Violence, Poverty and a Gospel Opportunity

Yesterday we spent a good part of our day touring the townships that surround the city of Knysna. Townships are communities of people who live together based mostly on race, but also on economic status. It was the vision of Nelson Mandela for every South African to have a home. So, many of these poor communities are made up of government built two bedroom homes. These homes are known as RDP houses. Based on my observations, probably 60% of homes in the townships are of this kind. Others have built larger homes and some are living in shacks that they constructed, while they wait to get a number and have their RDP home built. These homes are given to the occupants, and it is their responsibility to maintain and furnish them.

Yesterday morning we met for breakfast with Pastor Nelson. He lives in one of these townships and ministers at My Father’s House Baptist Church. He and his wife live in an RDP home in the township. We talked over issues relating to the chruch, to his family and to his own life personally and encouraged him with a gift of money to help his wife get a bus ticket to go and see her parents in another city to the East.

After the breakfast, we entered the township and travelled up the hill to see Nuambelello, who cares for foster kids neglected by their parents. Many of these parents are struggling with alcohol abuse. We gave Nuambelello the toothbrushes, mouthwash and toothpaste donated by our family dentist, Dr. Chase and Dr. Smith and she seemed grateful! Nuambelello makes a living by sewing for people, making dresses and repairing clothing.

We travelled from her house to the safe house that has been opened to take in abused women and children. This ministry is funded through the generosity of donors, and meets a real need in the community. Violence toward women and children is common in all levels of society, but in the poorer communities the resources available are not always accessible.

From the safe house we travelled to see Ella and Penny. Ella, who is black and Penny, who is white have started a business together. They bring bus loads of tourists into the townships. Their connection is that they both share faith in Jesus Christ and a strong testimony of personal salvation. Although separated by race, Ella and Penny have found a way to connect business with gospel opportunities. When we arrived at the house which Ella lives in (it was constructed by Habitat for Humanity), Ella and Penny were just arriving with a bus load of European tourists. Ella brings them into her home, gives them tea and a cookie and shares her story of God’s amazing grace in saving her. She is a bold and passionate witness for Jesus, and people pay her to listen! It was a cause for much rejoicing!

From Ella’s home we travelled to My Father’s House Baptist Church. There we met Mamma Maria, who came to Jesus a couple of years back. She was running an illegal bar out of her house, but when she came to Jesus, she knew she was contributing to the problems in her community rather than helping. So, she closed the bar and now the space is used for My Father’s House Baptist Church. What a glorious testimony of God’s grace! Little by little, person by person, the gospel of Jesus Christ is spreading, changing lives and transforming the Township communities, one person at a time. And it is happening in such unique ways!

After lunch with the Knysna team, we helped Dave run some errands and picked up some food for supper. Ashley and Janet cooked and baked, while Shane was responsible for the grilling. I mostly stood around and took pictures!

After supper, Shane left to go fishing with Winston, a “coloured” man from the Knysna church, and Janet and I headed over to Sedgefield (about half an hour drive) to have a Bible Study with the church that is going there. Dustan, the pastoral intern there took the Bible study and did an excellent job introducing the book of James, which will be the subject of their study over the next few weeks.

We returned home, swapped some stories of how the couples fell in loves with each other and then, after midnight, retired to bed!

Today we are heading out to see some wildlife!

Thanks for praying. Look forward to seeing all of you in a few more days!

Pastor Herb

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