By Donovan Reeve
The Covid-19 pandemic keenly highlighted as never before the plight of poorer vulnerable communities in South Africa. As people struggled to earn a living and feed their families during the early lockdown levels of 4 and 5, God created a spiritual awareness in our church, Breakthru Life, which in turn planted a deep desire for us to help.
Breakthru Life Church (Breakthru), based in Weltevreden Park Johannesburg, is a family of believers whose mission is to establish and advance the Kingdom of God in our community, city, region, and country. Breakthru is also the base church for Foundation Ministries International, an apostolic network of churches that stretches beyond South African borders.
It was in these early stages of lockdown where a number of organisations and churches came together to combine resources and actions towards various social intervention programmes to meet these overwhelming needs in our local areas, including Northcliff, Randburg, Honeydew, Kya Sands, Zandspruit, Muldersdrif and Lion Park, an area that became known as “Kingdom Valley”. Through our longstanding roots and relationships within the Kingdom Valley region we believed that this would be a perfect partnership and the Lord immediately highlighted Preschools 4 Africa (P4A), an NPO operated by one of our church members, as an excellent vehicle for us to collaborate with.
P4A was established in 2002 and its primary focus is on reaching children from under-resourced areas through the creation of early childhood development centres within the communities.
Through P4A’s extensive network of schools and teachers within the west rand communities, an area called Maplanka, just below Cradlestone Mall on the west rand, was identified as a community in dire need of assistance. Maplanka is an informal settlement occupied by more than 250 families –mostly South Africans as well as other African countries such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The Maplanka community’s income is based upon part-time jobs and the restaurant industry, both of which were completely stopped during the early stages of the Covid-19 lockdown. This meant that income earned in March 2020 would only be sustainable to families within Maplanka for that month, after which there was a desperate plight for mouths to be feed as tummies started to become very empty.
And so, in May 2020 the Lord so perfectly timed our first food outreach day into Maplanka. Due to the restrictions set by government and marshalled by the SAPS many compliance hurdles had to be jumped but the Lord’s hand was in it all and as other NPO’s assisting the plight of the poor hit many roadblocks and strong resistance, His favour guided us allowing us to move unhindered to do His work.
Our outreach strategy was a simple one — not just to physically feed those in need but to spiritually meet their needs as well. This meant that as our teams handed out food parcels, it gave us a perfect opportunity to minister to the individuals one-on-one (from a 2m distance) allowing us to pray for them.
Outreach days became times where people got to meet Christ for the first time, had prayer needs met such as jobs or domestic abuse to stop. We saw multitudes of miracles through the healing of the sick with even those going for hospital treatments being sent back because they were healthy. The Holy Spirit moved in Maplanka to such an extent that men and women matured into received the Holy Spirit into their lives – it became a community changed.
Much greater plans
Little did we know upon embarking on this ministry that our Father had much greater plans in place, for His thoughts are far greater than our very limited thinking. While we were just thinking a small community called Maplanka, He was thinking about the Kingdom Valley region and beyond.
To this extent, we purchased our food parcels from the outset from Chefs In The Kitchen (CK), run by a chef who had just prior to COVID-19 left a big corporate company to focus on his own company within the restaurant industry.
The Lord, once again, with His impeccable timing, introduced Breakthru to CK where the Lord provided the owner with wisdom and insight on how to procure the best quality food at the best prices. This meant that he went directly to the local farmers to procure long-lasting fresh produce, namely spinach, carrots, butternut and potatoes. The saving was passed onto us, allowing us to feed a family of four, three times a day for 14 days at a marginal cost of R300.
Our food parcels are broken up into two hampers — firstly dry staple products such as mielie meal, soya mince etc. and a second parcel containing long-lasting vegetables which means we are able to provide people with healthier, more nutritional meals.
As previously mentioned, Breakthru as part of a greater social initiative had included itself into the Kingdom Valley Lean (KVLean) which cumulatively had greater funding and a much further reach then Breakthru did on its own. As part of this initiative we were able to inform the leaders of the KVLean of the incredibly economical way we had managed to purchase food. Through our combined efforts with CK we were able to reduce the cost of the KVLean food purchased by a quarter whilst doubling its food reach. This meant that God had economically done the miraculous by multiplying the food of the Kingdom Valley footprint by as much as eight times!
This multiplication model was codified in a programme charter that was shared with the South African Council of Churches to make it available to all the other LEAN initiatives.
Through the grace of our Lord Jesus, in November we celebrated as a church an incredible milestone of 100 000 meals served to the community of Maplanka. As 2020 draws to an end the plight of the poor and underprivileged remains, and in fact during festive seasons is known to increase. Breakthru has felt the Lord Jesus lead us to continue with our feeding during this season with something even greater up the Lord’s sleeve for 2021 and this wonderful community.