Early last Saturday morning a team of about 150 members of Dare to Love (DTL), a Pretoria group that regularly reaches out to destitute people with the love of Jesus, arrived in the heart of the city’s CBD with brooms, bags and gloves to clean up a massive mess left in the area after a protracted municipal workers strike.
Homeless people, city residents, families, children and even some businesses joined the courageous DTL members who were spurred into action by images and videos of the mess on social media which were bringing fear into the hearts of people who had to work in the area and the realisation that the rotting garbage posed a health risk.
“This spirit of community, working together in joy, seemed to have brought a healing spirit amongst the participants and city dwellers watching. The volunteers simply worked together with no strife, except to serve their city and do something that is good for all,” said Darryl Hardy, co-founder of DTL.
Businesses provided trucks, street cleaning equipment and water to the volunteers, he said. And trash was turned into treasure as recyclables were separated in clear bags and wet waste into refuse bags. About 80% of the waste collected was recyclable and homeless people were encouraged to resell this material at buy-back depots.
“Community must take care of community,” said Hardy. “God is Love. When we serve others, we find purpose.”
Martin Peters, a member of the Dare to Love team said that despite the community effort on Saturday some people didn’t get it.
A city newspaper reported that homeless people helped for financial reward. But he said the homeless people stepped in to help without any financial incentive. They were people that regularly joined them on their Saturday outreaches.
“We are not a charitable organisation that just hands out to homeless people; we want to give them independence and freedom from bondage and that freedom comes through serving,” he said.
He said it was normal for those homeless people to serve with them on Saturday morning outreaches and to wash the feet of other people living on the streets.
Peters said DTL has been doing city and street cleanups for years. Saturday’s cleanup in and around Church Square just stood out like a sore thumb because of the strike. A number of people had criticised them on social media, accusing them of ulterior motives.
“There was no hidden agenda. We challenge, in love, the critics and politicians alike to leave the comfort of their offices and homes and to join us on the streets for a closeup into the life of the homeless and destitute
“If there’s one thing we’re guilty of it’s love. If loving and serving like Christ makes us guilty, then we are guilty as charged. Politicians and critics, we love you regardless,” he said.
Peters said he had been a drug addict for 30 years, he had sold drugs and at one stage he used to sleep on the streets.
He came from a Hindu/Muslim background. But his life had been touched and changed by the love of Jesus.
“The reason I go out there every Saturday is to share what Christ has done for me — to give these guys hope because what God has done for me he can do for you,” he said.
The love of Jesus is contagious, said Peters, and that’s what motivated street people and others to serve.
DTL co-founder Hardy said the movement began in 2015 when five Christ-followers spent two hours every Saturday morning in the Pretoria CBD, trying to bring a positive change to the homeless. Four years later, the movement has grown into multiple DTL meeting points across the city with hundreds of Christians proving their love through action.
“We dare and challenge fellow Christians and community members to take up their social responsibility towards the homeless, elderly, orphans, strangers and their towns, cities and suburbs.
“We are not a church. It is a God Movement of love in action, based on 1 John 4. As Christians, we all need to be the Hands and Feet of Christ.”
“The opposite of Love is not Fear. The opposite of love is self. When we love others in selfless service, we find our purpose and our true identity in Christ,” said Hardy.
For more info about Dare to Love visit www.daretolove-sa.org or Facebook: Dare to Love SA.