Closing the Gap through Church Planting in South Africa
After 30 plus turbulent years under apartheid, South Africa held its first national democratic elections in 1994. Under the rule of the previously all white government, the political and economic gap between whites and the black majority had expanded at a rapid rate. Now, though racially motivated laws have been repealed, the black population continues to struggle in getting back on their feet.
To assist in the recovery process, the government of South Africa has set up several mini villages outside of urban areas. These settlements are a long way from glamorous. In fact, according to the Director of African Ministries, residents are on the edge of survival. He says, This is a new kind of hunting and gathering society with evidence of this in the houses and on the streets, in the clothing they wear, or often the lack thereof.
But at least these settlements are allowing people, who were previously residing illegally on the property of others, to have land they can call their own.
In the midst of these small budget villages, God is opening big opportunity doors. Trained South African Christians are establishing evangelical churches in these brand new, unreached communities. As the physically and spiritually deprived pour in, church planters are sharing the hope of the Gospel with them.
Its not an easy task for church planters to reach a group that has been neglected for so long. Faced with unemployment and hunger, its hard for many to look beyond their circumstances. South Africas church planting coordinator says that they are asked, If Jesus loves me, why I am like this? He responds, God loves us, even in our poverty. And he can change our lives.
Over the course of time, church planters continue to share this message through their actions and through Gods Word. One by one, the impoverished of South Africa are coming to know the spiritual wealth of a life in Christ. And slowly but surely, Christs Church is growing in these shantytowns.
Its not just among the poor that Christs Church is growing. Bible trained workers are laboring faithfully to establish new churches throughout South Africa, in areas where there was no previous evangelical presence.
Bible trained church planters are succeeding in their endeavor for two reasons. First, they are founding churches on the basis of Gods Word. While churches are plentiful in this country, many neglect the teachings of the Bible. God is blessing the work of church planters who point Africans to the Truth.
Moreover, South African church planters are succeeding because they use a strong relational approach in ministry. Many of them continue to work in normal jobs, even after they have completed church planter training. Through everyday conversations, church planters are building evangelistic bridges to their co workers.
Remember South Africa in your prayers. While many steps are being taken forward, this country has a long way to go towards healing. Poverty abounds, racial tensions remain, and millions still dont understand what it means to have Jesus as their Savior.
But through Gods grace, and through peoples prayers, it might only be a matter of time before everything changes.
john savage is director of Bible Network and more stories can be read by Clicking Here