Testimony: SOTS Online Cohort in South Africa

Guest post by Marlon Govender, BER subscriber in South Africa

Having being called to serve as an elder in our local assembly in 2013 I felt ill-equipped and unqualified.  In 2014, I read Alex Strauch’s book on biblical eldership and was blessed and tried to implement what I had learned in my life. In 2015 when I was called to full-time service for the Lord I read that book again and felt the burden to now share this valuable teaching with others.  The opportunity did not fully present itself until I had an opportunity to preach to about 300 assembly elders at a five-day leadership conference in Mozambique in 2018. After that I was convinced that there was an important message about biblical eldership that needed to be shared, and prayed about the Lord opening a door.

So it was no small wonder I jumped at the opportunity offered by CMML and BER in February 2020 to participate in an online cohort studying the School of the Shepherds curriculum. I signed up for the 101 course and was unbelievably blessed by it. In fact, I can safely say that although I had studied the Scripture on leadership before and had read Alex’s book two times, the Lord used 101 to change my life and ministry in the local assembly.

As I started course 102, it continued to impact me profoundly; I felt an urgent need to share this amazing resource and volunteered to become a group leader. I advertised the course far and wide among many churches in South Africa and got extremely poor results. Most were just not interested.  I did not let this discourage me and thanked God for the seven men who did join.

Our group currently consists of six brothers from my own local church and two others from a near by church. These are a mix of elders, deacons, and youth workers.

We start with an introduction session and then have a full one-hour session per lesson each Tuesday at 7 p.m. via Zoom. We are currently 70 percent complete. The course has gone exceptionally well, far better than I had hoped for or imagined. We have had stimulating and invigorating discussions, and all have learned and been blessed by it. Without exception, every cohort member has thoroughly enjoyed the studies.

My future plans are (Lord willing) to compete 101 with this group and encourage most of them if not all to continue to 102 together as a group. Also, I will resend a second invite to other churches around the country for a second intake of 101 in July—the value to be gained is worth persevering for. God willing I feel it very possible that with the testimony of these seven participants we will be able to have a similar-sized second group up and running by the end of July.

God bless,

Marlon Govender, South Africa