We have been blessed to be in more of a routine these past two months, although the winter holidays meant youth numbers have dropped off. However our adult contacts have been maintained and we are thankful especially for how our recent seminars and relationship with the Indumiso group has grown, resulting in an amazing 25 visitors to our Sunday meeting this week! Praise God for the ways he directs our paths! Our main theme in this report is ‘Jehovah Jireh’ – the LORD provides!
Our regular adult visitor on a Sunday, Freda (the crèche teacher from the orphanage we contacted early on) has joined Ben’s youth Sunday School class and is always very enthusiastic. We ran two days of Kids’ Club during the winter holidays when the Beeler family, serving in Durban joined us. After the overwhelming influx for our May Day Kids Club we were flummoxed to have NO children turn up in the first hour…….what do we do now?? Then it dawned on us – we hadn’t prayed that morning. We huddled and prayed that we could teach God’s word to the local children, 15 minutes later they started drifting in…..what a great reminder of who really runs our projects (“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labour in vain.” Ps 127.1) In the end about 20 children learnt about the Armour of God on day 1, and the coming Kingdom on day 2, and we managed to make use of some apparently random donations to their great delight! God always provides – we just have to remember to ask! Dressed for battle!These kids are looking out for Jesus!
Kingdom Youth attendance dropped right off over the school holidays; we had decided not to close it for the same reason as Sunday School but we found it was a bit disheartening for the two or three who did come, as well as for us preparing a good Bible talk or activity for so few. At a recent committee meeting we decided that we will close it officially during the future holidays, but that there will always be someone at the hall to do an informal Bible study session if anyone wants to come. The committee are still very loyal and passionate about making the club a success and are keen to keep giving out flyers and advertising in the local news etc.
Serving the ecclesia
Caz would like our readers to remember that the congregation here in Margate has only 5 brothers, only 4 of whom serve through speaking. As well as the work detailed here, Ben presides every other week with brother Alastair, coordinates the audiovisual projections (which allow us to sing English hymns and Zulu songs through the same service) weekly and provides Bible classes on a 1 in 4 rota. We realise that the burden, particularly on Alastair would be much greater without Ben’s involvement, and we are praying that our presence here will result in growth in our small meeting, in God’s own time.
The mall preaching table signed up 10 people in the last 2 months, but our greatest source of new correspondents in the last few weeks has been from those who attend the computer courses. Six people who came initially for computers have signed up and two have already completed the God’s Master Plan course. We are trying to make sure that no one can leave the Good News Centre without hearing the word of God, so every computer lesson closes with a verse and/or a thought, and usually a word or two from bro Nelson about the courses on offer.
We realised recently that the assertion that we’d lived with for some time at Margate, that our BEC cannot really function as such because of lack of through traffic, is no longer applicable. With 3 computer classes, Kingdom Youth and the crèche course running we can have 50-60 people coming through in a week! As a result we have made a determined effort to spruce up the tired décor and displays in the hope that it can function more along the lines of its intended purpose, and we will have regular displays of the Sunday School and Kids Club work on the walls to advertise what we do to the community.
In our last report we mentioned meeting Mrs Zama Mbele, the dynamic leader of the Indumiso group. What a blessing this group is. They consistently attended the 8 week seminar ‘The Jesus Story’, with brothers Alastair and Nelson there most weeks as well as ourselves. Ben had to lower the level of teaching considerably despite the group being regular church goers of varying denominations. Our emphasis was not on doctrine but on giving them the skills to do Bible study themselves. Some of the workshop sessions have been very exciting with the young people questioning us on their own churches’ teachings and personal life application of what they are learning. One local elderly pastor of a Zionist church also attended every week, very excited by what he was learning. He subsequently invited us to his church, where he called a special Saturday meeting where we witnessed energetic singing and dancing, and Ben and Nelson’s talks were both warmly received. The pastor, Mr Nakana doesn’t speak English but has already visited the Good News Centre to continue his studies with Nelson.Bro Cam Beeler leading one of the workshops at the seminarsGreat singing to round off the seminar as always Mr Nakana’s Zionist church: refreshments after the meeting
We decided to model our certificate presentation for the seminars on a Durban-style BEC graduation day and invited people who had recently completed a correspondence course and the crèche teachers, who happened to finish the same week. As a result, our Sunday meeting this week had 25 visitors hearing Ben’s talk on ‘the Road to Emmaus’, where he pointed out that Christ used the scriptures, rather than his personal presence, to prove who he was – a recommendation for Bible study if ever there was! A spokesperson from Indumiso stood and thanked us all for our support and presented Ben & I with a gift!! The fantastic thing about this group is their emphasis on serving God through their work, they approached us initially for Bible study and they have stated they want to continue Bible study with us so we are discussing how to continue with youth classes in the coming weeks. See below for further contact with Indumiso under ‘Outreach’.A vibrant Sunday service at Margate hall – very exciting! Indumiso choir singing for us on Sunday
We have started home Bible study with sister Fezekile’s 17 year old cousin, Sisa. Sisa has dropped out of school and ‘doesn’t like crowds’ so he’d never been to Kingdom Youth, but Feze told us he is really interested in the Bible and has lots of questions. We’re working through Bible Basics together and it seems to be going well.
