Common Good/Zanokhanyo Network News
We apologize for the long gap since our last update. Since that time 2016 wrapped up and now we're well into 2017!
At the beginning of the year 4 new trainers and interns were hired to help The Zanokhanyo Network (TZN) reach the goal of training 1000 people this year. Training trainers is a very intense process, but so far it seems like these 4 will be a great asset to the organization.
To date 8 job readiness courses have been trained in 4 locations. This is a hectic pace, but one that seems imperative to bring hope to as many people as possible. At one of the graduations last week a 60 year old woman said that as of that day she had a new name, "Graduate." She was the first person in her family to graduate from anything, and her joy was palpable. At the same graduation a visitor from another organization encouraged the graduates by telling them that character, integrity and godliness were the most important things they could offer to employers, so he was very pleased to hear that this is exactly what TZN is all about.
Last week Common Good hosted a businessperson's breakfast as an awareness-raiser and fundraiser. Many people were excited to learn about the efforts of the organization to bring the love of Christ into some of the many areas of brokenness in South African society.
Mokone Primary & Barcelona Children's Home
At the end of 2016 our church congregation put together gift bags for all of the staff at Mokone Primary. These were received with much joy!
This year the Friday Numeracy team has gotten off to a great start. We have close to 20 volunteers most weeks. We are focusing on reinforcing the basics, as the children are very far behind where they should be. In addition, Leslie has continued teaching Life Orientation to Grade 7. So far, the children are eager to learn and grow.
We have recently put together a "Dream Team" for Mokone consisting of people who have been involved there for a number of years. The goal is to really seek God to determine how our congregation can have a maximum impact at the school. We feel like the biggest part of the battle is spiritual, so approaching everything in prayer will be the first step. We have had one Super Saturday at the school so far this year, and well over 100 children came. It was fairly chaotic, but the children had a lot of fun.
Pastor Julius, Irene and the children at Barcelona Children's Home are doing well. Several of the older children have gone to live with family members, but there are still 30 children living there. They are happy, healthy and flourishing.
James and William arrived together in mid-December after a somewhat adventurous travel experience. They got to spend the night in Addis Ababa due to a missed connection. We had a great time with them while they were here. They are both back in Virginia now, studying and working. William celebrated his 21st birthday last week!
The day after William left, Leslie went to South Carolina to spend some time with her parents as her father was recovering from hip replacement surgery. It was a real blessing to be able to spend time with them, and her Dad made a remarkably quick recovery.
Soon after her return a young man that we had known since he was about 10 died unexpectedly. Olwethu had been very involved with mission teams and holiday clubs, he had done the job readiness course and participated in the gap year program at Common Ground church. He had epilepsy, which was poorly controlled, and his death was the result of a seizure. He was 20. We had a memorial service for him, which helped his family understand how much he had impacted people around the world in spite of his challenging upbringing. In addition, the family invited us to attend a special "sending off" ceremony in Langa. It was a real privilege to be included in this event. We will miss Olwethu, but we are confident that he's with Jesus now and that his suffering is over.
Our church recently celebrated 20 years since its founding. It was amazing to look back at how much the Lord has done in such a short time. It started with 50 people and is now 4000 people in 9 congregations. As part of the celebration the church vision for the next 5 years is to give 5 "gifts" to the city: to multiply Christ followers, multiply congregations, multiply compassion and justice, multiply cultural renewal, and multiply church strengthening. What an incredible vision!
This past week Tim participated in the Advance Africa conference. Our church is part of the Advance Church Planting Network, and this was their annual conference. It was an excellent and inspiring event.
With all of the turmoil in the country and the world, it is easy to be anxious. Jesus reminds us in John 14:27, "Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." In the midst of everything, we always have so much for which to be thankful. Thank you for the part you play in keeping the gospel moving forward in Cape Town. May God bless you.