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building a community to reach a community

South Africa: Day 2

Today began with a church service at Mamelodi Baptist Church. This is the church where the founders of Hope of Glory Ministries attend, and it was here that we connected with Maria, Violet’s sister (Violet is one of the founders). Maria will be traveling and staying with us all week along with Monica, the manager at Hope of Glory.

The praise singing portion of the service was very lively and lasted about an hour and a half. Though we didn’t know the words – the service was a mixture of English, Zulu, and other native languages – it was hard not to participate in the joyful dancing, clapping, and shouting. The worship leader danced back and forth across the stage the entire time! We also participated in Communion and heard a sermon from one of the deacons, which was given in English for our benefit. It was evident that the church leaders take Communion very seriously – they approached this practice with great reverence, giving church-goers ample opportunity to “examine their heart.” After the service, we visited with the church elders.

Then we made our way to the African Cave Lodge, our lodgings for the week. The hotel is very peaceful, with several nice rooms themed as caves opening onto a terrace area near the pool. After dropping off our bags and freshening up, we picked up Monica and visited with her and her husband for a bit. Her husband is a pastor of a small but growing neighborhood church that meets in a tent on their property next door to their home.

Our time with Monica and her husband was so informative and encouraging. They described the struggles facing the church in South Africa. Many people are curious and seeking truth, but they are still steeped in traditional religious beliefs that elevate witchcraft, herbal medicines, and ancestor worship over biblical teaching. The health of the church in South Africa is also weak, with many pastors and church-leaders claiming to have special power to bless people and perform miracles. These pastors sell items with their face or name on them, such as keychains, bumper stickers, and handkerchiefs, claiming that these contain special power. Monica and her husband repeated several times, “They trust in people and things rather than in the word of God. The word of God is not preached, but rather the power of man.” One encouraging reality that Monica’s husband shared with us was the spiritual hunger of young people, who are asking very honest questions and are open to learning and growing. He spends a great deal of time evangelizing in the broader region of Pretoria, connecting young believers to churches closer to where they live, and discipling cell groups and potential leaders in his church family. It was eye-opening and will certainly guide our prayers this week. When we left, we had the privilege of praying over them and their ministry in Pretoria.

Following our visit with Monica and her husband, we drove to Hope of Glory Ministries to get a look at the facility and the land. By this time, it was around 6pm and there was a community soccer game taking place on the property, so we didn’t stay long. We ate dinner at a local mall and enjoyed a bit of team time before turning in for the night.

Tomorrow will have us doing a few home visits in the morning and Hope of Glory in the afternoon, where we’ll get to meet the kids!


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