‘Nelson Mandela Bay’s Nehemiah vision can be used to rebuild city walls anywhere in SA’

Attendees at a poverty workshop pinpoint their outreaches on a Nelson Mandela Bay ward map. (PHOTO: Frankie Simpson).
Trevor Jennings of Transformation Christian Network (TCN) outlines a practical, city-wide, model for community upliftment that is being pursued in Nelson Mandela Bay (PE/Uitenhage/Despatch). The highly-collaborative model, inspired by the biblical figure Nehemiah, can be applied in any town or city in South Africa, he says.

Why is it that thousands of South Africans are involved in community outreach, yet the output is just not commensurate with our input?

The problem lies in the fact that our efforts are disconnected, and as a result there is a lack of traction in responding to the challenges of inequality, poverty and unemployment.

Having identified the challenge, church leaders in Nelson Mandela Bay have joined forces in a programme which, we believe, will unite the people of the metro in order to rebuild the walls/wards of our city.

It is inspired by the Biblical tale of the priest and businessman Nehemiah who, from around 445 BC, led the people of Jerusalem to rebuild sections of its walls, one section at a time.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Nehemiah approach
The Nelson Mandela Bay Nehemiah approach is based on the city-wide management grid in the form of the municipal ward structure, which includes the building blocks of:

  • The municipal ward councillor and the members of the ward committee
  • Existing civic organisations
  • The churches and schools located in the specific ward
  • Health clinics and hospitals
  • Key players in the Safety and Security Sector ie SAPS, Neighbourhood Watch and Peace Monitors.

We will rebuild the social and economic walls of the wards one at a time by helping and empowering civil society, business and the local political leadership to work together to provide jobs and hope for all our citizens through sustainable economic development at micro and macro levels.

Historical segregation has left many wards under-resourced. This is where partnerships with reputable NGOs, church groups and businesses are needed to identify and address the most critical social issues — one ward at a time.

Framework of the Nehemiah Model
We believe that the Nehemiah Model provides the necessary framework for us to work together. Firstly, it provides the compelling vision we need to unite people around an implementable and sustainable plan of action.

Secondly, it addresses the needs of the whole metro — no ward will be left out.

Thirdly, we have the tools needed to identify real needs. These tools include input from NGOs on the ground in the wards, socio-economic profiles of the wards, social mapping, and the Integrated Development Plan of the municipality.

Fourthly, collaboration and implementation are made easier when key drivers such as NGOs, infrastructure and businesses are already in place. Potential partners would include: Siya Sebenza, ABCD and Farming God’s Way.

We are using a geographic information system to plot where the resources and existing projects are in the metro in order to avoid duplication.

Finally, we are focused on the five priority areas identified in the South African Council of Churches “The SA we pray for”. These are healing and reconciliation; restoration of the family; addressing inequality, poverty and unemployment; economic transformation; and anchoring democracy.

Practical projects in the fields of education, health and local job creation will be addressed by business and NGOs.

The focus areas of healing and reconciliation, restoration of the family, economic transformation and anchoring democracy are being dealt with by the Nelson Mandela Bay Church Leadership Network.

Should you be interested in helping to rebuild the walls of the metro or to find out more please contact info@tcn.org.za.

This article was signed by:
Pastor Daan Botha: Harvest Christian Church
Dean Mark Derry: Vicar General Anglican Church of PE
Bishop Jacob Freemantle: Methodist Church of SA (Grahamstown District)
Apostle Neville Goldman: Ebenezer International
Reverend Howard Hans: Chairperson Metro SACC
Dr Bukelwa Hans: Provincial Vice President of the SACC
Pastor Mary-Rose Jacobs: Secretary NMB Religious Leaders Desk
Reverend Themba Mahuwa: Branch Secretary SACC, NMB Metro Branch
Reverend Danie Mouton: Director Synod Eastern Cape DRC
Reverend Rory Spence: Moderator Presbyterian Church (Central & Southern Cape)
Dr Dave Pedersen: Fountain Vineyard Church
Pastor Russell Viljoen: Chairperson NM Bay Church Leaders Group
Pastor Johannes Welskit: Regional Leader EC AFM
Bishop Vincent Zungu: Catholic Diocese PE
Trevor Jennings: TCN

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