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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Hani Park Outreach

While our friend Judson Pietsch was here we took the opportunity to do some outreach in a nearby settlement. In South Africa you have a variety of different types of communities. There are those classified as proper towns or cities. People living in these areas typically live very similar to what those in the US would be used to. Then there are townships. These are primarily black settlements that started under apartheid. Life in these varies greatly, from nice but small brick houses to tin shacks. Then there are informal settlements. Typically there is no electricity or plumbing in these areas. They can be anywhere from a handful of scattered shacks to hundreds of structures squeezed side by side.

Hani Park is considered an informal settlement. It is here in these types of communities that so much of the poverty, disease, and crime hits the hardest. Several of our children have come from Hani Park. Okuhle & Cebisile, Boetie Boetie, Lelohonolo Mahloua, Ndiphewe & ‘Kazi, and now our newest baby Zacona have all lived in Hani Park at one time or another.

Over the last several months we have attempted to do outreach and evangelism in the areas around Welkom. We started at an old mining complex near The Pines, then moved to Thabong, made a visit to the hospital, and now have spent some time in Hani Park. By no means have our visits been exhaustive. There are close to 400,000 people living in these areas around Welkom so we still have plenty of opportunity ahead of us (and we could use some help from you).

We use these outreaches to try and minister in many different ways. It allows us to show our children firsthand the work that God wants His children to do. With the food parcels it gives just a small amount of physical relief to these people living in such difficult conditions. It gives us a chance to make contacts. Most importantly, it gives to these people the message of real hope: the hope of eternal life.

We spent the morning putting packets together. Each child was in charge of a specific part of the packet. Motshidisi rolled out the plastic wrap, Tankiso handled the sugar, Pheello the rice, Nazo did the sweets, Refiloe the beef seasoning, Okuhle gave the tracts, Ntswaki did the chips and Dieketseng added the tea bags. Sam & Judd wrapped the packets and Rosina was quality control. The completed packets were then put in bags that we would carry around Hani Park to hand out.

Before we left we had a quick lesson as to why we do this sort of thing. Many people think the reason we tell other people about Jesus is because He commanded us to in the Great Commission. That is part of the reason but the heart of our outreach is found earlier in the book of Matthew. When Jesus was asked which commandment is the greatest He responded “The whole of Scripture can be summed up in the following statement: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second command is closely related to it: Love your neighbor as yourself. In these two lie all the teachings of the law and the prophets.” The reason we do what we do is not to merit God’s favor through obedience. It is to show our love for Him through obedience.

Each child was paired up with another child, then assigned to an adult for supervision. This allowed us to each have a translator. The kids have grown to the point where they do most of the talking, but in case they get stuck or are asked a difficult question hopefully we can be there to help.

We spent about an hour handing out packets in one section of Hani Park. Once people realized we were passing out free things we didn’t have to walk too far. They pretty much came to us. We had five Bibles to hand out and those went fast.
As an interesting side note a lady came up to me asking for a Bible. I told her we were out but could bring back more as they arrived from the States. She asked if it was King James Version. You may remember that a couple months back I had asked for Bibles, preferably in versions with easier English. The feedback we received on KJV’s we had previously handed out was that it was a bit too complicated for many of the ESL people here in South Africa. I told her that the ones coming from the US were in a version easier to understand. Her response? “No, I need King James. I only read King James.” What are the odds that in a settlement like this someone would need only KJV? Fortunately, we still have a few here that I’ll be able to give her. As long as people are asking for God’s Word, we’re happy to oblige.

While no one, as far as we know, made any decisions as a result of our outreach, we are confident that God will use His word as He sees fit. The pamphlets and Bibles we handed out give a clear message of eternal life and we pray that the seed that is scattered will take firm root.

Something strange happened on our way out of Hani Park. An old lady to whom we had given a packet stopped us. She asked how she could buy one of our children. I started to tell her that the children are not for sale, but then I thought I should at least listen to her proposal. So I asked how much she was offering. She said maybe 200 Rand. This would be the equivalent of about $25. I told her that wasn’t enough. Just kidding. Actually, I asked why she needed to purchase a child. She said that all her children were gone (likely meaning dead from the way she said it) and that she needed someone to take care of her in her old age. We told her that if she wanted to care for children there were plenty of children around to care for. She said she wasn’t looking for a child to care for but for someone to care for her.

This is a classic example of what is happening to the South African culture. The very young and the very old typically do not have HIV. The pandemic is decimating the population who are in the prime of their lives. Those who should be caring for the old and young. This leaves grannies to care for several grandchildren when they don’t have the energy anymore. It leaves children to fend for themselves or older children to care for the young ones, sacrificing their education or chance for a different life. And the cycle repeats itself.

For those of you who have or are giving funds to support our work, we thank you. Our goal is to break this cycle. It can only be done through true heart change. As people are reached with the message of salvation in Jesus Christ their lives will no doubt change. If they are trained to reach others we can start a new cycle of life, spiritual life. Thank you to everyone who supports this ministry financially and spiritually through prayer and encouragement. Your contribution is of utmost importance.

1 comment:

  1. I just finished June 18th back to June 4th....you're an incredible writer.....Praise God ..... His blessings flow through you to all of us who read your blog. I'm missing everyone lots .... hope you all had a great time while away for a few days. I saw Joe and Angie yesterday. I was sad not to get one last hug from all the O'Tool's that Saturday afternoon, so consider yourselves HUGGED...maybe even kissed :-)

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