Living Social Justice

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

Archive for the tag “Cape Town”

3 Leadership Couples on Christmas

What does the festive season mean to you? We asked three couples to share how they’re celebrating.

269691_2000666748313_6566034_nAndre and Sabrina Ntambwe – from Common Ground Church Wynberg

How and where are you spending Christmas this year?

We will celebrate this Christmas in Lusaka, Zambia, with my (Andre’s) mom and other siblings. It’s the first Christmas with my mom and other siblings in many years, so it’s going to be very emotional. We celebrate Christmas by exchanging gifts and we invite those without family to join us for lunch because we believe that Christmas is a good opportunity for us to show love to those who desperately need it. Traditionally, I remember as a young boy that my parents would use Christmas as an opportunity for family reunion and reconciliation. Lots of people in my country view Christmas as the opportunity to reconcile with friends or family and show love to those who have no parents.

What does Christmas mean to you?

Whenever we hear the word Christmas what comes to mind is God’s provision, generosity and His unconditional love. Why provision? Because there was no other way for humankind to reconcile with God after the fall if not through the birth of Christ – His life, death and resurrection. Why generosity? Because God gave us Jesus as a free gift that we did not deserve. Why unconditional love? Because we bring nothing to the table but our sins. So for us whenever the word Christmas is mentioned we don’t just see a baby being born, we see God’s generosity and His free gift of salvation.

Do you have anything planned to make this Christmas more meaningful?

Yes! We bought a couple of Give Hope cards from Common Good for our friends in Lusaka. We have also bought gifts for three kids we know who have no parents. We will have lunch with them at my mom’s place and celebrate with them.

Andre and Sabrina serve on the leadership team of Common Ground Church Wynberg. They have two young sons.

George and Bev-001George and Bev Draper – from Common Ground Church Bosch AM

How would you sum up the meaning of Christmas?

The basis on which we approach Christmas is epitomised in Isaiah 9:6 – ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’. This helps to explain God as we have experienced him as Spirit, Father and Saviour. While as family we may worship in separate communities and in different ways, as Christ-followers we stand agreed on this truth that Christmas is a time for spiritual affirmation and celebration.

Are there any traditions you follow at Christmas time?

We spend Christmas Eve together as a family because we are all involved in church on Christmas day in our various places of worship. We take time to go around the table taking turns to affirm one another. The Christmas season is also a time of a break for us when we can catch up and spend time with friends. We have in the past, and plan to this year, open our home on Christmas day to others who may not have family to eat and hang out with.

George and Bev serve on the leadership team of Common Ground Church Bosch AM. They are both medical doctors.

945890_10151360259466829_1277224157_nIan and Tammy Teague – from Common Ground Church Bosch PM

What is at the heart of Christmas day for you?

To us, Christmas is a time to celebrate the greatest gift – Jesus coming to the world to save us. This is something we are constantly grateful for but at this time of the year it’s wonderful to celebrate this with our family and community. It’s also a time to reflect on our other blessings like our family and friends, and make an effort to show them how much they mean to us.

How are you planning to spend Christmas this year as newlyweds?

We’ll be spending our first Christmas together in our home in Cape Town and we’ll have Ian’s family staying with us. We love this time of the year and will be doing the usual Christmas activities – putting up our first Christmas tree, baking mince pies and spending time with family and friends. We want to make sure that Christmas becomes a time of reflection, rest and fun in our family.

We’re looking forward to doing some reading together on Christmas Eve. We’ll look at the Scriptures that point towards Jesus’ coming and the story of His arrival. Sometimes we need reminding of how absolutely amazing that night was. We can’t wait for the Christmas morning service at Common Ground Church and our present-opening and Christmas lunch that will follow.

Ian and Tammy serve on the leadership team of Common Ground Bosch PM. They got married earlier this year. 

What does Christmas mean to you? Do you have any ideas of how to make it more meaningful?

