Monday, May 17, 2010

Changing lives becomes life changing

 "Each one should us whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." (1 Peter 4:10)

How often have you felt that one can do so very little, and have few talents to offer the Lord.  Yet we cannot deny the fact -  we have FEW talents – not NO talents – and we all have DIFFERENT talents that we can develop for God's glory.  Life is ever-changing.  We grow older; our economics change; our relationships change – with families, peers and community; seasons come; seasons go.  And so, in each period of our lives, God will bring our talents to the surface at the proper time and the proper place.  He has so much work for us to do.  Often we feel we must use our talents in a religious context – and yet how often we read of our Master just serving and caring for his community – using every opportunity to give glory to God, and bring people to a knowledge of His Father and His promises.

We are discovering this on a daily basis as we get involved with the community in Tembisa township. 
We were presented with the opportunity to open a pre-school in Tembisa – and we thought "Fantastic – now we can help a few children who would otherwise not be able to go to a pre-school".  God said "No – why just help a few children?  Help 30; Help 200; Help 500.  Become an instrument in my service."  By various ways and means God sent a variety of people across our path – pre-school teachers, young children; leaders in the community, health workers, social workers – and the message was constant "we need education; we need guidance; we need positive interaction and encouragement."  And so – by the time the community centre "Aphiwe" (meaning 'A gift') was complete – we knew what God wanted us to do.  Open a "crèche for crèches."

The benefits have been enormous:
Here was an opportunity to educate the teachers of many formal and informal pre-schools – knowing that this education and guidance would filter down to constructive teaching and interaction for the various learners in their schools.
We were avoiding creating jealousy and favoritism amongst the other pre-schools, as our first-world crèche would have been threatening competition in their community.  Instead now – we have commitment, we work together, we laugh together, we share our goals and concerns.
Teachers and day-carers are popping up everywhere to do the course (as it is within their economic means – and run within their community), and the health care and social workers are using us as a channel to reach these ladies.
Our new approach relieves us from the concern of running, maintaining and financing a pre-school – and its teachers.  The service we offer is manageable, scalable and sustainable and of greater significance.
The various ladies who attend the 6 week pre-school course get to know each other.  They start working together and are learning to present a united front to parents and stand up to pre-schools who are guilty of overcrowding and not actually educating.
The selfless ladies of the crèches are learning to become more resourceful – with their talents, goods and time – and positive about their own abilities.  A little knowledge goes a long way in building self esteem.

And where did it all start?
Sister Jessica Russell put together some lessons ; which were refined and compiled into a manual by Sister Leah Egginton; and then implemented by Sister Leona in Tembisa.  3 different talents (caring, administrative, educating) over a period of 2 years - resulted in something that is having a major impact in Tembisa.  And it doesn't stop with the educating.  The CUDDLE project then kicks in.  We move into the community.  We show we "walk and act the talk".  Many pre-schools get donations of paint and wood – but they do not have the time, equipment or know-how to do something with it all.  So . . . we paint, we put up shelves, we clean-up, we decorate, we fix equipment, we redo posters, we sing while we work – we use talents that exist in many people just by virtue of their "first-world" background.

And where does it all lead?
            Each crèche course lesson opens and closes with prayer.  We, as presenters, are seen as being religious – and selfless with our time.  Questions are asked – opportunities arise to spread the Good News.
            Various crèches request us to lead classes in their individual crèches – and we do these with various volunteers – using the Bible as a basis for the lesson.
            We have become known for our honesty and commitment.  We are trusted.  Parents are sending their children to Sunday School; Adults are attending Bible study classes; People are signing up for the Bible correspondence course; leaders in various suburbs are asking us to come lead "Saturday Bible Studies" for teenagers and young people.
            The township in which we are active is noticing that Christadelphian volunteers are also actively contributing to the well-being of those in need. We are no longer "just another church meeting on Sundays somewhere."
            More opportunities for informal preaching present themselves daily as we come into contact with school groups; youth groups, the community (both old and young) who want to work with us to give life skill lessons and assistance to those in need.

Here in South Africa we live in a land with many contrasts and many opportunities.  As long as there are rich and poor; the knowledgeable and illiterate; the widow; the fatherless – Micah 6:8 will apply till our Lord returns to set up his Kingdom.

"He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

With abiding love
2010 Team in Kempton Park

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