Mighty harvest at second Mbombela Groundswell camp

Teenagers worshipping the Lord at the Groundswell youth camp that was held near Mbombela from Friday June 23 to Monday June 25.

Nearly half the 190 teenagers who attended Groundswell — an inter-church youth camp in a spectacular natural setting near Mbombela, Mpumalanga — made first-time decisions for Christ at the event last weekend.

More than 40 adult volunteers served at the camp, which was marketed to local high schools by Grand Traverse, a leading South African praise and worship band from Durban which led worship throughout the weekend.

During the Saturday night session about 80 teenagers made first-time decisions for Christ.

Groundswell was founded last year by local pastors active in high schools in the Mbombela area. It has unified local churches and youth across denominational, race and language divisions under the banner of Jesus Christ. Churches represented at this year’s camp were Church Unlimited (NCMI), Communio Church (AFM/AGS), Every Nation Mbombelo, Lewende Woord, NG Moedegemeente Kerk, NG Westergloed and Vollies (Full Gospel).

Evening praise and worship session with Grand Traverse.

The exclusive camp site on the Mara Road, in a nature conservancy adjacent to the Crocodile River gorge on the Mara Road, has been made available to local churches by a farming family.

The bush environment, close to God and close to nature, made for an exciting teen programme, including daily sunrise hikes to worship God on top of a mountain, a kayak race and a hike into the gorge.

“This is truly life changing and memorable event in the life of the youth. Many will never be the same again. We are looking forward to hearing many testimonies of changed hearts for Jesus Christ,” said Shaun Adams youth pastor at Church Unlimited.




History-makers call on God to make us the nation He planned

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People arriving at one of the farms in the late afternoon on Friday 21 April in preparation for It’s Time.

Patsy Fulton was one of around a million people who trekked to Bloemfontein last week to pray for South Africa – and to make history. Here is her report on this destiny-shaping day.

Vast numbers of people trekked across the country to pray together for God to make us the nation He planned.

People from farthest away arrived earlier and camped over on Ollie Le Roux’s farm, situated just north of Bloemfontein – the venue for the “It’s Time” national day of prayer last Saturday.

Others drove through the night to arrive there early Saturday. Metamorpha Church, in Witbank, which I attend, arrived in two 78-seater buses.

How this prayer meeting came about
Angus Buchan received a clear call from God:

  1. Cancel all planned overseas trips;
  2. Tell the Nation:  – It is TIME – ONE million people

Two weeks after making this message public, he had 18 million Facebook responses.

Six weeks after that, the prayer meeting happened — because people heeded God’s call.

This life-changing event was about the reality in this land; South African Christians took it very seriously. The common purpose was much more than a church meeting in a field to the multi-cultural gathering represented all of South Africa. Intercessors at home, churches and around the world held the day in prayer. The camaraderie was tangible. It was evident even at the toilet queues where conversation and business cards was exchanged between strangers, loo rolls were shared and people held doors closed for a person they were never likely to meet again.

Two local radio announcers, in studio on stage, alternated between interviewing people of interest and playing Gospel music. Two South African favourites were interviewed:

  • Dr Michael Moll said a few words earlier in the morning, he was proud to be there with his son.
  • Heinz Winkler discussed how drought can be physical or spiritual; that God will rain down His righteousness on a South Africa who wants to pray.

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The local radio announcers broadcasting live from the It’s Time stage.

More people share their story
Preparation for the day was compared, by a member of Buchan’s team, to the loaves and fishes bible story, it had been a matter of “bring and see what God will do”. Getting the work done to set up the field for the day required planning, and from experience they knew that putting together something like a Mighty Men Conference took a year at least, to organise. So it was daunting to have six weeks to prepare for one million people.

But, when tractors, water, toilets, car marshals, planning to handle 350 000 cars all happened in that time, they knew it was a God thing. “This is God!” exclaimed the speaker, “Look at how many people are here representing the nation?” He continued, “It was only possible thanks to hundreds and thousands of contributors. Goodwill has been amazing. This is God’s appointed time.”

Another part of the incredible infrastructure was the 10 kilometres of cable and 600 speakers in 29 towers relaying the sound across the fields. Attie van Staden explained the effect of the 3.5 second delay, from the stage at front to the speaker towers at back. It was impacting to hear the crowd far behind us, in a ripple of sound, reacting to what had been said, especially when a wave of “Amens” snapped across the veld, in response to Buchan leading everyone in prayer.

A cycle group who set out from Cape Point, rode 200 kilometres a day and battled the Karoo heat to get to the meeting. One rider was a Xhosa man, originally from Khayelitsha, the informal settlement on the Cape Flats. He explained that in the past he had felt desperate and hopeless, but when he met Jesus at a youth camp, joy filled and changed him. He added: “Today when I look at my wife and children, I know they would never have been in my life if I hadn’t changed.” He concluded: “Today is about God coming into our lives.”

Another cyclist was Reghaart van den Bergh, director of the Angus Buchan movie, Faith Like Potatoes. He said arriving at the farm brought tears to his eyes, more than the gruelling ride through the Karoo, on their six day journey. Van den Bergh took the opportunity to explain that since 2006, when the movie premiered, 400 million people have watched it. “Not bad for a Boer Seun,” he chortled. The movie has also been translated into 17 different languages. “Faith has feet,” van den Bergh explained, “it is up to those here today to take what happens today back to their home towns, and that is what will institute change.”

Lucky Mbiko, managing director of TBN in Africa, had come along to join the Day of Prayer for South Africa. “The role of waiting on God, with the whole of South Africa signifies unity,” he said. He admitted that the call of the shofars gave him goosebumps. “It is time for something to happen,” continued Mbiko, “this is Holy Ground. Whatever happens today let it be God speaking to this huge crowd.”

