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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
“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!