We are happy to help support Ben Little in his work for the Lord in South Africa. Ben was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. He has been married to Melanie Little for 23 years. They have two children, Kayla and Zack. He has been preaching the gospel since 2001. Ben graduated from the Southern Africa Bible College. Currently, he is preaching for the Benoni church of Christ and is actively involved with evangelism with World Bible School.
Ben's Report - August 10, 2023
Dear beloved brethren, I trust you are all well.
FAMILY NEWS We are all well and grateful that winter is slowly receding - its still cold overnight but daytime highs are improving. We were blessed to have 1 week off down at the coast, during the school holidays. I felt normal again after 5 days :o) Thank you for your assistance with the booster water pump and installation thereof - it makes life a lot easier with water backup.
THE BENONI CONGREGATION As mentioned before, this is an old congregation with many elderly members, most of whom are in poor health due to their age. The attendance numbers also fluctuate in winter as the cold weather keeps many away. Rolling blackouts also play a part as we often worship without electricity. Our elders are looking at ways to mitigate this. We are also busy with a training program for our Deacons so that they can help alleviate the workload.
SABC MISSION TRIP During the mid-year break, our second and third year students went on a mission trip to Burgersfort, a small town, 5 hours north of us. They were very effective and baptized 18 precious souls into Christ - please see report attached. MORE SABC NEWS We are 7 weeks away from our annual Lectureship which will be held from 1-5 October. This will be our first "normal" lectureship since Covid-19. I am teaching four courses this semester due to a shortage of instructors. This means my SABC workload has doubled, making time management an absolute necessity. The new courses are Jeremiah, Acts, Personal Evangelism, and LIfe of Christ - and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
BAPTISMS We had 4 baptisms during July. One while on break down at the coast. Kayla's boyfriend/fiance, Tyler, was immersed into Christ in the ocean. Caitlin and Palesa are WBS students, of the four who were baptized.
MDANTSANE WORK - EASTERN CAPE Some time ago, I reported on the difficulties in the vast area of the Eastern Cape. Mdantsane has a population of more than a million people, with 2 small congregations that don't have preachers, elders or deacons. One of our Bible College graduates has been helping out by traveling (120 miles round trip) once a month to go and preach there. We have now located a young man who has had some training and is willing to relocate and love with a family in the area. We are going to assist with his accommodation costs, and the host family will take care of meals. This is a densely populated, poverty stricken township, which desperately needs the Gospel.
YOUTH PROGRAM Our youth have been troubled lately, by all sorts of challenges. One 17 year old young lady attempted suicide and ended up in hospital, fortunately she pulled through and is on the road to recovery. This has obviously affected the others and there seems to be a cloud of apathy hanging around. She is in therapy, and we are counseling with our teens.
TEMBISA FEEDING PROGRAM We had a tragedy in one of the families of one of the Tembisa ladies who cook the food for us. Her mother and one sibling were trapped in their house as it burned down, and they succumbed and died in the fire. We have been providing support to this family in the form of counseling and a small amount of money to help with immediate expenses. Even though this tragedy has struck the work there continues. As soon as things return to "normal" we are going to provide basic Sunday School training for the ladies to help teach the children in their community.
That's about all I have for now. Other than the day-to-day things.
Thank you for loving us and supporting us.
We love you.
Ben & family.
BEN'S REPORT - JUly 7, 2023
Dear beloved brethren,
I trust you are all well.
We are smack in the middle of winter, while I know that you are melting in the heat over on your side :o) Major work on the house has taken a break, except that I needed to replace the DVR for the camera monitoring system. We recently had an incident where we needed the footage to detect the possibility of an intruder on the property. Security is of paramount importance here. It is a deterrent, as is the electric fence, the lights, dogs, alarm system, etc. Homelessness is on the rise, and right opposite our house there's an open piece of land where homeless people sleep. We try to help them with food and warm clothing, but it becomes a bottomless pit, as they tell each other where the bread is to be found. Many use alcohol and drugs and sadly other immoral behavior as the women solicit in order to feed their habit. We are sadly ill-equipped to adequately assist these people.