Masinenge Soup Kitchen
Mandela Day (where SA citizens are encouraged to donate 67 minutes of their time to their community) saw Sue Nagel, the gardener who did our original training, her staff, plus Nelson, Fezekile and Caz do a weeding and sowing blitz on the original garden plot which was looking a bit ragged with the dry weather and heavy winds we’d had recently. Nelson and Caz also helped to set up a proper compost heap on the larger plot with Lucky, the one patient who still consistently works in the garden. The garden is currently yielding carrots and tomatoes for the soup kitchen but there have been caterpillar problems with the brassicas!
We haven’t donated any foodstuffs to them for some time due to lack of donations. However when Caz popped in unannounced to quickly drop off a photo, they explained that the kitchen would have to shut the next day as their regular food donation from the TB association was late. Our donated money for feeding is running a bit low but we were able just to go to the supermarket and Ben delivered a 5kg bag of corn meal the next morning to grateful thanks. Caz was thankful that God had sent her there that particular day, so that we could maintain our relationship with the group.
There is still no prospect of expanding the teaching to patients as a local venue has not appeared yet; and there is a lot of upheaval in the settlement with the imminent building of solid houses at the site by the government.
After-School Club/Computer Learning Centre
Matthews Ngidi, a community youth worker who had originally come for our God’s Master Plan seminar, contacted us about bringing a group of young people from KwaNzimakwe (the next township area 10 km down the coast) for computer classes. He wanted to give them something to do in the winter holidays (as common refrain, we have found, where it costs money to travel to any urban area for recreation). We decided that as After School numbers had dropped we would use Wednesdays as a private booking for that group. Matthews found sponsorship from another source for transport and wants the local press to cover the certificate presentations this coming week. It has been a very rewarding group, concluding with the class giving Powerpoint presentations to their peers. Although the lack of computer access is obvious, it is sad to see the poor written English skills in this group of school leavers who need to find work. What an undervalued gift is a good education!
The six week Saturday adult computer course finished a few weeks ago, but many of those who attended have been keen enough to move to the Tuesday evening classes. Word has been spreading; we are constantly seeing new people come through the door on a Tuesday evening now and the average age has risen by several decades! This has also led to more people signing up for Bible courses and even the crèche course. Demand for other subjects (maths, physics etc) stopped completely over the winter holidays so we are waiting to see if and when pupils approach us before starting those classes again, as the computers are keeping us busy.
We cannot currently offer regular daytime classes due to the crèche running at the hall. We have been trying to get tarpaulin blinds installed on the veranda to allow us to move the crèche out there in inclement weather but this has been frustrated up until now. For the time being we have limited our daytime classes to a Friday when the crèche must sometimes squash into the BEC if it is too cold on the veranda. This is not ideal but had been workable up to now, with the crèche children behaving very well.
Lorraine Development and Skills Centre
Ben continues to teach maths at the school Tuesday mornings and they come to the Good News Centre on Friday mornings for computer lessons. Ben’s publicity posters have been delivered so he is hoping to implement this project to raise awareness of the school’s cramped conditions soon.
The short but meaningful visit of the Schlageter family meant we could do some crèche repairs and paint our first classroom at last! We are so grateful for visitors as some extra hands, skills or even the vehicle people bring can allow us to do many things that otherwise stack up. The short winter day meant Nelson, Caz, Simphiwe (our keenest Youth attendee) and Eliezar (Nelson’s son) had to go back another day to do the second coat. Bro Nelson and Caz also managed some other minor upgrade work.
Caz started the second crèche course in late June. Eight ladies attended throughout, including sister Fezekile and Freda, and although it was a small youngish group it was intimate and Caz found it easy and enjoyable – so different to the first time! As mentioned above, nearly all of them came this last Sunday morning to a special service where we gave out their certificates. Then they presented Caz with a large gift – an electric grill! This was really touching, and even more so when she sent an SMS thanking them all and got the reply ‘you deserve it ‘cause you are a great teacher’! How humbling to be welcomed so quickly by those ladies who do such an essential job in their community, as a foreigner and a white person in a country where race still has such implications.
