"Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim the good news of His Salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared above all…" 1 Chronicles 16:23-25
Eurochor in Cape Town
We praise God for a most blessed, inspiring and empowering series of Reformation celebration events and outreaches in Cape Town. Making this year's Reformation celebrations absolutely unique was the arrival of the Eurochor. With over 140 members drawn from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and Switzerland, this International Christian Youth Choir has thrilled audiences throughout the world with their multilingual, varied, colourful and captivating concerts.
Guidance and Planning
It was at the Youth Conference at KwaSizabantu Mission, July this year that I learned of the possibility of the Eurochor visiting Cape Town. I immediately issued an invitation and our Mission moved into high gear in seeking out suitable venues. As we prayed for wisdom and guidance, it became immediately clear that the ideal venue for an open-air outreach at a public venue would be the Amphitheatre at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, preferably for a Saturday afternoon performance. There was no question that the ideal venue for Reformation Sunday service would be the Strand Street Lutheran church, not only is this the oldest Lutheran church in the Southern hemisphere, but it is also the oldest Protestant house of worship still in operation in Southern Africa. Archival records date back to the 1740s and the present building was constructed in 1771 and officially opened 1780.
Answers to Prayer
By God's grace, both of these venues were confirmed with the V & A Waterfront Management willing to make the Amphitheatre available, free of charge, for such a unique International and cultural celebration. The Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Strand Street was delighted to hear of the possibility of hosting the Eurochor as an integral part of their 499th Reformation Sunday celebration service. For Reformation Day, Monday, 31 October, we knew that the best venue would have to be the Huguenot Monument, where we have conducted Reformation Day celebration services for two decades and the Dutch Reformed Church in Franschhoek was also willing to have us use their beautiful wood-panelled church for the Eurochor concert on Reformation Day afternoon. So, by God's grace, not only was the Eurochor available during the last days of October for Reformation celebration events and outreaches in Cape Town, but the ideal venues were also available and open for our programme.
Brilliant Sunshine and Perfect Weather for Outdoor Events
We had to pray for good weather as open-air outreaches can be somewhat dampened by rain, which in Cape Town is always possible. However we could not have prayed for better weather. The choir performed in brilliant sunshine at the open-air Amphitheatre at the Waterfront, with seagulls flying overhead. In fact, with the Eurochor coming as they did from Autumn in Europe to Spring in Africa, one of our concerns was the sensitive skins of so many of the choir being afflicted with sunburn, after being hours in the open.
The logistics of transporting, housing and catering for such a large choir was a challenge, which KwaSizabantu Mission, aQuellé and Frontline worked together to overcome. We praise God for each and every one who had a hand in making this Mission to South Africa and outreaches and ministry in Cape Town such a magnificent and successful time.
A Clash of Cultures
The Word of God declares: "Wisdom calls aloud outside, she raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words." Proverbs 1:20-21. The Waterfront in Cape Town must be one of the busiest thoroughfares and most popular tourist destination in the country. The stands were filling up even as the choir was setting up their equipment and preparing for the performance. Shortly before the 3pm scheduled beginning of the performance, there were the sounds of drums and a Halloween march went past. Several of our Mission workers offered some Living Waters Africa Halloween tracts to the participants. Some interesting conversations resulted.
We were only a few minutes into the inspiring presentations of the choir and orchestra when Waterfront Management informed us that there had been a complaint about open-air preaching and they would have to close down our performance. Rev. Erlo Stegen has said: "Where the Spirit of God is at work then we must expect the spirit of evil to fight back." First Tershia and then I interceded and sought to persuade the Management that the complaint they had received was not justified. Listening to the enthusiastic applause and warm reception, which the Eurochor was receiving from the crowds overflowing the stands and supporting their presentations even from the upper level balconies, it was obvious that most of the shoppers and tourists were very appreciative and supportive. Few of the participants would have been aware of the spiritual warfare going on in the background at this unique event.