BAPTISMS We had at least 7 baptisms in various places. Some are in hard to reach areas, but we try our best to reach them. I have had several studies where the candidates backed out at the last minute. Its frustrating sometimes when you've gone the extra mile to travel, meet folks in a KFC or fast-food outlet, and teach them the Gospel, only to find out they were really only interested in the "loaves & the fishes." i also taught a class at "Work4aliving," an NGO that helps young people find jobs, and we get asked to provide some spiritual insights. Of course its a golden opportunity for the Gospel. Several have been baptized over the past few months.
FEEDING PROGRAM The feeding program in Tembisa continues to provide hot meals for hungry tummies during the cold winter months. Unemployment is high in these areas and most of these families live below the poverty line. Thank you for helping us to do this, in a country that just seems to be declining more and more with each passing year.
VBS We held our first VBS since Covid-19, with 85 in attendance. The Theme was on Jonah and the big fish. The kids absolutely loved it. Its always wonderful to see how excited they get! YOUTH Our youth had great fun recently at Wii-Jump. it was well-organized by our youth coordinators and a good time was had by all. We have a muted program during the winter school break, which runs for the whole month of July.
YOUTH CLEANUP PROJECT One Saturday during the month of June, several of our Youth members joined Clean Projects Benoni, to help clean up a section of Great North Rd. Our local municipality no longer cleans the streets nor cuts the grass. So Clean Projects Benoni, an NGO was formed by volunteers who run on donations by businesses and residents, to clean up Benoni. It made our youth feel good to do some volunteer cleanup work and contribute to the beautification of our area. It is so sad that corruption at government level is so deeply entrenched that the funds get stolen before they reach the intended projects. We also have to fix our own potholes. I've done two in front of my house, but there are many more to fix, just in my street.
FUNERALS AND SICK I had a number of funerals during the month of June. Benoni is an old congregation, and some of our members are in the late eighties and nineties. We have also had several new cases where brethren have been diagnosed with late-stage cancer. One lady is just 38 years old, a single mother of three. The church is trying its best to support this family. It looks like we will have 3 orphans soon. The father went back to Zimbabwe and they have no contact.
BLANKET DRIVE We held our annual blanket drive and were able to give out 186 blankets in the Zenzele squatter camp through the Lord's church there.
BIBLE DISTRIBUTION A question that often comes my way is: "Do you have any Bibles?" As soon as I get a box of Bibles in, it doesn't even get a chance to gather some dust. But that's the way it should be.
For brevity's sake, I'll leave it here. I'm on a short break to catch my breath after a tough 6 months. God is good! Thank you for ALL you do for us.
Love, Ben and family.
Ben's Report - June 6, 2023
Dear beloved brethren, I trust you are all well.
FAMILY NEWS We are all well, despite the usual winter sniffles and flu that do the rounds at this time of year. Zack is doing way better at his new school, and his grades have improved dramatically. Kayla is still unemployed but going for regular job interviews. The past 6 weeks have been extremely challenging due to the construction work on 2 of the floors of our house that caved in due to rotting timber at the bottom.
BAPTISM We have had one baptism recorded for the month of May. We have been studying with Mlamule for several weeks prior. He is an intelligent, quiet young man, who took the Bible studies seriously and when he was ready to be baptized he joyfully obeyed the Gospel. We have had several studies, and many new visitors to the assembly.
BIBLE AND TRACT DISTRIBUTION On behalf of brother Spencer Ross (WBI) I delivered 10 boxes of Christian literature and Bibles, to Ironsyde on the 15th of May. I also delivered 40 Bibles to brother Maaga for distribution in Tembisa.
OTHANDWENI The feeding of the children of Othandweni in Tembisa continues, and it seems like the demand increases in winter. These kids are so grateful for a plate of hot food.
YOUTH Rolling blackouts have negatively impacted our youth gatherings, but they continue to come on a Friday night. Over the past few weeks we have been discussing Baptism, and the various reasons for being immersed into Christ.
