The Gospel 101 Team along with Mario Lewis in Port Elizabeth hosted a Christian Leadership Workshop for the youth in the nearby gangland township of Helenvale. (Port Elizabeth is about an 8 hour drive from Cape Town along the south coast.) Roger Dickson, a fellow missionary, and I were the teachers. Mario was disappointed that two church groups were not able to attend. Instead, there were local youth of different churches and persuasions came. Some were a little over the age limit for youth – being in their 50’s and 60’s.
The local politico, Ward Councilor Peter Hermanus, gave the opening address. I’d gifted him with a copy of my book on Philemon, which delighted him to no end. “I know your name!” he exclaimed, “There are Christians in the church where my wife attended who’d heard of your book and now I have my own copy!” He was enthusiastic and pleased that I’d brought along a copy for everyone who attended the Workshop. As is his habit, Roger passed out materials on baptism, too, for everyone so everyone had something to take with them.
I left about twenty boxes of Bibles and SS/VBS materials for Mario’s children’s ministry in the ganglands, which has been so successful since out later Workshop in 2017 that the Ward Councilor allowed us to use the community center free of charge for the Workshop. It was a great venue – instead of a cramped church hall, everyone had decent chairs and plenty of space. I noticed that there were large bullet holes in the main glass windows, shot through! Indeed, this was the heart of the ganglands. (I stopped for directions once and when the gentlemen heard the address, he looked sternly at me and said, “I don’t think you should go there – it’s too dangerous!” He was alarmed that I insisted I was speaking there and carefully described where I had to go!)
Roger spoke on personal motivation and a Christ centered lifestyle. I spoke on the simple gospel message that Christ is Risen and this is the reason that Jesus is unique – no other religion can claim this! At the end of the Workshop, there was a Q & A session. One lady started crying and said she needed to be baptized! When I asked if there was anyone else, four more came forward. Mario will follow-up and see these people are helped.
It made me think – the ‘normal’ Churches of Christ (there are two in the area) did not come but instead, others who may never have heard the gospel came instead, curious to see what Christian Leadership is like. I am sure most of them counted themselves as some kind of Christian but when Christ is taught and the Word clearly proclaimed, the response was there!
Prof Jurgens Hendricks, the Dean of the Theological School at the University, heard about the Bibles in the warehouse and asked if he could have enough for the youth students. I passed along one box and he was delighted to be able to give one to each student in the class! I now have an invitation to teach them. Bibles have opened so many doors and the opportunities to teach the Word are expanding! (He has also requested copies of the Philemon book.)