We plan to run some workshop days in September on individual topics. Having seen how well some creches are run in remote areas, Caz is hoping to use some teachers with good skills as ‘masterclasses’ to teach others. Then a further creche course will run in October God willing – we have already had 9 names referred from the graduates of this course.
Jumble sale (not sure if this is outreach!)
We were given several bags of clothes by a local lady in April after Caz’s appeal for DIY materials; and then sis Jude in Westville mentioned they had a lot of leftover clothes from their recent jumble sales. Despite our Good News Centre being in a relatively middle class area we decided we would try a jumble sale and see the response. We didn’t have a huge amount of clothes and Ben was a bit nervous that people would be disappointed. A sign went up outside a week before the event and as a result some neighbours also brought bags of clothes for us to sell, including one correspondence course contact who brought her recently deceased husband’s vast wardrobe – God had provided yet again! Kingdom Youth helped us to set out the tables in exchange for first choice of some items, and the Beelers were there on the day to help man tables. We did not have the chaos seen in Lamontville, Clermont etc but we had a steady stream of visitors, many we hadn’t met before and we raised over R1000, so it was worth it! We also had 4 or 5 people coming in the following week asking to see the jumble sale, so it may be worth repeating in the future. However without the clothes brought from Westville we would not have had enough donations to make it viable.
Indumiso Community Based Group
As well as our Saturday afternoon seminars with the group we were keen to see their community work first hand. Caz has been asked by Zama to rewrite their portfolio and the stories of how much they have achieved in 8 months of existence is quite humbling. Their feeding work led to people bringing needy individuals to their attention and they visit a number of bedridden elders on a daily basis to bathe them, clean the house and give them a square meal. They also clean a local day care centre for physically handicapped people.
A sponsor had sourced a container for Indumiso to allow them to store foods at the rural hall where they have a soup kitchen; previous to this they have been carrying heavy foodstuffs weekly a good few kilometres up and down steep rural roads to serve this community. They had an official opening of the container with local dignitaries present and we asked if we could go along to show our support; imagine our awkwardness when we were ushered to the top table and found ourselves on the Order of Service for the day! Ben was asked to give the opening prayer and Caz to offer words on behalf of COP Trust. It was not hard to speak about James chapter 2, this group is a living example of faith through works; however she praised them in front of all present for knowing that works without faith does not please God and their hunger for the Word during our Bible studies was an example to the community also.
We are keen to continue working closely with the group as they are with us; they started a small food garden so we are hoping to do food garden training with them this month. We had so many leftover clothes from the jumble sale we have offered them the goods to try a sale in Gamalakhe and keep the proceeds. We all want to continue Bible study and a local councillor has offered Zama the use of a community hall in another area of Gamalakhe, and she has asked us to be involved. We are currently discussing what to offer there, possibly youth Bible studies and activities/games, plus Bible study/social events for HIV-affected individuals also.
We have a really warm bond with this group and Zama in particular, she has become a friend and welcomed us into her group with open arms. It is great to see her leadership skills bringing in even teenaged boys willing to get up early and feed the needy in their community, and we pray her insight and community connections will allow us to bring God’s word to more and more in the area.
Once again, the LORD provided: after our initial seminars had quite low numbers attending, and visits to students weren’t happening, we had both felt that our outreach was going well but felt the need to be spending more time sharing God’s word directly. As Zama approached Ben with the request ‘We really need Bible study’, and as this relationship has blossomed, we really feel this prayer has been answered abundantly.
Ben was asked by a local private school (South Coast Institute of Learning Difficulties, SCILD) to teach one morning a week as they had a vacancy for a maths teacher. Instead of being paid by parents those fees go directly to our COP Trust projects (as do Caz’s from occasional veterinary clinics). Caz’s veterinary work continues to be occasional clinics as before, and she was able to attended some free continuing education this month (important to retain registration in South Africa).
Margate continues to be a very exciting place to be, and we feel very supported by the ecclesia, the COPT and the WCF. We can see that our long term planning for Margate is bringing us into contact with many different people, and providing many interesting experiences. The provision of the 11 laptops has been great to get us known in the area, and is providing key skills to a wide range of people.
We feel we are deliberately shifting in focus from getting to be known in the community for providing general skills and services, to providing the vital service of Bible education. For example with Indumiso, we are known first for Bible teaching and then for helping them with other needs. The initial contact with a group leader to reach many of its members is a well-known marketing strategy in the business world and it is maybe a modern day example of Jesus’ advice to be ‘shrewd as snakes‘ (Matt 10.16). We certainly feel the Lord provided this contact and look forward to developing long term relationships, and the possibility of teaching the word of God to and through these people over a long period of time.