CLOTHING DISTRIBUTION We occasionally get to hand out good used clothing to the needy in the surrounding area. A lot of the clothing donations come from the family of deceased church members who donate the clothing of their dear departed loved ones. We are busy collecting blankets for our annual winter blanket drive
LECTURESHIP PLANNING We are currently planning for our annual SABC/Benoni Lectureship which takes place from 1st through 5th of October. The Theme is "Soldiers of Christ Arise." This will be the first full lectureship since 2019. Please pray that it will be well-attended and encouraging to all who attend and take part.
Thanks again for looking after us in the way that you do. We love you.
Ben and family.
BEN'S REPORT - MAy 9, 2023
Dear beloved brethren, I trust you are all well.
BAPTISMS God has blessed us with at least 9 baptisms, during the month of April. We also have several ongoing Bible studies as a result of the WBS work. The WBS work is a growing ministry. Chante does an amazing job with grading of courses, adoption of new students and correspondence, however, it's the follow up work that can be time consuming. Sometimes everything falls into place quickly and easily, and at other times, not! But we keep on keeping on.
HARD PRESSED BUT NOT CRUSHED During the month of April we've had 8 people pass away, 2 members of the congregation, and 6 people who were family members of members of the congregation. It feels almost like Covid-19 all over again, with so many folks sick, and the spate of deaths so close to each other. Some folks were caught unawares due the sudden passing of their loved ones. We've really had to dig deep to help everyone.
VISITORS FROM ESWATINI We were blessed to have Thayer and Chery Salisbury, American Missionaries, working in Eswatini, not too far from us - about 5 hours drive. It was such a blessing to have them stay with us for 2 days. Brother Thayer also conducted a Bible study for us. We hope to see them again in August when he comes back for surgery in Johannesburg.
DRC It was great hearing from Gabriel Kilolo, recently, who has been working hard to spread the Gospel in his home country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There is a picture attached with him preaching in Kinshasa. We try to help our brother with whatever we can. Gabriel is a graduate of SABC and is faithful to the Lord.
YOUTH Rolling blackouts have been affecting our youth programs, which are usually on a Friday evening. We have recently split the group so that we have a junior and senior youth program. Since restarting the "Challengers" group, the Jnr youth has grown significantly. This is long term work and we are actually in need of a full time youth minister who can minister to the youth and counsel with those who are having difficulties either at home or in their personal lives.
SABC WORK I probably said this already, but I love teaching at the Bible College. We have a really good group of first year students who are very receptive to the Word. They keep me on my toes with all the questions they ask during class. They have also risen to the challenge to be more evangelisitic, and Koketso is pictured baptising Themba, his very first convert/baptism. It was amazing to see! He really is on fire for the Lord. Please continue to pray for the students as we head toward exam time.
BIBLE & TRACT DISTRIBUTION If I received a container load of Bibles, I'm sure they would be distributed in a couple of weeks - so great is the demand for the Word of God over here. I recently sent off to Bronkhorstspruit, the last of the Bibles that I had left from a previous consignment. Do you have any suggestions as to how we can get more Bibles into the hands of more people? It's expensive to ship from the USA, and also expensive to purchase here as well - catch 22. The Zulu Bibles will obviously need to be purchased here.
TEMBISA CHILDREN FEEDING PROGRAM We are gearing up for a cold winter. Usually, we have more kids and even adults coming for a hot meal during the cold winter months. I am grateful that we are able to keep this program going. Thank you for helping to keep some hungry tummies filled with a plate of hot food.
FINALLY The date has been set, 14th of May for the appointment of deacons at Benoni. We are excited about this because it has taken so long to get to this point. The deacons will be a great help and will take a load off the shoulders of the elders, and also off me.
Thanks again for ALL that you do for us - words fail to adequately express what is in our hearts.
Love, Ben and family.
Ben's Report - March 8, 2023
Dear beloved brethren,
I trust you are well. Our Summer is slowly receding, days are getting shorter, and it's a little darker in the mornings. Life in South Africa is a struggle for millions of people daily. I've mentioned the problems before, but just recently I visited an elderly lady who is not a member of the church (at the request of her daughter, a sister in Christ), in a government hospital. One word describes the condition - APPALLING! Most of the time I visit folks who have medical insurance, in private hospitals, which are fairly good, but the decline in the government healthcare system is shocking, to say the least.
