Superiority Complex

Superiority Complex

I was talking with a friend the other day and, for the first time, I realized just how crazy life can be here in the townships. Don’t get me wrong, I have heard many stories over the past year while studying in the township, but they really were just that, crazy stories. This person with whom I was speaking really brought those stories home for me for the first time. She had just lost her sister who was only 29 years old to sickness. I spoke with her and found out that she had 14 other siblings, but only 7 were still living. I will save the details of their deaths, except to say this, they happened way too early (all under 30) and in some of the most horrific ways imaginable. When hearing her story, honestly, I listened in disbelief, but then began to recall several other stories that were just as bizarre and terrible.

Hearing stories like that, I begin to think how wicked THEY are; I think how in the world could THEY do such wicked things to one another. If I’m honest, these stories leave me with a superiority complex. I even begin to justify my thoughts with the Bible (some rightfully so, others not so much). I look at their moral standard and my own and begin to think wrong thoughts. Thoughts like: since they do those things, what can they teach me? what will they teach my children? I look and begin to make blanket statements and think all their culture is wrong and should be changed.

Duane Elmer, in his book Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility, said, “Many missionaries are like me: well intentioned, dedicated and wanting to serve, but also naive and in some denial about what it means to serve in another culture.” That would be a fitting description of me. The God I serve is superior. The message I have is superior. It doesn’t take much for me to start thinking since my God’s superior and my message is superior, then I must be superior too. Though, it doesn’t take a expert in culture to know that having these thoughts will produce negative consequences. I am pretty certain that if I allow myself to think that way I will eventually have a bad attitude toward the people. My confidence in them will not grow which will soon affect my wife and children’s attitude toward them. I am also sure that I will not have meaningful friendships with them. In the end, those thoughts could be to blame for a much less impactful, or completely ineffective ministry.

Being a missionary, and wanting to have an effective ministry, I have read several books on cross cultural adaptation and building relationships cross-culturally. Many give great advice on how to identify the superiority complex. They tell you how you get it (mainly because you grew up in the West, but more likely because you’re prideful). But honestly, they give little advice on how to conquer the hidden monster.

I am convinced that the solution is found in God’s word. I believe that Paul, in Philippians 4:8, gives a clear and straightforward solution of how to conquer the superiority complex. I must change my thinking. I must replace my thoughts with things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of a good report, virtuous, or anything of praise. That simple. But not so simple when you hear such terrible stories, and live in the real world. 

Truth is, sin is awful and should be despised. The story I heard made me upset and rightfully so. But I think part of my problem, personally, was looking at their sins, and not separating the people from the sin. Hate the sin, love the sinner; easy to say, hard to live. Honestly, I believe that’s a job only the Gospel can accomplish. Without the Gospel I am forced to look at the circumstances. In doing that I will soon forget that I too was/am just as wicked without Jesus. Meditating on the Gospel will take away my prejudices. But, without the Gospel, I will think that I’m hear to change them. Again, that’s the Gospel’s job. If I’m not super careful, I will begin to sound a lot like that religious man in the parable in Luke 18:9-14. If you remember the story, the Pharisee despised, or looked on the tax collector with disesteem. He began to believe his own religious hype and he actually had the audacity to pray to God thanking him that he was not like the extortioner tax collector. Shamefully, that does sound a lot like me sometimes.

If I could remember that only by God’s grace, I am what I am. If I could think back and remember, it’s only by the power of the Gospel I am not a drunk toady, and that I didn’t kill someone when I used to drink. If I could remember, that only by his grace I am still alive, then the superiority complex would dissolve. 

Superior!?!? My prayer should be as the publican’s; God, forgive me for my exaggerated thoughts of how right I am and how wrong they are. God forgive me for thinking my right living comes from something other than Jesus, the fountain of everything right in my life. My prayer should be as the tax collector’s, please forgive me a sinner!

Coffey Family November Prayer Letter

Our family moved over to Wells Estates Baptist Church about three weeks ago.  Since we have been in South Africa, we have been based at Madiba Bay Baptist Church.  We made the move to Wells because it’s about a 10 minute drive from where we hope to start the new church. This will enable us to work with Pastor Thami as we are also starting the church.   

Our original plan when coming to South Africa involved spending the first two years learning the language with plans to start a church toward the end of those two years.  Being a little eager, we hoped to start a church a little after our first year here.  Well, we’re still hoping.

Although we don’t have a building yet, we had a promising lead this past week.  Starting this week, we plan to go door to door in the new area to share the Gospel and collect as many contacts as we can for when we do start the church. 

Pastor Sipho is still waiting to start construction for New Life Baptist Church.  We are still waiting for the building plans to be approved.  This process has taken a bit longer than we have hoped and planned, but we believe it won’t be much longer.  We did get the go ahead to have the water and sewer hook-ups installed. 


Prayer Request

  • Our first church plant.  We are still in need of a building. 
  • Our language learning.  This is of course is a repeated prayer request because it’s the #1 priority in our ministry at the moment.
  • More young men to step up.

More Highlights

  • 8 Professions of faith at our last men’s meeting.
  • Our first college intern, Bethany Staley, is in her last month of  her 6 month trip here in South Africa.
  • We able to build an addition onto Well Estates to expand the children’s ministry.  They still have class outside, but now they don’t have to worry about the sun or rain.
  • Missionary Keith Shumaker from Burkina Faso  visited.  He was a great help to the missionaries and to the pastors. 


  • $600 for the water and sewer hook-ups for New Life Baptist.
  • Approx. $7000 needed to build the first building for New Life Baptist Church. 

