Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Being a Missionary in your own country

You do not need to risk life and limb in some remote, war torn and poverty stricken country to make a difference! You don’t have to travel hundreds of kilometres and suffer grave discomfort to reach those in need of your help. You can make a difference right here, right now.

When Liezl and I were asked to spend two weeks helping out at the Margate Good News Centre we were slightly skeptical as to what two young women would be able to achieve – especially once we received the ‘to do list’ from Bro Alistair Clark! However trusting that this was an opportunity set before us by God (and more than happy to escape the Jo’burg winter) we eagerly accepted and… here follows what happened.

We had never been to the Centre and had only a fairly vague idea of what to expect, the general consensus being that Liezl would help Sis Cecilia with the Good News Crèche and I would help Bro Nelson in the Bible Education Centre.

We arrived on Monday, June 2nd. We immediately noticed that the Good News Centre (which is situated in the Margate Christadelphian Hall) is one of at least 10 churches/religious facilities in a less than a 5km radius! Also the Centre is fenced all around due to the crèche – but no buzzer/bell at the gate and little signage – and this gave it a distinctly uninviting feel. The crèche has 3 kids at the moment – 3 very bright, friendly and willing kids! Ayanda (age 5), her cousin Owami (age 3) and Elethu (age 4).

To our delight we found the crèche rich in resources (books, toys, educational posters, musical instruments) - which are sadly not being utilized. Also Cecilia understands very little English and Nelson needs to translate everything. The BEC had a generally unkempt air about it – prices faded or falling off, books bent from being positioned wrong, very cluttered and disorganized, not at all attractively laid out – the shelves are positioned so that you can hardly see the books! There were 2 students registered for the 22 Lesson Bible Course – Nelson’s 2 sons.

And here is where the real fun part began!

Getting the word out:

Margate hall, BEC, crecheFocusing on ‘advertising’ the Margate Good News Centre we set up a table in the local mall on the Friday (Hibiscus Mall) where we had big posters advertising the God’s Master Plan Bible Course and the Crèche Course which Sis Leah Egginton will be presenting, and we also took along stock from the BEC. We put up posters in local libraries, shop windows and made pamphlets advertising the Courses in both Zulu and English – bearing in mind that the community is primarily Zulu speaking.

We were surprised to discover that most of the people knew about the Christadelphian Hall - they just didn’t know you were allowed in! During the ‘Mall Day’ we registered 13 students for the God’s Master Plan Course and had 9 definite applicants for the Crèche Course (and one hopefully not so definite applicant – a 60 year old inebriated Irishman who promised to “kill kids who misbehave”!). We also sold R45.00 worth of stock and had interested customers saying they would visit the Centre in future for birthday gifts etc.

Due the success of this first ‘Mall Day’ we went again the next Friday where we registered another 13 students and generated a further R110.00 in sales! (*HOT UPDATE* The Creche course is now on and there are 12 people attending!)

The Crèche:

First we changed their rather complicated ‘daily program’ to the much simpler one which Leah recommends in the Crèche Course, then started teaching them songs (they especially enjoy ‘Sing Hosanna’) and trying to show Nelson and Cecilia how to prepare and present classes. They have 2 lessons a day – we would do the first one and then help Cecilia prepare the second one, which she then presented to the kids on her own. We introduced the ‘Naughty Chair’ as a disciplinary method – and once the boundaries were defined the classes were much more manageable. They have plenty of resources at their disposal so hopefully after the Crèche Course things can really start taking off.

General Improvements:

One of the biggest would be the bell Bro’s Alistair and Nelson installed at the gate, they also put up a post box for Bro Nelson and once Bro Dan Egginton puts up the big sign this should help create a more approachable feel to the Centre.

We sorted out the BEC, got Nelson familiarised with the administration of the Courses and the BEC, made colourful ‘quote posters’ for the BEC, put up extra educational posters in the crèche, taught Nelson & Cecilia to use the microwave and made business cards for Nelson.


We then had the added enjoyment of doing the daily Bible readings with Nelson’s family as well as being able to help with the Sunday School and partaking in the Margate Memorial Services. During both the readings and the Memorial Meeting Nelson translates everything into Zulu for Cecilia – so we came home knowing quite a few helpful Zulu phrases!

It was definitely two very fruitful weeks, we enjoyed the experience immensely and have both learned a lot. Not least of all that we as two sisters can in fact work together without a single fight!

We are both very thankful – to God for the opportunity and for being with us throughout; to the COP Fund for sponsoring our travel fees; and to our family who were all very optimistic and supportive about the trip.

Lilandi Scheepers

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marley said...

brilliant Lilandi, what you have written makes so much common sense, thanks for sharing and seems to me a timely reminder that we need to present our "best" and our Heavenly Father and our Master will do the rest. Here's a question looking for an answer: "Why don't we all use our HOMES to make friends and then invite them in and in good time, share the gospel?" - seems to me that we could all be missionaries in our OWN HOMES without leaving our neighbourhood, am I missing something or what? Pete O

Sniper said...

Wonderful work landi and liezl!!


2010 said...

Lilandi and Liezl, thanks so much for all your heard work down there. Awsome. Love Tim