The day was described as “an historical event to change the spiritual climate of our country, like an altar in the middle of our land.”

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People heading towards the fields that were cleared for the day of prayer.

Change our hearts and make the nation You planned
Angus Buchan arrived with his wife Jill and Simeon Benghu, his brother in Christ and first foreman of his Natal farm. Simeon opened with prayer in Zulu, speaking hope and salvation for our nation. There were more than one million people listening.

Buchan spoke boldly, that it would be “through us, as South Africa’s change of heart to God” that countries would be affected, right through Africa. “Make us the nation You planned,” he prayed to God, on our behalf.

The national anthem was sung before Buchan preached.

He clarified that the event was a Jesus meeting, to pray corporately for God to heal our nation. He prayed to pull down strongholds and to build up commitment to prayer. He used the example of Jesus in Gethsemane, as his message about the power of prayer before boldly asking, “Can a nation be born in a day?” He called unbelief the greatest sin and named the family as God’s unit.

Finally Buchan closed in very specific prayer, in Jesus Name, to stand for truth and righteousness, so that revival will come to South Africa.

When the crowd reacted to a scurrying whirlwind that blew through and over some of the crowd, Buchan said: “God is pleased with us for our renewed commitment.” He cautioned listeners that bigger winds would come.

Exhausted, yet exhilarated adventurers who had spent the day in Bloemfontein on April 22 can honestly say: “I was there, the day Christians made history in South Africa!”




Church group assists at Operation Smile screening days

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Madelaine, Operation Smile with a patient.

Operation Smile is fast becoming a household name in South Africa, as more people become aware of life changing operations, done for people with facial anomalies.

Across Southern Africa many children are born with cleft lips or palates — a visible facial difference, requiring surgery.

Society rarely regards this anomaly as important, let alone understands it, if they are not directly affected.

The huge enterprise of finding, assembling and looking after people, mostly smaller children, falls to the lot of a tenacious group running the hands-on part of Operation Smile in South Africa. Local communities readily assist.

Members of Metamorpha Church, from Witbank, together with other community groups were in Nelspruit on September 28 and 29 to help with the work — and fun — that goes into screening children for possible surgery.

Church members helped by making and serving food at Bundu Lodge just outside Nelspruit, and by helping at the hospital, where a ward was being painted.

Madelaine, the hands on and ever-smiling Op Smile organiser, greeted the Metamorpha team, quickly assessed job profiles and assigned tasks. Her compassion for parents whose children would not make selection was very evident.

She seemed to be everywhere at once, working with Olivia Haslam, another member of Op Smile’s team. Tamlyn,  Director of Operation Smile SA, also kept close to all that happened, constantly assuring parents of relevant details.

Three branches of “Woolies” Nelspruit sent staff members, who enjoyed entertaining the children.

Inside the small chapel at Bundu Lodge, the children played — tubs of clay and balloons were very popular, especially with the tiny tots. Other children kicked or chased balls in the garden and participated in art activities.

Smile Foundation, South Africa, was represented by Cleft Friends Supporter, Patsy Fulton, who was there with Metamorpha Church. She was graciously invited by Tamlyn to share with the parent group.

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Ouma Ricka plays ball with Alexander.

Patsy shared: “Parents bond with their babies, and with what their faces look like.” She showed before and after pictures of children who had already received their operations.

“This is what your baby’s lip looks like today, but tomorrow it will look like this,” as she indicated the change in appearance. “Your baby’s lip will look different. So today, kiss that mouth often, you will never see it again.”

One mom, who had heard this, and whose baby was there for a second op, later confided, “I am that mother. I have never accepted this baby.” She indicated her child, “I miss my baby’s face; the first one.” It is never too late to seek help in restoring relationship and coping with change.

Moms like this lady, brave enough to have come forward, need support groups, with facilities to provide professional assistance. That is why Cleft Friends, a project of Smile Foundation, started by Helena Cullis and Madge Blignaut of Port Elizabeth, is busy building Support Groups across the nation. One province at a time they want to reach people who need support.

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Zeenani.

The participants
Zeenani, 19, was a confident prince of the day, he chatted with other youth, while draped in a South African flag that Superman would envy. He was not in the least concerned at the slight evidence on his top lip, that as a child he too had received a life changing operation repairing a cleft lip.

Lindy, young mom of Zonique, who has a bilateral cleft lip, waited their turn to complete the documents required before the child would be considered as a candidate. Sadly not everyone would qualify on the day for the operation. Candidates need to be absolutely healthy — even a mild infection or ill health makes a person unsuitable. For people travelling great distances to be there, the disappointment of not qualifying is crushing.

Jeremy and his mom, Rishika, travelled from Actonville. When he was four years old Jeremy had 22 teeth taken out. He was in Nelspruit to have his palate op and to have grommets placed in his ears. Due to the physicality of a cleft, children often suffer from hearing or speech development needs.

The speech problems occur because certain of the mandatory sounds for speech are very difficult to make in their mouths. ENT and speech therapists are an integral part of developing Cleft children to their full potential.

Prospect, accompanied by a caregiver, Thumelo, 34, was from Holy Family Care Centre, in Ofcolacco, Tzaneen. At six months of age, Prospect was found, abandoned at the Beit Bridge Border post, between Zimbabwe and South Africa. Her cleft lip did not hinder her from eating soft corn sweets at a remarkable rate. This tenacious eighteen-months-old lives at the orphanage.

Alexander, 18 months, is of particular interest to Metamorpha Church, as they have avidly followed his story, praying for his successful operation and further development. He had his lip operation on January 29 2016, and was in Nelspruit, for his palate correction. Alex chased a colourful ball with his granny, Ricka in attendance.

