Saturday, January 31, 2009

"As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God"

Below is an interesting and inspiring article on preaching and mission work in South Africa, along with some of the comments made by people who have read it.

[This article] shows why it's so important to preach the good news in Africa. And what an incredible life changing, liberating difference God makes in the lives of the African Nation. It also gives us an insight into the African mindset and how we should address this in our preaching. A direct contact with the Heavenly Father through Jesus is huge for them.... It's all about relationships - Your relationship with God and your fellow man. The benefits of being a child of God….We need to get them connected back to God and transform their lives from walking in the flesh to following Jesus.” Nicky Blewett, South Africa

“An excellent article: insightful, forthright, and dead on with respect to the need of a whole new system of values, purpose, means, benefits, participation, mindset etc ; the call is for a whole new garment and new wineskins! … Very good input for ‘2010 and beyond’.” Norman Fadelle, United States

“I can relate to a lot of this. Much of it is reflected in the spirit of the 2010 touch and teach approach. I have experienced a lot of the same kind of ‘missionary spirit’ described here in brethren and sisters involved with 2010 work here in SA and similar work in the rest of the world and with the work of the WCF in the USA. As God’s adopted child I know for a fact, as living in this world proves everyday, that the world needs God.” Lucas Scheepers, South Africa

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God

Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people's mindset

From The Times
December 27, 2008

Matthew Parris

Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.
It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.

At 24, travelling by land across the continent reinforced this impression. From Algiers to Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic, then right through the Congo to Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, four student friends and I drove our old Land Rover to Nairobi. We slept under the stars, so it was important as we reached the more populated and lawless parts of the sub-Sahara that every day we find somewhere safe by nightfall. Often near a mission.

Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers - in some ways less so - but more open.

This time in Malawi it was the same. I met no missionaries. You do not encounter missionaries in the lobbies of expensive hotels discussing development strategy documents, as you do with the big NGOs. But instead I noticed that a handful of the most impressive African members of the Pump Aid team (largely from Zimbabwe) were, privately, strong Christians. "Privately" because the charity is entirely secular and I never heard any of its team so much as mention religion while working in the villages. But I picked up the Christian references in our conversations. One, I saw, was studying a devotional textbook in the car. One, on Sunday, went off to church at dawn for a two-hour service.

It would suit me to believe that their honesty, diligence and optimism in their work was unconnected with personal faith. Their work was secular, but surely affected by what they were. What they were was, in turn, influenced by a conception of man's place in the Universe that Christianity had taught.

There's long been a fashion among Western academic sociologists for placing tribal value systems within a ring fence, beyond critiques founded in our own culture: "theirs" and therefore best for "them"; authentic and of intrinsically equal worth to ours.

I don't follow this. I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the "big man" and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.

Anxiety - fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things - strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought. Every man has his place and, call it fear or respect, a great weight grinds down the individual spirit, stunting curiosity. People won't take the initiative, won't take things into their own hands or on their own shoulders.

How can I, as someone with a foot in both camps, explain? When the philosophical tourist moves from one world view to another he finds - at the very moment of passing into the new - that he loses the language to describe the landscape to the old. But let me try an example: the answer given by Sir Edmund Hillary to the question: Why climb the mountain? "Because it's there," he said.
To the rural African mind, this is an explanation of why one would not climb the mountain. It's... well, there. Just there. Why interfere? Nothing to be done about it, or with it. Hillary's further explanation - that nobody else had climbed it - would stand as a second reason for passivity.

Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.

And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Digging holes, showing love and thankful parents

As we look forward to upcoming P2P campaigns in South Africa in 2009, here are some more blogs from youth reminiscing about P2P in July/August 2008

A particular experience in encountered during P2P wasn’t at all exciting, but it was very rewarding.

I dug a hole in the dirt for 3 hours! Even though this grafting hard work was meticulous, it was vital to one of our projects. We were at Dumisani’s school for the week – an underprivileged, under funded primary school. As a team, we undertook a few projects and the particular one I was working on was creating a “jungle gym” (playground) for the kids. We dug the holds to lay the foundation for the jungle gym to stand on.

Not all the jobs are as glamorous, but each and every one are important. As a team, we all had a role to play to show the love of Jesus in our work.

James Hughes, UK

“Love the Lord your god with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbour as yourself”. A well known verse for many, including myself, but in South Africa I have seen more fully the potential that we have as individuals and as a community in really living this verse.

