Living Social Justice

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

Archive for the tag “homeless”

Volunteer Q&A: U-turn

One Common Grounder shares her experience of volunteering at U-turn, a Common Good partner organisation which works alongside people living on the streets.

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Full name: Catherine Hannington

Congregation: Rondebosch PM

Occupation: I have just finished studying law and I am taking a gap year to do volunteer work.

Tell us a bit about what you do at U-turn.

U-turn runs a weekly Bible study for women who live on the street.  I meet with a group of about eight women and we have a time of fellowship, worship and teaching.

When do you go and for how long?

The Bible study takes place every Thursday at 11am and runs for about an hour and a half.  I meet with two women who work for U-turn to prepare on a Wednesday.

What drew you towards volunteering in this specific way?

If one looks at Jesus’ ministry on earth He was always found amongst the broken and hurting people.  In Luke 4 v 18 Jesus reads out the scroll of the prophet Isaiah that says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He anointed me to preach the good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed”.  1 John 2 v 6 says that “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did”.  I really just felt as I read the Bible that if I wanted to draw closer to Jesus, I needed to spend time with the poor.  I really felt that God wanted me to make it a regular part of my life.  I chose to help people living on the street specifically as I drive past them every day and I wanted the opportunity to make a difference in their lives.

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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.

Street and Shelter: Raising the Roof

The worship and prayer meeting at the Wynberg Haven Night Shelter

By Jake Waldron

Once a week a group of us head down to the Wynberg Haven Night Shelter for an hour to hang out with the people there and teach them about Jesus. In our weeks there we’ve made friends with many of the guys and shared in their struggles.

We rotate between Bible study, tough questions, worship, and a quiz night each week, so that we have something prepared. A few weeks ago we brought our guitars for our customary, once-every-four- weeks, worship/prayer session. I always look forward to these weeks, but I’m biased because I get to play guitar and sing.

Jake heading up worship on his guitar

We arrived at the shelter at 6:30 and walked into the communal hall, greeting all the familiar faces and finding out how their weeks had been. After we’d sufficiently greeted everyone, we set up the chairs in a circle and all sat down to enjoy some time with Jesus. We started playing through the songs we had prepared, and as the numbers grew, so did the noise factor.

Eventually, by the third song, people were singing at the top of their lungs, stamping their feet and slapping their chairs in time to the music. I looked around me and saw the joy on everybody’s faces as they were singing their hearts out. It was truly a moment so full of the Holy Spirit, and I felt like Jesus was there singing, stamping, and slapping chairs as well. Eventually, the manager of the shelter has to ask us to start winding down because we had been going for an hour and a half.

One of the following weeks we went back for a Bible study. After the session one of the guys, Mustafa, told us that he wanted to give his life to Jesus. Sam and I prayed for him and you could just see the love that Jesus had for this man.

We are all so honoured to be a part of what God is doing in these people’s lives, and we are so grateful that He’s trusted us with showing them the love that He has for them. It is amazing to see God working in everyone who’s been a part of this, volunteers and shelter residents alike. We are so excited to see Him do more.

– Jake is a video editor and is a member of the Common Ground Rondebosch PM congregation

Do you have a heart for people living on the streets or in a shelter? The Street and Shelter Ministry is a great way to meet people from various walks of life and serve in a team of like-minded (and -hearted!) people. Email info@commongood.org.za to find out more. 

A heart for the homeless

Richard Bolland gives us an update on the Street and Shelter ministry!

Solomon, Marquez and Mashudu at their baptism last year

Over the past year, the Street and Shelter Ministry has experienced an amazing journey filled with both heartache and extreme joy. One of our closest friends, Graham, passed away while living on the streets; we temporarily withdrew our ministry from Kensington Night Shelter and the streets of Mowbray; we journeyed with our friend Mashudu through a retrenchment and then rejoiced with him when he found new employment; and we developed a growing relationship with Wynberg Night Shelter.

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