Originally published in News24
A Plumstead pastor at the River Word Church is doing God’s work by spreading what he calls “prosperity Gospel”, which allows him to provide his congregants in need, with cars, money, food supplies, and very soon even houses.
Pastor Kyle Driver, 34, said he had been “led” by the Spirit of God to give to those in need.
Earlier this year the church gave away three cars to members of the congregation.
Speaking to News24, Driver said it was a “personal decision” that he decided to help ease the burden of his congregants, by providing them with things they required in their everyday life.
“I started giving away earthly materials 10 years ago when I gave myself completely to the ministry,” Driver added.
“I saw the need in my congregation. At first, I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to assist my members as the church is a non-profit company. But then the Lord spoke to me and guided me into giving away what was needed. I call it prosperity gospel,” Driver added.
This year marks five years since the church opened its doors.
Founded by Driver and his wife Melissa in 2016, the church received its funding mostly from offerings and donations from people who attended the church.
“We started with just two members in the church; we’ve now grown to approximately 300 congregants. The number of people attending has since varied from Sunday to Sunday,” he added.
And after a traumatic two years in the clutches of Covid-19, the church hosted a “fun family” day this past weekend ahead of the festive season.
“We had the fun day as a token of appreciation for people, especially since the pandemic has ruined so many people’s lives. I wanted to be a blessing to those in need,” he said.
Driver added that they made sure that those who attended would stand a chance to win handsomely.
He said:We handed out fridges, microwaves, a minibus van, televisions, and a raffle consisting of holiday destinations to the lucky winners.
He said with close to a thousand people in attendance, people had to get a free entry ticket online to attend the event.
“When they arrive at the venue, they would be given a number to hold on to for when the draw takes place,” said Driver.
Jason van Heerden won a minibus van.
Describing his good fortune as a miracle, Van Heerden said he felt as if he was still “dreaming”.
“Firstly, it’s a much bigger car than what I had and it’s a good car for me and my family because I have four kids and a wife. I’m extremely grateful for this car because now I’m able to transport people to service on Sundays also,” said Van Heerden.
Zainonesha Moses, 20, from Manenberg, won a microwave. She said she felt “blessed” that she was one of the receiving recipients.
“I’m unemployed and wasn’t able to purchase a microwave for my family, so when my name was drawn as a winner, I felt really happy,” she said.
Danian Wicomb, 28, a youth leader in the church said he had been a part of the congregation for 10 months and was “extremely happy” when he received the news that he would be getting a car in October.
Wicomb said:I felt like I was dreaming. My wife and I were praying for a vehicle for months already. I am very happy and extremely grateful.
“I had the desire to be able to bring people to church with me and not having a car had made it very difficult to do that, but now that I am mobile, I can bring people to church with us so that they can experience the Lord’s healing, freedom and love,” he added.
According to the youth leader, many people were suspicious of the good deeds.
“Our pastor has been a blessing to many families and people in communities such as Parkwood, Lavender Hill, Manenberg and much more before this year. He has always been feeding people and taking care of the needs of people, he is a wonderful person,” he said.
Driver added that it gives him ‘great pleasure ‘to see that the Lord is using him to bless others around him.
Driver said since people had heard about what he had been doing for those in need, he had seen a significant increase in people attending his services on Sundays.
Driver added:It’s understandable that people are questioning the motive behind my decision toward giving toward others. Pastors haven’t always been perceived in a very good way in the media.
The church had already given away a Hyundai i10 and a Renault Clio earlier this year that was sponsored by donors who wished to remain anonymous.
Driver said it bothered him that he wasn’t going to live up to the promise of giving away a third vehicle before the end of the year.
According to the pastor, he spoke to his wife, and they agreed that he would then sell his car to purchase the vehicle.
“I was ready to inconvenience myself by selling my car, but then through the Lord’s divine intervention another anonymous donor had come forward and said I should keep my car as God had prompted the donor to give me the money to purchase the car,” he said.
The church added that all three cars that had been purchased were good second-hand vehicles.
He said the church’s long-term goal was to provide people with housing.
He added:The need is great and the fact that we have seen many new faces attend services tells me that many people are in need.
When News24 visited the church, it was packed to capacity with worshipers.
Claudia Hansover, 55, said on Sundays when she can drive herself to church she made sure she attended the morning services.
“I’ve attended many congregations before coming to River Word and I’m so glad I decided to worship here,” she added.
The self-employed mom of three said it’s “wonderful” that the pastor cared so much for his community and that he was willing to go the extra mile to sort their needs out before he helped himself.
No strings attached
Xolani Femele said he recently joined the church and was enjoying every minute of it.
“It’s a nice feeling walking into a building and being treated like everyone regardless of where one comes from. It’s a wonderful feeling to give back to those less fortunate, and I think what Driver is doing is really applaudable,” he said.
The church said they provided assistance based on each family’s situation and what the church could afford.
“We have a team that sits with our finances. The church also has bills to pay, and I am very open with our members as to how we generate our funding as I feel there is nothing to hide. I’m here to fulfil my ministry duties, it’s a calling I am deeply in love with,” Driver added.
Emphasising that there were no strings attached to the prosperity gospel, Driver maintained one could not serve God and not be a giver.
He said:Poverty is a curse, and you can break it off your life by becoming a giver.
The pastor said he had no plans to stop giving to his congregants and that it was a “wonderful” feeling to add joy to another’s life.
“Housing is a need, the church is in the process of blessing some members with decent housing. The finer details haven’t been finalised yet, but watch this space. It’s going to be mind-blowing,” said Driver.
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