What do you pray when things go wrong, when there is serious illness, war and natural disaster, and it seems as if evil has the upper hand?

Poverty and crime have always been a problem in South Africa. But these were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2021 there were riots and looting, and in two days almost every shop in our town of Empangeni was emptied; some set alight.

Every man was out for himself. Hundreds were left without jobs – those whose lives were already hard, became even harder. 

We felt powerless – what do you pray when confronted with the sinfulness of man? When the scale of suffering is beyond our ability to fix; the hunger and desperation not an abstract idea but a face and a name? We prayed that God would glorify his name.

And he did. God moved Christians to act. Several churches in town provided food parcels to organisations working with people in need and, for three months here at MusaweNkosi, we were able to provide 60 homesteads with food. These were distributed by staff from the children’s home, who shared the gospel as they visited, leaving tracts containing gospel messages with the supplies.

God’s love in action … a food parcel is delivered.

We prayed that God would glorify his name. And he did.

After dropping these off at one homestead, the reply came back, “I have often heard of God’s love, but this is the first time that I have seen it.” It was a reminder that our actions speak loudly, and people are watching to see what we do, not just to hear what we say.

Then Baba Jobe, a member of our staff, received a call from someone he had visited with aid. The man wanted to talk. The tract that he had read was different from the teaching at his church. Baba Jobe went to visit, along with his Zulu Bible.

They met several times and after a few visits, the man was converted. He invited two of his sisters, one of whom was converted as well. A weekly Bible study was arranged which grew to 20 people. Children started coming too!  

At the last count, there are about 30 people coming to the Bible study and 40 children to “Friday School”. Ten people have been converted. Some of these people come from false churches – this is a strong Shemba area, a religion with a “Black Messiah” that mixes Shemba with ancestor worship – and some are unchurched. Praise God that so many are coming to hear his word.

Praise God for Friday School where 40 children and young people learn about Jesus.

 

From the devastation of the looting, God paved the way for a possible church plant in a predominantly unchurched area. He opened doors in the time of disaster and people are responding, praise God.

God opened doors in the time of disaster and people are responding, praise the Lord.

We are overwhelmed with opportunities to share the gospel. Several communities are open to us to run feeding schemes, homework clubs, school assemblies and holiday clubs.

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. We need a person or couple to commit to long-term service here, getting to know people, sharing God’s love and the good news. Pray for Christians willing to take up the opportunities.

Several communities are open to us to run feeding schemes, homework clubs, school assemblies and holiday clubs.

Gavin and Elaine Charlton run MusaweNkosi (God’s Grace), caring for and sharing the gospel with orphans and rural communities in South Africa.