Ouma Ricka said: “If it wasn’t for Operation Smile I don’t know where we would be?” Alex looks like a very determined, lively little boy. his Mom Ilsa was also with him for his first op.

Alexander’s family found out about Operation Smile on the Internet. An overseas branch referred them to Naadhira, here in South Africa. “We are all one big family now,” Alexander’s Granny smiled as she sang Op Smiles’ praises.

Louwkie’s Story
Louwkie, 39,  is a shy, gentle soul with the courage of 10. Sadly he did not attain the health requirement level to have his operation. He sat quietly to one side.

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Louwkie.

As a child, Louwkie started school at a “normal” school in Pretoria, where he was persecuted.

He moved to a school for children with physical anomalies and children with mental disabilities, where he found people were more understanding. In Witbank he went to Kragbron School.

Louwkie said he always felt lonely and separated when cruel words were used to taunt him. What makes him different is how he responded to his attackers. “God made me this way,” was how he replied as he forgave them, “When you hurt me you hurt the Lord. When you tease me, you tease God.”

“My chance will come,” replied Louwkie when asked how he felt at not being operated on this time, “I will wait on God’s will.”

Third born in a family of five, Louwkie was unable to receive treatment as a child due to financial constraints. He experienced many hardships growing up.

Hearing the story of this man’s life is inspirational and humbling. His positive heart for God outweighs all.

A friend, Suzette, who calls Louwkie her brother, saw his potential and invited him to get involved.

He now helps at a pre-school in a Witbank Township where he keeps the garden and does handyman jobs. He is good at woodwork, and makes crosses which he gives away — these are his glory story for Jesus.

No one chooses to have a birth anomaly, nor should parents blame themselves when their child has a cleft lip or palate. Coping with the dynamics of feeding a baby which by the nature of the shape of its mouth, cannot suckle, is what makes the babies with birth anomalies different.

The more we as the community, like Metamorpha Church from Witbank, Woolies and Lions’ Club of Nelspruit, and others, get involved the better chance for people like Louwkie to have a better start in life.




Witbank nursery school built from heritage of love

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Gerye Ludeke Learning Centre at His Harvest Nursery School.

Saturday September 24 was Heritage Day in South Africa. What better way to celebrate it than to open a nursery school, built from a heritage of love?

In the township area, closest to the front of the Highveld Steel gates, just outside of Witbank, a small crowd of people gathered in the Highveld sunshine. A new school building with freshly painted windows decked with colourful bunting, sporting a brand new shining roof was their focal point.

These well-wishers and partners in the construction of the New Harvest School building began the ceremony by singing Bambalela in Zulu, English and Afrikaans. Buks Degenaar taught everyone the actions to the song, while Flippie Degenaar played guitar. It was fun!

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Flippie on guitar, Pastor Ledge and Buks dancing.

Pastor Ledge Saunders, MC for the day, introduced Johan Swanepoel to make the official welcome. Johan, and his wife Isabel, fondly known as Tannie Koeks, have worked in the townships for the past 21 years.

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Pastor Ledge, Johan Swanepoel and Flip Degenaar.

Not only are they responsible for New Harvest School, they founded two other missions Schools as well — one in Ext 16, called Mount Sinai, where Martha is the Principal and the other in Klarinet, where Gogo, with shining eyes full of testimony, is principal. The schools were started on October 19 2005

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Tannie Koeks, centre, and her staff.

Tannie Koeks and her six staff members, dressed in black skirts and white and black tops, from principals to the ladies responsible for the food,  sang their way on to the stage, “Jabu … Jesu …” — their unity was tangible.

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Pastor Ledge Saunders & Tannie Koeks.

 

Isabel explained her passion was to bring children off the streets while their parents were away at work all day. As she explained how the school worked, she made sure to mention the sensible coal stove kitchens, used to feed the children.

Through many difficult situations, Isabel was encouraged by the women who said :”The children are waiting for the school.” This moved her out of her comfort zone to find a place to start. Forced to think creatively and act by faith, Isabel carried on — even when buildings trashed by wind damage, meant persevering with many tears.

“Then I met Pastor Ledge, at a meeting by the old age home,” she said, “I asked him to help.” In 2013 Metamorpha Church helped put up a lapa at the Imegroen Old Age Home.

Sharing her vision was a good step forward — it is two years on and the school building is now made of brick and mortar. Isaiah 41:18 to 20 was the prophecy that Isabel proclaimed over the area, where New Harvest School stands.

Isaiah 41:18 to 20

18 I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus.
I will give them fountains of water in the valleys.
I will fill the desert with pools of water.
Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.
19  I will plant trees in the barren desert—
cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir, and pine.
20   I am doing this so all who see this miracle
will understand what it means—
that it is the Lord who has done this,
the Holy One of Israel who created it.

As the Swanepoels build temples of encouragement, with emblems of love, it is clear that it cost Isabel plenty, but she rests assured that this school will bless on, paying forward her heritage of dedication.

The celebration was all about the children, 20 of whom attended the opening ceremony on Heritage Day.

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The children of His Harvest School reciting scripture.

Dressed in blue uniforms, wearing socks and shoes, this group of very little children dynamically recited several scriptures for the audience. This included Psalm 73 and the whole of Psalm 100, with actions.  One parent proudly shared: “My child is already a Preacher!” The children left the stage after singing “Marching in the Light of God” in Zulu and in English.

Pastor Ledge was persuaded to share Isabel’s heart vision and took the challenge to start a dream. He watched as tents in a grassed field were replaced by iron huts, which in turn have been replaced by a playground of swings and jungle gyms, and a building which can only be called a monument to God.

