We are happy to welcome the new principal of ESSA and to introduce him to you. Carl Brook is no stranger to ESSA and he therefore knows and supports its mission, ethos and values. His servant style of leadership enables him to be a team player to empower others. His experience perfectly fits him for his new role. He has taught in two African bible colleges and understands our South African context. He has had pastoral ministry in both South Africa and eSwatini which has given him experience in multi-racial, multi-denominational and international settings, all of which equip him well to lead ESSA. These are the facts but the following letter gives the ‘flavour’ of Carl and Elma.
Dear ESSA friends,
What an extraordinary road God calls us to walk! Full of potholes, speed humps, crazy corners – and then, unexpectedly, a beautiful view!
Elma grew up in Durban, where she trained as a secretary at Technikon Natal and also where she and I met in my final years in the SA Navy. After tying the knot in Dec 1992, we lived in Pine Flats on the ESSA campus for our first year. With the train station behind and taxi rank in front, it was an idyllic setting. Without exaggeration, our time at ESSA was life-changing. The word ‘seminary’ comes from the Latin seminarium, a seedbed. One of a few white students, and coming from the old SADF mentality, I found the seminary ethos deeply formative – a second ‘conversion,’ as it were. 1994 came and what a final year that was, celebrating our nation’s coming of age, along with many millions of God’s rainbow people.
Sensing a call to missions, we cut our ministry teeth on the West Rand, pastoring a small congregation in the gold-mining ‘dorp’ of Westonaria. Our sons Eric and Aidan arrived soon afterwards then, in 2003, our family moved to Mthatha in the former Transkei. My role was supervising several monthly Bible schools among various amaZioni groups, while Elma tried (with mixed success) to keep the boys interested in their primary education. A few years later we joined CFC Ministries on the KZN coast where we administered South Coast Bible School, a part-time facility aimed at training rural pastors. It was during this period that we saw the effectiveness of a ‘head-heart-hands’ approach. Our roles changed again in 2009 when we were appointed as the mission’s directors. Looking back, these were tough years but also sweet. Our Lord’s faithfulness was evident throughout.
Then, in 2014, to our mild surprise we returned to the pastorate! What a tremendous joy the last six years have been. Mbabane Chapel is a vibrant international congregation right in the capital of eSwatini. How we have loved its people and relished the ministry. Eric is now 24 and in love with sustainable agriculture, while Aidan (21) is studying in Iowa. Not long after I met Elma, she gave me a plaque with the inscription: “The will of God will never take you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”
We return to Pietermaritzburg knowing that, whatever the challenges, God remains on the throne. We covet your prayers for our relocation, and for the bright future of ESSA.
Carl and Elma