilee church had the bittersweet task of sending the Nichols family to South Africa to start our first church plant. Colin had lead Jubilee for twelve years, alongside following a growing international call, helping small Regions Beyond churches in Lesotho. His vision is to see the kingdom of God coming into some of the poorest places and raising them ‘from the ash heap’. Lesotho is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a desperate need for answers to long-term poverty and associated health issues.
His role became bigger overseas and after a hugely challenging time of faithfully obeying God’s call to both the international and the local (Jubilee), the Nichols were amazed when God suddenly opened the whole situation up over a matter of days and faced them with a choice - to stay in Worthing but hand over leadership of Jubilee, or to sell-up and actually re-locate nearer Lesotho and give their lives over to this international work.
An hour and a half from Lesotho there is a city called Bloemfontein in South Africa - with good schools for their teenage sons, Finn and Isaac, and their daughter Evie in primary school. There was a tiny Regions Beyond church there waiting for a leader… so the Nichols decided to go. They left amidst many tears, goodbye meals, prayers, financial offerings and words of faith from Jubilee. A supporting family, the Bandars, also moved from Worthing and have been like family to the Nichols.
The vision is to plant a multi-cultural church in this very segregated city, and to usher in some much-needed presence of God, hence the name ‘Joy in the City’ Church. It sounds crazy but they also believe God wants to build a radically generous church, which will ultimately resource a lot of the regional work across the Free State of South Africa and Lesotho. There are small beginnings, but already they’ve had their first baptism, and are gathering a small community from all the different cultures in Bloemfontein.
Bloemfontein is a little bit isolated - the main city in a farming district. The people have given the Nichols a very warm welcome, in fact their spirit of hospitality is exemplary. It is a very religious place, with most people professing some sort of faith in God. This makes Bloem an evangelist’s dream - you can literally spend all day talking to strangers and chatting about the gospel if you like! It is a centre for education so there are lots of students that the church are really enjoying. It is sunny nearly everyday, so although South Africans tend to say Bloemfontein is impossibly ‘naff’ compared to the other cities, it is lovely for Brits! They also call it the ‘safer city’ (which is all relative..).
Colin now travels regularly around the Free State and Lesotho to encourage the churches there, and is involved in bringing together a team from across South Africa to begin church planting across the continent.
It has been an intensely difficult transition for these two Jubilee families, but they testify to the fact that God has been faithful every step of the way. The vision is a little overwhelming at times, but there is plenty of fun and adventures along the way too. They love receiving news from people in Jubilee, or even visitors! They miss Jubilee terribly, and ‘there’s no place like home’ but more true: ‘there’s no better feeling than knowing you are in the will of God’.
You can follow their progress on the facebook page ‘jitcbloem’ or for fuller stories, Pam writes a blog which anyone can follow, on www.fivegofurther.wordpress.com . Both families write prayer letters via email, which you can also sign up to receive. Ask the church office for details….