In 2008, Metamorpha Church started in the Cosmos Conference Centre in Witbank. The church now has premises within the complex of buildings at the new Protea Hotel, on Mandela Street.

Pastor Ledge wondered, as he asked the Metamorpha congregation if they were willing to commit to the school project, where the money would come from — it was after all only a small congregation. In 2014 Metamorpha Church helped put in a floor at Pastor Thulani’s church and helped refurbish the leaking roof. But committing to a building involves much more than repairing one. Once the commitment was made God added people to the church. Divine Providence is never a coincidence!

The heart seed
Gerye Ludeke lost his battle with cancer, two years ago, when he was 9 years old. His mom, Yvonne Ludeke, brought his piggy bank to Pastor Ledge, as her son’s donation towards starting a school. The greatness of a man or woman is in what they leave to grow, after they have gone.

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The Ludeke Family at the school.

“See the presence of God in this building,” Pastor Ledge encouraged, “God said He lives in the darkness, His invisible presence is forever with you. But looking at this building, see the presence of God shine as it changes the next generation.”

1 Kin 8:12-13

12 Then Solomon prayed, “O Lord, you have said that you would
live in a thick cloud of darkness.
13 Now I have built a glorious Temple for you,
a place where you can live forever!”

 

“The prayer of my heart is that this beacon of hope, will reach generations to come,” Pastor Ledge closed his address, thanking others for their sacrifices to God’s glory and anointing the doorposts of the classrooms.

Other project partners were the Land Service Students of Witbank’s Curro High School, who made a veggie garden on the school grounds last year. The Curro Students furthered their contribution this year, by supplying paint and painting the iron huts used for the kitchen and storeroom. Protea Hotel also contributed towards the opening event.

Soon two new toilets will be added to New Harvest School’s complex and outside of the two classroom doors, the area will be roofed, so the children can have outside shade.

Gerye’s birthday was on September — the very day of the school opening celebration. So it was appropriate that there was cake and cool drink to celebrate after the ribbons to the doors had been cut by Tannie Koeks and Yvonne Ludeke.

Eleven balloons were released, representing Gerye’s age if he had still been with us.

Happy birthday Gerye, good job!




God’s ‘little meandering road’ to true reconciliation

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Anneke Rabe (centre) with  Mama Johanna (left) and the now late Ouma Betty from the Mkhondo Prayer Group whose prayers have been used by God to change the spiritual atmosphere of the town.

Anneke Rabe has long had a heart for unity, for overcoming the old apartheid divisions, for rising above the racial categories of white, black, coloured and Indian to reconcile in Jesus Christ’s name as children of God, as brothers and sisters in Christ, as South Africans.

40 years later…the Church leading way in reconciliation

On Youth Day, June 16, South Africa will mark the 40th anniversary of the Soweto student uprising that was a pivotal point in the history of the struggle against apartheid. This anniversary that evokes painful memories of a day of bloodshed after police opened fire on student protesters comes at a time in which our country is struggling with racism and political division. The Church in South Africa is leading the way in using the 40th anniversary of Soweto Day to lead the nation in seeking true reconciliation with one another in Christ. In this week’s edition of Gateway News we report on some of these initiatives (and on initiatives started years ago) and we also publish a few powerful testimonies that are included in a 40-days prayer guide for reconciliation. See the links below.

PE Church demonstrating Jesus unity with multicultural soccer competition on June 16

Youth Day prayer meeting in Cape Town

TESTIMONY: Healing encounter with an extreme white politician

TESTIMONY: Nqobile, the girl whose name means “conqueror”, conquered in Christ!

TESTIMONY: God’s grace in the midst of great darkness

reconciliation event
Click on image for info on June 11 programme in Soweto

Her journey to reconciliation, which started in what was then Piet Retief in 1997, takes her to Soweto on Saturday June 11, 2016 to join with Christians participating in the South African Council of Church’s (SACC) ‘Singing a New Song’ campaign that will follow the 1976 students’ march route and participate in a service for reconciliation at Orlando Stadium. [See Singing a New Song Programme and Info]

Also participating will be members of the June 16 Foundation, who took part in the 1976 student uprising, and veteran members of the South African Defence Force Association (SADFA), many of whom were conscripts at that time.

It is the purpose of South Africans uniting as one in Jesus Christ as He prayed in John 17 that first motivated Anneke and continues to inspire her today.

Radical conversion and marriage reconciled
In 1997 Anneke and her husband Ralph were unsaved and their marriage was in tatters. However, both experienced a radical conversion, became born-again Christians and their marriage was reconciled.

“My biggest disappointment after being born again was the lack of love I experienced in the Church as a whole.

“Ralph and I attended an Alpha course at the Anglican Church that had thrown open its doors to all denominations and cultures, which was a new experience with a tremendous sense of God’s Spirit being present in the unity.

“When the Alpha course was finished I missed the unity and said to my pastor that although the Bible was new to me, I read things in the Bible that I do not see in the Church, specifically the unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17.

“I asked whether I could start a prayer group to start praying for unity among the Christians of our town.

“Our pastor blessed it and in 1999 four ladies from different denominations started praying together each week for the Christians in the town and country.

Praying for John 17 unity
“We prayed for the same unity that Jesus prayed for just before He was crucified: John 17: 20 -21 ‘I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me’.”

God answered the prayers and today Christians of all races in Mkhondo (formerly Piet Retief) come together every week to pray this prayer for their town and for our nation.

“We are white and black and coloured and Indian, young and old, highly educated and uneducated. It is a diverse group from different Churches.

reconciliation prayer group

“However, while the body of Christ in Mkhondo is like a family today, it wasn’t all easy-going to overcome differences of culture and even differences in ways of praying — we had opposition.

