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One Step Further.

IMG_7894{ Themba and his mentor, Denis de Chalain }

Themba Dlamini, one of the great success stories to emerge out of CAST’s business development programme, has taken his car-wash business to the next level.

With dreams of expansion, Themba set out with a mission to purchase a container for his business. This would allow him to have a spaza shop running alongside his carwash so that while customers were waiting, they could hang out, purchase food and drinks and socialise with one another.

Last weekend, the passionate entrepreneur held an Open Day to celebrate the new development in his business. Denis de Chalain, who is a business mentor to Themba, works for the Imana Foods Group and organised for them to run an Imana promotion in conjunction with the Open Day. They required a core group of people to cook their food samples on the day and this was done by several of CAST’s Business Forum volunteers. This partnership helped contribute to the days success and drew in bigger crowds who were curious to see what the hype was about ( and wanted to get some free Imana promotional products).

Despite the rainy weather, a significant amount of people turned up to support KwaDabeka’s favourite businessman and the atmosphere was full of celebratory joy for Themba.

The next step is to develop his Car Wash business further by adding a “shisanyama”, or a braai area to the mix. He is looking forward to future events where other companies will be partnering with him to market his business as well as their brands, so watch this space.

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Brighten Up Kwadabeka

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On Tuesday, the 24th September, 100 members of Westville Baptist Church along with 120 members of the Kwadabeka community, came together in a beautiful portrayal of Heritage Day.

An initiative powered by CAST- a social outreach non-profit- and Westville Baptist, “Brighten up Kwadabeka” was a day aimed at painting, fixing, cleaning and repairing Sithokozile Secondary School, handing out food parcels and making home visits to the food parcel recipients of the community, and running a children’s programme for the young ones at Kwadabeka Baptist Church.

The day ran from 8am until 12pm and ended off with a massive community braai, in celebration of South Africa’s National Braai Day. In every classroom, a group of people could be found hard at work, covered in paint, and out on the field there were people sanding down pillars, replacing gutters, hosing down the roof and cleaning up litter.

The partnership with Sithokozile Secondary School and Westville Baptist began 1994 when the church opened a soup kitchen for needy pupils. Since then, Sithokozile became the first township school in KZN to receive a new soccer pitch, made from synthetic grass. This initiative, along with the opening of a counselling centre at the school, was organised by the Church Alliance for Social Transformation (CAST).

The relationship between CAST and the Kwadabeka community has developed over the years and now includes an ongoing and effective food parcel programme, a sports programme and a business development forum.

It was an honour and privilege to have had another opportunity to serve this community, and to see so many people of all colours and ages, come together.

 

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Move Beyond Charity

Many of you may have seen our new slogan floating around the social media realms and wondered what the inspiration behind it is.

“Move Beyond Charity” is our way of expressing what the core beliefs behind our organisation are.

We believe that extreme poverty can end, that mindsets can be changed, and that love is a necessity.

We believe that changing the world requires more than just a handout, more than just charity; it requires action…. it requires MOVEMENT.

Watch this video to learn more about how we are taking active steps to ending poverty, empowering communities and keeping Jesus at the centre of it all.

And feel free to join us.

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The Ripple Effect.

It’s a one night commitment a week…but it could change a life for eternity.

About one and a half years ago, the CAST Street Ministry Team met a man named Johan at one of their weekly visits to The Nest shelter in Durban Central. Many of the team warmed to Johan’s friendly nature and dry sense of humour and over time he became a good friend to the team. He had not had contact with his family for years, and would never tell the team why, choosing instead to treat them as his family.

“He often had the ability to lift us up and encourage us when we were trying to do the same for him”

Johan was not a healthy man though. With ulcers on both legs and respiratory problems, he was an outpatient at Addington Hospital. After a while, his condition deteriorated.  He was admitted to hospital where he was diagnosed with stage four cancer of the larynx, which was inoperable, and underwent a tracheotomy.

Once he was discharged from the hospital, Johan found he had nowhere to go– The Nest refused to have him back and he couldn’t afford frail care on his insufficient grant. Eventually the Street Ministry team managed to find a shelter that had space for him, although the conditions were shocking. The state of this shelter led to Johan’s health deteriorating even further and the team could only pray that somehow a miracle would happen in terms of better accommodation.

One of the ladies in the team continuously phoned all the institutions and homes she could think of until finally the Hillcrest Aids Centre agreed to take Johan into their care. The difference between the shelter and the Aids Centre was unfathomable: He was surrounded by Christian staff who loved and cared for him; fed nutritious meals daily; sleeping in a spotless general ward and given medication which included morphine. It wasn’t long before Johan had developed friendships with the staff and other patients, and on their frequent visits, the team would find a cheerful and positive man sitting in his wheelchair in the Hillcrest sunshine. The home was an answer to prayer.

