Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Taking the Time to Stop

Phil Olckers shares a recent roadside experience that deeply impacted him.

The other day while driving home from work I noticed a lady on the side of the road selling fly nets and collecting rubbish. She had a little boy with her who was entertaining himself by playing with a soft rugby ball. I couldn’t just drive on. I felt I had to at least buy them some food.

So I stopped and bought them some food, including a treat or two for the little boy. I then spent a half an hour just playing a bit of “rugby” with the boy on the side of the road on a little grass patch. I asked his mom where his dad was and she said that he had passed away a while ago.

I asked her if her son went to school, and she told me that he was going the following year as he was still too young. When I left, my heart just broke knowing that this kid had to grow up without a father, and realising how much this could have an effect on the man he becomes one day.

The little boy quickly picked up on my way of playing and what I found funny, and he immediately started doing things to try get me to laugh. Whenever I tried to leave he would do a funny laugh or fall over as a way of trying to make me stay. It made saying goodbye really hard.

I could see how much energy he was putting into trying to impress me and I wondered what would happen if he started to try to impress the wrong people by doing the wrong things.

What children in this world need are real genuine men who can lead and encourage them. I know that I don’t have everything sorted out , but I do know that I have God in my life who is the ultimate leader, and He changes my heart and helps me become more of a man everyday. While playing with this little boy I realised that I want to be an example of God’s father-heart to children who don’t have a good father-figure in their lives.

From this experience, I realised that I wanted to get involved somewhere where I could go at least once a week and really get a chance to build into these kids lives by listening to their stories, encouraging them, and talking through life’s issues with them as they grow up. And, hopefully, when they’re old enough they can be leaders to the next generation.

-Phil is a member of the Common Ground Church South AM congregation. He’s currently researching ways of offering his time to mentor children from difficult backgrounds.

Do you have a story you’d like to share on our blog? Email

(Photography by Jon Mannion, via

Volunteer Q&A – Street & Shelter Ministry

Samantha, centre, with members of the Street & Shelter Ministry

Full name: Samantha Tobias

Congregation: Rondebosch PM

Occupation: Online Advertising

How long have you been a volunteer at the street and shelter ministry?

Nearly 2 years

When do you go and for how long?

We started off with a street ministry in February 2011. We had a group of four that would go out each Thursday evening with a meal. We would visit various parks and subways and eat, pray and chat with the homeless people living there. After a year of the street ministry and after helping to assist a few homeless friends in to various shelters, we decided to move the ministry to the Wynberg Haven night shelter. We have been doing the shelter ministry there for about 8 months now.

Can you explain what you do while you’re there?

We have a 4 week schedule set up. One week we have a Bible study, the next a worship session, the third week is a tough questions session and then we end off the month with a general knowledge quiz night, where the guys and girls stand a chance to win Checkers shopping vouchers. We usually start off and end with prayer, sometimes breaking off into pairs to pray into one another’s needs and the week ahead.

Can you tell us a bit about the shelter ministry?

The shelter ministry is really about a group of people gathering together to love other people.

The ministry is all about forming friendships and praying for one another. Often we’re there just to listen, sometimes to give advice but mostly to help point them towards the one who can ultimately help and save them.

What are some of the challenges of serving those living on the streets or in shelters?

Many of the people we have connected with are bound by addictions, mental illnesses or backgrounds that have hardened their hearts. I think one of the biggest challenges has been to listen to God’s discernment and wisdom in trying to best love the different people we meet. To have firm boundaries and speak truth into people’s lives, but let it be coated in love and grace.

What do you appreciate the most about volunteering with the ministry?

I appreciate the authenticity of most people we meet. Although many of them have had incredibly tough lives, they love Jesus in such a radical way that you can’t help but be humbled and inspired by their attitudes and authentic love for Christ.

If you’re keen to find out more about the Street & Shelter Ministry, visit their Facebook page here.

