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A New Life: Reen’s Story

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44-year old Reen Naicker from Phoenix has been healed of his addiction of 30 years through CAST in partnership with Project Exodus, and partner church, Cornerstone Community Church (CCC).  Reen’s journey out of addiction began with attending a weekly support group meeting at CCC. This was made possible through the meeting of the leadership of Project Exodus and CAST at the Ibandla Malivuke Conference in 2018 which led to the formation of a partnership that has gone on to help many substance abusers in the community, like Reen, as well as their families and supporters.

For Reen, he testifies that it was only through the grace of God that he has been set free, able to overcome his addiction and is now four months sober. Before this, Reen had been in suffering since he began using substances at an early age. His habit soon developed into an addiction, but Reen felt that he had it under control, so much so that his wife and child were not even aware of his problem.

This was until Reen moved onto more potent drugs like heroin and whoonga. His life took a drastic turn and he began spiralling downwards, losing his job, his house and those closest to him. He stayed with his sister for a while and was allowed to bring his daughter over regular visits, but his desperation took hold and he began stealing from his sister’s house to feed his addiction.  They soon withdrew their support, and Reen had nowhere else to turn to but the streets, feeling that people had given up on him and was too ashamed to face his child.

His health deteriorated, growing weak and thin, and he contracted Tuberculosis. While on the streets, Reen would only mix with other addicts. Lying and using foul language became second-nature to Reen. He had lost who he was and would cry out to God, praying for answers. “I couldn’t see the glory in all of this,” he says. “God had his hand upon me, but I never saw it. I always thought I was fighting this battle on my own. I thought God left me.”

On his way to a tuckshop one day, Reen came into contact with a Pastor who told him of the support group meetings at CCC, and was referred to Raheel Govender, the CAST Phoenix Community Co-ordinator. Reen went to see Raheel and asked to be registered for the programme. Even in taking this step, Reen did not feel that others took him seriously given his history with relapsing. Regardless, he pitched up to the meeting, late, with the expectation of receiving medication that would make his pain and withdrawal symptoms go away. But instead, Reen discovered that it was much more than that as the trained volunteers from the local church and Project Exodus were heavily invested in the holistic transformation of each addict in recovery, offering support groups for both the recovering addict as well as supporters of the addicts.

Reen attended the meetings in faith, learning more and meeting people who he felt supported by. Pastor Clement Moses of CCC asked Reen if he really wants to change his life and if he would be willing to go to Jump Youth Mission, a centre for the rehabilitation of addicts using a Christ-centred approach to treatment. This was the answer to Reen’s prayers. Without hesitation, he took the opportunity and went. Conrad and the team from Project Exodus played a vital role in acquiring funds as well as care and support for Reen to be accommodated at the Mission house.

Although he is still on the journey to full recovery, Reen now feels he has been set free from the addiction. He has cleaned up not only his physical well-being, but feels emotionally and spiritually strong as well, and has been tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the kitchen and looking after the centre when the Pastor is not there.  Part of the programme also sees Reen doing outreach on Sundays, cooking for people in the communities, and ministering to those in need. From living selfishly and arrogantly, Reen now puts others’ needs before his own and carries out his duties at the centre with a sense of humility.

Reen’s sister now visits him at the mission and has opened the door to support him when he returns home. Reen has also improved his relationship with his ex-wife and daughter, who he looks forward to seeing every Thursday at the support group meetings at CCC, where he is encouraged to share his testimony with others who are still in the grips of addiction.

“God is working wonderful things in my life. I broke a lot of relationships and hurt a lot of people. Now that I’m in recovery and the spirit of the Lord is upon me, I’ve learnt to be a responsible person, a father. I serve others for the glory of the Lord. I live honestly, lying is now the most difficult thing for me. If I go wrong, I ask for God’s forgiveness. It’s a journey.”

As of July 2020, CAST is proud to officially partner with Project Exodus, with a mission to “provide sustainable solutions, and harness the transformative power of the networked Church to make expert recovery resources accessible for all South Africans.”  The programme will be implemented in three more of CAST’s partner churches namely: Kingdom Connect Ministries in Mariannridge, Mount Zion Church in KwaDabeka, and Home Ground Westville Baptist Church. If you would like to contribute towards the expansion of this programme, contact info@cast.org.za or call +27(0)31 2668830.

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Living Testimony: Siya’s Story

During the month of December 2019, CAST was blessed with a total of 33 interns sponsored by ABSA Bank Ltd. in partnership with Catalyx Consulting as a host organization. Our duty was to implement the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme initiated by President Cyril Ramaphosa. This year-long internship aims to assist unemployed South Africans aged 18 – 28 years old in gaining full-time employment in their chosen fields.

