Garfield Jacobs is a priest at St. Timothy’s Anglican Church in The Reeds, a suburb in outer Pretoria in South Africa. He’s been ministering there for over eight years. Now he is stepping into new additional responsibilities as a facilitator for Langham Preaching.
Local church, but not only local challenges
The members of St. Timothy’s come from a variety of places and circumstances. It’s common that they’re not originally from Pretoria and have left their family area to come and work nearby. There are many young families and busy professional people who spend long hours away from home and away from their children. During the holiday periods, the church empties out as people return to the home of their parents to spend time in their extended family groups.
Garfield shares, “They bring the concerns of people at home and those not in the province with them. There’s always the concern about job security and promotions and prosperity. They are thinking of supplying for their household here, but also for their household there.”
Surprised to learn, not just facilitate
Garfield got involved with Langham Preaching in 2021, having been drawn in to do the training and become a facilitator. Bishop Allan, the Bishop of Pretoria was keen for all lay ministers to go through the Langham Preaching course, so facilitators were needed.
About the training Garfield says, “Initially, I came into it thinking, “It’s just training, I don’t have to really use it.” But what I’ve discovered is that as a facilitator, I must actually use it to be able to teach it. I found that it’s a valuable resource for me to implement in my preparation when I’m preaching.”
Langham’s training has changed the way Garfield preaches and how he prepares. It hasn’t only been a simple change of method but has challenged how he approaches the task of preaching overall. He reflects, “One of the challenges that I find is, it’s time-consuming, especially if you have to preach every Sunday. So one of the challenges for me was to set sufficient time aside, to prepare using the Langham Preaching tools with the idea that this is of use for the congregation, but also of use for me in my preparation itself.”
Before doing Langham training, Garfield approached his sermons by going straight to what he saw as the lesson for the congregation. He says, “I’d take the scripture and just say, ‘This is what God is saying to you.’”
Now having learnt the expositional method through Langham, he looks back at what the original author meant for his audience and finds new insight into scripture. Garfield shares an example, “Let’s say from the Old Testament something that David said could still be relevant in our time. But in the past, I never looked at David’s audience and their situation or David. Now, looking back and seeing what the original author intended sometimes gives me new insight as I prepare to share with my audience this truth that I’ve found in scripture.”
Faithfulness and fruit
One particular lesson God has been teaching Garfield through this process is about the consistent power of His faithfulness.
Garfield shares, “Sometimes we think [about scripture], ‘Ah, it’s old, it’s of no value.’ But as we look back, we can actually see the value of it…So for me to look back somehow opened my eyes to see the faithfulness of God, but that faithfulness then transcends into our current time and it will go into our future time as well. And that continuation of God’s love then becomes so enormous in my preaching and my awareness of it, I think [it]changed the way I preach.”
“The looking back part, I had neglected over the years, but Langham made me aware once again, that looking back can help us as we go forward to just realise the consistency of God.”
Now as a facilitator of training and involved in local preaching clubs, Garfield is excited to see how God continues to be faithful to him and those who are doing the training.
He says, “I’m looking with expectation to see [God at work]. So in my preaching club at St. Timothy’s, we’ve got some lay ministers who preach quite regularly, but we’ve also got a youngster starting university later this year who decided to join the preaching club. I’m looking to see the change in him as he grows in confidence and stands in front and realises that preaching is not just getting up there, opening the Bible and just saying something, but it’s also the preparation and message [that translates] into your life.”