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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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More Than a Ball and a Hoop.

KwaDabeka Sports Day.

Getting the youth more involved in the church was a vision for KwaDabeka Baptist this year and it seems the vision is becoming a reality.

To commemorate June 16th, Youth Day, CAST coordinator, Lungelo, organised for a Sports Event to be held at the church – an opportunity for the youth to socialise and enjoy their community beyond the weekly Friday night meetings. The KwaDabeka sports teams were joined by teams from Isaiah House Church in Molweni making a total of about 150 youth. The program ran from 9am until 4:30pm, with the youth participating in basketball, netball and soccer tournaments throughout the day. During the intervals of the sports programs, the crowds were entertained by ice-breaker activities and humorous commentating.

At lunch time, the coordinators took the opportunity of the gathering to give a short talk to the youth on “Awareness “– a topic which included points on drug abuse, teenage pregnancy and underage sex- and then do a salvation call at the end of the talk.

25 young people committed their lives to Jesus.

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Addington Sports Week.

The school holidays can be a scary time for the children of the Inner City because many come from neglectful households and dangerous areas. Without the safety net of going to school every day, many of these kids are left to roam around the streets of Durban Central. The risk of them getting involved in inappropriate activities is also very high during this period.

CAST, held a Sports Clinic for the children to attend from the 8th -11th July at Addington Primary School. The aim of this week was to provide the kids firstly with a safe space to come every day, and secondly, for them to be in an environment where they are free to just be children. A volunteer team from Lake Pointe Church in Texas along with volunteers from Westville Baptist took part in coaching basketball, netball and soccer everyday for the kids.

“The day was very eye-opening and fulfilling, and it was awesome to see joy in its rawest form.There definitely is a benefit to the community from outreaches like this because the children have an alternative outlet during the holidays”IMG_7789 IMG_7808   

Sports Ministry is about more than just kicking a ball around or shooting hoops. It’s an opportunity to form lasting relationships with kids and youth from the Durban communities and to have an impact on their lives that goes beyond a friendly game of soccer. Let us know if you are keen to be a part of this!

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Transforming A City.

“The Street Ministry can be challenging and even distressing at times but victories like Mary’s* make it all so worthwhile knowing that God is omnipresent in our endeavors and is busy changing lives for the better and giving His people hope and a future”.

When the team met Mary at The Nest shelter in Durban Central, she was in a bad way. Suffering from epilepsy and on constant medication, she came across very judgmental and self-centered. She had not heard from her siblings for years and her relationship with her father had deteriorated to the extent that they were not on speaking terms, something which made her quite bitter.

However, the team persevered with her, through regular visits and times of prayer –specifically around the issues she had with her family. When Mary’s phone was stolen about five months ago, the team gave her a replacement phone and SIM card which obviously meant that she had a new number. Mary was adamant that her family know her new number, so that they could get in touch with her in an emergency.

Fortunately, one of the volunteers on the team knew Mary’s family quite well, and made a plan for the phone number to be given to her brother-in-law. It wasn’t long before she received a phone call from her sister who subsequently took her out for lunch on her birthday. This was then followed by a call from her brother, and finally a phone call from her father.

These events had a transforming impact on Mary. As a result, she now speaks to her family regularly and is a happy and caring person. She recently attended a church in Durban with one of the team members and then went to a service on her own. She also befriended another lady in the shelter and has not only been praying for this woman but has helped her to obtain a much needed Government grant.

“Sceptics may say that the theft of her cell phone and the re-uniting of Mary with her family is all pure co-incidence but we firmly believe that it is God’s work and another example of how He can turn a bad experience into a blessing”.

Join the Street Ministry team on Tuesday nights and be a part of transforming our city. For more details, contact us online!

*not her real name

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The Love of a Child

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Imagine walking into a school and having the most beautiful children in Durban come running towards you and jumping into your arms even though they have never met you before in their life.

Well, that’s exactly what Addington Primary Holiday Club is like. Within mere minutes you will have one or two children adopting you for the week: wanting to play catches with you; giving you an endless supply of hugs; playing with your hair; sitting on your lap; and just generally giving you love.

