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An Alliance of Churches: CAST’s History

The work of CAST started about 40 years ago, when Westville Baptist Church developed a relationship with Ephraim Mzobe, a young milk-delivery man in Westville and a strong Christian. Westville Baptist Church assisted Ephraim in pursuing further education. After Ephraim had studied for the ministry at Union Bible Institute, he went back to his home in Noodsberg and established the Noodsberg Baptist Church. Since then Westville Baptist Church and Noodberg Baptist Church have been sister churches in spreading the kingdom of God throughout the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Noodsberg Baptist Church

Noodsberg Baptist Church

It was through Pastor Mzobe that a more than 20 year friendship and partnership developed with KwaDabeka Baptist Church, and later with Lamontville Baptist Church – this was the beginning of an alliance of churches, working together to find solutions to poverty, as well as to social and spiritual problems.

KwaDabeka Baptist Church

KwaDabeka Baptist Church

Sixteen years ago a social worker from Westville Baptist trained a group of community health workers in Cato Manor—the problem, they told her is that we give the people their medicine, but they have no food and they cannot take it on an empty stomach. As a result, CAST’s Food Parcel Ministry was born. Since then, CAST has distributed 30,000 food parcels—about 3 million meals.

Ten years ago, a few key individuals from Westville Baptist Church also began a ministry to the Durban inner-city: services for the homeless, street outreach, Tuesday evening programmes, and holiday clubs for the kids. Soon after the Clothing Ministry was started by a group of our young adults.

Clothing Ministry

Clothing Ministry

Then in 2006, Westville Baptist Church decided to employ a full time director of Compassionate Ministries to help the whole church move forward strategically and deliberately in the area of poverty relief and social development. Early in 2007, Jean-Ray Knighton-Fitt was employed in this position. At that point it was just Jean-Ray and and one other staff working together. They consulted, planned, and started to look for ways to synchronise and make sense of the existing ministries.

In 2008 CAST added three more staff. CAST’s Counselling Ministry and Sports Ministry were born, and later that year, the Business Forum. The vision God had given Westville Baptist Church started to take shape, but it was still embryonic, a lot of people still struggled to understand who we were and what we did.

At the start of 2010, CAST had just formally launched as an NGO with its own identity and six staff:

We had one Counselling Centre,

a Sports Ministry in one community,

one Business Forum,

a Street Ministry and Youth Ministry Programme on Tuesday nights in town,

a small and rather chaotic Homework Centre in Addington,

we supplied about 180 food parcels a month to five communities, but we had no community workers and no proper way of monitoring who was getting the parcels,

and we had two church partnerships and two school partnerships.

However, 2010 was a big year of growth for CAST. Especially when we mobilised over 100 volunteers and took the streets of the city by storm during the World Cup. CAST’s projects grew, new projects were started: we built a soccer field in KwaDabeka, we opened our very own counselling room—we started to develop an identity.

KwaDabeka Soccer Pitch

KwaDabeka Soccer Pitch

2011 was an even more tremendous year of growth for us, with nine staff, and about 40 volunteers.  Our partnership with Cato Manor Mission Church was established, and in Durban Central we employed a Community Coordinator at Addington Primary School. We expanded our programmes in Noodsberg through Sports, Counselling and Food Parcels, and we built a Counselling Centre there.

In fact, that year we established four new Counselling Ministries, with three new Counselling Centres.  CAST also employed a Counselling Centres Manager. We got our own space for the Homework Centre and completely revamped it, and later our counselling room in Addington.

Our Sports Ministry built up the Lamontville soccer team to be one of the top teams in their league – unbeaten the whole season and they played in the SAFA champs. Sports Ministry also expanded into Addington and Noodsberg, and boys2Men camp ran for the first time.

Our Clothing Ministry went from being in utter shambles to being well organised and effective with a team of volunteers which we still have today. The size of our Food Parcel Ministry dramatically increased and we started the process of what would eventually become Hearts to Hands.

