South Eastern Africa
Daniel and Joseph – Lights in a Dark Land

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                       28 Jan 2008

      

Daniel and Joseph, like their Biblical namesakes, are shining lights in a land of darkness … a land in which few know Jesus Christ as a friend and as their savior.  In this land, there are many who profess to be Christians.  They call themselves Apostolic or Zionist.  Badges and emblems worn as protection against evil spirits can identify some.  Their lifestyle and their spiritual allegiances are rooted in cultural traditions and ancestor worship.

 The busy streets of the South African capital, Pretoria, now known as Tshwane … with its high-rise buildings and masses of people … is a world apart from the villages of Mmametlhake and Nokaneng.  Yet, these villages are only a ninety-minute drive by a good highway.

 People in this rural area, located in the northern part of Gauteng Province and nearby Mpumalanga Province, are predominately Tswana.    Other peoples include Pedi , Ndebele and Tsonga.  Some work on the large farms nearby and others travel to the cities for jobs.  About three quarters of the people are unemployed and many men spend their day in a variety of unproductive adventures … often sharing large bottles of beer.  Like this gas generator waiting for the electric power to fail, those who have jobs still seem to be standing or sitting around not really expecting anything to change. The workers at this car wash follow the same pattern … waiting, waiting.

(on cameraHow many cars do you wash a day?  We wash 4 cars a day)

 Occasionally, men can be observed digging ditches for a new waterline.  Others earn a small income gathering scrap metal.  The scrap is used for making or repairing tools, wood stoves, and other improvised items as needed.

 Women work hard gathering firewood, hauling water, cleaning their homes, doing laundry, and caring for their families but their lives seldom extend beyond the village.

 Excitement is found at the central high school located in Nokaneng.   Here kids in their colorful school uniforms and with ready smiles are excited about their time at school … excited about an opportunity to break the cycle of darkness.  Even after school, the kids continue their competitive spirit with an improvised soccer game.

 The future is dark for these kids despite the excitement while at school.  Many have lost their parents to AIDS.  Grandparents are left to care for the children. This granny is old and sick and is not going to live long but she still has a home   full of children.  Healthcare worker Sophy from the Mmametlhake Family Care Center ministers to her. The Center is trying to find homes for the children.

on cameraHow many children do you have staying with you? –

 OVERLAY:  6 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren

 Where do they sleep?

OVERLAY:  On the floor

Health care workers like Sophy make their daily visits to those who are seriously ill. The caregivers often work with those suffering the final stages of AIDS.  It is a task, which has few rewards and much discouragement.    

 In this land of poverty, … of HIV/AIDS, … of ancestor worship and hopelessness, … there are points of light.  

 Daniel – on camera:  I am Daniel and my surname Mahlaola.  The place where I am standing is called Mmametlhake.  This is the name of the town.  The place where I am standing is Grace Union Baptist Church.  Our focus is that the whole of this town may come to the knowledge of Christ – come to know that Christ died for them – died for our sins.  The strategy that we are using is tent campaigns – open air evangelizing – right open.  We just take our instruments and just preach on an open ground.  Then we start singing songs and then we will be preaching – inviting people to come to Christ.

 Joseph – on camera:  I am Joseph MahlaolaI am living here in Nokaneng .  This is the name of the village where I am doing ministry.  The name of the church is Nokaneng Unity Baptist Church.  The church was started in the year 2000.  Our main aim is to reach out to our people for we realize that we have many lost people.  There are people in our villages and people who do not know God.  Our people are so rooted in ancestral worship so our main aim is to reach out to them and introduce the living and true God unto them.

 Daniel and his younger brother Joseph accepted Jesus in 2000 but it was a lonely path.  They left behind a long family tradition in the Apostolic Church.  Their family considered them rebellious and had them arrested.  … [The next morning they were released from jail when their singing and praising God caused a ruckus with the jailer.]

God has abundantly blessed their ministries.  Both are seminary trained in a school that requires only 10 days of classroom attendance each month.  This leaves the remainder of the time to work in their churches at home.  New believers are added almost every week to the churches where they pastor.

 Lizbet Mmethi and her husband, Abram, are influential members of this village.  They became believers and joined Pastor Daniel’s church about a year ago.  … [After their baptism, they invited the churches to join them in a celebration of God’s goodness.  The couple butchered a cow from their herd for the celebration—an event reserved for the once-in-a-lifetime occasion of a marriage!]

  Lizbet - on camera:  I miss something … the way of God.  Then I come to the church and Mr. Daniel. … Pastor Daniel teach us about the ways of God.

 The Mmametlhake Family Care Center is another point of light.  This Center reaches out in many ways to the surrounding area.  Extremely important are the Home Based Care Workers.  Another vital work is the True Love Waits Program taught in the local schools.  Two teams from the Center have presented this message of abstinence and morality to hundreds of students.  Ruth, the receptionist, also touches lives as she teaches Bible stories to youth who come to the Center after school.  Several Christian books are also available for loan.  The Christian witness of the Mmametlhake Family Care Center continues to expand.  The village chief gave a 10-acre plot of vacant land to the Center.  Clearing of the acacia, aloe and other brush began immediately.  Construction began in October of 2005.

 In the rural areas of South Africa, traditional religion with its ancestor worship and mystic healers … is like this water pump, … a belief system put together with whatever seems to work at the time.  To properly access the life giving water, the old must be removed and replaced by the true light of God’s Word. 

 Will you commit to pray for Daniel and Joseph and their congregations … as well as for those involved at the Mmametlhake Family Care Center … as they all seek to share the Good News of the Gospel in the rural areas of Gauteng and Mpumalang Provinces.

Pronunciation Guide:

Abram

Gauteng                                   how TANG 

Lizbet Mmethi                          LIZ bet MET ee

Mahlaola                                 MA la o la

Mmametlhake                      mamet LA kee  “mamet CLOCK ee”

Mpumalanga                          MMMM puma long ga

Ndebele                                  N deh BEL ee

Nokaneng                               NO ka neng

Pedi                                         PEH dee

Tshwane                                 tSWA nee

Tsonga                                    tSONG ah

Tswana                                   tSWA na

 

 

 

 

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