P2P has given those of us who have been here a chance to love the Lord our God in our hearts, minds, soul and strength in study, discussion, prayer, worship and fellowship together and in through sharing the gospel with others. We have been enabled in many possibilities for showing love to our neighbours: in holiday clubs, crèche work, teaching and singing in schools, in maintenance work at these venues. Now the challenge is for us to take our experience, skills and hopefully enthusiasm back to our home countries and look for ways that we can use them there.

Katherine Noakes, UK

On the last day of our time spent at Emakheni Primary school up in the rural areas of KwaZulu Natal, Brother Dumisani asked me to meet with some of the parents of the students at the school. Although they spoke very little English and I can speak very little Zulu (I can say “hello”, “how are you”, “yes” and “thank you”, which doesn’t get you too far in a decent conversation!), it was such a touching experience for me.

There were 8 local mothers present, who all greeted me warmly with a hug. I then sat around a table and spoke with them through Dumisani, who translated our conversation. Although these ladies barely knew me, the sentiments they were expressing were just beautiful! They had been seeing and hearing, through their children, of the maintenance work we had been doing and the classes we had been running with the students during the week. They were so thankful for the work we were doing and the opportunities we were creating for their children and wanted me to know that they were praying and thanking God for sending us to help them.

This was just one about half a dozen meetings Dan and I had all week long at the school with various groups….from parents of students and (perhaps hopeful!?) Principals of other schools nearby….to journalists and members of parliament. Every person we met with shared the same message of thanks and praise for the simple things we were able to do for their community. It was so encouraging to see people of all walks of life responding to our efforts which we know were, in a small way, following the spirit of Jesus’ ministry; touching out to those less fortunate than us and sharing God’s love with them.

Leah Egginton, Australia

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Banner day at Durban BEC

Friday, 16 January, was the busiest day on record for the Durban Bible Education Centre! Brother Norman Fadelle from America was visiting Durban for the week, and had the chance to look at most of the major 2010 projects in the area. It turned out he also had an active hand in our record day.

Daily operations at the BEC fall into 5 categories:

1. The main draw at this centre is the Bible bookstore. We are located in a very busy pedestrian lane, with lots of foot traffic—and many people stop in. We set a new record on Friday, with 69 people stopping in the shop. We sell Bibles and Bible related books, at very low prices. (We only carry stock that we can price low. The South African Bible Society supplies a wide range of Bibles at very reasonable cost.) We also set a new record for sales volume on Friday.

2. Three levels of Bible correspondence courses are offered. The introductory course, “God’s Master Plan”, was developed here in South Africa. On Friday, five new students signed up. This was not a record, but was above average. We are finding that many people have New Year’s resolutions to be more involved with their Bibles, and there have been quite a few new sign-ups.

3. When students return their lessons, we mark them – and if their answers and our answers don’t coincide, then we have something to talk about.

4. We sometimes have impromptu Bible discussions about any subject you can think of. At one point on Friday, all of the workers in the shop were involved in these, and we had to break away to help customers.

5. Twice a week, Wednesday mornings and Friday afternoons, we have scheduled Bible studies. These almost always end up revolving around questions brought in by the students. On Friday, Norm and Paul led a class for the four women who came by. The class is supposed to run 45 minutes—but as usual it was almost 90 minutes before it was done!

Since reopening after the holidays, we have noticed that traffic and interest in Bible courses have both been at a higher level than before. We pray that this trend will continue, and that it will please God to grant increase from this planting and watering work in central Durban!

Paul & Jane Zilmer, USA

Friday, January 16, 2009

Presenting Project Greeting Card!

There are a number of brethren and sisters living in South Africa who are either out of work or living in poverty. Their welfare needs are very great and to help them earn a living whilst keeping their dignity, we have started Project Greeting Card (“PGC”).

PGC is a COP Trust initiative that aims to assist brothers and sisters in disadvantaged communities to establish and maintain a sustainable means of employment and income so that they can support their families. The project involves individuals in these communities making greeting cards and the COP Trust then facilitating the sale of these to overseas ecclesias.

This initiative is being trialled in the rural community of Mariannhill in KwaZulu Natal and is in the process of being established as part of the activities of the Good News Centre to be completed in March 2009, God willing. Mariannhill ecclesia only started in January 2008 with three youth baptisms after Amanzi youth conference. The ecclesia has already grown to about 15 members since then and is still growing. We have experienced wonderful blessings of a new hall, regular baptisms, good community support and a Sunday school of about 30 children.

