Into Africa

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Delivering the Word

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Perhaps my favorite aspect of ministry in South Africa is a
special ministry trip I take every Wednesday. My missionary
colleague Amy Boone and I travel to the Lower Crossroads Township
outside of Cape Town to the Nomaxabiso School for the Disabled.
This school has 50 children ages 2 to 14, some of whom are severely
handicapped. Several teams from the U.S. have come on mission trips
and ministered at the school, which meets in very poorly
constructed classrooms that leak in winter when the rains
come.

Each week Amy and I sing songs with the children and teachers in
their heart language of Xhosa. The music stimulates some of the
children who rarely respond to external environments, and that’s a
wonderful thing to witness. One little boy, Siyanda, is in a
wheelchair and often has seizures. Still, Siyanda is a radiantly
happy child. When he’s able, he gets up during the songs and dances
in the center of the circle of children.

Then Amy or I share storying with the school’s teachers, while the
other person visits with the kids and does a craft activity; we
swap roles each week.

Two of the teachers at the school have made a commitment to Jesus,
but African Traditional Religion is very prevalent in the Xhosa
culture. They still struggle to let go of their ancestral
traditions. Sibusiso Nqeto, a former seminary student, is pastor of
the Lower Crossroads Baptist Church. Sibusiso goes each week with
Amy and me to the school for the disabled. He does follow-up
discipleship with the two teachers, and

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I’m happy to say that some of the other teachers have begun
attending Sibusiso’s church.

Each of the children at the school is truly precious in God’s
sight, and it’s difficult to put into words the love Amy and I feel
for them. This experience directly with the children is one of the
highlights of everything I do in children’s ministry today.

The Word Comes Full Circle

Sonwabo Jacobs serves in the Masiphumelele Township. He works as a
Life Skill worker for the Living Hope Community Centre in Cape
Town. The Living Hope Centre offers hope to people living with
HIV/AIDS. Sonwabo’s special ministry began by chance during a
holiday when he was still a seminary student at our school.

Sonwabo was watching a group of boys play soccer. The boys fought
and swore at one another and, watching their volatile exchanges,
Sonwabo determined right there that he would do something positive
for them. Sonwabo approached the boys and asked how he could help.
Then he proceeded to tap into every little boy’s dream and
organized a soccer club. The club meets weekly to hone the boys’
skills and to learn life lessons, not only through Sonwabo’s words,
but through his interactions with them as well.

Sonwabo leads the children every week as they head to or from
soccer practices or games. This group of 15 or more ragtag boys,
ages 8 to 13, is a familiar sight to people in the area. They don’t
have fancy soccer clothes and shoes for their games. More often
than not, they have to practice in the yard of the Masiphumelele
Baptist Church where Sonwabo is also the children’s pastor. But the
kids love the club — and Sonwabo — dearly.

“I want to influence them and impact them with the gospel of
Jesus,” Sonwabo told me.

He ensures the kids in the club learn discipline, order, how to
win, how to lose, and what it means to be loved. Sonwabo dares to
dream that these kids’ lives will be permanently changed for good
because of this soccer club. His ministry has far-reaching impact
as he plants the seeds of hope because people with dreams won’t
give in as easily to the intense pressure to be sexually
active.

It’s an amazing gift to see my former students put into practice
what they’ve learned at the seminary. As a missionary, I’ve been
taught to reproduce what I do-”Others, like seed sown on good soil,
hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop — thirty, sixty or
even a hundred times what was sown” (Mark 4:20). By teaching the students at the
seminary, I feel fortunate to be equipping people who are
passionate enough to reach out to all corners of South Africa and
throughout the world to reach children for Jesus.

And perhaps we’ll get to more of those children “first.” Our
students’ many ministries reach countless street children. These
children’s ministers work incredibly hard to get to kids
first-helping kids know Jesus before the gangs get to them. They
touch the future as they teach children about God’s love.

Bonnie Doughtie is an International Mission Board missionary
in South Africa, serving in church development and at the Cape Town
Baptist Seminary.

Vital Statistics

Cape Town and the surrounding area is home to approximately 4.7
million people. The city sits at the southwestern-most point of the
African continent where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. Cape
Town has majestic mountains and scenery. The city’s population is
racially diverse and includes people from all over South Africa,
Africa, and the world. There are 11 official languages in South
Africa. English, Afrikaans and Xhosa are the three main languages
spoken in Cape Town. Thirty-two percent of South Africa’s
population is under 15 years of age.

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