Many One Challenge youth ministry workers are excited to be back to face-to-face ministry. They are wholeheartedly celebrating that God has opened those doors.
After a long year of virtual meetings, lockdown levels eased up in South Africa at the end of 2020, and Paul and Barbara were able to have the Zandspruit youth group gather at their home for a year-end youth celebration.
Now, they are still able to meet. Although restrictions limit gatherings to 50 attendees, the youth group is limited to 45 people, so everyone can participate in one group.
“It felt great to get into the car with Paul and drive the 30 minutes out to the informal settlement again, but it was a challenge!” Barbara says. “The roads have not been maintained in the past year. There were deep potholes that people had filled with all sorts of rubbish, such as cans and plastic containers, to drive over. We were glad we took a car that has big strong tires!”
Joy radiated throughout the in-person gathering.
“Paul and I smiled as we walked up to the meeting hall, hearing the beautiful sound of voices singing in multiple harmonies that is unlike any we’ve heard anywhere else in the world,” Barbara says. “They all greeted us warmly with elbow bumps (COVID hugs) and big smiling eyes above their masks. We played a game, shared the Word, caught up on their news, and ended the time handing out ice cream bars and the latest devotional booklets for each of them. So much joy!”
Challenges of the “Future”
Many of the youth have passed grade 12, which means the next steps are important and not an easy road. “School provides focus and purpose; getting into a university or getting a job is difficult and can leave many discouraged and demoralized,” Barbara says.
The challenges of the next steps may be very unfamiliar in the Western world.
“Nomsa, one of the girls who I have worked with for the past three years, completed high school with a bachelor’s degree pass – the best kind!” Barbara says. “However, she initially had a problem with her birth certificate that was making it difficult for her to qualify for the government scholarship. Praise the Lord, she was able to sort out the issue and got into a small university doing an accounting degree! She got a bursary (a scholarship) for the fees too! We are so proud of her.”
Nomsa (pictured) will be returning as a volunteer to the youth group this year – giving back to the group that gave to her.
In May, the larger community experienced a great tragedy. Nine young men – who the leader of youth group, Nhlanhla, knew – were killed in “mob justice” incident. Paul and Barbara spent a dedicated time in prayer with the youth.
“Paul decided to speak about the prayer Jesus gave his disciples. ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ We prayed the Lord’s Prayer. The kids shared their feelings. They studied the Word,” Barbara says. “As we closed, Paul anointed them all with oil, signing them with the cross, reminding each one that they belong to God and sending them out into the community to share His love.”
God’s love is needed in the greater community. These young adults are growing into being light and salt for Christ.
Pray with One Challenge
- Please pray for the youth ministry and for God’s guidance as Barbara and Paul try to be available to meet needs – spiritual and physical.
- Praise the Lord for all He has provided for the youth in Zandspruit!
- Praise the Lord that Nomsa is able to attend university and receive a scholarship!
- Pray for this community grieving the deaths of the nine young men.
- Pray the youth would be the light of Jesus Christ in their communities.