The choir sang: "His Name is Wonderful, Let us Praise God Together, Speak to my Soul, O it is Wonderful to be Christian, Make me a Channel of Your Peace, Take my Life and Let it be Consecrated Lord to Thee, and I Will Serve Thee." When the choir began singing "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me…" many in the audience joined in singing.
To the Glory of God Alone
Singing under the intense heat of mid-afternoon sun, we were also well aware of the blessings from Heaven that were accompanying this dynamic public witness to the Glory of God. After the performance, which received a standing ovation from many in the crowds, evangelistic discussions took place. Soon we could see people engrossed in reading Gospel tracts and booklets and engaged in evangelistic discussions.
Reformation Sunday in the Oldest Lutheran Church in the Southern Hemisphere
The Reformation Sunday service at the historic Lutheran church in Cape Town was a never-to-be-forgotten experience. The large Lutheran Church was packed upstairs and downstairs, with over 600 worshippers. The choir began with Wachet Auf and "Surely, surely, He hath born our griefs and carried our sorrows… He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him," from Handel's Messiah.
Why Celebrate the Reformation?
In my address to the congregation, I spoke of 22 years ago, when our Frontline Fellowship Mission team was approaching a remote village in Cuando Cubango province (what the Portuguese referred to as The Ends of the Earth) in Angola. The team heard the sound of enthusiastic singing. They immediately recognised the tune, even though they could not understand the words. What they were hearing was: A Mighty Fortress is our God, Dr. Martin Luther's great battle hymn of the Reformation, being sung in Ovimbundu. This beloved hymn, based on Psalm 46, is one of the favourite hymns of the persecuted church and one of the most translated hymns in history. A banner was stretched across the road, proclaiming, 31 October 1517. It was Reformation Day!
Celebrating the 5 Solas of the Reformation
School children had posters and projects with hand drawings of Reformers, Dr. Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, Willian Tyndale and John Calvin. The great battle cries of the Reformation were boldly displayed: Sola Scriptura! Sola Gratia! Sola Fide! Solus Christus! Soli Deo Gloria. Christ alone is the Head of the Church. Scripture alone is our authority. Salvation is by the grace of God alone. Justification is received by Faith alone. Everything is to be done for the glory of God alone.
This is the Greatest Gift
These Ovimbundu believers had suffered so much. Their church buildings have been destroyed by communists. They effectively have no Bibles. What was left of the few Bibles and hymn books that they had possessed were now in tatters. When they received Scriptures, they declared: "This is the greatest Gift anyone could ever ask for! The Word of God in our own language!"
Rebuked and Inspired
We were inspired and rebuked by the steadfast devotion of these Ovimbundu believers. Here they were, at what had been described as the ends of the earth, and they were celebrating Reformation Day. Since then, we have resolved to celebrate 31 October as the birthday of all Protestant, Evangelical, Bible-believing churches.
Seeking First the Kingdom of God
It was Dr. Martin Luther's earnest quest for peace with God and his intense study of the Scriptures, which led him to challenge the unethical fundraising tactics, superstitions and unbiblical practises of the papacy. This launched the Protestant Reformation. The Lord Jesus Christ taught: "But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33
It is the Truth That Sets Us Free
It was Martin Luther's love for the Word of God and his dedication to truth that led him to challenge the entire ecclesiastical and political authority of the Roman Catholic papacy and the Holy Roman Empire.
Repentance Not Indulgences
On 31 October 1517, Dr. Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses onto the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. The 95 Theses begins with repentance: "Since our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ says: "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near", He wants the whole life of a believer to be a life of Repentance." Professor Luther maintained that no sacrament can take away our responsibility to respond to Christ's command to true repentance, evidenced by outward change, a transformation and renewal of our entire life. Luther emphasised that it is God alone who can forgive sins and indulgences are a fraud.
Here I Stand
Summoned before the Emperor, Martin Luther declared: "Unless I am convinced by Scripture, or by clear reasoning, that I am in error - for popes and councils have often erred and contradicted themselves - I cannot recant, for I am subject to the Scriptures I have quoted; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. It is unsafe and dangerous to do anything against ones conscience. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. So help me God. Amen."