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Hearts to Hands

We started 2012 with 13 staff, more than 120 volunteers and offices in all five communities except Lamontville—that was set up during the year. The Business Forum took on a proper structure for the first time with a Business Development Coordinator and was also launched in Lamontville.

Business Forum in Lamontville

Business Forum in Lamontville

In 2013, we built a new container at KwaDabeka and had a great team of social work students. We started to work at doing a better job of integrating our programmes and made some good strides forward in that area. We started the process of merging with Joy Chapel / RidgeCity in Mariannridge through a Community Coordinator.  We also had the beginnings of a new Business Forum in Noodsberg.

Joy Chapel in Mariannridge

Joy Chapel in Mariannridge

CAST started 2014 with 20 staff.

One of the more exciting developments this year has been the merger with West City Fellowship (WCF) and programmes in Chesterville.

During this year we have also:

started a Business Forum in Durban Central,

opened a Community Centre container in Chesterville,

built a larger, more formal Coummunity Centre in KwaDabeka,

and started a girls’ tennis team in KwaDabeka.

With all the recent expansion, CAST’s new focus is on one key principle:

The Kingdom of God must become the central theme of everything we do.

Micah 6:8 was adopted as our theme verse:

“What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.”

If the Kingdom of God is our central theme, then what we do is never primarily about us, or about CAST, or even about the poor and suffering.

It is about Jesus. It is about his ways and his standards, it is about his thoughts and his emotions and his agenda, it is about his rule and his Lordship and his glory.

And when he is king and the principles of his kingdom are lived out by his people, the church, then the darkness will flee before him: the darkness of addiction and abuse, the darkness of crime and corruption, and the darkness of depression and disease, of poverty and witchcraft and fear.

And the light of justice and mercy and equality will break forth like the rising sun.

This is why we are here. This is the heart of CAST.


“State of the Alliance” by Jean-Ray Knighton Fitt at CAST’s AGM 2014

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Job Readiness Day

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Joe White, from World Changers, speaking in KwaDabeka

Joe White, from World Changers, speaking in KwaDabeka

On 9 October 2014, CAST, Careerlinx, and World Changers Academy partnered to organize a “Job Readiness Day” in KwaDabeka. Almost 70 community members attended to hear several local speakers, including Joe White of World Changers Academy. Topics focused on interview skills, writing CVs and cover letters, and general job search tips.

With an unemployment rate of 35.4 percent, the community of KwaDabeka was targeted in order to prepare community members for interviews and the job application process. Careerlinx is committed to community upliftment and focused on empowering the unemployed and under-employed.

However, Careerlinx could not have accomplished this event without the help of CAST’s Social Work students (Wandile Dladla, Phumlani C Memela, Nondumiso Ntshangase, & Thembelihle Makhanya) from UKZN who are doing their practical placement within CAST’s Counselling Programme. During the past year, CAST has made an intentional effort to better integrate services in order to provide holistic care. The recent Job Readiness Day was a great example of teamwork between CAST’s Counselling Programme and Careerlinx.

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CAST Social Work Students and Careerlinx Staff

Similarly, CAST’s Social Work students have also been a great asset to the Counselling Programme by providing a conflict resolution support group to a special needs class at Addington Primary School. Since September, the Social Work students have meet twice a week with 14 students in Grade 3.

As one of the Social Work students stated, “The group was a necessity for the kids because of behavior problems. The kids would tease each other and fight.”

Even in the group setting, tackling behavior problems became a challenge. However, during the course of the group, the Grade 3 teachers began to notice a difference in their students thanks to the hard work and persistance of CAST’s Social Work students. Many of the behavior problems in the students stem from core family issues, which affect their learning as well. CAST’s Social Work students believe that therapeutic groups are the answer for many of these problems.