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Show loveFind out more about our ‘Show Love This Christmas’ campaign for ideas on how you can make a difference this Christmas.


Let’s Care for Carers this Christmas

Tinsel in shop windows is just one tell tale sign that the festive season is upon us, but what if this year we took the focus off all the sparkly stuff and celebrated the people Jesus would want us to celebrate?

Carers - March '11 007

A carer from Westlake United Church Trust making a home visit to a client

The World makes much of the rich and famous, celebrating success, excess and triviality, but as Christ-followers, we need to ask, “Who would Jesus be hailing as the real heroes?”

Across Cape Town there are thousands of men and women who devote their lives to caring for the vulnerable, the elderly and the sick. What better way to celebrate Christ’s birth then by celebrating these unsung heroes who serve those in need in our City so sacrificially every day? 

On Saturday, 23 November, Common Ground Church will host our third annual Care for the Carer event. At the event 150 caregivers will be honoured and treated to inspirational talks, delicious snacks, gifts and entertainment.

Carers and volunteers at last year's event strike a pose in the fun photo booth

Carers and volunteers at last year’s event strike a pose in the fun photo booth

“This one pamper day means more to me than words could ever describe – I now know that I’m loved and cared for, and what I do as a carer is appreciated and noticed. I’m also so deeply moved to know that people from Common Ground Church are thinking of and praying for me,” says Veronica Weiers, a carer who has attended our two previous Care for the Carer events and who will be pampered at this year’s event again.

There are two main ways you can support this event:

1. Team up with your small group and purchase a gift bag for R120.

This will cover the cost for a carer to attend the event. Inside the bag, you’ll find the profile of your carer to help you pray for them, write them an encouraging card, and fill their gift bag with treats to the value of R100.

Your small group should be discussing the Care for the Carer gift bags this week, so why not chat to your small group leader or champ about how you can help get your group involved?

If you are stirred to purchase a separate bag from your small group, speak to your champ and visit the Common Ground Involvement Desk after the service on Sunday. All bags need to be returned to the Common Good involvement desk on Sun, 17 November.

2. You can also sign up to volunteer at the event.

You will need to be available to serve on Saturday, 23 November, from 10h00 to 12h30. You can volunteer as a member of the events team, as a table host, or as a driver (to transport carers to and from the venue).

Sign up at the Common Good Involvement Desk on Sunday, 3 November, or email us.

This is such a great way to serve those who give their lives in service to others.

Have you watched the Care for the Carer video?

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Show loveShow Love This Christmas

Care for the Carer is just one way to get involved in our ‘Show Love’ campaign! You can also purchase Give Hope gift cards which will support various Common Good initiatives.

These cards will be on sale at the Common Good Involvement Desk after Sunday meetings or from the Common Ground cafe during the week. For other ideas, pick up our Christmas PlugIn Sheet from the Common Good Involvement Desk. More updates to come!

Care For The Teacher

For one afternoon on Thursday, 19 September, we swopped blackboards and marking pens for cupcakes and goodie bags to let the teachers at Garlandale Primary School know just how appreciated they are.

Teachers from Garlandale Primary and volunteers dress up for the photo booth

Teachers from Garlandale Primary and volunteers dress up for the photo booth

Without the teachers who guided us through our formative years, many of us wouldn’t be where we are today. Yet, sadly, teachers in South Africa often don’t get the recognition they deserve for the crucial work that they do, frequently under tough circumstances with limited resources at their disposal.

The teachers at Garlandale Primary School in Athlone, Cape Town, face numerous daily obstacles in educating their students, yet they remain dedicated to their task. With the end of the year approaching, we thought it was high time they took took a moment to relax and be pampered.

So the day before third term break-up, members of the Common Ground Rondebosch AM congregation gave over 20 teachers and governing body members from Garlandale a welcome respite from the admin of report-writing, Annual National Assessments, and general term-end craziness with an afternoon of entertainment and encouragement.