Sadly, the cancer spread and on the 3 June 2013, Johan passed away in a beautiful and comfortable environment surrounded by loving friends. CAST rejoices in the fact that Johan had accepted Jesus as his Saviour and given his life to the Lord and that he did not have to suffer on the streets or in a dirty shelter.

Despite not being in contact with his family, the team managed to get in touch with them and invite them to the memorial service, which was held at Westville Baptist Church. His death has actually reunited his family and the team hopes that as a result of their friendship with Johan, they will have the opportunity to connect more with his family…who knows what ministry opportunities that may bring.

We see this story as a success, because Johan’s journey and the commitment of the team can teach all of us about how to love God and still have faith through suffering as well as show us the ripple effect that happens when we invest time and love and effort into the life of just one person.

If you think that God is incapable of using you to create a ripple effect of impact, then come and join the Street Ministry Team on a Tuesday night and let them prove you wrong.

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Big Dreams, Small Steps.

The electricity in the township is out again. The residents cannot cook food for themselves or for their families and the nearest store is a decent walk away. Besides, walking in the dark of the night is never the safest option for anybody.
Nokuthula Ngcopo was tired of seeing this incident happen over and over again. This was a community she was born into and had grown up to love and so she came up with a business idea that serves Lamontville.
This is how “Fuza’s Fast Foods” came to be.
But starting and running a business is never an easy task especially when there is little to no capital, and you have no business experience. Although Nokuthula quickly gained customers, she would never know if she was making much of a profit or covering her expenses because she hadn’t learnt how to record her finances properly. It was also difficult to be efficient when she couldn’t afford the necessary equipment such as a frying machine and a chopping machine.
But, as the breadwinner of her house – with four kids and a mother to look after – she had to continue working.
Eventually she heard about the Paradigm Shift Business Course that’s run by CAST and started attending the weekly forums.
“Through Paradigm Shift I was able to get a loan to buy a frying machine. The course also taught me how to save, how to record my finances and how to handle customers. The spiritual aspect of the course helped me a lot too. Now I have started to pray every night and every morning which I never used to do before.”
Since being involved in the Paradigm Shift Course, Nokuthula has noticed a dramatic improvement in her business. She is selling more on a daily basis and her customer database has increased. She estimates that she is earning a monthly profit of between R1200-R1500. She is now able to employ another lady to assist her which helps her business to run more efficiently and effectively.
“My dream would be to open different fast food branches in other communities and in town.”
And now that she has acquired business knowledge and experience, that dream has more potential to become a reality.

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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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Take Me to the Car Wash

‘When I was younger, my friend said to me, “People are suffering in the township. What are you going to do after school, Themba?”

I replied, “I will not let myself suffer. I will do something. I will be like the gogo that sells vegetables; it’s not much, but at least she is earning something.”

Themba Dlamini started developing his entrepreneurial skills from a young age. His dad was the breadwinner of the house and so, when he passed on, there was very little money to support the family of five.  His job experience ranged from selling packets of soup and oranges to working for an air-conditioning company. In his Matric year, money at home got really tight, and Themba was offered a job as a barman at the ICC. Although his teacher tried to persuade him to finish his studies, young Themba knew that his first priority was making sure that there was food on the table for his family.

Because of the economic problems that the country was going through at the time, he lost his job as a barman and it was back to square one. So, he decided to pursue his initial dream of being an entrepreneur and opened up his own car wash in KwaDabeka – the community he had grown up in.

“It was hard. I didn’t have the capital to start the business. I only had water and a square piece of land. But I tried anyway. I would maybe get to wash one car a day and then I would get happy because I was earning R30 from that one car”

It was around this time that Themba heard about CAST’s Paradigm Shift course from his pastor at KwaDabeka Baptist Church. Dennis De Chalain was Themba’s mentor, and he helped to teach and guide Themba as to how to effectively run his car wash. Through Paradigm Shift, Themba was given a loan of R1500, which helped him to buy a proper car port. Slowly, his business started growing. Within a year, it was running effectively, and people were even coming to get their cars washed on the rainy days.

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But 27 year old Themba still dreams of a bigger future for his car wash.

“I want it to be a Shisinyama. For there to be a place where people can hang out, eat food and socialise while their cars are being washed. Maybe even have a big flat screen television so that my customers can watch sports”

At Paradigm Shift, Themba learnt a lot about customers and running a business, but he maintains that one of the biggest lessons he took away with him is that God and business go hand in hand.

“Don’t plan by yourself; put God into your plans cause He is the one that’s going to make it happen for you”

From the boy who sold packets of soup, to the man who never stops dreaming, Themba Dlamini is an inspiration to all of us who just give up when things get a little tough.

“It was not an easy journey. I never had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. But now things are happening and God has been a part of all of it”.