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Below is the testimony of one of our interns, Siyabonga, sharing his journey of transformation since joining CAST last year.

“My name is Siyabonga Makatshu. I was born on the 26th of February 2001 at KwaDabeka Clinic, but my family’s roots are at Eastern Cape. I grew up in Clermont, KwaDabeka. I started schooling at Mcopheleli Primary School, then went to Sithokozile Secondary and that is where I matriculated.

My journey with CAST started in late 2019 when I had no clear direction about my life, and I didn’t have any interest to further my studies. I was in a bondage by that time.

I remember in February, my friend asked me to accompany her to get her mother a food parcel at CAST KwaDabeka Community Centre. We went, and when we got there, the Co-ordinator of CAST KDB, Bab Peace Msimango told us that he needed volunteers to help the community and we agreed to come help. The day came when we met the second time with the intention of just “coming to help the community” but Bab Msimango told us that we need to do training before we start the ministry that God called us to fellowship on. We attended the training, and when we were all together as a team, we worshipped and shared the word of God. That grew us spiritually. I was never a perfect creature, I was smoking, drinking, stealing, swearing and did other horrible things, but God changed my life

I remember our co-ordinator asked us what our goals were, and I said that I would like to know God better than I know Him. My spiritual father, Bab Msimango, is the one who supported me all the way up until today. He was there for me throughout. I then started attending church every Sunday at KwaDabeka Baptist. I was still, however, not able to support my family. My co-ordinator visited me at home to see where I come from. He then saw the need to give me a food parcel to support my family, because I was a committed volunteer and participating in the community. I am happy to say I was the first volunteer at CAST to be visited at the township and that’s history. I was picked to go to the boys2MEN Camp and CAST’s 10th Anniversary Celebration. Our co-ordinator told us that after 6 months to 1 year, we will get a reference from CAST, because there are not many job opportunities in South Africa and that it will then help us in our future working lives.

In December, I and the other volunteers went to the volunteer thank-you party to receive certificates for tutoring in the Wordworks Literacy programme. I have learned a lot of things at the CAST organization. 2019 was one of the best years of my life and I have a testimony. I call myself a ‘living testimony’. Now, I have a clear direction in life unlike before.

I remember every Tuesday, we prayed for job opportunities and luckily my friends got an opportunity to work at the Airport and my nephew got a job at Pavilion Shopping Centre and there were four of us and I was left alone. I wondered, why me? But Jeremiah 29: 11 says, “I have plans for you, said the Lord, the plan to prosper you and not to harm you to give a time and hope.”

I learnt to be patient because patience is not an ability to wait but, to keep a good attitude while waiting. In December 2019, I went to an interview for the YES Internship programme at CAST and thank God I got the job. I am so happy to have gotten the opportunity to work because I am learning a lot. I met my new colleagues and am learning so much from them. I have improved my English and communication skills. I have learnt not to impress others, but be impactful towards them. The Catalyx training on work-readiness was and is effective in my life and I have also learned a lot from CAST.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Siyabonga played a key role in supplying food-insecure families with emergency relief during the national lockdown. Watch him in action on the CAST YouTube channel.

Siya’s dream is to study either Health and Safety Management or Trade and Marketing Management and follow his calling to become a Pastor. If you would like to support the development of young leaders in our communities like Siya, contact us at info@cast.org.za for more information about other CAST initiatives.

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Isipho Sembewu: Celebrating a Decade of Growth

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This year marks 10 years of CAST Ministry and 46 years since our first church partnership was established in 1973 with Noodsberg Baptist Church.

A big THANK YOU to those who joined in the festivities of our 10 Year celebration, and to ALL in our CAST community for your continued support.

The theme of our celebration, “Isipho Sembewu”, means “the gift of the seed” in isiZulu. Let us pray for many more years of growth and transformation of the seed so faithfully planted all those years ago.

 

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A Second Chance

In 2014, CAST’s Noodsberg Community Co-ordinator, Bongani Mkhize, heard about a boy on CAST’s soccer team who was not attending school.  When Bongani visited him to find out what was going on, the boy, Siyanda ‘Zakwe’, explained that his family was unable to afford a school uniform.  Zakwe lived with his father, grandmother and other family members, none of whom were working.

Moved by his story, Bongani filled a CAST donation form and was able to access the R500.00 needed for the uniform.  Thanks to the assistance from CAST, Zakwe went back to school, and in 2016 he finished Grade 12.