Garlandale teachers enjoying the afternoon

“Seeing two geographically close and yet socially very different groups of people all packed into a room and having a heap of fun together was such a heartwarming and encouraging experience,” said Ryan TerMorshuizen, lead pastor of the Common Ground Rondebosch AM congregation. “I know that the partnership is just starting but this event was a real launching pad for our relationships!”


“Care for the Teacher was an opportunity for our staff to move out of the perceived fear of forming new relationships outside of what you would normally, only to discover that all people are the same.” said Mr Fortune, the Garlandale Primary School principal.

The afternoon included singing by Charne and Kat from the Common Ground worship team, some fun input from Common Ground pastor Brad Anderson, and a message of heartwarming encouragement from Pam Berry.

“It was the most fun I’ve had in ages!” said one Garlandale teacher.

A team of volunteers from Rondebosch AM set up the venue, volunteers baked over 70 cupcakes and the Ladies Bible Study put together goodie bags to make sure that the teachers felt truly spoilt.


Pam Berry, Bev Draper and Delia Groenmeyer from Common Ground Church

“Since Care for the Teacher, coming to Garlandale is different,” said Bev Draper. “When meeting with staff in the corridors there’s a whole new level of connectedness. Now we know one another’s names and faces,”

Thank you to everyone who gave generously of their time and resources to make this event a success!

Literacy Feedback: Amy Learns Spanish

Most of us can recall a favourite book from our childhood that we just couldn’t put down. Sue Taylor, a Literacy Programme manager, shares what happened when one little girl found hers.

Chloe poses proudly with her English/Spanish book

Amy* poses proudly with her English/Spanish book

With great excitement, Amy* leaped out of her chair at the end of Literacy class to go and choose her very first ‘Take Home’ book. The learners were thrilled when they arrived at class to discover that we finally had library books that they could take home to read with their families. And that every time they returned them, they could take out another one. What a treat!

Most of our children in the Literacy Programme have no books at home at all, but thanks to a generous donation we’re now able to provide books for them to take home.

Amy came back with a book that had her intrigued. Every page had a tag at the bottom and when she pulled it down it revealed words she had never seen before. I worried that these new words would confuse her, but she was adamant that this was the book for her. So, we had a look.

She read out the word “hello” and then, when the tag was pulled down, sounded out the word “hola“. And again, once she read “goodbye,” she pulled the tag down to reveal the word “adios“. “What is this?” she asked and I explained that the book was written in both English and Spanish and that she had just read two Spanish words.

Her eyes grew wide and a huge grin spread across her face as I explained that because she was now reading she could even learn another  language.The penny dropped in that little head at that moment as she realised that reading opens doors to anything you want to learn about. in my family we call that a ‘Red Bull’ day – learning had taken wings!

Thank you to everyone who has supported the Literacy Programme either with their time or with a donation. You have helped open up new horizons for the students in the programme.

Muchas gracias, as Amy would say 😉

Keen to find out more? Email us for details on how you can get involved with the Literacy Programme at schools in various areas around Cape Town. 

*Name has been changed

My Live Under The Line Diary

The final day of the Live Under The Line challenge is drawing to a close, but as many of us contemplate our first ‘above the line’ meal in days, Phil Olckers reflects on his three-day experience.

"It just hit me how blessed I really am"

“It just hit me how blessed I really am”

So Monday morning started a little crazy for me. The Live Under The Line challenge kind of slipped my mind a little bit over the weekend, and after church on Sunday evening it was too late, and I was too lazy, to go and do my grocery shopping. I woke up Monday pretty hungry, about to smash a bowl of Pronutro and coffee as I often do on a Monday morning, but then I remembered I was supposed to be “Living Under The Line,” so a glass of water had to do the trick. (Thank God for clean running tap water!) And off I went to start the day.

