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Cleaning Up Lamontville.

Imagine getting a group of teenagers excited about having to pick up litter in their community for an entire afternoon. Schools and parents have been trying for years to make kids litter-conscious and most of the time, their efforts are in vain.

But  CAST’s area coordinator in Lamontville, decided that he was going to tackle this task and rally up the troops from the Lamontville Baptist youth group, to clean up an area of the community.

“I wanted to give the teenagers an opportunity to evangelise to and explore the community they are a part of.”

He is really passionate about his community and he wanted to do some sort of community outreach project that would allow the youth to learn about service and would also be a blessing to the people of the community. He wasn’t expecting many teens to turn up but was hoping for at least 10. So when 28 eager volunteers arrived, followed by another 29 a little while later, he knew this would be a successful venture.

So off they all went, armed with gloves and rubbish bags , ready to get the litter off the streets of Lamontville.

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The project ran from 11am until 3pm and eventually the group had to stop because they ran out of rubbish bags. A total of 200 black bags had been filled to the brim with rubbish.

“My goal was to expose the teenagers to something they wouldn’t normally do. I wanted them to see the response they would get from the people in the community. I also wanted the people living in that area to see the teens taking responsibility and being an example of Jesus.”

The response from the youth group was a positive one. They are all really excited to get involved in future projects and currently want to help create more facilities and opportunities for coaching sports in this particular area.

This man, who grew up and lives in the township himself, has big dreams for his community and is being equipped to make a difference.

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What if God was one of us?

When it comes to loving the poor, I feel that I, along with many other Christians still have not got it right, Actually we suck. Raise your hand if you feel good when you give some spare change to the boy who comes up to your car window at the intersection. I know I do. This is because I have learned to become satisfied with those “saintly” actions, they have become enough for me, and they have become enough for my faith.
A while back, I read a book called The Irresistible Revolution written by hippy-missionary-radical author Shane Claiborne. In his book he mentions the poor a lot, and quotes plenty of famous people on this topic. One particular quote was by this very wise,lovely lady named Mother Theresa – you may have heard of her. Her words really struck a nerve in me and since reading them I have been disgusted at myself for thinking that handing out R2 at the traffic lights was good enough.

” In the poor we find Jesus in his most distressing disguises”

Imagine what would happen if we started to see every poor person as being Jesus in dress up. I know for a fact that I would definitely give him more than a measly R2 coin. In fact, according to the Bible, in order to feel complete I should sell all my possessions and give the money to the poor (Matthew 19:21). Hectic.
Lets just say I have started opening my eyes more to what it really means to be a follower of Christ and to love Jesus. I think that we need to all get out of our middle to upper class comfort zones and throw ourselves wholeheartedly into loving and serving the people in society that we feel superior to, that we maybe feel a little afraid of, and that we possibly would rather just pretend are not there.

How many of us would open up our home to a child that is sitting alone on a street corner with just a rubbish bag for warmth. How many of us would take ten minutes of our time to speak to the man with one leg who is ‘looking for food, a job, clothes, anything ‘ and find out about his life and offer him what we can, even if its just some love and Jesus. The generation that I am a part of has so much to offer if only we would open our eyes and look past our iPhones and expensive clothes and safe lives. Now I’m not saying having that stuff is a bad thing, because its actually a blessing, but what IS bad is when that kind of stuff blocks our vision to the reality of the world – a world filled with sick,dying,heartbroken who desperately need to be loved.

I think the best way to encourage you in this would be through this scripture in Matthew 25:31-46. The whole passage is amazing, but a key line for me is this one ( Jesus is speaking) ” whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me  ‘

So, what if God was one of us….the Joan Osborne song says “just a stranger on a bus”, but I say what if God was just a young orphaned girl, or a cripple who lives in a shelter, or a young boy whose life of poverty is turning him to drugs and petty crimes. What would our actions towards those people be?

Lets be the generation that makes a difference, the generation that makes the world open their eyes to what Jesus was really all about, the generation who loves the poor.

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( IMAGE BY RICHARD BOLLAND)

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When In Doubt, Paint!

Armed with a box full of paint, a giant sheet of metal, a pair of scissors and some red ribbon; the CAST staff made their way to the community of KwaDabeka.

Once a month, our staff has what we call, “CAST SUNDAY”. This is a day when we head out to one of the four communities that we partner with and we join the church in that community for their Sunday service. This is a way of unifying our staff and volunteers throughout the communities and experiencing the different churches that we work so closely with.

On our first CAST SUNDAY, we visited Noodsberg Baptist Church and celebrated the opening of the Borehole and the completion of the roof for another church that we have built in ApplesBosch. It was such a rewarding experience for us and afterwards we brainstormed ways of making the next CAST SUNDAY even better. We wanted to come up with something that would symbolise the unity of our communities.

When in doubt, paint!

As a staff, we have decided that on every CAST SUNDAY, we will mobilise the community and church members and create a hand-print painting of the CAST tree that will be displayed either on the office wall or counselling centre wall of every community. It’s an activity that everyone gets to feel a part of, and it’s a colourful reminder of the unity of the churches and communities.

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So, on the 29 April, we ventured to KwaDabeka Baptist Church and joined them in their Sunday service. Jean-Ray preached on compassion and serving within the communities and we had an amazing time of worship. The church was full and it was awesome to see people of all ages so passionate about Jesus.

 

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Afterwards, everyone piled out of the church and rejoiced as we cut the red ribbon and officially celebrated the opening of the CAST Counselling Centre. We pray this centre will be a beacon of hope in the community for those suffering from depression, trauma and grief, among other things.

 

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And then finally it was time to paint. Chaos ensued as mothers and grandmothers and children eagerly grabbed paintbrushes and covered their hands in the CAST colours, ready to leave their mark on the tree. Amidst a swirl of red, green, brown, orange and yellow, emerged a beautiful painting- a symbol of community, love, and Jesus.

It was such a momentous occasion, and we are confident that the next CAST SUNDAY will be just as rewarding.

So, if you are keen to come along and visit the communities, keep an eye on Facebook, Twitter and our Website for dates and info. The more the merrier!

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