This article was originally published in the June 2020 edition of ITMI Monthly.
“The Kingdom of God is now advancing in ways we never thought possible; hope is being restored daily and none of this would've happened without your special donation, we truly appreciate the partnership,” writes Pastor Vuyo of Gugulethu, outside CapeTown, South Africa.
Pastor Vuyo’s church ministers in a tough area, known as “gangster land.”
Last month, we helped our South African partner, Charl van Wyk, provide Vuyo’s church with food parcels for impoverished families languishing without food due to stay-at-home orders.
The help was part of our Project Joseph initiative, driven by our Director, Steve Evers.
Steve understands the desperation created by the Coronavirus pandemic stay at home orders and quarantines around the world as a highlighter, illuminating people’s internal hunger for hope in a new way.
Project Joseph aims to provide that hope by creating opportunities for godly, faithful believers to share the Gospel, an opportunity that is open - and even promoted and encouraged by governments - through meeting physical needs.
Pastor Vuyo reports that three families, 12 people total, came to faith during the interaction where their basic needs were met.
One of them, Andiswa, and her three daughters live in a small, one room shack.
In response to the ministry of Vuyo’s church and the Project Joseph food delivery, Andiswa turned from her entanglement in ancestral worship and became a follower of Jesus!
As the leadership from Vuyo’s church delivered the food, they shared about God’s love and stressed that even in dark times, He longs to carry us through if we would only allow Him.
People were very receptive to God’s Word. Some said they can’t wait to come to Vuyo’s church.
In fact, during the delivery team’s debriefing, they concluded that many families were not at all opposed to the Gospel, and the visit and food opened their eyes to God’s love and church.
Instead, the team observed there was “a deep hunger for God in their lives and this disaster has allowed us to see the need beyond the church four walls and to demonstrate God’s love in action.”
In the meantime, new believers were added to the church’s messaging group for discipleship and to participate in the teachings the church is putting out.
The church will provide cell groups for follow up discipleship when gatherings are allowed again.
Vuyo and his church continue to extend the Gospel to different townships through once a month soup kitchens. They have committed to supply food parcels once a month to those without incomes.
The church’s relationship with those families will continue to be strengthened and the Word of God continued to share in their homes.
Project Joseph Impact: Zimbabwe
Charl provided some of the Project Joseph investments from donors to Cozmore, a long-time ministry partner of Charl’s who now ministers in Gwayi Village, Zimbabwe.
It didn’t take much to knock the struggling communist Zimbabwean economy on its back. At the first whisper of the Coronavirus pandemic, the country’s impoverished citizens began to suffer even more.
Zimbabweans were already dirt poor: years of government corruption, draught, injustice, inflation and communism has driven their economy into smithereens. Thirty-four percent of Zimbabwe’s population lived in extreme poverty in 2019, according to The World Bank.
Because Cozmore is known for his integrity and Biblical character and his ministry owns a vehicle - through the generosity of supporters - the Zimbabwean government began giving Cozmore US dollars to purchase and deliver food to the hungry.
Cozmore with his family in Zimbabwe.
When the Project Joseph funds came from Charl, things were already getting bad. Cozmore drove 270 miles and slept in line outside the bank to withdraw the funds to feed the suffering.
With so many in need, Cozmore first distributed food to those over age 65.
Charl says, "Christian families living in rural areas are suffering most."
One recipient told Cozmore that her village is skeptical that she and other elderly villagers are witches because they are not dying. This elderly recipient was touched by the extra mile Cozmore went to demonstrate God’s love.
In simple faith, “she asked us to pray for her,” says Cozmore, “and she wanted to receive Christ. We prayed with her and she gave her life to Christ.”
Cozmore says those who need relief comment that they are not seeing people meeting their needs, “they are seeing God,” and how “He never left us to die, He always provides right on time.”
Cozmore’s organization has also been able to teach and share Christ via social media, as suffering Zimbabweans reach out with the concerns of their hearts to which Jesus is the answer.
Project Joseph Impact: Stone Hill
Charl says this about the impact of the food donated for Stone Hill.
Aubrey is a young man from Stone Hill, South Africa.
Aubrey is a young teenager in the Stone Hill squatter community, near Cape Town, South Africa.
His father and mother play no part in his life. For him and other Christians in his informal settlement, grabbing a bite from the fridge or picking up a Bible and diving into the scriptures, anytime they need strength, aren’t always an easy option.
I almost asked Aubrey to not come to our Soldiers for Christ ministry. Must admit, I thought he was too young to understand our “meat of the Word” Bible studies.
Today, Aubrey and hundreds of other suffering people, young and old alike, are being served both spiritual and physical food through our Stone Hill ministry - because of you.
Through your gifts and prayers, our team has been serving Aubrey’s squatter community, an area that has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown.
...The young teen in the black jacket now smiles widely, “All my life I just roamed around the squatter shacks. But now I am part of the Christian community helping with the feeding of our people and I have a better understanding of my Bible.”
Investments made in sharing the Gospel, accompanied with demonstrations of God’s love in action are always a good investment, regardless of the time it takes to see yields. In his devotional book examining the Gospel of Matthew, Bill Bathman wrote, “Treasure invested in Heaven…[is] guaranteed a fair and generous return, ‘some 30, 60 and 100 fold.’ ”
If all we’d done is faithfully declare the Good News to the suffering, that would be enough. It would still have been a solid investment of obedience to the Lord on our part.
Blessing those in need with food in Stone Hill, South Africa.
But we are already seeing the exciting results of people coming to newfound faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior through your participation in Project Joseph.
About the Authors
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 4 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.