I had a really busy morning at work so only got around to go shopping at about 10:30ish. By then I was starving and very tempted to call it all off. But the fact that I had committed to speaking in front of church kept me going. I can’t lie, that was the only reason. So after quite a few calculations, I managed to work out a perfectly good LUTL diet for the next three days.

I carefully picked three decent-sized bananas. Usually I’d just go for the best looking ones, but now I had to try keep this cheap, so had to take size into consideration here. Then a loaf of un-sliced freshly baked bread. It was  the cheapest option, but  turned out to be the best (the bread is AMAZING!) A jar of peanut butter, which luckily for me was on promotion, so I scored R3 leftover, and oats for breakfast. My menu then became oats for breakfast, peanut butter and bread for lunch and dinner, and a banana as a snack.

Day 1

I struggled. My body was a bit man down from a general flu-ish feeling. But I had committed so I didn’t give in. I did a 12km run after work – I really enjoy training and staying fit – but I was seriously craving a full meal afterwards with a proper portion of meat. But two slices of bread had to do the trick and off I went to a farewell where everyone was eating food and drinking beer – I had my water. Live Under The Line was a great conversation starter and got a lot of people thinking and inspired, so I’m glad I stuck out day one.

Day 2

My mind was now in the game. I was so ready for day two. I mean it’s actually a lot to eat considering people who really live under the line. Got to work and when I reached over to get my packet of lunch for the day, the horror hit. I forgot it at home. Noooo. Luckily, I had spare oats at work and the R3 I saved thanks to the peanut butter promotion, so a R3 delicious roll from Spar served me for lunch.

Was still feeling flu-ish though, so I bought some Corenza-C and a Lucozade. I debated for a while whether I could buy these, but the whole point of LUTL for me is the change it brings to my heart, and so I decided to take the “stay healthy” route. This challenge made me realise how expensive even just your basic everyday medicine is – in one day I blew five days worth of budget for about three days worth of medicine. to treat a common cold.

Did another run, so I really needed that Lucozade energy. This made me realise that I wouldn’t be able to keep up my training program if I was living on R10 a day. Even after just two days I could feel my energy decreased significantly.

Day 3

It’s my birthday today so saying no to cake is going to be difficult. I bought a cake for all my colleagues at work, so I get to watch them enjoy it – not looking forward to that! But, hey, hopefully it opens up some more awesome conversations.

Went swimming at 6am, and after that my girlfriend gave me my birthday present and wanted to surprise me with a smoothie. I then remembered I was LUTL’ing… But… I can’t lie, I cheated, I let her buy me one. It’s my birthday – I’m allowed a treat, right? Besides, my R10 diet isn’t really helping me stay energised with my training program, so I really needed it this morning. I will do my best to stick to it for the rest of the day, but the temptation to quit and enjoy birthday treats is really getting to me.

Final thoughts

This year, LUTL has been a good one for my heart. The first time I did it in 2011 I was really excited and on such a buzz afterwards, phoning Common Good peeps and wanting to give, give, give. But that disappeared after a month. During last year’s LUTL challenge I just wanted to get it over and done with. I got a little bit annoyed with it and it didn’t really do much for me. But this year, LUTL really got me thinking.

I walked past a beggar yesterday. I had a wallet full of money and could have easily given him some food, but I just though about my own stomach and shrugged him off. I’m not changing over night, but this year the challenge is really causing me to ask God to help change the way I view all the things I have and earn in this life. I’m also asking God to reveal to me how I can give more effectively and allow him into that part of my life.

For now I’m just grateful for all that I have, but I’m really praying for God to help me become more gracious and joyful with my giving. It’s a slow process but at least the praying for that has started now.

– Phil is a Sound Engineer. He works at a film company in Cape Town doing Sound Design and Final Mixing for feature films. He is part of the Common Ground Constantiaberg PM community.

P.S. Other great LUTL reads: “What It Felt Like To Be Homeless” by Richard Bolland, and “Why My Family Is Going Hungry” by Julie Williams

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