Cape Town church harnessing volunteer power to serve poor, sick and oppressed

John and Avril Thomas.
John and Avril Thomas.
Church-based NGO providing living hope!

A few weeks ago I wrote about Madiba Day, and whether 67 minutes of community outreach once a year is enough. I mentioned in the article that some NGO’s experience a negative attitude from some volunteers on this day. There are people who have their own agenda, and I was suggesting that we look to find out the needs of the NGO and look to serve those, instead of our own. There was a response from a pastor in Cape Town who has had a very different experience with volunteers and his NGO. They had over 650 volunteers on Madiba Day and they see their volunteers as a blessing. Many of the people who give of their time return again and again. I gave this pastor a call to find out more.

I knew of the existence of Living Hope, but I had no idea of the extent of ministries of this wonderful NGO that has been established by the King of King’s Baptist church in Fish Hoek, under the leadership of Pastor John Thomas.

Living Hope has been in existence since January 2000. I love their name as, so often we see hope as being something deferred and in the future, but the name gives me current, living hope – it’s happening here and now. Their motto is Bringing Hope and Breaking the Despair of poverty and disease. It is very strongly based on the following Scriptures: Matthew 25 vs 35-36 “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Luke 4 vs 18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me , because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Also Isaiah 58.

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Holistic approach
Living Hope provides guidance in four ministries, namely, Living Care (Health care), Living Grace (Homeless and substance abuse ministry), Living Right (prevention ministry) and Living Way (economic empowerment ministry). They are seeking to impact South Africa’s Southern Cape Peninsula (and beyond, with new satellites being planted in other areas) with a holistic approach that works to support those both affected and infected with HIV/AIDS,and other chronic diseases, as well as several contributing factors. (Taken from the website

Living Hope has established itself as a significant, highly accredited organisation and they find that the community is very involved. It is a practical initiative happening right in front of the eyes of those around. They have daily drop offs of donations from various people/ organisations. There are 200 full time staff, with many local and international volunteers.

People seem to be only too happy to help, serve and be a part of a functioning and very beneficial organisation. Over one year, Living Hope has reached 35 000 clients, served 21 000 meals and performed 19 000 home based care visits. That is phenomenal and so exciting.

Pastor John pointed out that Living Hope started out as their local church response to poverty and sickness. Based on Scripture, he says that poverty is the Church’s mandate, it is not for the Government to sort out alone. (although I believe they can come alongside and do their part.) The church seems to have lost the plot in their response to poverty and sickness, and it’s great to see the turnaround in recent years, but there is so much more to do. God’s solution is the local church.

Forming relationships
Living Hope seeks to reach people for Christ and form relationships with those they come into contact with. This is a vital factor if we are going to offer people real, everlasting hope.

King of Kings church is not made up of wealthy people, but of people who have had faith over the years for God to take this ministry and multiply it. God has done that as just this week, Living Hope purchased another 19 acres of land for, among other things, farming training. People coming into this training will eventually be able to manage their own farms with all the business and practical training necessary for this.

One particular part of the ministry that really caught my attention was their free outpatient rehabilitation programme, specifically for substance abuse. The patients sleep at home and their rehab is not dealt with in isolation – they are helped to deal with their circumstances. 95% of those who enter the programme and complete phase 2, rehabilitate successfully. That is an amazing success rate. What a wonderful difference they are making to our country.

Living Hope have made a way to work successfully with their volunteers and are a shining example to others in what they are achieving in their community and the way they are doing this. I trust we will see many more branches opening up around South Africa – each one modified to your particular church’s response in your area.


  1. Thank you for the taking the time to pursue this story. God has used, and continues to use, Pastor John, King of Kings and Living Hope to make a tremendous impact around the Cape Peninsula as they meet people’s physical and spiritual needs.

  2. This is an excellent article and a correct picture of a community outreach I have been able to observe from the very first day. I wish more pastors and churches would catch the vision that Pastor Thomas and is congregation has caught for the needs of the community around the church. This is the true church that Jesus is building worldwide.

    • Ron, i like what you say here: ‘ I wish more pastors and churches would catch the vision that Pastor Thomas and is congregation has caught’. Would it not be a good idea for you to share this vision with these Pastors …communicate the vision with them? Bless ya! spence

  3. Pastor Ken Pattison

    Its fantastic. But there are other churches who is also doing it. Let us work with them. There is CARE : Christian Abundance Reaching Every One. Outreach arm of House of Prayer in Malmesbury that is doing well, there next project is to repaint a few houses that are an eye sore
    and people cannot afford it Praise God