Some of the children that this post is about
I would like to warn everyone ahead of time that this is not your usual “good news only” report – I feel that we need to share some of the challenges we face too. So here we go!
The really good news is that our Good News Center – the Tswelopele Good News Center – is almost a year old already! The preschool that is renting some of the building is flourishing, and we are now a well known presence especially amongst the children in the area.
It is however these same children that are our greatest challenge. We have been engaging with these kids on a weekly & sometimes twice weekly basis through our Saturday Bible Club and Games Evenings – for almost 2 years now. You would think that after so many bible lessons; and a main lesson of the bible being “Love thy neighbor as thyself” these kids would by now be the role models of the community.
Think again! At every event we have to break up fights, are bombarded by “this boy swore my mom”, “that girl said so-and-so” and on and on. We choose our treats not by the price but by whether they have wrapping paper that will inevitably end up covering our yard. Our games have to be chosen super carefully too – some are incredibly competitive and will (and do) cheat or get aggressive if they don’t win. In fact our most successful game so far has been to divide the group in half – assign each a section of the room – give them soft balls, teddies, and rolled up socks – and have them throw these items at each other!
We recently had a non-christian charity group host a holiday fun day – and even they felt the need to sit the kids down for a lecture on how to speak to your friends and respect each other. This same group hosted a fun day at the Aphiwe Good News Center and certainly realized the difference. It was the leader of this group who “figured out” what the biggest difference is though – privileges. The Tswelopele kids are from a higher (although still not wealthy by any means) income bracket than any of the other centers in South Africa.
Another challenge we face is how to find ways to engage with the adults in the community, who have so far not shown great interest in our Bible Study Days, Bible Correspondence Course and other educational courses such as the Cooking & Crèche Courses. If this is any indication of how important God is to them then it is no surprise that their children behave the way they do!
Of course not every single child is horrible – I can certainly name quite a few who are wonderful to work with – and they are the reason we keep going every Saturday. We also keep reminding ourselves that the Aphiwe kids weren’t always kind, loving, helpful and responsible – it took 6 years of committed engagement to build such great relationships. So hopefully in about 4 years time I really will be able to write a “good news only” report re the Tswelopele Good News Center! Our prayer however is that Christ returns before then, as only then will the entire earth be rid of such behavior.
Until that day we remember the following: “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Pro 22:6) (Solomon didn’t say it was going to be easy!)
With love in Christ
Michael & Lilandi Furstenburg