Ex-Gangster Pastor Feeds Thousands
It was a chilling winter day in Gugulethu, South Africa. Pastor Vuyo Nyabaza looked up from the task he was busy with - one of many involved with offering lunch for the hungry families in the impoverished area. His fingers were stiff with cold.
That's when he saw it - a sight that made his heart ache.
Gugulethu is notorious for violent gang activity. It's residents live in lean-tos and shacks, without electricity or flushing toilets. Sometimes 8 people will share a tiny shack. They fear to visit the community bathrooms at night for fear of being mugged.
“The stronghold of this community is alcohol and drugs. Growing up in such a community is a bondage on its own. People do not see life apart from drinking," Vuyo says.
He knows what life is like for the people of Gugulethu. Pastor Vuyo is an ex-gangster himself, having gone to prison and lived as a fugitive before he gave his life to Jesus and founded the Center of Hope Community Church in Gugulethu.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, his church, with the help of ITMI's Charl van Wyk have helped the impoverished families in Gugulethu with food every day, rotating between three locations.
Pastor Vuyo delivering food.
With such great need on every side, Vuyo, like any other minister, faces that mounting pressure every day, but he holds onto Scripture and reminds himself that the Lord is with them. That He promised to never leave nor forsake His children.
The task at hand and even the food he was setting out were momentarily forgotten when he'd looked up to see a group of children coming for lunch.
What tugged at his heart was their stiff, bare feet and the worn clothing they wore that wasn't sufficient for the chilling temperatures. They tried unsuccessfully to avoid getting the freezing mud, littered with drainage and trash, on their exposed toes. They shivered as they walked.
Though this sight - children wearing such tattered clothing one wonders how it stays on - is common in this area, it still moved Pastor Vuyo.
Finishing his tasks, Vuyo made sure, like he does each day, that the physical provision of lunch was accompanied by spiritual food from the Word of God.
“Many have responded in tears to the preaching of the Gospel," Vuyo told Olga, a fellow project leader also working with Charl, ‘I want to stop drinking, please pray for me’, is the constant cry of many." The hardened, beaten down families of the area welcome his team's visits to their homes and eagerly accept their teaching of the Word and the opportunity for the team to pray with them.
Vuyo encouraged his congregation to dig deep and demonstrate the love of the Lord to some of the needy children in the area. The Center of Hope families pooled their limited resources and were able to purchase boots and some clothing for some of the kids in need.
Gugulethu children in their new boots!
Dream Girls Alumni Sews Masks During Pandemic
Meet Asanda. Asanda has lived in Stone Hill, South Africa since 2009. Stone Hill is an informal settlement outside Durbanville, South Africa.
After moving to Stone Hill, she was invited by her cousin to attend a Friday afternoon activity for the girls of the settlement, called "Dream Girls."
Dream Girls is an outreach of Durbanville Community Church and other believing women. The wives of two ITMI partners, Charl van Wyk and Mark Parris are both heavily involved in this and other outreaches to the young girls of Stone Hill.
Through the Dream Girls ministry, one of the ministry leaders, Sungmin, noticed Asanda's talent for sewing and lent her a sewing machine.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Asanda has been using the sewing skills she acquired and practiced because of the investment of the Dream Girls leaders to make masks for herself and her family. That led to a small enterprise selling masks to people in the community and earning some income for her family.
“I’m so glad I joined the Dream Girls’ ministry because I learned so much,” says Asanda. “I am grateful to have all the support that I have had from the leadership team. I have learned a lot of things about God’s Word, myself, and many skills as well. These skills have given me the confidence to sew something beautiful and meaningful. I would like to thank all the Dream Girls leaders for playing such a wonderful role in my life.”
Asanda using her sewing skills to earn income for her family and provide needed masks for her community.
Lusaka Bible College Students Reach the Needy
The students of ITMI's Lusaka Bible College, accompanied by their course supervisor, had the opportunity for some hands-on training in evangelism and outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In these rural areas, many believe that COVID-19 is a hoax and can only harm Europeans and those who are well-to-do.
As always, transportation to these rural villages poses a logistical challenge. The school hired ox-carts to transport them and their supplies over the 96 miles of rough, rutted bush "roads" to reach the villages. The students spent 7 days with the villagers distributing supplies and sharing Jesus.
The school hired ox-carts to transport the students and supplies the 96 miles to the villages.
Some from the Lusaka Bible College team share Jesus in rural villages.
The students spent 7 days sharing Jesus with the villagers.
Food for Pastors Struggling During Lockdown
In India, churches in rural areas can't afford to pay their pastors, so most shepherds work another job to support their families and minister around their work schedules.
This is the situation for many of the pastors ITMI partner Paul has been meeting with monthly to train and equip them for ministry.
These are faithful servants of the Lord. Many pray the clock around for their congregants, visit them after work and preach on weekends.
During the lockdown, like their congregants, they have been without work. Their families are suffering, and they feel forgotten and overlooked.
ITMI's Paul and Molly have been able to provide over 200 food parcels for these pastors, keeping them fed and able to continue ministering at a time when God's people are in great need, including these pastors who minister in a rural, coastal area.
This provision meant so, so much to these pastors who continue to serve the Lord faithfully in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Bread of Life Reaches a New Country with the Gospel
Bread of Life, an outreach founded by ITMI partners Richard and Brooke Nungesser, was one of the last organizations whose volunteers and workers continued to serve food through the COVID-19 pandemic. Most stayed home in fear, but Bread of Life workers boldly declared their trust in the Lord and His care for the outcast by continuing to provide help when it was needed the most.
As the pandemic was gathering momentum, Bread of Life announced a plan to make a difference in Zimbabwe by partnering with a local pastor whose daughter, Faith, is part of Poznan International Church, where Richard is the pastor. Bread of Life partners with local churches, so that their contribution will bolster the church's ministry and outreach.
Pastor Bigboy and his wife, Siphiwe.
The partnership was something that had been in process, and came to fruition last spring as the pandemic was spreading and impacting the food supply in the already destitute country.
Enjoy seeing the faces of the people Bread of Life supporters were able to help the local church in Zimbabwe build a bond with.
Each month, Bread of Life helps provide meals for widows and orphans in Zimbabwe.
As many food parcels as possible were also provided.
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