GracEmail subscribers Chester and Angela Woodhall
mark forty-five year mission milestone
Britishers Chester and Angela Woodhall, long-time gracEmail subscribers, are celebrating their 45th year as missioners taking the gospel to countries across the southern parts of the African continent. It is thought they might be among the longest-serving missionaries from Churches of Christ presently on the field.
As newlyweds nearly a half-century ago, Chester and Angela went first to Zambia, previously known as Northern Rhodesia. From that beginning, they have concentrated on gospelizing (evangelism) and church planting–not only in Zambia, but also in Congo, Bophuthatswana (“Bop” for short), and South Africa’s Eastern Cape.
Like world missioners before them, the Woodhalls have faced mortal dangers while fulfilling Christ’s parting commission. In northern Zambia and in Congo, they encountered hostile armed militia, and the Lord delivered them. They were in Bop during the final overthrow of the previous government and the transfer of power to a new government known as South Africa’s Northwest Province. The Woodhalls were not hidden away in some safe place where they would scarcely be seen or heard. Chester and Angela were on the scene when bullets flew in the streets and helicopter gunships hovered overhead. And although South Africa’s Eastern Cape generally has been peaceful, these faithful Jesus people have been threatened by an occasional riot, and the security of their home has been compromised by burglars.
Despite such difficulties, the Woodhalls moved from Northern Zambia and Southern Congo after twenty years preaching the gospel, leaving behind them 48,000 Christians in 700+ congregations. And the work God did through them in those countries still bears fruit in their absence. One Zambian whom they introduced to Christ has personally led 1,600 more men and women to make the good confession of faith in Jesus as the Son of God. As is customary throughout most of the world, baptizing is done at the river, although with an additional helper who watches for crocodiles.
A vigorous prison ministry began with a cry for help from prison officials. “The prisoners have been fighting, and some are in the prison hospital with their injuries,” the Woodhalls were told upon arriving at the prison. “Go ahead and teach the Bible studies,” said the officials. “The prisoners need the gospel of Christ.” So Chester held weekly Bible studies with sixty-plus inmates. Soon he received another official request: “When can you come and baptize?” Using a large bath tub at the prison, Chester baptized all those repenting of their sins.
Hundreds of prisoners have come to Christ–people convicted of the whole spectrum of criminal activities, including bank robbers, murderers, and white-collar criminals. Chester recommends that all prisoners throughout South Africa study World Bible School (WBS) correspondence courses, and the courses point them to Jesus as Lord and Savior. When Christian prisoners are released, Woodhall follows up with as many as possible and encourages them in their Christian walk. One of the hardest working preachers was converted to Christ while in prison and now preaches for a Xhosa-speaking congregation, speaks on Chester’s radio program, and recently organized a Christian youth camp.
We praise God for Chester and Angela Woodhall and for all other gracEmail subscribers who are busy serving God and spreading the gospel of Christ. We are honored to know them all, and we pray His best blessings on them as they continue to serve him. Chester’s email address is Dr. Chester Woodhall at: Cwood_za@yahoo.com . His postal address is PO Box 211 Gonubie 5256 South Africa. (This article was based on the Woodhall’s year-end report.)