WF REPORT – SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2010
Well this is my first WCF report, and that means I’ve been preaching in South Africa for two months already – wow I can’t believe it’s gone so quickly! So much has happened since I arrived in South Africa and it’s hard to know where to start. I’ll begin by sharing my experiences of Clermont – the place that all the volunteers here want to be involved in, because it has a real buzz as it’s so obvious that God is at work there.
GOOD NEWS CENTRE
Clermont is a township in Durban where local Christadelphians are setting up a new ecclesia. We have use of a building, and for several months have been running a Sunday school, which has been so successful, with attendance usually in excess of 40 children, that the decision was made to open as a Good News Centre. The opening day of the Clermont GNC took place on the first weekend after my arrival in South Africa and it was a fantastic and spiritually uplifting start to my preaching efforts. All the volunteers helped out, and we had a barbeque (or braai) to welcome anyone who wanted to come and join us. It was a long and tiring afternoon of cooking burgers and feeding hungry visitors, but at least we were on the map! The atmosphere was electric with lots of singing and good fellowship, and a great start to the GNC in Clermont.
A GREAT RESPONSE
The following week, several weekly events started at Clermont, including English reading, gogos’ (grannys’) coffee morning, and after-school club. The response to the events was great and we had a good turnout right from the start. One of the other volunteers and I took responsibility for the after-school club, which takes place every Wednesday, and have written a schedule for the whole school term, which includes activities such as party games, cake-baking, movie day, and various craft activities. We’ve limited the age range to 10-15-year-olds, as previously there was nothing offered to teenagers. It’s been a big success, with in excess of 25 regular attendees.
A PROMISING FUTURE
Many people have asked for a church service at Clermont and it was clear that God was moving us to set this up, so at the beginning of September we held the first Sunday morning service after Sunday school. As there are several baptised brothers and sisters at Clermont (who are currently members of other ecclesias), we held a memorial service, which was attended by local brothers and sisters and several visitors. If the enthusiasm and commitment of the brothers and sisters in Clermont is any indication of the future of the ecclesia then, God willing, we can expect it to grow into a thriving and vibrant new ecclesia and we pray for God’s blessing on its development.
One of my original ideas before I came to South Africa was to develop a small aquaculture (fish farming) unit at the ecclesia in Candu to provide additional food and a source of income for local brethren and sisters. As a professional aquaculturist, I hoped to use my skills and experience in the service of the Lord, and at the end of August, a small group of us made the 7 hour journey to Candu in the Eastern Cape. After talking to brother Templeton about my idea, he was very excited and we made the most of our short time there by checking out the lay of the land and making plans. The idea is to use cheap local materials to build a low-tech “aquaponics” fish tank. “Aquaponics” is a simple idea where fish and vegetables are grown in a symbiotic balance to provide food, and, as there is no waste and few inputs required, it is very environmentally friendly. We hope to finalize a design for the tank and return to Candu soon to build the system.
As part of the Afrikhono project, I am developing a range of jewellery to add to the greetings cards already produced. For those unfamiliar with Afrikhono, the idea is that local brethren and sisters sign up as business partners and are given a pack of materials that enables them to produce saleable product, e.g. greetings cards and jewellery. The products are then sold locally or abroad, and the net profits are returned to the producers once the cost of the materials and a contribution to the COP Trust has been deducted. So far, I have managed to source materials for jewellery-making using beads made up a few prototypes, and have developed display material for the product. In the next few weeks, I hope to start a class at Clermont in jewellery-making and distribute starter packs to interested students to begin making their first batch of jewellery.
As well as active preaching projects, there has been plenty of opportunity for personal development. At the beginning of August, the first South African P2P training course was held in Westville. The week-long course was a great opportunity to develop my preaching skills, and, although I am more of a practical person than a conversationalist, I found that I now have the confidence to speak openly to strangers about my beliefs and have begun to make new contacts from “street chats”.
THE LOVE OF GOD
As a follow-up to the P2P training programme, a P2P outreach fortnight took place at the end of September. I was assigned to “Team Jonah” based at Happy’s school for the disabled in Umlazi. The primary objective of our outreach was to take some of the students swimming – a task that has involved months of planning and preparation, due to the nature of their disabilities. Although things didn’t go entirely to plan (in itself a great lesson in being flexible to work with God’s plans and not our own), we managed two swimming sessions that were a great success, and will hopefully have therapeutic benefits for the students. Apart from the swimming, I found I spent most of my time on maintenance and construction tasks. We cemented the gaping holes in the communal dining area at Happy’s to make it more wheelchair-friendly and began construction of a disabled swing that we hope to complete in the next few weeks. In addition, we also undertook some maintenance tasks at Lamontville Good News Centre, including replacing a sink unit in the kitchen, replacing the swings on the kids’ jungle gym, and various minor DIY jobs. In between (and sometimes during) maintenance jobs, I found time to get to know some of the students at Happy’s and it really feels like we’re improving the quality of life for the students, many of whom have had a very tough start to life, but are now experiencing the love of God as He works through us.