“It was very difficult at first. For example, the traditional mainline, white, Christian method of prayer is one person at a time while those not praying listen and then another has a turn, but the black way is that everyone prays out loud together.

“We had a white lady run out of the Church saying God can’t hear us, it’s chaotic. On another occasion we had a black Christian saying, ‘I don’t want to pray with you white people, because you’re dead like corpses’.”

Building relationships
Anneke says it took the building of relationships and spending time together to understand the cultural differences, and once they were understood then they could be appreciated and overcome, partly by borrowing from each.

“We just focused on John 17 and said that if Jesus prayed for oneness it is must be possible to achieve in His name.”

A huge change came about in Anneke’s life when, one day while driving into town she felt that the Lord say to her, ‘Today, you need to repent for the pain that these people experienced during the apartheid years’.

“When I repented on behalf of all white South Africans for apartheid at the prayer group meeting I was not prepared for the reaction. Ladies started wailing, and tears were just flowing and falling on the ground. I didn’t know what to do. I just held them and after a while they started telling their stories, some of which were so horrific that I realised the pain and wounds of apartheid must still be very deep in our nation.

Facilitating healing
“I decided there and then that I would do everything in my power to help facilitate healing in any way I could.

“We started hosting women’s camps in which we, as white women, would serve the black women and wash their feet.

“We saw how the Lord delivered women of hatred, and how their forgiveness became evident.”

Anneke says over the last 17 years the prayer-group women spent a lot of time getting to know one another over meals, washing of feet, repenting on different levels, having intercession and repentance camps, crying together, laughing together, traveling together, worshipping God together and having annual unity services and outreaches.

Reconciliation in Mkhondo
This reconciliation is even reflected in the name of Piet Retief changing to Mkhondo.

Anneke says the name Piet Retief brings to mind death, racial distrust, deceit, disunity and bloodshed. There were many wars fought in that area; between the Swazis and the Zulus, the Boers and the British, the blacks and whites.

In contrast the name Mkhondo means ‘little meandering road’.

The Christians of Mkhondo have been involved in numerous actions of reconciliation over the years.

In 2003 white pastors from Mkhondo repented to black pastors for the sins of apartheid and Christians from Mkhondo were involved in repenting for the sins of apartheid in the government of Mpumalanga.

“I really believe God has changed the spiritual atmosphere over our town through prayer,” says Anneke.

Dream from God
In 2004, she had a dream or vision in which God said that the intercessors of Mkhondo should go to Sebokeng, Thembisa and Soshanguve to do actions of reconciliation.

reconciliation hug“The Lord said if we were obedient in going to these three townships, He would open-up Soweto for us for prayer on the 16th of June (I did not know which year) for repentance for the sins of apartheid and for the blood of the children that was spilt there, so that God can heal our land.

Today, Anneke says she knows that the vision to visit Sebokeng, Thembisa and Soshanguve was from God because although at that stage it all seemed just too big a vision to accomplish, last year they completed the visits with the help of Reverend Moss Nthla and his wife Khumo.

“The glory belongs to God,” says Anneke.

“We stayed in two of the townships and cried and laughed together – getting to know one another.

God brings healing
“We washed a lot of feet and repented a lot. We saw how God healed many people of the pain of apartheid. There was even a physical healing.”

Anneke says after going to the second township, Thembisa, in March 2015, they had a 40 day period of prayer and fasting.

“On the 40th day I received a telephone call from Pieter Bezuidenhout who is a pastor in the South African National Defence Force. He had done his doctoral dissertation, which was titled “Die diensplig-SAW generasie en die soeke na heling, versoening en sosiale geregtigheid” (The conscript-SADF generation and the quest for healing, reconciliation and social justice), that largely dealt with the pain of the conscript generation.

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A historic moment in October 2015, when the journey of reconciliation brought veterans, church leaders and the June 16 Foundation together for the first time.

“He said that he had heard about the work of reconciliation that we are involved in and that during a time of prayer he had the same urging from the Lord to help facilitate healing in South Africa through a gathering for repentance and reconciliation that should take place in Soweto on June 16.

God’s timing for reconciliation gathering
“When he said 2016 would be the 40th anniversary of the June 16 uprising in 1976 we both knew the time for the gathering was now.”

Pieter met with the Reverend Frank Chikane, senior vice-president of the SACC, who he had interviewed for his thesis and who supported the need for reconciliation that developed into the ‘Singing a New Song’ campaign.

In support of the campaign Reverend Chikane wrote: “Many may be asking ‘How can a man who was on the receiving end of this brutality be so sympathetic towards those who meted out beatings to him repeatedly’?”

“That is true. I, and countless others, suffered the type of brutality we pray fervently that our children will never know. I have made peace with the fact that my back will forever be damaged as a result of the torture I underwent. But as an adult, the responsibility lies with me to remove all hatred from my heart, through the daily renewal of my mind that allows me to test and approve what God’s good and perfect will for South Africa is. [Romans 12:2].”

Anneke believes that God is busy with something that has never been seen in South Africa.

Breaking the racism stronghold
“Our hope is that God will do something supernatural over our nation to break the stronghold of racism in the nation and that the people of South Africa will see the love of Christians for each other in Christ.

“Our desire is for ordinary South Africans to have hope for the country and to get to know one another across the racial and economic divides.”

A fleet of two busses and a number of cars full of brothers and sisters in Christ of all races from Mkhondo will join Christians of many different denominations converging on Orlando Stadium in Soweto from all over the country on June 11 to humble themselves before the Lord and unite in prayer entreating Him for softened, repentant hearts that will give rise to South Africans ‘Singing a New Song’ in harmonies of repentance, confession, forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing.