Thanks to our Social Work students, CAST is able to provide additional supportive services to the communities in which we work. These services are vital to achieving the mission of CAST’s Counselling Programme: “Providing centres of care and support in the heart of communities, that offer help and advice to people in need, moving them from helplessness to confidence.”  If you would like to know more about the integration of CAST’s Programmes, please visit our website at: http://cast.org.za

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Holistic Care in KwaDabeka

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Dedicated, committed, calm, introspective, approachable, humble: these are the words that best describe Samke, CAST’s Social Worker in KwaDabeka. Samke has been with CAST for two years, faithfully serving her community through multiple ways. One of Samke’s primary tasks is to provide counseling for individuals in her community.

Many of the families we encounter in CAST communities are living in chronic crisis where they have encountered continued crisis or in many cases are coping with multiple crises at the same time. Through our partnerships with local churches, CAST seeks to provide services to reach out to these families in order to empower them to overcome their crises and reach a place of hope.

We have established centres in all our communities to provide a space for these physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs to be met. CAST’s Social Workers, such as Samke, provide counselling services dealing with poverty, grief, depression, HIV, TB, rape, domestic violence, child abuse, drugs and alcohol and behavioural problems.

In the past Samke had counseled and worked out of a small container on the property of KwaDabeka Baptist Church. While there were plenty of CAST staff and social worker students to do the work in KwaDabeka, there was not enough room to accommodate the needs of clients. At times, the container was so crowded with clients that some had to stand while waiting for services. Additionally, during the summer the container was hot and stuffy, making counseling sessions very uncomfortable.

Old KwaDabeka container in front, new Community Centre in background

Old KwaDabeka container in front, new Community Centre in background

New CAST Community Centre being moved onto the property

New CAST Community Centre being moved onto the property

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New KwaDabeka Community Centre

As a result, last week CAST replaced the old KwaDabeka Community Centre container with a larger, more spacious mobile home trailer. This new Community Centre has two separate counseling rooms and a large open space which will be used for food parcel Sundays, group work such as support groups and workshops, training, and meetings. The KwaDabeka Centre is also equipped with air conditioning so that clients can be counseled in comfort.

During the past week, Samke has had many community members come up to her and ask about what CAST does in the new Community Centre. In Samke’s words, “This has put the Community Centre in the spotlight. We want to provide a quality service. We don’t want to make people wait for services like in a government building.”

Thanks to the new Centre, Samke and other social workers will be able to provide counseling services more effectively, accommodating more people in a space that creates dignity for clients.

Samke busy at Body and Soul!

Samke busy at Body and Soul!

However, Samke’s work in KwaDabeka is not limited to counseling. A few months ago, Samke helped to launch a fitness programme for women called Body and Soul in KwaDabeka. Fifteen women from her community meet weekly to not only exercise, but also to pursue holistic wellness in every area of their lives, including their relationship with Jesus. Body and Soul’s tagline is “where faith and fitness meet”.

The purpose of CAST’s Community Centres is to provide centres of care and support in the heart of communities, that offer help and advice to people in need, moving them from helplessness to confidence. Whether it is counselling or exercise, Samke is passionate about meeting the holistic needs of her community, and helping individuals from KwaDabeka reach a place of hope.  If you are interested in providing furnishings for the new KwaDabeka Community Centre or getting involved with Body and Soul in KwaDabeka, please contact Murry, CAST’s Volunteer Coordinator, at: murry@cast.org.za

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Vision

Habukkuk 2:2-4

Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain in tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.”

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For the past four years boys2Men camp has provided a way for boys in CAST communities to discover their identity and purpose in Christ. This year was no different, with a focus on discovering God’s vision.

In a survey of young men attending camp this year, CAST found that 75 percent of the boys have no father at home, and 45 percent of the boys are growing up without either of their parents at home. This lack of direction and support at home leaves the boys feeling lost and hopeless about the future.

The need for father-figures and a place to discover God’s vision is more important than ever. Boys2Men camp’s theme for this year was: “Discovering God’s vision for your life”. Boys were challenged to pursue God and His vision in the different sessions, discussion groups and quiet times at camp.

