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The following are brief accounts of outreaches in Paarl,

located in the Western Cape of South Africa

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Our team of 32 had been invited to teach the Scriptures in five of the public schools located in east Paarl, an area noted for the world’s highest rate of HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis according to the World Health Organization.

Paarl, divided in half by the Berg River, has a long, sad history of racial strife. East Paarl is populated mainly with impoverished blacks and “colored.” These terms are not meant to be pejorative; they are used by the South Africans themselves to describe their own population.  Blacks are those who can identify their tribal roots; the colored cannot, and in addition, they have a mixed racial heritage. West Paarl is typically populated with those of white ancestry. Whites did not venture into east Paarl including the community of Mbeqweni, our destination. It was considered extremely dangerous.

A small ministry had begun a work a few years prior to our arrival and bit-by-bit had been making inroads in relationships with those living in Mbeqweni. They had arraigned our coming to teach. We were graciously greeted by the administrations of all the schools. They were very excited to have Americans come to teach their children. Several of the schools had had their students practicing in the performing arts for several months to welcome us. There was much anticipation.

I noted in our first assembly, four pictures on the wall of children who had gone missing and was informed that children are often abducted and sacrificed in witchcraft ceremonies. Many of the schools are fenced with barbed wire coiled along the top and controlled entrances to help keep the children safe. 

We broke into smaller teams to accommodate visiting all the schools. Our teachings went on for many hours covering the Bible, God’s plans for our lives, how to live in relationship with Him and what are many of the pitfalls of those who do not. We taught on sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol, drugs, behavior, and more. The students were very attentive and asked many questions. We were surprised at the end of our trip that several of the teachers had been touched by our willingness to teach all the children without prejudice. To us they were just children, however the teachers were able to discern who was black and who was colored and had held back advancing the coloreds whenever possible. We could not tell one from the other and treated all equally. The conviction of the Holy Spirit on the teachers met them with such strength that they repented, asked forgiveness and promised to make a way for all the children to participate in all activities.

Most of the students came from homes where alcoholism is the normal way of life. In one community, the young girls did not want to venture to school. They were often harassed. We were informed that there was not one girl over the age of 14 that had not been raped.

It was learned one week after we left South Africa that six children were kidnapped. Sadly, when they were found it was evident that they had been sacrificed in a witchcraft ritual. As emotionally crushed as we all were for this loss we knew that at least one of those children had been ministered to by our team and had received Christ.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Recently, for unknown reasons, HIV/AIDS sufferers in the Western Cape have been struck with adverse reactions to antiviral drugs.  Research is being conducted to find the cause and correct this alarming development.

Since our first visit, the first stages of what has become Monte Christo Miqlat (MCM) was birthed to serve the needy people of Mbeqweni, Paarl East, and the surrounding community.

MCM is involved with the local church, discipleship programs, youth outreach and leadership development, camps, community center restorations, athletic fields (soccer) development, and team coordinating. 

A weekly soup program was started at Magnolia school in Mbeqweni with funds from MCM administered through a local church to supplement the government’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich program that children receive at school.  For many, this is their only meal of the day. I had the privilege of making and serving soup to these precious boys and girls.  MCM birthed a feeding program for the children of this area to feed 5000 children a more nutritious meal every day through the schools.  This huge God sized task has had amazing success with; local farmers bringing food supplies, donors giving for the construction a kitchen where fresh baked bread and large pots of soup are cooked and distributed to these children on a regular basis. 

MCM also owns and manages a large parcel (750 acres) of property some 50 miles from Paarl.  The property has working vineyards leased to local wineries, a few head of cattle, and 12 sparkling fresh water springs.  It is a lovely place. Christian retreats and camps for east Paarl children are held here.  For most, attending camp is their first time getting out of their slum-like living conditions, the only kind they have ever known. In the beauty and safety of this natural setting, they learn about God’s love, and they learn to trust one another. They are also taught important practical skills for daily living.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

A group of young doctors from the USA were on an outreach trip during the time I was in east Paarl, and we partnered together in meetings with Drakenstien Hospice as well as teaching at Magnolia School on the subjects of HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases and God’s design for sexual monogamy within marriage. 

Within In His Grace Ministries is a drama monologue, which I perform to help teach the word of God.  'The Heritage' drama drawn from the Scriptures demonstrates God’s grace and the fulfillment of His promise to mankind.  A large gathering was planned on a Saturday.  Many from Mbeqweni in east Paarl were invited as well as members from a Dutch Reformed church in west Paarl.  The staff of MCM and other missionaries were in attendance.

One woman from the Dutch Reformed church was so deeply moved that she asked if I would perform it again before returning to the USA. The following Wednesday, we were standing in the recording studio at Stellenbosh University Desmond Tutu TB Centre where I performed the drama again though the audience this time consisted of doctors, researchers and technicians. Again God moved in many hearts. As the Lord would have it, the woman, who had extended the invitation for me to come, was herself a doctor. 

One of her target research areas happened to be Mbeqweni!   Until now, she has made only surface contact with the community. She needed an advocate, someone or something the people already trust who could endorse her coming to test and treat for TB and HIV/AIDS.  How excited she was to learn of MCM and their ties to the community!  She and her colleagues made plans to partner with MCM to bring in educational materials, set up small clinics for testing, and create ways to promote accurate, healthy attitudes about sexual practices.  It has been a long-standing taboo for men to be tested for HIV/AIDS.  It is believed if a man’s test results are positive, he loses his standing in society, having failed to take the proper precautions to protect himself and his partners. 

While teaching at Magnolia, the children informed us that there is a common belief that using a condom protects one from all STDs.  And though the men will not submit to HIV/AIDS testing, they will test for TB, knowing that is it curable and thinking the cure for TB will cure HIV/AIDS, too. Of course, these are dangerously false notion. Obviously, testing and education in these matters is critical and urgent for the people of Mbeqweni. However now MCM and the doctors of Stellenbosh University will be able to reach into the community and help bring understanding to serve the people of Mbeqweni. This community and future generations will be greatly helped by this vital new partnership only our God could have orchestrated. PRAISE GOD!