For Christians not attending the gathering it is vital to support the campaign in prayer, in spirit and in truth.




God’s truth pursued at Restored Men’s Annual Conference

restored 2015 aIt is never an easy feat to rally men and keep men them at a single venue where the focus is mainly to discuss and learn more about issues of their manhood that they all face on daily basis.

More often than not, it is much easier for men to come up with all kinds of excuses for not being part of such a gathering, but from September 17 to 19, 2015, Gateway Church International in eMalahleni, Mpumalanga, hosted a successful  4th Restored — Men’s Annual Conference.

The theme for this year’s conference was “God’s Truth, the answer to the lives and circumstances of men”.  Since the inception of the Restored conferences, the main objective has been to restore men back to the original intent and purpose that God created men for.  This year’s main discussion was on understanding more of what it means to be a Christian man, as a husband, as a father, as a son, and the role that a Christian man is expected to play in the modern church, today.

A list of very capable speakers was intentionally chosen because of their expertise and knowledge to come and help address the current challenges and difficulties that men in general, face in their walk as Christian men.

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26 men were given Phaladi Leadership Awards,

The speakers included Bongani Dumane, Lead Pastor at Dominion Life City Church in Pretoria, Gauteng, Jeremiah Magagula, Lead Pastor at eMbalenhle Alliance Community Church in Secunda, Mpumalanga,  Afrika Mhlophe, Lead Pastor at Good News Community Church in Kwazakhele, Port Elizabeth, and Dr Thabelo Malovhele, Lead Pastor at Pretoria Christian Worship Centre, Gauteng.

Valuable and profound lessons were shared on the need for men to have and hold a Christ-like image as their only basis and position through which men must define and understand their godly manhood and purpose in life. Pastor Afrika shared eloquently on how God values a sonship relationship more than servanthood; that men should stop remodeling or renovating themselves through earthly ways (education, culture, and belief systems and living for approval of other men) and instead seek and hunger for an intimate time and relationship with God, where they intentionally seek total surrender and restoration as men. Men can only become who God created them to be if they are totally restored back to the original Adam, said Pastor Afrika. Before His fall, Adam functioned under the wisdom and grace of God and this is the kind of a relationship that men require to mortify sin and live a life of purpose. This is the mark of a true Christian man!

This year’s conference closed with the honoring and celebration of the second Phaladi Leadership Awards, named after senior pastor and founder of Gateway Church International ministry, Ps Edward Phaladi Phetla. These awards are given to men as an inspiration and encouragement to serve in the church. The awards have grown since last year.This year, Gateway Church Int’l has seen more men starting to serve and making themselves available to provide much needed leadership in the church. In total, 26 men received awards. Congratulations to all winners!




Traumatised children’s ministry course inspires missionary teacher

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Samantha Purchase.

The Petra Institute in White River, Mpumalanga, has trained people from many countries in children’s ministry, but for Samantha Purchase, a trained teacher and missionary in Burundi, it was more than just another training course. It totally changed the way she dealt with children.

She did several of the courses at Petra Institute, but through the Walking with Wounded Children, a course which aims to equip lay people to assist traumatised children, she experienced God’s healing and restoration of many of her own issues.

Purchase now wants to assist children and colleagues from a point of healing. “I’m not a broken, vulnerable adult running around anymore; but a person God healed. I want children to have this same healing, this same life and I so badly want people to feel and experience this completeness in their lives,” she says.

Purchase, who is relocating to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, says she wants to train early development teachers, as well as those working with pre-schoolers. “My whole aim is for them to realise that they actually hold a child in the palm of their hand. They can make or break them by their behaviour. I became so aware of a child’s needs and that as an adult I have an impact on their lives. And my behaviour has an impact. So I made a commitment when I’m with a child that my behaviour should be worthy to look up to,” she said.

Though Purchase prefers to work in a Christian setting, God started stretching her into other areas where there is no Christian influence. “When you walk in a path of wholeness and healing, you portray Jesus to everybody. You don’t have to use His name, you can just show them His love and they will know who He is. It’s all about building relationships,” she explains.

“I want to teach this to the children and teachers as I have seen many amazing things happen when engagement takes place with children and when time is spent with them. If you teach teachers to become friends with their children, you see them take this into their own homes, and from there it multiplies into the community. Parents become friends with their children and start to take better care of their children. When people understand that what they do impacts another life, they change their way of living,” she says.

More information on getting involved with Petra and on its courses  is available on their website (www.petra.co.za ) or by emailing them at info@petra.co.za or calling them at 013 751 1166/7. The Western Cape branch can be contacted by calling 023 356 3636 or emailing info@petracol.org.za.

 




Witbank conference will reveal what it means to be a Christian man

restored2015aThe Restored 2015 men’s annual conference at Gateway Church International in Witbank from September 17 to 19 aims to practically explore and build understanding of what it means to be a Christian man.

The theme of the conference led by Senior Pastor Eddie Phetla is ‘God’s TRUTH, the answer to the lives and circumstances of men”. Other speakers are Pastor Afrika Mhlophe, Dr Thabelo Malovhele, Pastor Bongani Dumane and Pastor Jeremiah Magagula.

The conference main topic, A Christian Man, will be broken down into the following four workshop topics:

  1. A Christian Man as Father

The only thing worse in our culture today than the way men view themselves as husbands is the way they view themselves as fathers. Men have no idea how important this role is in the development of their children physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This session helps men see their role as father through the indicatives and imperatives of Scripture.

  1. A Christian Man as Husband

Most men struggle with their role as husbands. This is not only a result of poor teaching and bad examples; it is also a question of missing the importance the Bible places on marriage as a portrait of the relationship between Christ and the church. A man who does not care about his relationship with his wife is a man who either does not understand, or properly value Christ and the Church.