BAPTISMS We have had several baptisms, but for some reason, few photos. One young brother, Caleb Archer (one of our youth), whom I had been studying with for the longest time, finally saw the need to be immersed, and wanted one of the ex-SABC students whom he knows very well to baptize him. "I planted, Apollos watered, God gave the increase!" Brother Vutu has also been very busy out in the Umtata area, in The Eastern Cape, a long neglected area. I so appreciate Vutu for his tireless work in Bizana, where he had a baptism recently as well. Out in Port Elizabeth, brother William continues to do good work
TEACHING AT SABC Since I started teaching at the Bible College, I have become very excited about Thursday mornings, which is the day that I teach at SABC. I have a great class of students 15 for one, and 12 for the other course. They appear to be enjoying their classes with me because they don't want to take breaks and they don't want me to quit at 1pm :o) to say that I'm enjoying it would be an understatement.
BIBLE STUDIES If January was the month with the most baptisms so far - February was definitely the month with the most individual Bible studies with WBS students mainly. I also visit the NGO "Work4aLiving" at least once per month to facilitate Bible studies for the students there.
WBS The list of students continues to grow, it's over 800 now, and has become unmanageable for me. But, my prayers have been answered in that one of our SABC graduates, Chante Mostert, has taken over this ministry from March 1. She has taken to it like the proverbial duck-to-water, and I will now focus mainly on follow-up work. She has already shown me how much I have missed (emails & messages) by not being able to give this ministry my undivided attention. The blessing is that she can do this remotely and doesn't need to come into the office as often. I have included a picture of my inbox on a typical day, which is every day. WBS emails dominate my inbox.
A FIRST I have been approached by the convener of the quarterly preacher's fraternal breakfast meeting, to host the next meeting at the Benoni congregation. This has never happened before, so history is in the making. We are so excited to host our brothers and provide breakfast for 50 men from the surrounding congregations, preachers, elders and leaders in the Lord's church.
FEEDING PROGRAM I mentioned earlier that many folks are struggling just to get the bare essentials of life. The food cupboard at the Benoni congregation has come under pressure again as two new families have approached us for assistance with food. We also continue with feeding the children of Othandweni. I have no recent pics of them, but will take some next time I go out there.
AD 70 DOCTRINE We have recently been exposed to the false doctrine (AD 70) that teaches that Christ had already returned when Jerusalem was destroyed. The young brother was influenced by a preacher in the USA called Hoger Neubauer, who teaches this false doctrine far and wide. Our elders dealt with this veru decisively and the situation has been contained. Sadly the brother concerned does not want to repent and has decided to leave the church and worship in his home alone with his family. We pray that he will have a change of heart and come back. His grandparents were a part of the initail establishment of the Benoni congregation in the late 50's to early 60s.
DEACONS PREPARATION We are in the process of appointing new deacons. Benoni hasn't had deacons for the past 5 years, since the previous deacons left South Africa for better opportunities in other countries. Prayerfully, within the next 4 weeks, we will have 7 new deacons.
YOUTH Our youth program is up and down. Some Friday nights we have over 40, and sometimes half that. We have begun to separate the various age groups since we have a very broad range of ages, from as young as ten to those over 18. At the end of Feb we had a bumper Friday night, with 3 groups meeting in various places, with a total of 62 all together. This included some SABC students which boosted the numbers.
BIBLE AND CHRISTIAN LITERATURE DISTRIBUTION There continues to be a huge demand for Bibles and Christion Literature, in the main, Mission Printing tracts and booklets. I am down to my last box of Bibles and will need to find or purchase a couple of boxes to supply my WBS students who often request a Bible.
COUNSELING There seems to be an increase in the number of brethren needing counseling. From marital difficulties to anger management and depression. One brother, that fell away some years ago, has tried to commit suicide. I am currently working to restore him. Last year I had a similar situation with another brother, and he has since been resored and is faithfully worshiping with the saints each Lord's Day. I'm happy to help as time and opportunity allows.
That's all I have for now. Thank you for taking care of us, and for your prayers which carry us through this tough time.
Love, Ben and family.