Once PGC is running smoothly at Mariannhill, it is intended that this initiative will then mirrored in other communities throughout South Africa.

God willing, PGC will work as follows:

# The COP Trust approaches brethren and sisters to participate in the project and explains their responsibilities;
# The brother/sister receives training, along with the first batch of materials to begin making greeting cards;
# The cards are made by the brother/sister in their typically creative African way!
# The cards are checked for quality by the Business Coordinator, a designated brother/sister who is the on-the-ground contact for the project in their area;
# The COP Trust collects the cards and pays the brother/sister for their work;
# The COP Trust posts the cards to participating ecclesias;
# The ecclesia pays the COP Trust for the cards online via pay pal;
# The ecclesia sells the cards to members and the community, keeping the money to recover the cost of the cards;
# The brother/sister uses the money to support themselves and their families and also uses part of the money towards buying more supplies so they can continue making cards.

The success of PGC in helping our ever-growing number of brethren and sisters in South Africa with welfare issues will rely completely on the love and generosity of their brothers and sisters overseas! And this is where you come in.

The first way you can help is by buying a set of these beautiful hand-made African cards as soon as you see a local representative in your area in possession of some — your purchase will go towards feeding and supporting the family of a brother or sister in South Africa (information about the person you are helping is included in the set of cards)

The first batches of these greeting cards are packs of 5 different cards, one of each of the designs pictured. New designs will be created shortly as the project evolves and the brothers and sisters develop.

The second and most sustainable way you can help the project is to either commit yourself to buying a batch of cards or helping your ecclesia to participate by purchasing a batch of cards on a regular basis. These cards can then be on-sold as a fundraiser.

A “batch” of cards consists of 40 sets with 5 cards each (a total of 200 cards). The cost of these cards is USD400 per batch or USD10 per set (this may vary as the USD moves) which can be paid online using the pay pal system. The selling price of the cards when they are on-sold by individuals or ecclesias will depend on the exchange rate at the time.

We are looking for people or ecclesias willing to buy a batch of cards in support of Project Greeting Card (either once off or on an ongoing basis) and then sell these to others. To get involved, it is as simple as this:

# Email Leah Egginton and ask for a participation form so you can complete this –;
# Pay USD400 using the simple paypal process on the donations page of the GNOGKOG website – www. # (under “I want to make a once-off donation”);
# Wait for your batch of beautiful cards made by your brothers and sisters to arrive in the post.
# On-sell these cards to family, friends, ecclesial members or the public and keep this money to cover the cost of you purchasing the cards.

The income generated from each batch of cards goes towards:
1. The brother/sister making the cards – the Business Partners;
2. The brother/sister who oversees the project in that area – the Business Coordinator;
3. The COP Trust, to support welfare needs in that community; and
4. Buying supplies to create more cards.

Your support of PGC will not only be helping disadvantaged brothers and sisters, but will also greatly assist the work of the COP Trust and the 2010 preaching campaign!


Project Greeting Card has already been launched at YC09, a youth conference recently held in Sydney, Australia. About 750 cards were sent over to the conference with Tom Ryder (a 2010 volunteer who was in South Africa for 6 months). The cards completely sold out and there was lots of enthusiasm in terms of people wanting to support the project. Orders for thousands more cards were received at the conference! The Mariannhill brothers and sisters are busily working on more greeting cards in anticipations of filling these orders!

United Kingdom
Sister Dida Smalley was over here in South Africa during the June-July 2008 P2P campaign and has volunteered to help promote Project Greeting Card in the UK. Dida has already had a very positive response so if you are in the UK and would like more information, please contact her on

If you would like to help promote Project Greeting Card in your area, please contact me directly on and I can give you some information and a presentation to help you do this.


For more information, contact Leah Egginton:


Skype: "Dan & Leah Egginton"

Phone: +27 711 33 22 06

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The day “Santa Sagie” came to Mariannhill

One of the most amazing things about working on the 2010 projects here in South Africa is the huge community backing for the work being done in disadvantaged communities.

Being a doctor, brother Mahen Iyer from Westville ecclesia is one of those people who knows just about everybody. It’s really handy with the 2010 work, as no matter what we need for the projects, Mahen has a patient, friend or cousin who can help!

One such case is Sagie, a car rebuilder who Mahen knew and who then helped the COP Trust with getting a new vehicle. The car had been rolled in an accident and had body damage, but with the great job Sagie’s team did, we now have an Avanza people mover to use in the work.

