I went to South Africa for the first time late 2015 with a team of people from various churches in Scotland. We were based in Cape Town at All Nations’ headquarters. We ran a lunchtime kids club in Masiphumelele and also spent a lot of time chatting to and getting to know people out and about. I got to find out lots about All Nations and their vision and values, and during the two weeks I was there I felt it was somewhere I was to return to.
We worked in a township called Masiphumelele, called ‘Masi’ for short. Its population is just under 50,000, which is relatively small for townships in South Africa – some have up to a million people. It’s a tough community to be part of – there is a great sense of hopelessness and despair. Many of the men don’t have jobs and feel ashamed for not being able to provide for their families. Around 40% have the HIV virus. Living conditions are basic – tin shacks are the norm, and many without running water or electricity. The frequency of fires and riots in the community means that often people become homeless or have to rebuild.
All Nations have a kids ministry in Masi called ‘Isithembiso‘ which means ‘Children of Hope’ and the vision is to do radical acts of love and service to the children and see them become leaders of their generation and families and help transform the communities they live in as they follow Jesus. All Nations train and enable local people in Masi to run a centre for kids where they can play, learn about God, have help with the homework, and receive some practical help.
We ran a kids club for two weeks to give the usual leaders a break. One conversation I had captured what All Nations were doing in Masi. We did the story of the Prodical Son and gave them each a chocolate coin as part of the ‘inheritance ‘ of the brothers. Most of the kids (and leaders) scoffed the chocolate – apart from one girl, Sanelise, who was clutching it. I asked her at the end why she hadn’t eaten it – and she said she was keeping it to give to her teacher the next day, so she could tell the teacher the story about God’s love too. That really touched me that a 9 year old orphan had such a desire to share her faith and care for her teacher!
We split our time between doing kids work and visiting and praying with people in their homes or on the street. The week before we arrived (October 2015), riots had broken out. There had been a death of a teenager and a subsequent shooting of the person held responsible. The local mob had got involved, and the result was a lot of unrest, and on top of that, widespread dissatsifaction of a lack of government intervention or a capable police force.
Although the atmosphere was tense, we were welcomed into people’s houses and it was a privilege to share a message of hope into often desperate situations. We saw several people put their faith in Jesus, being healed,and being set free from alcohol addiction –The first lady we met asked to know Jesus and we prayed with her to be set free of her addiction. Not one person we met said no to prayer – although we met with a range of opinions! – and most of the people we met we were able to link up with the long term workers who can connect with them and disciple them.I look forward to catching up with some of the people I got to meet when I return in February!
Find out more about what I’ll be doing here