  1. A Christian Man as Son

Independence and submission are the struggles that all men both young and old battle with. This session will seek to address the fifth commandment in the Bible and its implications for men both young and old as they struggle to strike a balance between independence and submission to authority.  

  1. A Christian Man and the Church

Why do churches have to constantly beg men to get involved? A great deal of the problem arises out of confusion over men’s roles in the modern, corporate, highly professional church. This session will examine the vital Titus 2 ministry older men can have in the church, and the critical role young men can and should play in support of the Church’s ministry.

The conference will open on Thursday,  September 17 at 6pm and continues on Friday (entire day), and Saturday. On the 19th, Saturday afternoon, Men at the Cross will host their 2nd PHALADI Leadership awards. These awards are given to men as recognition for the leadership and service in different ministries in the church.

Registration for the conference is now opened at http://www.gwci.org.za/news_events/event_details/107. The conference is open to all men, young and old, married and single.




View from the amazing Million Meals assembly line

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Volunteer members from Metamorpha Church in Witbank in action at the Million Meals event in Pretoria last Friday (June 5, 2015).

Patsy Fulton shares her experience as a member of a group from Witbank which participated in Judea Hope’s Guinness World Record Million Meals project in Pretoria last Friday during which sixty five 40-member teams packed a million nutritious meals for hungry people in 48 hours.

Two buses and a variety of private vehicles, waited in the icy Highveld air outside Metamorpha Church, Witbank, at 06:30 on Saturday, June 6. Winter weather was the inevitable conversation starter — “I’ve got three layers on,” confessed one lady. Everyone collected a black and white team shirt for the adventure ahead, before setting out for Zwartkop Air Force Base outside of Pretoria.

Pastor Ledge Saunders drove one of the mini-buses filled with volunteers who were delighted to be taxiing to the city; fun-filled comments rifled the air.

Judea Hope’s Million Meals Packing Event began on Friday 5th June 2015, at 09h00. Under the auspesis of the Guiness Book of Records’ rules the event was regulated and controlled by Inspectors to ensure acuracy. Every three hour session was motivated by a specific Master of Ceremonies (MC) and a South African performing Artist.

‘Captains and coaches are in charge’
Every team went through the training process. Coaches trained and over-sighted queries, while Team Captains were in charge of the scissors for cutting open supplies, while keeping their teams informed and encouraged. Hein from Doxa Deo, Midstream Campus, coached the volunteer from Metamorpha Church.

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Dr Louis Blom: President of Judea Harvest.

 “2 200 bags are at every table,” explained Dr Louis Blom, President of Judea Harvest. “You’ll need 2 000 to complete your target.”  Madelaine Schoombie, whose birthday it was, started the process off by opening bags. He emphasised that concentration was very important when filling bags at the shoot. Strong men from each team collected stock from pallets at the kitchen side of the room to fill the containers on the packing table.

 “Put on your hats and gloves, to comply with standards for packing food,” Dr Blom continued, “Everybody needs to understand the process.”

After sealing, stickers were added to bags as they accumulated on the counting board; they were then placed into boxes. Corporate stickers were attached to one side of each box, prior to being stacked.

And so the Saturday morning session began to the sound of overhead aircraft as volunteers passed packets, put on stickers, made boxes.

How did it all start?
“Our Judea Hope Project is currently packing one million meals,” Blom was delighted to report, “and we are going to distribute the million meals in squatter camps, RDP areas and townships, wherever we find poor and needy kids. We have more than one thousand pre-schools we’ve identified and networked together. We’ve been supporting them for 45 years now,” he smiled.  “They will get this food that we’re packing right now.”

Blom continued to explain logistics, “One hundred thousand bags – with ten meals per bag. We will distribute these million meals,” he indicated the packing process hurrying on inside the hall, “to these kids over the balance of the year.”

What it is really all about?
“We are making a big difference to the kids’ lives. It’s not just food – it’s the high quality vitamins and minerals that build their immune systems and help with brain and body development.” Blom could not disguise his joy; “Proper nourishment creates proper children. So, we are very passionate about this project — very excited about all the volunteers,” he enthused. “Four thousand people came in over the two days; three hour slots each at a time, sponsoring the money for the food and packing the food. It’s just absolutely awesome,” he beamed.

No good thing goes without hiccoughs
It is virtually impossible to move 44 tons of food using 4 000 people without hiccoughs here and there.

“For 9 hours last night,” told Blom, who was MC of the first two sessions on Friday, as well as the first on Saturday, “Dr TJ Skhosana took up the challenge to MC three sessions of volunteers through the night; they ran out of veggies. Our office had ordered 100% spot on, but the spoon for the veggies although only a small spoon, must only be a level spoon per packet. We taught everybody this, over the last 2 days but somehow, too much was used and we ran out of veggies.”

Making sure the attentive crowd of volunteers realised the enormity of this fact, he continued, “So, 6 o’ clock this morning our team was driving all over the city, knocking down doors and buying veggies. They will be here within the next half hour, and you will have veggies to pack.”

Speed and accuracy
“If level spoons, 1-thumb-down, are not used today we won’t finish our million meals today,” cautioned Blom, “It’s about packing fast, but it’s also about accuracy. So please, everybody, help us not to run out of product.”

Blom’s punchline for the day: “Our challenge is that we stopped packing. So today, we need to make up the missed 3 hour shift. You don’t only have to pack your 60 boxes, you have to pack 80.” Sharing his expertise, he continued, “But in our experience, with the volume of people here, some of you could even pack 100!”

