Today Amber & I will be going to Pretoria, the capital city of South Africa. We are going along with Meredith & Drake, and two of the boys from Thabong that I hold Bible Study with. Jakuja (JT) is currently in grade 12 and studying for Metric. Metric is the final exams of all students in South Africa and if a student does not score highly enough they have to repeat grade 12. These tests also work the same as ACT's or SAT's in the US, and good scores are a requirement for university entrance. Needless to say, grade 12 is a stressful time.
JT and his friends have all committed themselves to their studies and are all rated at the top of their class. In fact, JT is rated #9 in the entire Free State. In South Africa they publish everyone's academic results so each student knows where they rank in regard to their peers. Personally, I think that's a great motivator and it has proved to be in the case of these boys. The 4 boys currently in grade 12 are some of the hardest workers I've ever met. They get up before 4:00am every day in order to arrive at school before the teachers. The principal has actually given them a key to the school, something unheard of in a culture so riddled by crime, theft, and vandalism. They want to stay ahead of the teachers so when they learn something in class it will actually be review. JT was unanimously voted Student Body President, a position very important and time consuming. Yet every afternoon after school lets out, he along with the other 3 boys, oversee an additional 2 hours of study time available to all the grade 12 students. During this time they make themselves available to help others with their studies. In addition, they arrive at the school at 6:00am on Saturday mornings and usually stay until 6:00pm, studying and helping other students with their studies.
Due to their family's financial situation these boys will not be able to attend university without outside help. Here in South Africa they refer to Scholarships as Bursaries. All the boys have been applying for these, but it is very competative with few bursaries available. It is also quite difficult for first year students to receive these bursaries. JT has been personally invited to attend testing and interviews for a Chemical Engineering bursary, but the interview is located in Pretoria - 4 hours from here. Unfortunately, they had no way of getting to Pretoria as they have no car and bus tickets would have been too expensive.
We initially considered purchasing a bus ticket, but he would have to be there at 8:00am Friday morning, so lodging would be a problem. In an effort to help, we decided to drive JT up to the application process at the University of Pretoria. We are also bringing his cousin DJ along to help with the logistics and to encourage him. We'll be staying in a guesthouse tonight with the boys (like a B&B or hostel) and then we'll get JT to the university with plenty of time to get comfortable. He will be taking a series of tests and participating in a personal interview with 3 members of management for the company offering the bursary.
We ask that you lift up JT and the other boys in prayer as he works to change his future and the future of his family. He would be the first in his family to attend University. Pray for us that we could be an encouragement and use this time to help bring these boys closer to Christ. Both JT & DJ have come to know Jesus as their Savior, and we all continue to study God's Word together so we can learn how to be more like Jesus. We know that God has plenty of money and can provide in any way He sees fit. We just hope that in the meantime our lives will be pleasing to Him.