Many people say YES to Christ during the hype of a big Christian event. But all too often their emotional highs begin to fade as they drive out the gate, and are all but forgotten by the time the first trouble hits at home.
So says Harm Engelbrecht of Christian Businessmen’s Connection (CBMC), a worldwide discipleship ministry with a big heart for connecting men with God and with each other.
It was with such a concern about what happens with many ‘newborn Christians’ after a big event that Engelbrecht contacted Mighty Men Conference Western Cape (MMC WC) Chairman, Piperjames McGowan, earlier this year and offered the services of a CBMC team to assist with follow-up ministry at the MMC at Malmesbury in September.
McGowan enthusiastically accepted Engelbrecht’s offer, saying that a follow-up team they had arranged had just disclosed that they were no longer available. And so began a new chapter in the ministry of CBMC in South Africa as about 20 members of the Durbanville branch served during the MMC weekend from Friday, September 25 to Sunday, September 27.
The CBMC team committed to making themselves available to men who responded to preachers’ messages — and to following up every single one of them after the MMC with a view to connecting them with Christian communities.
True to Mighty Men tradition, men responded in droves to powerful, Spirit-led messages preached from the stage at MMC WC and at times Engelbrecht and his CBMC team had their hands full as hundreds of men came to them for prayer and counseling — and free coffee.
He says by the time the men got to the ministry team members the Holy Spirit had been talking to them. Many were crying and knew they needed the Lord. Some knew the Lord but had messed up with problems which they had made worse by trying to fix themselves. He says breakthrough comes when men lay down their egos and realise it is not all about them but about Jesus Christ who lives in them. Christ must be in control, he says.
He says it was awesome to see so many men who had put aside their long weekend to be at the MMC.
“There were guys you least expected to see there: drug addicts, alcoholics, unsaved guys — and they were sent there and brought there. Why would they come? Because they had an appointment with the Lord.”
Still following up
More than two months after the MMC the follow-up ministry is ongoing, says Engelbrecht. Everybody the team ministered to has been contacted via email, telephone or personal visits. One man who was struggling with drug addiction was referred to a rehabilitation centre. Three men have been connected with CBMC – two of them are on the CBMC discipleship programme. Efforts are being made to connect another 15 men to CBMC teams. And those who were baptised at the MMC WC have been put in touch with the pastors who baptised them and invited to church.
The new Mighty Men chapter in the ministry of CBMC that began in September 2015 will continue and is already expanding, says Engelbrecht. They will be ministering again at MMC WC 2016 from September 23 to 25 next year and he expects the team will grow from 20 to about 50 members. They are hosting a Golf day with MMC WC on February 26, 2016, in Durbanville to promote the next MMC WC and to raise funds for CBMC and MMC WC. They also plan to help with follow-up ministry at the Karoo MMC in Middelburg from April 29 to May 1, 2016.
New team leaders wanted
Engelbrecht says he hopes that their involvement in the Karoo MMC next year will lead to the establishment of new CBMC teams in the Karoo and the Eastern Cape where they are looking for key people who understand the ministry and who are willing to get men together and lead weekly groups. Any men interested in starting new CBMC groups in their areas are invited to call Harm Engelbrecht at 084 941 2410 or to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CBMC was started in Chicago, USA in 1930 during the Great Depression by a group of Christian businessmen who came together and started praying for each other and each others’ businesses. They initially set out to come together for a month. But 85 years later the ministry is still active and expanding all over the world. CBMC has been in South Africa for 43 years and there are currently about 75 teams who meet weekly to encourage each other spiritually and to practically pursue the disciple-making work of the Great Commission — meeting men where they are and assisting them to become the men that God intends them to be. About 600 to 700 CBMC members are participating in an intensive 1-on-1 discipleship programme called Operation Timothy (inspired by 2 Timothy 2:2). Members also benefit from confidential business mentoring by experienced businessmen at monthly business forums.
Engelbrecht says he accepted Jesus as his Saviour in September 1979 when he was in Grade 7. During his early 30s he was in hospital for three weeks with septicaemia. The Lord healed him of this life-threatening condition and also challenged him about his relationship with Him and his willingness to be His witness. He always tried to honour God in business and joined CBMC when he came across it in 2007. In 2010 an anonymous sponsor paid for him to attend an international CBMC conference in Singapore. There God spoke to him through a message about Abraham passing a test of obedience to God when he was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. The preacher asked the audience what Isaacs they were holding back. — “Before I even realised it I wrote down the name of my business, then got a fright saying: ‘What must I do now?’ And the message was very clear: ‘Go back and sell your business and work for me.’ “
Sold his business
He says he sold his business within three months at a ‘giveaway’ price of a third of what he had paid for it. A month or two later at a time when he was still waiting for direction from God, CBMC asked him if he would help them for a few hours a day while their administrator was on maternity leave. He did and his involvement grew from there. Today he is on the national executive committee of CBMC South Africa and serves as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. Last year he went on a trip, sponsored by CBMC International, to Orlando, Florida, to present a workshop on a strategy God had given him on how to apply the Biblical principle of 5-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11) in CBMC’s ministry.
“I enjoy it [serving in CBMC] immensely and can’t imagine doing anything else with my life,” says Engelbrecht.
He says people ask him why he wastes his time on things like serving on the follow-up team at the WC MMC. They can’t understand why he would leave home at 7am to be there on time and get home at 1 in the morning, only to return to the MMC the next day.
“The answer is simple. It’s the love of God and a love for people. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and people,” he says.