A few years ago our son in law Linda (short for Lindani) felt called to set up a church in a rural area of South Africa about 60 miles south of Durban and 30 miles inland from Port Shepstone
The area around the church, which is near a small township called Izingolweni, is poverty stricken and one of the aims of the church is to provide the people with a refuge from their poverty. The land on which the church was to be built was obtained from the Chief. After a day spent walking the ground in prayer it was decided to call the church Ebenezer Mission. “Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.” 1 Samuel Ch 7 v 12: The land was cleared, foundations dug and thanks to SRMC the blocks for the walls were bought and the walls are now built. To those of us who are used to the way buildings are constructed in Europe this may not seem like rapid progress but this is South Africa. There have been many changes of plans, due to objections raised by the planning department after they had passed the plans, but this is South Africa. The Chief from whom the land was obtained is amazed at the rate of progress. He thought it would take at least 10 years. Money for the roof has been raised by Gosforth Trinity Methodist Church and this was started at the end of January. The first service was held in February. The roof was not finished but this is South Africa. Thanks to a grant from the Lady Leech Fund the concrete for the floor was poured in March. In the midst of all this some money has had to be diverted to deal with crises as they arise: for example, to feed families who have no food or to provide clothes for children who have none in which to go to school. Most children only have their school clothes so they wear out quickly (if they don’t, the children grow out of them anyway). There is always something which needs dealing with urgently! The Church will need to be furnished and equipped so that it can fulfill its role and ongoing funding is required for this. The hope is that there will be:-
ϖ A schools project to help pupils who are struggling, especially with science and maths.
ϖ A feeding programme in the form of a “soup kitchen” hopefully twice a week. Local farmers are helping with supplies of vegetables when they can but food still needs to be bought.
ϖ Gardening projects to help people make better use of their land to grow vegetables and maize.
ϖ Sewing projects to teach the skills and help men and women to start their own business.
ϖ Skills training. This will depend on which skills the people of Izingolweni feel they need but may include things like computer skills, writing CVs etc., all to improve the chances of getting employment.
ϖ A health clinic which would carry those basic medicines which we all take for granted, like paracetamol, creams for skin conditions and cuts and bruises etc. The clinic will also give basic medical advice.
The spiritual welfare of the community has not been neglected. The church and Sunday school are both growing in numbers. Above all, this project has given the people of the local community Hope. As they have seen the church building grow so have their hopes and aspirations for the future. Some of the children, without being asked, have been going onto the site to tidy up and pull out weeds and ladies have already volunteered to do the cooking as soon as the church can afford to buy the equipment.
If you would like to help with the ongoing work there are still some spaces on the 100 Club list at the back of the church, along with some envelopes.
John and Margaret Clark