Ben's Report - February 4, 2023
Dear beloved brethren,
I trust this email finds you well.
THE SOUTH AFRICAN SITUATION You've heard the saying, "just when you think it can't get any worse..." Well it has gotten worse. In addition to the electricity crisis, we now also have a water crisis. Some areas are going for days without water and electricity, leading to protests and burning of tires, stoning of cars, etc. What keeps us sane is that we could be in a war situation, like our brethren in the Ukraine, who are going through much, much worse. There have been a couple of new Covid-19 cases in South Africa - the new variant - but so far it hasn't spread rapidly, as first assumed, possibly because of the hot weather. Many folks are sick with flu though, which is strange for this time of year.
FAMILY SITUATION Everyone is well, except Zack has been falling behind at school for various reasons. I've had him at the Educational Psychologist who has advised a course of action that will help bring him back up to speed. He goes to junior high school next year, so we have to work hard this year - this includes extra classes especially for Math. Zack is a good kid and as most boys do, he's probably going through a phase. I've started him on extra Math classes, and after just 2 sessions he's already improving -- yay :-)
WBS CAMPAIGN We had a 5 day Gospel meeting with Brian Davis as the main speaker. The campaign was fairly well attended with several WBS students in attendance. It was also a "shot-in-the-arm" for the congregation who thoroughly enjoyed all the lessons that were presented. It felt like a lectureship. The Campaign also included a visit to the Ironsyde church of Christ, on Saturday 21 January, where we spent nearly the entire day. On that day we had 2 baptisms. However, brother Gift reported several more baptisms a few days after the seminar.
BAPTISMS The month of January yielded 15 baptisms. 4 as a result of the Gospel meeting and 2 others during the month. There were 9 baptisms at the Ironsyde congregation. One of the visitors at the leadership seminar, has enrolled at the Southern Africa Bible College.
WBS WORK I thoroughly enjoy being a study helper on the WBS online platform, but I prefer doing Follow up work, which includes getting the student baptized and then assimilated with a local congregation. I am in the process of finding a couple of helpers to assist me as I already have close to 700 online students.
BRONKHORSTSPRUIT BIBLE DISTRIBUTION This name, is Watercress Creek in English, and is a rural area about 11/2 hours away from Benoni to the East. I received a call from a lady looking for Bibles to distribute in that area, more specifically, the "Becoming a Faithful Christian in Africa" Book, which includes a New Testament. Truth for Today printed them about 20 years ago, and I have requested a reprint of several boxes of these wonderful books. This area is a new target for us. Hopefully we can arrange with the Bible College to conduct a Campaign there and establish a congregation there.
YOUTH PROGRAM The youth program has gotten off to a good start with one family hosting a "Youth Master-chef Event" at their home. They had to form teams that competed against each other and had to score points for the type of meal, presentation, taste, and so on. We will have to split the age groups going forward as a new crop of 12/13 year olds have joined the program. One of the new Bible College students, Victor, has come on board to help with devotionals. He immediately made a positive impact and engaged the youth on quite a deeply personal level. I am so thrilled about this development. Another new development is that since his baptism, Matteo has just taken off. He is already leading prayers, and I am encouraging him to consider enrolling at the Bible College next year - he's currently a senior in High School.
FEEDING PROGRAM The work of feeding the poor in Tembisa continues. I am scheduled to visit with them soon so that we can start setting up Bible studies with the older children (teens) and adults that turn up for food each week. I have been in discussion with the Bible College regarding their involvement in the teaching aspect of this ministry.
SABC It looks like we are going to have a good number of new students for the new (2023) intake. Orientation classes begin next week. Our first faculty meeting is on the 9th of February, where I will be introduced to faculty as a new instructor!
That's all I have for now.
Thanks for your love and support of this vital work in South Africa.
We love you,
Ben and family
Ben's Report - January 7, 2023
Dear beloved brethren,
I trust that all is well on your side of the pond. We heard about the icy weather that gripped parts of North America, and hope it did not affect you too much.
We are looking forward to what 2023 has to offer. 2022 was a mixed bag of highs and lows but in all things there was something to learn, especially the importance of faith in God and trusting Him for the outcome.
