Living Social Justice

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

Archive for the month “December, 2012”

We’re taking a break!

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We’re taking a short break from blogging over the holidays, but we will be back online from Thurs, 10 Jan, with fresh stories and inspiration to kick off 2013.

Our office will also be closed from Friday, 21 Dec until Wed, 2 Jan, so if we’re not responding to your calls or emails it’s not because we’ve forgotten about you. We promise!

We hope you have a  wonderful Christmas holiday and return in the new year rested and ready for all that God has in store for 2013.

Bags of Love delivered to Sisters Inc!

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You might be wondering what happened when the Bags of Love got delivered? Here’s what one volunteer, Sue Powell, witnessed…

One of the most defining characteristics of a child is their uninhibited expression of emotions.  While this can be a temper tantrum of sheer frustration, I was privileged enough to watch the absolute joy and unrestrained delight on the faces of some little children at Sisters Incorporated.

Sisters Inc is a place of safety for moms and kids who are trying to change their lives and escape from challenging, tempting or dangerous situations.  A small Christmas party was held for these moms and kids, and ‘Bags of Love’ were given to each child.  These bags have been filled by people who have taken the time, money and effort to bless those less fortunate than themselves during the festive season.

As these bags were handed out, I found myself speechless as I watched the blatant pleasure clearly evident on so many faces.  One little boy pulled a ball out of his bag, and just stood there throwing it up in the air and catching it – a huge smile on his face.  Another was on his hands and knees driving his car all over the floor.  I can hardly describe his pleasure as he pulled it back and realized that the car could drive on its own!  Another little girl was having fun ‘dressing up’ as she pulled out a little pink T-shirt, pink slip slops and a sun hat.  All gifts were considered with so much delight and packed in and out of their bags many, many times.  Each child wanted to show off their stash and many of them came to show me what was in their gift bags with infectious delight!

The moms were delighted at their children’s joy.  Many of these ladies have enough of a financial struggle to survive, and seldom get the opportunity to spoil their children.  They were so grateful that someone had made the effort to make sure that their children experienced some of the joy common to so many kids all over the world on Christmas morning.

Sometimes, in the rush of end of term and the chaos of the shops, it seems an effort to go and find another special present for a Bag of Love or Santa’s shoebox.  But next year will be different for me – I’ll be able to picture those little faces and the absolute delight so evident there!  I’ll remember the appreciation of their moms, who knew that they couldn’t provide those gifts themselves and were so grateful that someone else had blessed their child.  And for this year, this scene of delight is also a reminder of the completely undeserved gift that we received many years ago – a gift that we didn’t earn, and couldn’t possibly buy for ourselves, but one that God in His mercy and love provided for us.  I’m sure that my Christmas will be richer this year with this fresh reminder of how the birth of Jesus is our unexpected and undeserved ‘Bag of Love’.

– Sue is part of a team of women from Common Ground Church who conduct a bible study with the ladies at Sisters Inc every week.  As a mom of two little boys, she can relate to the moms at Sisters Inc and understands their desire to do, and to be, the best that they can for their kids.

What We’re Grateful For…

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Last week, we spent some time as a team finishing this very simple sentence…

I’m so grateful for…

“….the number of people who have come through NETwork’s job readiness programme and who have been transformed by the gospel in the process. And for the number of employment opportunities that God has opened up through NETwork. After this year, I am so aware that God is able to do anything!” – Andre Ntambwe, NETwork founder

“… the team of people we get to work with. It’s an incredible group of men and women who know God and are servant-hearted and dedicated to seeing God’s kingdom come to earth.” – Anneli Lenhardt, Common Good Programme Manager

“…the hearts that have been changed this year. From all the conversations that I’ve had with people – from Common Grounders to Champs – there’s been such a heart-shift. And for all the people who have used their skills to serve and make things better.” – Nathalie Koenig, Common Good Programme Coordinator

“…my friendships with all my colleagues and for the relationships I have built with the students at NETwork. Just being able to learn from them and to hear their stories has been amazing. Hearing so many students testimonies of answers to prayers for jobs has been so encouraging!”-  Ncumisa Ngcaweni-Walker, NETwork trainer

Read more…

The Day We Built a Monument

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Last week, the NETwork and Common Good teams gathered together for a thanksgiving lunch and spent some time sharing all the things we’re grateful to God for this year –  it was a long list! Here’s a summary of the devotional message Sarah Binos, our executive director, shared with us.