3 Documentaries Worth Watching

With the weather forecast for this weekend looking slightly soggy, we thought it would be a good time to recommend some of our favourite documentaries. Here you go:

1. The Age of Stupid
This ambitious documentary stars Pete Postlethwaite as an archivist in the devastated world of the future, asking the question: “Why didn’t we stop climate change when we still had the chance?” He looks back on footage of real people around the world in the years leading up to 2015 before runaway climate change took place.

2. God Grew Tired of Us
In 1987, Sudan’s Muslim government pronounced death to all males in the Christian south: 27,000 boys fled to Ethiopia on foot. In 1991, they were forced to flee to Kenya; 12,000 survived to live in a U.N. camp in Kakuma. The film follows three young men who repatriate to the U.S.

3. Born into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids
This is a 2004 documentary about the children of prostitutes in Sonagachi, Kolkata’s red light district. The widely acclaimed film won a string of accolades including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2004.

What’s your favourite documentary?

(Photo by Nina Leen, 1944. Via Cup of Jo)

Volunteer Q&A – Saturday School

Full name: Tom Modinger

Congregation: Common Ground Rondebosch AM

Occupation: Finance Manager

How long have you been a volunteer at Saturday School? Two months

When do you go and for how long? Every Saturday from 08:30 to 11:00

Can you explain what you do while you’re there? Help teach Maths for Grade 6 + 7 (Standard 4 + 5 for the older folk)

Can you tell us a bit about Litha Primary and why Saturday School is so necessary? The school has very limited resources but the kids are very enthusiastic and it is a pleasure teaching them.

What are some of the challenges you face in doing this kind of volunteering? Not all the kids are on the same educational level and it is difficult to keep the whole class, up to 40 kids, attention all the time.

What do you appreciate the most about volunteering at Saturday School? Trying to make a difference to someone’s future and seeing the kids enthusiasm to learn.

Every week, we’re going to be posting one volunteer’s experience on our blog. We’d love to hear about your stories or maybe you have questions for Tom – post them in the comments section below!

If you’re keen to find out more about Saturday School, email

Celebrating Cape Town’s Carers

If you’d peeked through the windows of the Common Ground Church venue in Rondebosch on Saturday, 15 September, you probably would’ve thought a grand celebration with a VIP-only invite list was in full swing – and you wouldn’t have been far from the truth! Although you probably wouldn’t have spotted the VIP’s at this event on the cover of any magazines that in no way detracts from their ‘Very Important’ status.

One hundred and sixty caregivers from six organisations across Cape Town gathered at our annual Care for the Carer event on Saturday, hosted by Common Ground Church. Every detail of the day – from the bouquets of spring flowers to the delicious sweet and savory snacks – was planned to make these men and women, who give so much of their lives to caring for Cape Town’s most vulnerable, feel spoiled and appreciated.

Entertainment included opera singer Glenville September, performances by Dance For All, and a marimba band from the Music Therapy Community Clinic, which got everyone swinging on the dance floor!

The carers also received words of heartfelt affirmation and encouragement from guest speakers Nathan Gernetsky, who serves on Common Ground Church’s Rondebosch AM leadership team, and Beverley Cortje-Alcock, who is a member of the Mayoral Committee of Cape Town.

It was a truly wonderful time where the unsung heroes of our city were reminded of just how valued and important they are to our society. Our hope is that they each walked away feeling truly loved and blessed by our community – and with bags full of goodies to continue their spoiling at home too, of course!

Thank you to all the Common Grounders who generously contributed to the great prize giveaways and the personalised goodie bags. We would also like to say a big thank you to the incredible team of 123 volunteers who helped drive, host, photograph and serve.

Organisations represented at the event were Living Hope, Little2Much, Izandla Zethemba, Christine Revell Children’s HomeWestlake United Church Trust, and Sisters Incorporated.

Visit our Facebook page here for more photos from the day! If you attended the event as a guest or as a volunteer, we would also love to hear your thoughts on the event. Post a comment below!

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