At camp, older men from Westville and other CAST communities came to disciple and mentor the boys. One of those men was Timothy, CAST’s new KwaDabeka Community Coordinator. This was Timothy’s first year at camp, but he jumped in as a group leader. He was amazed by the growth in his boys at camp, despite the many challenges. First, his group had a wide age gap, with boys ranging from Grade 6 to Matric. Second, Zulu is not Timothy’s first language, so he had to find creative ways to explain concepts and English words in the Bible. Thankfully, his group had a lot to share and showed a lot of growth from the discussion times.

One of Timothy’s group members was Nkululeko from KwaDabeka. Although Nkululeko is soft-spoken, he is always up for an adventure and camp was no different this year, with river rafting and hiking. Nkululeko is a four year camp veteran and a loyal long-term member of the CAST Youth Development Programme and basketball team. Many of the boys in the programme struggle to raise funds to attend camp, however Nkululeko managed to find someone to sponsor him at KwaDabeka Baptist Church on his own. At camp, Nkululeko was awarded a medal for being the most consistent and disciplined individual in the programme. Not surprisingly, he took a lot away from camp, and was especially challenged to have his own quiet time and read the Bible daily.

This is only one story among many others of changed lives through the impact of boys2Men camp. Every year camp challenges boys to become men through leading in their families and communities. CAST would like to thank everyone who sponsored a boy or volunteered their time at camp. Your donation made an eternal impact by allowing boys in CAST’s Youth Development Programme to deepen their relationship with Christ and discover God’s vision for their life.

Here are some reflections from others who attended camp:

Tukiso Nketsa (Participant): You know in life we need to grow physically, mentally and in spirit.. For 20 years my physical body has grown. But in this camp I saw that my mental and spiritual me hasn’t grown enough… Thank God I saw that. Thanks for giving me that chance .. my life has a direction now.

Sam Lindah (Participant): I have a different picture about the world now. . . it is full of joy and the mindset of changing the world #Cross=>3

Simphiwe Mbeje (Leader): If we have boys who love God so much we are guaranteed to have a better South Africa with real men.

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Nathi the Noble Cake-baker

noble /ˈnəʊb(ə)l/
adjective
Definition: having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles.

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Before boys2Men camp, Nathi was a not-so-noble teenager, disrespecting his parents and drifting into friendships with not-so-good guys.  The kind of friends that smoke things they shouldn’t and drop out of school.  But then last year Nathi signed up for boys2Men camp, not sure what to expect, and unaware of how camp would radically change his life.

Aside from playing soccer and hanging out with friends, camp provided Nathi an opportunity to reflect on his life and walk with Christ, and make the necessary changes.  Nathi came back from camp with a different attitude, ready to help out at home with tasks that he used to deem as “the stuff that girls do”, like washing the dishes.  As a young man growing up in a rural community such as Noodsberg, boys are expected to help with things outside the home, like caring for cattle or goats while girls help with the housework.  However, as one of nine siblings, Nathi found plenty of housework to help out with at home.

Nathi took things a step further when he began to invite his old, “not-so-good” friends to Noodsberg Baptist Church.  Some of those friends even organised a group (with the help of some ladies in the church) to bake cakes for the community.  Nathi became the “Noble Cake-baker” by allowing God to transform his life at camp.  This decision not only impacted Nathi and his family but also his friends and the greater community.

Nathi believes that, “Even though we are still young, we can do something.”

Now, Nathi is 18 years old and in Matric.  Excited about the future, he can only narrow down his career options to four areas of study: nursing, teaching, agriculture, or correctional studies.  This coming weekend he will be attending boys2Men camp for a second time, where Nathi will hear about God’s vision for his life, the theme of camp this year.

Nathi is one of 60 young men from CAST communities that have been specifically selected for their leadership potential and ability to give back to their communities.  Please be in prayer not only for the boys attending camp, but also for the older men who will play a father-figure and mentor role for our boys at camp.  Over the years, CAST has been working to break the cycle of fatherlessness through the impact of boys2Men camp.  Our prayer is that the young men in CAST’s Youth Development Programme will become noble men of character, who love God, their families, and greater community.