The vitamin sachets that will accompany the food packs will be attached at a later date. The logistical challenge of getting all of the vitamins and minerals for this feeding programme, is very costly, and as some clients couldn’t pay, the project ran short of cash. “We will buy the vitamins and minerals as we go along,” assured Blom. There was no doubt that it would happen.

Keeping the rhythm
mmmusicThe mellow tone of Jaques, lead singer of Afrikaans Christian Band ‘Joshua Na Die Reen,’ filled the room, encouraging volunteers. His rendition of the secular tune ‘The Piano Man,’ was perfect for the calibre of his voice. This charismatic Band recently performed at the ‘Witbank for Jesus’ celebration held at Cambridge School, Witbank.

Workers hooted and called as they packed, edging each other on enthusiastically, as Captains bustling from one end of the work stations to the other, called out details of their number of completed and stacked boxes.

“Pass me the top,” Jean-Michel Masson, of Masson Music, Witbank asked when the reporter nearly bungled passing a packet. “Better,” he smiled when a bag held from underneath was swung in front of him; aim – grab – automation.

 “We’re up to 42 boxes,” Pastor Saunders encouraged, shortly afterwards, with Jean-Michel’s baby in one arm and record sheet in the other. By the middle of Jaques’ next song, he’d hurried by again, “We’re up to 45 mense [people]!”

Abie, the official photographer for the Million Meals Event, shared that he’d already been awake and busy for 48 hours. “4 000 people here,” he smiled; tired, but completely enthralled with what he’d witnessed.

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The younger generation joined in the marathon packing project (above). Metamorpha’s stack of boxes are verified. (Below).

When the session was over, Pastor Saunders signed the official form, concluding, “No records broken today, but we’ll help again. We were 5 or 6 boxes behind the ones who finished first. We finished 80 boxes with this team, plus the other Metamorpha volunteers,” he indicated another work station, “Where we helped on the other side, where a team was short of members so Metamorpha helped on that side, too.”

This great volunteer event to correctly feed young children has long term benefits for other youngsters. Simone, a little girl with a swinging ponytail, was very active and very accurate in helping to pass the bags. Pastor Sanders agreed, “She didn’t miss a beat!”  Simone was one of the children from Metamorpha who participated in the event; boys and girls were learning that helping is a good thing, and great fun, too.

Well done to the children from Metamorpha Church, Witbank who worked shoulder to shoulder unflaggingly. Way to go guys!

Confessions of the reporter:  “I do not regret one hoot or squeal of delight. The Piano Man song rang in my head all the way home. I can’t wait for the redistribution process.”

 

 




Helping world’s traumatised kids is “child’s play” for SA ministry

A practical session with a child during Walking with Wounded Children Course training in Singapore.

A practical session with a child during Walking with Wounded Children Course training in Singapore.

South African ministry couple Dirk and Taleta Coetsee recently visited Singapore and Ukraine to present courses on how to help traumatised children through the medium of play.

It is not the first time that the couple, from Petra Institute near White River, Mpumalanga, have been invited abroad to share the institute’s play therapy training model that can be applied to any country or culture, says PR consultant Anine van der Westhuizen.

Petra serves the global Christian Community by building capacity for children’s ministry.  Dirk, who is the Managing Director, and Taleta, joined Petra in 1999, with a passion to equip Christians to restore broken children in their relationship with Christ.

To date the Institute has trained more than 13 000 people throughout Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Far East. 

Walking with Wounded Children Course
During their recent visit to Singapore where they partnered the Scripture Union Singapore, Dirk and Taleta taught Petra’s “Walking with Wounded Children Course (WWCC)” and demonstrated the institute’s training model, reports Van der Westhuizen.  

She adds that although the children of Singapore do not experience the same problems as those in Africa, such as poverty and AIDS, they are still highly traumatised as they are constantly placed in stress situations due to overloaded systems and high expectations set for them. So the WWWC training session was hugely beneficial and as Dirk said: “I do believe that we were very instrumental in due time”.

Praying together during a training session.

Praying together during a training session.

After Singapore the couple visited Ukraine where they assisted in developing a family programme and presented the WWCC tutor training course.  They were shocked to find the country in a state of war  –very different from the last time they visited.  People were constantly gripped by fear due to the ongoing war and the possibility of their country once again becoming part of Russia. During this time, a postgraduate institute in Dnepropetrovsk, which is responsible for 50 000 teachers, invited Petra to share the WWCC programme with them. Local Ukraine tutors have established a forum called “Help Ukraine” to assist parents and children in the area. Before the war, this intervention would have been impossible but God’s timing is always perfect  and now during this crucial time in Ukraine, He has opened doors, allowing Petra to go in and minister to a desperate and despondent nation, leading them to Christ, reports Van der Wethuizen.

Back in South Africa Petra recently presented their WWCC  course in Modimolle (Nylstroom) to 15 participants, 11 of whom were staff from an orphanage.  After training, the participants put their newly acquired skills to practice by playing with the children from the two houses at the orphanage and were amazed at the result, says Van der Westhuizen. Playing non-competitive games with groups of children binds them together and overcomes age, colour and gender differences. Children become relaxed and uninhibited, sharing their emotions which is hugely therapeutic.  The Institute believes that the more opportunity that is created for play, the more opportunity the children have to play / talk about their traumas or issues, thereby working through their hurt and pain, so that the healing can begin.

Petra’s various practical  courses on children’s ministry and ministering to traumatised children are mainly used in partnership with partner organizations and churches. However the WWCC and the Dynamic Children’s Ministry Course can also be followed by individuals. More information on getting involved with Petra and on its course  is available on their website ( www.petra.co.za ) or by emailing them at info@petra.co.za or calling them at 013 751 1166/7.