The Blackwell’s: Associates of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE)

1. What is the culture like in South Africa? Do you see many different animals?
Contrary to what most think of when they picture us in South Africa, we do not live in a grass hut with wild animals roaming in our backyard. Actually, Cape Town is a very modern city with lots of the same things you enjoy in your own neighborhood – malls, shopping centers, and yes, even a zoo. However, there are places you can go to see wild animals up-close and personal. Game reserves are very popular here and often you see wild baboons, zebra and ostrich in the national parks or in farmer’s fields. There are even penguins here in South Africa – mostly along the coast. The culture here is a combination of first and third world. Cape Town is very modern in one aspect, but then you also see a lot of squatter camps and settlements just outside of the city that are very third world with no plumbing or electricity. For safety reasons, the missionaries here live in middle class suburbs about 20 minutes to the downtown area of Cape Town. Our houses are about the same as what you would expect to see in a typical neighborhood in the States.

2. Is the food very different there? What strange things have you eaten?
Food is pretty much the same here…you can get almost everything here that you can get anywhere in the States – with a few exceptions – but it does not necessarily taste the same. The biggest thing here is “Free range” meat. You see it on all your selections in the store – yes, we get our meat at the store just like you. The two main food chains here are Pick n’ Pay and Checkers. Unlike in the States, these grocery stores can be found in the malls as well. Also, Woolworths is a very nice department/grocery store in the malls and in little plaza’s that are considered “better quality” than the others. So, it is really a preference to where you want to shop. There is a lot of lamb, chicken, and ostrich meat here…as well as springbok – and fish. Lots of fish. South Africans LOVE to braai (barbeque) and almost every house you see has a built-in braai for that purpose!  What strange things have we eaten? Well, other than a bit of springbok or ostrich sausage at a braai – not much. Although, there IS something a bit unusual about a hamburger with monkey gland sauce – yummy! The biggest transition we have had is getting used to the different names of everything. Hamburg = mince; cookies = biscuits; pudding = basically a generic name for dessert; ketchup = tomato sauce….and so on.

3. I have heard a lot about fighting and violence over there in the news…do you see any of that where you are?
The city of  Cape Town is actually pretty safe compared to some of the other places you could visit here in South Africa – though not without it’s violence and crime like any city you live. Living in LA would probably be more dangerous – but there is still cause to be careful. Not so much political unrest at this time…that is pretty much past. But, you do have to be aware of what is going on around you. For instance, we have bars on our windows for safety and alarm systems on our cars and house. Our neighborhood, which is considered a nice place to live, averages five break-in’s a month. You need to learn where to go and where not to go…and be aware. It is as simple as that.

4. What language do they speak? Do they know English?
Yes, they speak English here. In fact, it is one of their main languages. Actually, South Africa has eleven official languages, but where we are, there is primarily three. English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa.  Since we are part of the Multi-Lingual Team here, our ministries consist of primarily a mixture of Afrikaans (a Dutch dialect) and English speaking people.

5. What is the weather like there – is it hot all year round or do you have seasons?
Weather here is a lot like CA weather; however, houses here do not have central air or heat so whatever the temperature is outside, that is what your house is inside! Space heaters and fans are sold in almost every store. The seasons are opposite here from America. So while most of you are enjoying a hot summer…we are in the middle of our winter – which can get pretty chilly with the average temperatures being in the 40’s (F) at night and upper 50’s and low 60’s during the day. The summer months here (over Christmas) usually get into the 80’s and low 90’s.

6. How is the economy there? Does the US economy affect your finances there at all?
Actually, yes because all of our support comes from the States, and whatever the dollar is doing against the South African Rand is a big deal. If the dollar is weak, as it is during this time – it does effect our budget. For instance, when we first came over a couple years ago, the dollar was about 1 to every ten rand. Now it is around 7 rand to every 1 dollar. So, we are getting less for our money. Reworking your budget after loosing 30% of your income due to the exchange rate changing dramatically makes for exciting and creative budgeting! Food and items here were not that expensive, but since the strengthening of the rand, things have gone up considerably. For example, it now costs us around $65 to fill up our car with gas.

The Blackwell’s Official Website



Michael & Heidi Blackwell


ABWE Official Website


ABWE is an unaffiliated, independent Baptist missions agency providing like-minded churches with vital services to expedite their Great Commission Ministry. We serve local churches by providing administrative oversight and training for the missionaries that they recommend to us. This includes member care, financial coordination, team building, professional training and general administration.

ABWE is international in that we have administrative offices in both the USA and Canada, and we partner with indigenous missions agencies and churches around the world. We are intercultural in that we welcome personnel from every racial, cultural and national background residing in North America.
The ABWE Family
The total ABWE family numbers around 1200 including field personnel, headquarters staff and Board. Approximately 450 couples and over 100 single men and women serve as teams and partner with national colleagues in more than 70 countries.
Sending and Supporting Churches
The number of churches that send missionaries with ABWE is about 500, and the number that support our missionaries is 4,000–5,000.
ur objective is: church-planting movements leading to missions movements for the glory of God.Our Missionaries
ABWE missionaries carry out a complete spectrum of biblical ministries, specializing in discipleship-evangelism that plants and multiplies churches which will pick up the torch of missions themselves and launch their own local and global missions movements. Our objective is: church-planting movements leading to missions movements for the glory of God. “From every nation to every nation!”
Our Distinctives
ABWE distinctives include: doctrinal integrity, focus on evangelism and disciple-making, pursuit of lifelong training, commitment to excellence, emphasis on teambuilding, compassion-in-action and partnering with nationals.


1 Response to The Blackwell’s: Associates of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE)

  1. Dear Friends and Family,

    Thank you so much for your faithful prayer and financial support. It is truly an honor to have you all as partners in ministry.
    We need your prayers for the Bistline Family. They have been a tremendous encouragement to us during the past eight years of ministry. On Sunday they contacted us and let us know that John Bistline (the father/husband) has been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. We are asking that you please put John Bistline on your prayer lists and that you remember this dear family in prayer.

    Thank you for praying with us!

    In His service,
    Michael Blackwell

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