God is our Ultimate Authority
In this courageous stand Martin Luther argued for freedom of conscience, based upon the authority of Scripture. From these foundational principles flowed constitutional authority. The principle is Lex Rex (the Law is King!). No one is above God's Law. Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Everyone is under God's Law. Sola Scriptura eroded the foundations of political and ecclesiastical totalitarianism.
Foundations for Freedom
The Protestant emphasis on the priesthood of all believers and the supreme authority of Scripture led to the concept of representative governments and constitutional authority as the supreme law of the land. By emphasising the Biblical doctrine of Faith as a gift of God, Dr. Luther undermined the Catholic Inquisition and provided Theological foundations for religious liberty and freedom of conscience. The social and political implications of all this was enormous. The priesthood of all believers and the doctrine of Sola Scriptura led to constitutionalism, the concept of representative governments, religious liberty, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, checks and balances and all the other out-workings of political and social freedom.
Back to the Bible for Reformation and Revival
There is no doubt that the Back to the Bible Reformation movement in Europe during the 16th century was one of the most important epochs in history. Today we need a new Back to the Bible Reformation and we need to seek God and earnestly pray for a new Heaven sent Holy Spirit empowered Revival.
Reformation Celebration in Franschhoek
On Reformation Day, Monday, 31 October, we gathered for a noon day Reformation celebration service at the Huguenot Monument in scenic Franschhoek. Surrounded by spectacular scenery with mountains, vineyards and forests, the Eurochor led us in singing A Mighty Fortress is our God. Visitors travelled from as far away as Villiersdorp, Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Alexandria, Port Elizabeth and KwaZulu/Natal to participate in these special Reformation Day events. In the afternoon the Eurochor treated us to a concert in the beautiful, wood-panelled Dutch Reformed Church which had been a site of Revival in the days of Andrew Murray. The galleries and side-wings testify to the tremendous expansion of the original rectangular church that occurred as a result of that Heaven-sent Revival. That was the prayer of our hearts: "Will You not Revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?" Psalm 85:6
Live in the Light of Eternity
Here at one of the most historically significant times and places, under brilliant sunshine, at a most spectacular and scenic venue, this International Christian Youth Choir lifted our hearts, souls and minds heavenward as their Scripture songs overflowed our hearts and minds and caused us to focus on what really matters in the light of eternity. Many of their songs became our prayers: "Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee, Make me a Channel of Your Peace, I will serve Thee because I love Thee. You have given life to me, I was nothing before You found me, You have given life to me, heartaches, broken pieces, ruined lives are why You died on Calvary. Your touch was what I longed for, You have given life to me."
Worship in Spirit and in Truth
"Speak to my soul, dear Jesus, speak now in tenderous tone, whisper in loving kindness, Thou art not left alone. Open my heart to hear Thee, quickly to hear Thou Voice, fill Thou my soul with praises, let me in Thee rejoice." "Life has purpose now it never had before. There is meaning to each day and even more; for a joy and peace I cannot explain is mine, since I found new life in Christ My Lord Divine. O it is Wonderful to be a Christian; I it is Wonderful to have sins forgiven; O it is wonderful to be redeemed, justified forever, reconciled!"
Learning from History
The Museum could barely accommodate the crowds who came to have a guided tour through the Huguenot Museum. I led a guided tour before the Reformation Day service and one afterwards, just before the afternoon concert.
To Move the World
At the beginning of the Eurochor Concert in the Dutch Reformed Church, I mentioned the Greek Engineer Archimedes who, referring to the wonders of the lever, declared: "If I had a place to stand, I could move the world." In principle, the capacity of a lever is unlimited. An ordinary weakling can move a rock the size of a house. All that he would need would be a fulcrum, a pole strong enough that it would not break and long enough to multiply the force. That and a place to stand. The force multiplying physics of the lever are a function of distance. The heavier the object, or the weaker the person trying to move it, the longer the pole would need to be and the further away from it you would need to stand. However, with the right fulcrum, the right bar and the right distance, all you would need to do would be to push the lever down and the boulder, no matter how heavy it was, would move. So, theoretically, Archimedes famously declared: "With the right fulcrum, bar and distance, you could put a lever to planet earth and move the world itself, as long as you had a place to stand."