First read Joshua 4:1-9

1. “When all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan” (Joshua 4:1): Israel was now on the other side of the Jordan – in the Promised Land.  But what is life in the Promised Land like?  Is it one glorious vacation time after another?  No! For Israel it was a place of battle, but most of all, it was a place of trust. They knew they had to trust God with every thing they had, because the challenges only got bigger in the Promised Land – but so did the blessings.

Most of us would have wanted to rush on through and take care of Jericho – why not take advantage of the time when they are all afraid of you?  But God is never in a hurry; and He knows that beyond us doing something, we must be something for Him. So He takes time out to conquer Israel spiritually before they can conquer Jericho under His guidance.

2. “Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm” (Joshua 4:3): Each tribe was to send a representative to take a stone – undoubtedly a large one – from the dry river bed where Israel had crossed over, so the stones could be set up as a memorial.

3. “That this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come” (Joshua 4:6): The purpose of this memorial was so that the people of Israel could teach their children about the great things God had done, so that the work of God would not be forgotten among the generations.

We often fail in our trust of God because we forget the great things He has done, and often the faith of our children is weak because they have never been told how great God is and how real His working is in our lives.

4. “Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan” (Joshua 4:9): Joshua also set up a pile of memorial stones in the very bed of the river Jordan, so that when it was lowered in a season of drought, those stones could be seen and would testify of the time that God had completely dried up the Jordan. Especially in a time of drought, we need to remember the great things God has done.

It’s so important that like Joshua we create monuments that remind us regularly of what God has done through us and of his goodness. Crossing into this next year, we’re going to face bigger challenges and secure bigger victories as God continues to refine us and transform us. Let’s take a moment now, before the next year begins, to identify what our ‘stones of gratitude’ are so that we may remember God’s faithfulness going forward.

Later this week, we’ll post some of the messages of gratitude we wrote down during our team lunch and stacked as a monument to God’s goodness this year. We hope this has inspired you to take a moment to thank God – and build a mini-monument while you’re at it 🙂

(Photography by Sjoerd Mouissie, via Flickr.com)

How The Hospital Ministry Changed My Life

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“Hospital Ministry has opened my heart to Jesus much more than I believed it ever could be. It has given me the strength to believe in myself. It has inspired me to read the Gospels, and has brought me peace and calmness in my heart knowing God will be there for me today and tomorrow. It has made the Gospel alive to me, showing me how God is working in my own life and how the Bible relates to my life. I am so excited for my new life with Jesus.”

– John* is a  33-year-old ex-Heroin addict who arrived at Booth Memorial Hospital about 9 weeks ago with septicemia all over his legs after spending months on the streets. John is HIV+ and his leg has been permanently damaged by the septicemia meaning that he will most likely never walk properly again.

But if you spend just a few minutes with him, you will see a life that has been radically touched by the Gospel. Spend a few minutes praying with him and you will know without a doubt that this man has a deep love for and a very real relationship with Jesus.

John has no idea where he is going next but he has unwavering faith and trust that God is going before him and God is going with him, and that no matter where he lands up, he knows that God will protect him and provide for him.

Love from the Hospital Ministry team

– The Hospital Ministry meets on Thursdays from 18:40 to 20:00 at Booth Memorial Hospital in Oranjezicht, Cape Town. If you’re interested in joining them, email info@commongood.org.za

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