Last Sunday, on a cold and wintry Cape Town day, I visited a church that started under a tree at the Brackenfell Station in July 2010.
We visited the congregation — still known as Church Under The Tree or Lazarus Ministries – where the members, who include many homeless people, were enjoying a service in an old railway goods shed which was recently transformed into a comfortable and inviting space by construction company Indawo.
According to Ettienne Po of the Jesus in Action movement which has been ministering at the Brackenfell Station for more than six years, the refurbished goods shed is “a miracle and answer to prayers. We didn’t know anyone from the company at all. They just contacted us and renovated the place. Within three days, they were done!”
The Indawo team led by Baart Saayman, repaired and painted the shed, redecorated the floors and installed a serving hatch for meals to be served.
Po said: “Words cannot describe what Indawo’s love and hard work means to us in making our dream a reality. They did not expect us to even lift a finger and, for this, we are eternally grateful. This testimony has eternal value in our hearts and the miracle that God performed through Indawo will be told to everyone.”
It was a member of the community, Lazarus (Dawid de Jager, 2 Feb 1980 – 31 December 2014), who insisted that, before a meal is served, we bring the Word of God and prayer to the people first. He further requested that a service and soup kitchen be held on Sundays at 12pm at the station.
Welcomed by Po on my visit on Sunday, he explained that mostly the homeless from surrounding areas attend the service. “The service starts at 12 o’clock, but around 12:10 a train arrives at the station and we usually wait for the members on that train to join in as well”, he said.
Po led the service in praise and worship, playing his guitar as everybody joined in wholeheartedly.
Khanyi Grootboom, who founded a Sunday school led the children in a spiritual dance performance.
Etienne Moolman did a scripture reading (Luke 10:27 — He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” ) and spoke about lordship, saying Jesus should be Lord of our whole being.
After the word, there was a time for prayer requests and Jane stepped forward. Her husband Joseph had passed away during the week and Juan Smit and Quinton Bosch prayed for her.
Jane has chronic TB, yet she still came to have a good day’s meal. She brought along a young boy, just in case anything happened to her. The boy’s shoes were torn and he does not know his shoe size, and wears whatever shoe he may get.
Ella, also came forward for prayer for her granddaughter, Saleen van Wyk, 2. Ella takes care of Saleen four-year-old brother. The children’s mother is currently in prison for substance abuse and the repercussions thereof.
Saleen was born with flat feet and has had two operations done, but still cannnot walk properly. She has to go for another operation in September.
After the service, everybody attending received a warm cup of soup, a loaf of fresh, warm bread, a 2-litre soft drink, fruit and a box of sweets for the children.
Saleen received a pram as a gift, to assist her grandmother Ella, in transporting her.
It was humbling having the “Jesus feeding the flock” experience and I agree with Geoffrey Jäck, Indawo managing director, who said her is proud to be associated with organisations like Jesus in Action, who are a beacon of hope to the community.