Martin Luther Changed the World
Professor Martin Luther moved the world. He changed history because he had a place to stand. Dr. Martin Luther declared: "My conscience is captive to the Word of God. Here I stand!" Our Lord Jesus Christ declared that our Faith would be able to move mountains (Matthew 17:20). Martin Luther's Faith moved the world - because he had a place to stand. He stood on the Word of God. The fulcrum he used was the Gospel. This was balanced on the bar of the Law of God. Dr. Martin Luther actually fulfilled what the Greek Engineer, Archimedes, had hypothesised about. Standing on the Word of God, using the bar of the Law of God and the fulcrum of the Gospel, Martin Luther's Faith not only moved mountains, it changed the world. It brought an end to the Middle Ages and ushered in the modern world. The Protestant Reformation and the resultant scientific revolution and industrial revolution produced the most productive, prosperous and free nations in the history of the world. All because Luther had a place to stand and he made his stand on the unchangeable Word of Almighty God.
One of the many significant events of our Reformation Day celebration service at Franschhoek was setting aside and commissioning the first of our Africa Reformation Overland Mission teams who will travel across 14 nations in Southern, Central and East Africa, God willing, as far as South Sudan, conducting Soul Winning Seminars, Discipleship Seminars, Evangelism Workshops, Reformation Conferences and establishing Revival Prayer Groups, Bible Studies, Reformation Societies and Christian Action groups that will initiate Back to the Bible movements throughout their countries. "Do not confirm any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…" Romans 12:2
The sermon at the Reformation celebration service was on Conviction and Courage. Dr. Martin Luther's actions were like that of Elijah - confronting the false prophets on Mount Carmel. It was a defining moment when conviction and courage confronted corruption and cowardice. "And Elijah came to all the people and said, 'How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God follow Him, but if Baal is god, follow him.' But the people answered him not a word." 1 Kings 18:21. Sometimes silence is golden. Other times it is just plain yellow.
Without a Vision A People Perish
The Reformation was inspired by great vision. Without a vision a people perish. What is your vision? What are you living for? Reformers, like Dr. Martin Luther, were living for a vision far bigger than themselves, far bigger than their times and nations. Their vision continues to impact and bless the world, hundreds of years after their life on earth. The Word of God declares: "Who will rise up for Me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for Me against the workers of iniquity?" Psalm 94:16
Can You Not Do Something More for God?
The Lord is looking for a man who can stand in the gap and build up the wall on behalf of the land. Are you standing in the gap and interceding on behalf of the land? Are you helping to rebuild the wall? Are you impacting your world for Christ? What does God want you to do?
Stand Up, Step Out and Speak Up
When the time comes for you to stand up, stand up boldly. When the time comes for you to step out, step out in Faith. When the time comes when you must speak up, speak courageously and with Christian conviction the truths of the Holy Scriptures. "Chose for yourselves this day Whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15
Livestreaming and DVDs
The Frontline Fellowship tech team experimented with our first live streaming of events during this special series of outreaches and services. They are now editing DVDs on the various Eurochor performances and outreaches. These DVDs will become available in coming months. For more information on the Eurochor, visit www.eurochor.com.
Let the Earth Hear His Voice
As we enter into the 500th anniversary of the Reformation year and seek to educate and evangelise, equip and empower our families, congregations, communities, countries to return back to the Bible, contact us for resources for Reformation and get involved in the Christian Action Network so that we can co-operate together to let the earth hear His voice. "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the Kingdom is the Lord's, and He rules over the nations." Psalm 22:27-28
Thank you for all your prayers, encouragement and support.
May God continue to be your joy and strength.
Yours for the fulfilment of the Great Commission
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
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