But the relationship with Sagie doesn’t stop there. Sagie and his family wanted to help out some of the people in disadvantaged communities. Because of his relationship with the COP Trust through the cars, Sagie asked Mahen to identify a project he was involved in where there were small kids who he could buy Christmas presents for. Mahen told him about Mariannhill and the kids who come to Sunday school and who will be involved in the new centre once it opens. And this was the start of “Santa Sagie”.

On Sunday, December 21st after the meeting at Mariannhill, Sagie, his wife and his daughter arrived with about 25 beautifully wrapped presents. They had shopped at Toys ‘R’ Us and specifically picked gifts for the kids based on their gender and age from a list that Dan and I had put together.

The kids were so excited as each of their names were called out and they went up to receive their gifts…which in some instance were nearly as big as themselves! Then they all just sat there with their gifts in their laps, a bit unsure of whether this beautiful thing was really for them…and if so, what to do about it! Despite our coaxing that they could unwrap them, it took young sister Precious (who will serve well as our new crèche teacher!) to shout out two Zulu words to the kids and it was a flurry of wrapping paper and sticky tape!

The gasps, wide eyes and huge smiles will be remembered by all who were there for a very long time! These were not just cheap, simple gifts – they were lovely, personal and well thought-out expressions of the care this family have for those who are less well off. I doubt whether these kids have ever received something like this in their lives.

The next half an hour was a noisy, joyful time as the kids showed off their gifts to each other, tried them out and enjoyed the party food that Sagie and his family had bought along for the occasion. Even the youth were getting a piece of the action – checking the presents out, having a turn and helping the kids open and explore their toys.

As we left Mariannhill, we saw one of the Sunday school kids running along the road calling out to her friends and holding her present above her head like a trophy she had won in the Olympics! I am sure the gifts will be treasured by these children like we cannot imagine and the simple fact that someone cared will impact them even more.

A few weeks ago, Sagie contacted us again for details of all the school-aged kids out at Mariannhill so he could put together “back to school” packs for them. It is encouraging to see the willingness of people in the communities here to get involved in the 2010 projects that reach out to the disadvantaged communities and show them the love of God.

Leah Egginton, Australia

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New year - new interest! (hopefully with photos this time!) :-)

2009 Kicked off in great fashion for us here at the Kempton Park BEC. Brother Norman Fadelle from the USA visited us for a week.


He led the studies at the Lunch Time Bible Classes as well as the study class on the Saturday Morning. The studies were advertised at the KMPBEC itself, via leaflets and sms notifications were also sent to 485 students on two separate dates. We had ten students turn up for each of the lunch time Bible classes and 13 students turned up for the Saturday Bible Class.


Most of the students were new students who had not attended a class before. There were lots of interesting questions fielded and Bro. Norman answered these and explained a variety of topics in the process.


We are looking forward to a great, fruitful and busy year should Jesus not return.


From all the brethren and sisters involved with the KMPBEC


New year - new interest!

2009 Kicked off in great fashion for us here at the Kempton Park BEC. Brother Norman Fadelle from the USA visited us for a week.



He led the studies at the Lunch Time Bible Classes as well as the study class on the Saturday Morning. The studies were advertised at the KMPBEC itself, via leaflets and sms notifications were also sent to 485 students on two separate dates. We had ten students turn up for each of the lunch time Bible classes and 13 students turned up for the Saturday Bible Class.




Most of the students were new students who had not attended a class before. There were lots of interesting questions fielded and Bro. Norman answered these and explained a variety of topics in the process.





We are looking forward to a great, fruitful and busy year should Jesus not return.




From all the brethren and sisters involved with the KMPBEC


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lamontville creche reading program graduation 5/12/08

Twelve girls, age 7-12, gave a display of their reading abilities to our small group of 8 onlookers. Many more children had participated in the reading program - perhaps the end of the school term caused the rest to be elsewhere for the day.

Brother David White introduced the program, observing the tremendous progress the students had made. Most were three years behind their age level at the start of the term, and by the end they had closed much of the gap.

Sister Christy Beyers has been leading the group, assisted by Sister Hyacinth Harvey (a volunteer from Jamaica), with help from Bro David, who is a retired school teacher. Christy and David called the student up one by one. Each read a selection from one of their favorite books, and then was presented with their well-deserved certificates.

The audience included two parents, Hyacinth, Bro Tom Ryder from the UK, and Bro Paul & Sis Jane Zilmer from the USA.

Congratulations, girls! Well done!

Sis Jane Zilmer, USA