But at the end of the day that is not the point of our holiday clubs, which we run annually during the June/July school holidays. The purpose of these holiday clubs is for kids- most of whom live in the poor and dangerous areas of the Durban Inner City- to have a safe place to come to during their holidays, to experience love and kindness that they may not get in their home environments, and to learn about God. Addington is one of the communities that CAST is associated with, which is why we choose to run a holiday club in that particular area.

This year our holiday club title was, “Mzansi- Where Friends Meet”, where the kids learnt what it means to be a friend and how they should choose their friends. We also had the opportunity of teaching them that Jesus wants to be their best friend and this saw many of the kids asking God into their hearts.

Something that was reiterated amongst the leaders during the week was the fact that we do not realise how something simple -like being a part of this holiday club for one week- may change the lives of these children for eternity.

Yes,  the running of the holiday club is tiring and requires a lot of energy and effort, but at the end of the week you leave that school wishing you could stay longer, because loving those children and being loved back by them is the easiest and most natural thing in the world.

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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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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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Unlimited Generation

The energy and excitement in the room was tangible as the CAST staff arrived at the launch night of KwaDabeka Baptist’s youth group, Unlimited Generation. About fifty young guys and girls ranging from 12 years old to 18 years old poured into the church, ready for a night of good food, worship and fellowship.

First up was a special prayer that was recited by two young ladies from the youth group followed by an acapella performance by the Stokozile Highschool Choir. There was beat boxing and singing and the crowd gave high praises to them afterwards. Next, two of the guys from the KwaDabeka Basketball team stood up to do a comedy set that was well received by their peers.

Once all the special items were over, the youth group engaged in a time of worship and listened to a sermon from Jean-Ray. Everyone was informed about CAST – who we are and how we will be linked to the youth group- and then the crowd of teens poured out of the building, eager to get to the boerewors rolls that were being served outside.

Mzisi and Lungelo, two of our staff who help to run the Unlimited Generation, felt that the evening was a great success and exceeded their expectations.

They are now on the lookout for anyone who wants to preach or volunteer at the youth on a Friday night from 5pm -6pm.

So if that’s you, then please contact us at CAST and we will get you linked up!

 

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Have an Eternal Impact.

Every Tuesday night, Cheryl Robbins walked the streets of Durban with the rest of our Street Ministry team, eager to see the four young boys who had captured her heart. One of them, Maxwell, would run up to her with his arms outstretched, shouting, “Mom!”

That’s what happens during street ministry. Relationships and bonds are formed. Why would a young, black street child regard a white woman, whom he sees once a week, as a motherly figure?

It’s because, in Cheryl, he sees love like he has never known; love that is unconditional, unassuming and without expectation or judgment.  The racial and class divides no longer exist. It has nothing to do with Cheryl or Maxwell, and everything to do with the love of God.

Cheryl clearly remembers the night she met Maxwell. She and the team were walking in Durban central when four young boys happened past them. Spontaneously, Cheryl approached them and started up a conversation. It was during this time that one of the boys opened up to her, telling her about a tough life that no child should have to endure. This boy’s vulnerability prompted another boy, Maxwell, to come forward and tell his story as well. Cheryl soon discovered that these boys were being isolated by their community and her heart broke for them.

She and the rest of the team realised it was time to turn this into more than just a once-off conversation.

They organised to meet up with the boys the following week in the same place. Cheryl baked chocolate muffins and took a basket of food as well hot water and soap. She had made each boy a bag which was filled with a blanket, a bible and three sets of clothes for each of them.

When the boys arrived, Cheryl noticed that they looked a lot cleaner than they had the week before – they had washed and bathed themselves for this “special” occasion.

Through the night, other kids joined in with the feast that the team had prepared and towards the end of it, Cheryl gave the four boys their bags and bibles. On the inside of the bibles, she had written “a letter from God” to each of them, reminding them how special they were and how much Jesus loves them.  The group prayed together, the boys read a little of their bibles, and they made plans to meet up with each other again.

