This article was originally published in the May 2023 edition of ITMI Monthly.
A heart-warming smile played at his lips for a moment before his wide-set eyes dropped, focusing on the black and white checked tablecloth on the table in front of him.
The smile stayed in place as he said, “The reason why I like to come here is because I learn more about the Word of God.”
The young man from an informal settlement outside of Durbanville, South Africa called Stone Hill was referring to the regular meetings of The Soldiers for Christ.
The Soldiers for Christ is a group of young men who meet to study the Bible with various older Christian men, including ITMI’s Charl van Wyk. The Soldiers for Christ meet regularly at the Community Center in Stone Hill, that ITMI supporters helped fund several years ago.
In an inspiring email to his supporters about the discipleship of young men, Charl writes,
“Discipling Christian teenage boys is a challenging but rewarding experience. It requires patience, dedication, and a willingness to invest time and energy in building relationships, teaching spiritual and practical skills, imparting values, and addressing specific challenges. However, the rewards are significant.”
Over a decade ago, such a group didn’t exist. The youth in the settlement had little hope, and they lived like it: aimless miscontents making trouble. But the Lord’s intervention, through His people, both from nearby Durbanville and supporters overseas, has changed that for these young men.
If we visualize the discipleship process in Stone Hill like a funnel, the Soldiers for Christ would be toward the bottom. The Soldiers for Christ are approaching the desired outcome at the bottom of the funnel: lives dedicated to Jesus and the making of disciples.
Outreaches like the recently held Gospel Club for kids, the daily meals provided for children in the settlement, and the Early Childhood Development Center would be at the top of the funnel. These draw people in and present the opportunity for something more. As in any funnel, the bottom is fed by the top.
This highlights the importance of the outreaches in the top - like the daily meal outreach. The daily meals not only draw people in as a stepping stone to more involvement with God’s people, they demonstrate the Lord’s care for every aspect of the lives of those who bear His image.
They go a long way to help these children have the mental capacity, later on, to read and understand God’s Word, be a witness to what He’s done, and provide for and raise their families in a Biblical manner.
Charl and his team still need funding that would enable them to continue offering meals to impoverished children in Stone Hill through the end of 2023.
Since February, when we first shared the need for $4900 to keep this outreach going through the end of 2023, seven ITMI supporters have stepped forward to say, “I can help feed hungry kids in Stone Hill!” Together they’ve given a total of $1638. That means we are prayerfully asking the Lord to provide $3262.
Witnessing this fruit - youth from an impoverished settlement turning to the Lord and overcoming the formidable obstacles of marginalization and poverty through faith and obedience - is thrilling and delightful.
There is still much more to do in Stone Hill. There’s room for many more to join this support team and broaden the impact God’s Word is making in Stone Hill.
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.
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