This year Zakwe came back to Bongani’s office to thank him.

Zakwe said it was CAST that helped him to change his mind, as he was about to give up school and look for a job because of the lack of support at home.

However providing something as simple as a school uniform kept Zakwe in school and gave him a second chance at his education.

At CAST, we believe in empowering youth to become resilient, value education, achieve their dreams and become leaders in their community.  CAST accomplishes this through providing various youth development programmes, with the support of sport coaches, mentors and CAST staff.  We are invested in transforming lives through holistic programmes that actually empower youth to overcome their circumstances.

You too can make a difference in the life of a young person by getting involved with CAST’s Youth Development Department.  Contact George Mwaura at george@cast.org.za to find out more about how you can join the movement.

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Spinach & Soccer

 

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Rain or shine, you won’t find Sibu sitting in his house.

A typical day for Sibu starts with tending his farm: cabbage, spinach, green pepper, mealies and green beans.  By noon he is finished and ready to help out in his community.  Between attending Noodsberg Baptist Church, coaching CAST’s Noodsberg soccer team, participating in CAST’s Business Forum and teaching community members how to farm, Sibu keeps busy.

Sibu first started giving back to his community by coaching soccer.  He noticed that the boys did not have a coach – you can read the full story here.

But as Sibu explains,”The aim is not about soccer, it’s about the church.”

It was at boys2Men camp last year that Sibu came to know Jesus, which changed his life forever.  Now Sibu wants his boys on the soccer team to also experience the same transformation.

That’s why he has the team pray when they finish playing, and makes sure that the boys are in church on Sundays and Wednesdays.

It’s why he visits the boys at home, connecting with their families and getting to know the challenges they face.

It’s why he teaches the boys how to farm, and gives them a chance to get work experience.

As a ‘big brother’, Sibu walks alongside his boys, preparing them for adulthood.  He encourages them to stay in Noodsberg, because he knows the importance of having positive role models for the younger children.

More recently, Sibu has been involved with CAST’s Business Forum in Noodsberg.  After 3 months he became a Paradigm Shift trainer, as he found more and more people approaching him to learn about farming.

This month Sibu decided to raise money for home gardens in Noodsberg by selling seedlings.  In a matter of just a few minutes, he raised R150.

Sibu explains his motivation for this project, “I want people not to ask me for food, but to grow their own food – that’s why I am selling seedlings.”

Volunteers like Sibu, who are passionate about their communities, are vital to sustainable community development in the areas where CAST works.  Sibu is using simple opportunities like farming spinach and coaching soccer to transform his community for the Kingdom of God.  If you would like to know more about how you can become a CAST volunteer like Sibu, email volunteers@cast.org.za to find out more information.

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Making a Difference through ABCs

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Back when Rolan first started volunteering with CAST’s Wordworks Literacy Programme at Addington Primary School, one of her learners didn’t know their alphabet.  In fact, the child didn’t even really speak to Rolan at all.

However, thanks to the structured, easy to use, one on one tutoring format of Wordworks, Rolan has been able to transform this learner’s life, not only with literacy skills, but also through a warm and caring relationship.  It took some time, but now this Grade 1 learner opens up with Rolan, sharing stories and even writing full sentences.

Rolan heard about the Literacy Programme through one of CAST’s interns.  She wasn’t working and wanted to make the best use of her time, so Rolan jumped into volunteering.  Although she is not a teacher, Rolan still found it easy to get involved because of the Wordworks training and simple lesson structure.  In the beginning, she just observed for a few weeks to see how to help the kids and how to deal with behavioural issues if necessary.

Now Rolan is a seasoned Literacy Programme volunteer.  As she explains, “I feel so much more at ease with the kids and feel so much more confident.  You learn as you go.  The kids take awhile to trust volunteers.  It’s about building a relationship instead of just being another authority figure.  You’re growing with the child, both in your ability to teach and their ability to learn.  It’s a journey.”

Rolan believes that CAST’s Literacy Programme has the potential to positively change a learner’s whole attitude about school.  The Literacy Programme is part of CAST’s Educational Support Department, which aims to rescue the academic potential of learners through training and support programmes which will help them grasp key concepts, and reduce obstacles to future success.  Addington Primary School is located in Durban central, and has a large population of learners from refugee families.  Because of the language barrier and large class sizes, Wordworks is key for learners to grow in their foundational literacy skills, as well as providing a safe place for the children to express themselves.

If you would like to become a literacy volunteer like Rolan and make a difference in the life of a child, please contact Joseph Bode at joe@cast.org.za for more information about volunteer training.