Following that wonderful time, Cheryl met regularly with the boys, got them connected to the Umgeni Community Empowerment Centre as well as Umthombo Children’s Home.

But as we can all imagine, life on the streets is never easy.

The boys would often bathe at the showers on the beachfront promenade, washing the clothes they had been given and making sure to keep their bags and bibles with them always. Sadly one day, all their stuff was taken from them and they were beaten badly.

It was after this that three of the boys lost touch with Cheryl, falling back into their old habits and living patterns… but one boy still remained.

Maxwell continued to pursue God. He started attending surfing lessons and eventually was granted a scholarship. He still sees Cheryl, or “Mom”, regularly, his arms always outstretched. And even though the other boys do not have the same story to tell as Maxwell, seeds have been planted in their hearts, they have encountered God and their journey is still unfolding.

One night, one spontaneous encounter with those boys was all it took for a relationship to develop. And it had nothing to do with Cheryl or the Street Ministry team, but everything to do with God and his unfailing, unchanging love and merciful grace for the poor, the broken and the thief.  Out there on the streets, where it’s scary and unfamiliar, God met with a group of normal people and used them to have an eternal affect on the lives of rejected and hurting children.

When we step out of the comfortable environments, we are able to join in and get involved in the work that God is already doing in the uncomfortable ones, and this WILL result in an eternal impact

To volunteer and be apart of our Street Ministry team, get in touch with us. We cannot wait to meet you.

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Believing In Your Dreams.

“I decided taking photos would be a good business. I enjoyed it so much”.

Every kid has a dream.

All it took was a camera at his matric dance to get 18 year old Andile Gumbi to start dreaming. He had often told friends in the Kwadabeka community that he wanted to be a businessman one day, but was never quite sure of what he wanted to do. Then, on the night of his dance, as he was capturing memories with his friends, something clicked.

Eight years later and this determined young man is now running his own video production and photography company called Nyachengo’s, named after his hero, his grandfather.

This is Andile’s story.

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The company was registered in 2011.  The process of registering the company wasn’t hard. I went to SEDA and they gave me instructions on how to register. They gave us one lecture on how to run a business and why it’s important to register your company”. But there was still a lot that Andile needed to learn about being an entrepreneur and running a business.

Through his community, he heard about Paradigm Shift, an organisation that is partnered with CAST. CAST has been involved in running Paradigm Shifts Business Growth Course since January 2012.

As part of the course, the entrepreneurs are given a mentor – a business professional who meets with the entrepreneur once a month to disciple, encourage and help that person to apply what he or she has learnt. Andile’s mentor was a man, from Westville Baptist Church, by the name of Andrew Jameson.

“Andrew taught me not to rush things, that building a business takes time”

Andile thrived during the business forum.  One of the biggest lessons he took away from it is that you have to work hard and fight for your business because the road is not going to be easy. At the business forum he also was encouraged to connect more with God and to read his bible frequently.

Nyachengo’s deals with:  photography, sound system hire and video filming. They specialise in social events and corporate functions.  Their offices are found at Smart Xchange and the business is part of an incubation program there which helps them to develop further. They are able to attend seminars and short courses on business management as well as receive opportunities to network with other people and businesses.

This year the company has already signed two contracts with schools, to manage the capturing of their school photos, and Andile is hoping they can sign a third contract by the middle of the year. The biggest challenge they have had is getting contracts for government projects, but Andile still has faith that the business will eventually reach this achievement.

It all comes back to having dreams. As an 18 year old, he had a dream, a vision for his life. And he pursued that vision. Along the way he encountered Andrew Jameson, the  rest of the business development team from CAST, and a real and active relationship with Jesus. Now he is living out that dream. But the dreaming doesn’t stop there.

He has big hopes for Nyachengos in the next five years; hopes which include new equipment, more staff, a company vehicle, contracts with private companies, and ultimately, a big studio in Durban in which he can hold professional photo shoots.

He was a kid with a dream. Now he is an adult that’s been empowered to believe in his dream.