Day 6 – 7 / Students and Soweto
- Give thanks for the opportunity to get to know some of the local JBC students a bit better.
- Pray for the students, that they would continue to grow in knowledge and love of the Lord.
- Thank God for the young people of South Africa, and the various opportunities we had to partner with local people in ministry over the past few days.
- Praise God for the Moore Johannesburg team, and ask Him to guide each of us as we consider what it would look like to potentially return to South Africa post-college to serve here.
- Pray for Hillbrow, that the gospel would take root in the community and transform it.
After a very long ‘rest’ day, Friday morning started with a bit of a sleep-in, which was a welcome relief after most days starting at 6am or even earlier. The team gathered together at 10:30, before splitting up to spend a few hours over lunch with different students from JBC. The experiences were varied, with many spending time in Soweto visiting the homes of the students and meeting there families.
Instead of being paired with a student, I headed over to Hillbrow Church to spend a few hours with Ma Bubbly who runs the mercy ministry there. This is a fantastic but very difficult ministry that works with sex-workers in the local brothels. Supported by Anglican Aid, the team of three (looking to expand to four) spend their weeks meeting with, listening to, and praying for young women who work in the brothels. Hearing some of the stories and learning about the work of the team was both inspiring and deeply saddening. I was overwhelmed by the extremely hard circumstances so many women find themselves in, and astonished at the team’s deep faith, and trust in God to protect and provide for them in their work. Pray for Hillbrow, and these young women, who so desperately need to know the love of God found in Jesus.
On Friday evening, half the team went to a young adult’s night in Blairgowrie, while the rest of us went to a children’s home in Hillbrow to run a youth event for about 30 kids aged 13-18. We struck up a deal to teach them one game for every game they taught us and were delighted to find a few we hadn’t seen before and now have up our sleeves to use back home in Australia. Stu did a short talk on the woman by the well, and how with Jesus everyone is welcome into God’s family and then we finished off the evening with some singing and dancing. I’m not sure who had more fun on the night, them or us!
We hosted a breakfast at my billets house on Saturday morning and had around 12 young adults from Hillbrow Church and 5 from our team come along to discuss being a Christian in the workplace. We cooked up a big breakfast (including the local dish Chakalaka) and then spent time considering the unique challenges that people had in trying to faithfully serve God in their various workplaces. It was interesting how similar the South African’s experiences were to ours and encouraging to see them wrestling with how best to serve God in their individual contexts.
Around 11:30am, the rest of the team joined us, and we headed out on a tour of Soweto lead by KB – a Johannesburg local who grew up in the area. KB helped us grasp the spiritual and economic climate of Soweto. There were many different churches ranging in size from 20 to 2000 members on any given Sunday, with an assortment of theological beliefs. The houses varied almost as much, ranging from informal settlements (slums) with no legal power or running water, to relatively affluent suburban areas. We were intrigued by the complexity of this situation.
One of the settlements, Kliptown, was just across the rail tracks from Freedom Square. The Freedom Charter includes statements such as; “Rent and prices shall be lowered, food plentiful and no one shall go hungry; Slums shall be demolished, and new suburbs built where all have transport, roads, lighting, playing fields, creches and social centres; The aged, the orphans, the disabled and the sick shall be cared for by the state.” In sight of Freedom Square, Kliptown was a place of poverty, hunger, and orphans – cared for by the community rather than the State. Asked what could be done about this, KB quipped “I think it’s a gospel issue, because without the gospel the corruption will continue”. Pray for South Africa, and particularly the estimated 5 million people living in Soweto.
After another busy day, we met up with Kylie from JBC, Nick and James from Hope Church, and had a big dinner all together. After devouring tasty tagines, some headed off early to make sure they were well-rested to preach tomorrow. A few of us remained to enjoy dessert out on the balcony and to make the most of our final night in Johannesburg. It seems surreal that the Mission is almost at an end, and I’m aware that we will have a lot to process on our return, but I am extremely thankful for the experiences we have had here, and all that God has been showing us.
God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.