Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Launch of Mariannhill!

Sunday was the first day the Mariannhill ecclesia could worship in the new community centre. It was our launch and celebration of the amazing new building that God had given to us through Autopage. It was also the day that many who had been coming to Bible classes chose to be baptised. We invited Westville ecclesia to join us for this great day.

As some brothers and sisters were driving through the township to get to the new centre, the road was blocked by a big happy procession. Girls and women dressed up in traditional Zulu beads and hats singing and dancing in the streets. On a closer look they noticed the Good News of the Kingdom of God T-shirts. It was the sisters of Mariannhill celebrating the launch and baptisms by dancing through the streets to their new hall.

The service started with eleven baptisms. The day felt almost apostolic! Bro Dan had built a collapsible baptismal bath which was on the front lawn. One by one Bro Phinda and Bro Thulani baptised young and old, male and female, all Zulus. The size of Mariannhill ecclesia almost doubled in a day. Markus was baptised first, he is the husband of sis Nokuthula and father of sis Dudu. A few months ago he was too ill to walk. Letting go of his stick he was helped into the bath and he buried the old man.

Sabelo, Sebenzile and Zama were baptised, the brother, mother and cousin of Bro Kwanda. Fikile and Mpiloh were baptised, the aunt and niece of Sis Sylvester. Hlengiwe (Manoonoo) and Penny were baptised, both of them orphaned in the last few months. Now they have embraced the Heavenly Father and found a new family. Mafuthi, Senzo and Mduduzi who have attended and listened so many times made up the eleven.

The Sunday school did a great presentation. After the exhortation we broke bread together in the new hall. Zulu songs and dancing dominated the worship. Over a hundred and thirty people were there, about fifty attending from the community. They all enjoyed a beautiful lunch afterwards prepared by the sisters of Mariannhill.

Jesus is calling people from every tribe and tongue. Each tribe and tongue comes to him celebrating in their own culture and their own way. On the rolling hills of Kwa Zulu Natal, the Good News of the kingdom of God is proclaimed in a miraculous, powerful and Zulu way.

Siyabonga Baba (Thank you Father)

Tim Genders, South Africa

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mariannhill is...

To the average person who lives in KwaZulu Natal in South Africa, Mariannhill is just one of the many townships in the Durban area. But to me, it means much, much more.

Mariannhill is having the local children recognise our car and wave and smile as we drive past, or even follow us in to greet us with a hug….

Mariannhill is walking through the dusty (and often muddy!) streets and dodging goats, chickens and dogs on the way in….

Mariannhill is having young people walk for an hour to come to our youth classes, through all kinds of weather…..

Mariannhill is walking through people’s front and back yards, hopping along planks of wood and over ditches, and being greeted warmly all the way from our car down to the hall or Sylvester and Phinda’s house…..

Mariannhill is Phinda and Sylvester, an incredible couple full of faith and with such a love for helping others both in many practical ways and in coming to know God’s truth….

Mariannhill is wondering at the fact that the municipality feels the need to dig up every road in the place at the same time so that our shoes are full of mud by the time we stumble back to our car :o)

Mariannhill is seeing the smiles on children’s faces when they get to experience something special, like a puppet show, a game of soccer or their first ever Christmas present….

Mariannhill is many hours of friendship, laughter and memories….

Mariannhill is watching each special individual go through the waters of baptism and thanking God for every one of them….

Mariannhill is fitting about 20 people in one car in the most earnest of searches just to find a soccer field!....

Mariannhill is unfailing enthusiasm for everything to do with the things of God and spreading the news of His Kingdom….

Mariannhill is being there for 4 hours to run a simple one hour youth bible class and not noticing the minutes pass in the slightest!...

Mariannhill is having the road regularly blocked by the local bull….

Mariannhill is working with young people and seeing them come to understand and love the gospel and want nothing more than to serve God….

Mariannhill is seeing a child bathing in a wheelbarrow on the side of the road and loving it!...

Mariannhill is being welcomed into the lives and homes of people from such different backgrounds to us and becoming close friends as we share meals, special times and spiritual growth with them….

Mariannhill is a place of song and dance, where in times of joy and times of sadness, singing praise to God is a way of life….

Mariannhill is learning not to plan too much, as this only means that a plan exists to be broken….

Mariannhill is a family where all are welcomed and cared for as individuals, where it is not unusual to have over 20 people in a small house at any given time, each drawn to the love shown by those who are part of the ecclesia…..

Mariannhill is getting random SMS messages at any time from any of the youth….about any particular thing….

Mariannhill is sharing and working through life issues with a bible in hand, of experiencing first hand the awesome power of God’s word to help in times of need….

Mariannhill is seeing a wonderful group of about 25 youth develop from the original handful, as they invite their friends to share in the special treasure they have found…..

Mariannhill is a strong spirit of “ubuntu” (Zulu for fellowship and togetherness) and love between all the brothers and sisters…..

Mariannhill is watching the amazing hand of God grow a vibrant ecclesia from a three young people in just 12 months….an then throwing in the blessing of a wonderful ecclesial centre being built as a bonus!

Mariannhill is watching our lives steadily become so intertwined with those of others in every aspect, from school, bible classes, card making income projects and youth activities through to their families, health, personal issues and spiritual growth…..

Mariannhill is difficult to put words - it is more of the intangible than what you can see and feel. It is joy. It is life. It is the spirit of God working powerfully in a humble place that to so many others represents nothing extraordinary. Mariannhill to me is a symbol of God’s saving power, His grace, His active hand in everything around us and His gentle care for each of us individually.

I will never be the same because of my time spent at Mariannhill, nor would I want to be. As the song we have sung at Mariannhill so often goes “Never no more, turning back, no more turning back….let’s praise the Lord!”

Leah Egginton, Australia