28 Jan 2008
13202 Johannesburg, South Africa. A family lives at this address. We know because the yard is clean and well kept. They are not at home now. The parents are at work and the children are at school. This is a good home and in a good neighborhood. Those who rent this place are glad to have a place to live.
In Johannesburg, there are millions of homes similar to this but often in more crowded places places without water, sewage and refuse removal places rife with drugs and crime places where the police fear to enter.
People from all over South Africa indeed, from all over the continent of Africa, flock to Johannesburg every day. They come from small towns, from the farms, and some as refugees from countries such as Rwanda and the Dominican Republic of the Congo. Not all end up in the depressing environs of the shantytowns, but for those who do, it often seems an inescapable trap.
Their dream is to have a better life to have a steady job, and for their children a place to go to school.
Jobs are scarce. Some work in the mines or in the brick factories while others are street vendors. Some repair cars and others have their own business. Yet, far too many end up standing on street corners hoping for a few hours work hoping to earn enough money to feed the family for the day.
At one time, a large group of houses like these were called Townships, but now the government identifies the areas that have electrical and water services as formal settlements. The areas without utilities were known as squatter camps and are now called informal settlements.
The government struggles to manage the settlements and to provide basic needs but growth continually outpaces resources. In some places, toilets and water are installed first and then the area is opened up for new residents to erect their homes. In other more upscale places, the settlements are row piled upon row of small masonry buildings with tin roofs. It is hoped that someday all of the settlements will have permanent structures. Still, there are not enough jobs; rent for the homes exceeds the income of many. Some build a small shack in their back yard to rent out for additional income.
Schools like that of the settlements are spartan. They are over crowded and the teachers must make do with limited supplies. At least the children have a school.
The task of providing basic services for these millions is overwhelming. It may be years before some even have electricity or running water. The people have so little and, for most, their hope is all but gone.
There is another hope a hope that transcends their circumstances. In a building provided by the owner of a brick factory, people come to learn more about the one true Hope. This is a happy place that is used as a ministry by the church that meets in this warehouse. During the day it is a creche where children are cared for and taught in a safe and loving environment. Ladies are trained here so that they are able to move out and start their own creche a place where they can teach the children about Jesus.
(On Camera song from the kids.)
Another creche is in the back of a home where children learn Bible stories. These children will share what they learn with their parents.
Small creches like these are a start, a window to a new life. Young children from the neighborhood attend these creches. The typical fee is about $8 a month per child for those who are able to pay. This is a wonderful and effective ministry for reaching entire families with the love of Jesus.
There are a few places where true hope is taught but, like the task of providing homes for the millions, it appears to be an insurmountable task it appears impossible except for God.
You can be a part of telling those who live in these settlements about Jesus. You can tell them about the Heavenly Father that loves them all. You can pray regularly for these people and those who minister to them. We tend to look at the outside, as do the people who continue to walk past 13202 Johannesburg, South Africa. Jesus would stop and go inside.
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