Many of you know that we have been getting more involved in the lives of people living in a squatter camp called Freedom Park. On Tuesday mornings, we join the caregivers at the HIV/AIDS clinic in Freedom Park and visit patients with them. In each home, we offer to pray for the patients. Before praying for them, we ask them questions about what they believe. We always invite them to make Jesus a permanent part of their lives as Savior and Lord. A very high percentage of people welcome the opportunity to pray with us. This is wonderful. However, as we follow up by asking them about a church, many people were telling us that they don’t know any church or that they attend a church that does not teach the truth of God’s Word. We began to be very burdened by the lack of discipleship opportunities. It doesn’t really help people to accept Christ as Savior and then seek the Sangoma’s (witch doctor) advice about how to live out their new faith!
As we prayed about this void, we began to be burdened to start a church. Obviously, we cannot pastor the church since language is a very big barrier there. We knew that it must be a South African with a good command of several languages and a passion for God’s Word. As we continued to pray that God would fill this void, He brought a name to Jeff’s mind. When Jeff called this old friend, he knew that it was God-ordained. Pastor Kagiso (Peace) felt God’s tug to pastor a “church” that would be somewhat difficult to define. Being a squatter camp next to a mine shaft, the “citizens” tend to be transient. Since there is no running water or electricity, among other factors, there is also widespread disease, so it is not uncommon to meet someone and find out just a few months later that they have died. This will not be an easy place to pastor. In the midst of such poverty, a church in Freedom Park will never be able to financially support a pastor. We don’t know exactly how we will offer a salary or even help with living expenses, but we and Pastor Peace are ready to start discipling and see how God provides!
Well, our first Sunday was Easter Sunday. We had 12 adults and, to our surprise, 15 children. So, of course, we get to work figuring out how to start children’s church as well! We contacted a Bible College student with a passion for children’s ministry to help us out. So, every Sunday at 1:30pm, we have church at Freedom Park. It has been growing steadily. We’ve had about 60 kids the past 3 weeks, and this week we had 22 adults! We’ve been working hard to make sure people have Bibles they can read in their home language so that they can continue to grow at home as well. God has been faithful!!