November 2014 Update

Dear Pastor and Friends,

Rebekah and I want to being by wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving! God is good and we are blessed to have friends like you!

Language Update:

November marks our 10th month in language school. We knew coming into this that it was going to be a long, difficult process. It has not disappointed us in either of those ways. We are still making steady progress (though many days it doesn’t feel like it) and slowly getting involved in more ministries. Please pray with us that we stay focused and do the work necessary to speak well. The Gospel deserves men who can clearly proclaim it.    

Work Days:

This past week a few of us built an additional shed roof on to Wells Estate Baptist Church. The area is small, maybe 150 square feet. But, it will be a tremendous help as it will give a place for the children to meet in the shade, which will free up space inside the building for the adults. The church is still waiting to obtain a permanent property. This is something they desperately need since their pastor, Tamsanqa Olifante, is doing such an incredible job filling up what they already have. God is blessing there and many souls are being saved!

At the church we are currently attending, Madiba Bay, there was also a work day last week (and several more in the near future). There were 15 men, and several women, who showed up to donate their Saturday to help beautify the property. It was awesome to work along side of these men and have another opportunity to get to know them better, and practice the language a little more. Kevin has many things planned for this church that we will be telling you more about in future updates.

Special Prayer Requests:

  • Please pray for Stephen Underwood and family. Stephen is a member of our Project South Africa team who has recently suffered the sudden loss of his father. It was very unexpected, as he was only 55 years old.
  • We had the opportunity to have our field director down for a visit, Bro. Keith Shumaker. He was a tremendous blessing to the churches, and to my family, while he shared God’s word and his own personal experiences in his ministry in Burkina Faso. Please remember him and his family in your prayers as I’m sure you have heard of the turmoil that he returned home to in the news.
  • We are still in need of $10,000 for the building in Kwadwesi. They have begun to move dirt and we are wanting to begin to build soon. Hopefully, by this time next year, you will be reading updates about how God is blessing Pastor Sipho Bonga there, like he is blessing at Wells Estate.

Again we want to thank you for your participation in our ministry through prayers and giving. We are so blessed!


Jeremy and Rebekah Hall

Learning From Mistakes

I am the last one to think that I have all the answers or that I have succeeded in ministry and that you should listen to what I have to say. Honestly, the best way I know to help you is to point out where I think I have needed help as a missionary and hopefully steer you in a better direction.

So in no particular oder here are some areas that I feel I have failed in, could improve in, or should have done differently.

Prepare – You need to study the Bible as much as possible. Get the best Bible training possible from people that LOVE the Bible in word and deed. Study, study, study to know the Scriptures. Most likely when you get to your field of service you will be the head pastor, President of the Bible Institute and the head of a fellowship of churches….you need to know your Bible! Read that last sentence again then get really serious about studying the Scriptures!

If you are going to be a church planting missionary then get training under church planting missionaries. If you wanted to be a doctor you would train under doctors. A mechanic would train under a mechanic. A future missionary needs traing under real church planting missionaries. Many of the things you face and see will be unique to where you serve. Many people, even leaders, will not relate to what you are facing. But if you can find good church planting missionaries to train under they will have experience working in foreign cultures and can help you learn how to handle “different” situations. You will most likely do one of following without the right training:

    You will quit.

You will get overwhelmed and not have answers or tools to handle what you will face.

    You will get distracted.

You will find something to do besides what you set out to do – which is plant churches.

Here is a great place to get that training:

Serve God – Sounds easy huh? This is just too obvious but in my own experience it has been HARD! Maybe I’m different but I feel pulled this way and that and end up with my eyes on everyone else but The Lord, and that is a shame on my part. I probably have done a lot of my ministry for the wrong person. Give, go, and church plant in Jesus name and for His glory alone!

I love Paul’s Words to the Colossian believers in chapter three where he says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” (Col 3:23,24). This is great advice for any employ but certainly for God’s full-time missionaries. A battle you may face if you are anything like me is having more than one God. You can easily be serving man even while giving an outward appearance that you are serving God. Serve God!

Work – Be ready to work. I went from building houses, working at my home church, and going to school full-time to being a missionary. The biggest difference was all my time was filled with obligations from morning to night and now I set my own schedule. If nothing gets done its on me. Most of the time people, even your superiors don’t know what you are up to but God does and He is the one that is going to give us our reward so come to the field with a work ethic. You don’t have to be the best, steadiness in the right work will do.

Here are some examples of good use of your time:
Being with, teaching and investing in young male leadership
This could mean:
Studying the Bible
Showing them how to do ministry
Praying together
Reading a good Christian book together
Answering their questions
Letting them see you be a Christian leader, father and husband – how you order your life.

Look at yourself as the coach and by the end of your term you need a team that will “play the game” while you go on furlough. You will ask yourself what am I doing that is helping build the team. A good passage to meditate on dealing with this is Ephesians 4:11,12.

Like I said above these are all struggles and areas that I am trying to get better in. I think if you’ll read and heed it could really help you get headed in the right direction from the start.

Please Pray for the Underwood Family

We received news from our team member, Stephen Underwood, that his father unexpectedly passed away in his sleep this past Saturday morning.  Please be praying for Stephen and his family.  His dad was only 55 years old and this was very unexpected.  I believe the funeral will be Tuesday morning at McFarland Hills Baptist Church in Dalton, GA.  As we get more information it will be passed along.

Stephen and Ashley are currently on deputation and are doing well raising support to get to South Africa.  They had to cut a missions conference short they were a part of in Knoxville.