BAPTISMS We had around 50 baptisms in various places during 2022, many are due to our WBS work. 5 baptisms were as a result of brother Spencer Ross's visit to Ironsyde, South of Johannesburg. I am trying to engage more folks to do online evangelism via the WBS online platform. We no longer have a functional mail system - it does work occasionally, but we are finding the online system to work very well for us. It will be fantastic if we can find someone to do this online work full-time. I think we could double this number each year, going forward, subject to time, opportunity, and manpower. I have included a few pics.
FEEDING PROGRAM We provided +- 5000 hot meals for the underprivileged children of Tembisa. This is besides the end-of-year party that we held for them, where each child also received a small gift. This area is fertile ground for the Gospel -- however the fields are white unto harvest, but the workers are few (Lk.10:2). I have included a few pics.
YOUTH PROGRAM Our Youth are doing well, and those who come from troubled backgrounds are more stable now that Covid-19 is behind us (hopefully forever). We need a full-time youth minister. Please help us pray for this to happen soon. These young folks are struggling with various socio-economic problems. Social-media plays a big role in exposure to negative stimuli, leading to negative behaviour.
CONGREGATIONAL HEALTH For me it felt like we were treading water during 2022. So many challenges in the congregation on all fronts, from death, serious illness, addiction, etc. We desperately need more workers, and on this note our elders made the commitment to appoint new deacons. All the previous deacons have emigrated. We thank God we have competent men and their wives who desire to serve in this area.
COUNSELING Last year, folks came from various congregations for premarital counseling, since I am one of only a few marriage officers and counselors in this area. Those who I could not see in person due to distance, I used Zoom, which proved to be quite effective. There are many folks that are suffering with mental and emotional-health challenges. Covid-19 has accelerated and compounded the challenges that people face.
WEDDINGS weddings are very much a part of ministry, and I probably conducted around 10 for the year. I do enjoy helping young couples with this because it is so beautiful to witness the forming of a marriage covenant between two of God's children. One challenge is that I have to register these marriages at the Home Affairs office in Bellville, Cape Town. They have not yet sent my file to Benoni so that I can register marriages up here. It's a pain and it doesn't look like it will be resolved anytime soon.
HIGHLIGHT A major highlight for the year, for me, was the opportunity to once again attend the WBS Global Missions Conference where I learned a lot of things that I am trying to implement over here in South Africa. It was also great spending a week with the SABC Director of development, promoting the Bible College in the Houston area. My task was to talk to folks who either support or intend to support SABC. This was a huge privilege for me, to talk about how the Bible College has impacted my life. Thank you for the opportunity to speak at Northwest and for the new partnership in the spread of the Gospel.
LOWS One major low was my dad passing away just before Christmas. He had been poorly for a while, struggling with Dementia and overall poor health, no appetite, bodily weakness, etc. My greatest comfort is that he died in the Faith, even though I had not seen him in 3 years due to Covid-19 and the distance (900 miles) also played a role. Mel's personal struggle also impacted the family & ministry. Prayerfully she'll win this battle. There are obviously the usual challenges with juggling family commitments, trying to be in too many places at the same time, car troubles, a leaky house roof, etc :-) :-) I did not achieve my goal of qualifying as a Moderator, but this will go onto my list for 2023. There were many more projects, like the blanket drive that we do each year just before Winter, as well as the clothing drive for the poor in the Zenzele Squatter Camp near us. Bible and Tract distribution also gets done as needed.
PROSPECTS FOR 2023 Naturally, the tempo of Evangelism is what I would like to increase. As mentioned before, the more workers I can engage in this area of ministry, the more people we can reach for Christ. I am excited about teaching 2 courses at SABC beginning mid February 2023, and would like to include the WBS online program as a method of Evangelism, among other methods. I am looking forward to us having Deacons by March 2023. This will help a lot, especially with following up on the sick, the bereaved, benevolence, etc.
Please continue to pray for us as we work to expand the borders of the Kingdom.
Love, Ben and family
Northwest church of christ
6059 Azle Avenue Fort Worth, TX 76135 817-237-1205 firstname.lastname@example.org northwestcofc.org