On the first full day of the 2020 residency, the residents and some staff members went to attend the Sunday service at Chosen Generation church and to hear the stories of Pastor Dumisani and his team. The residents were able to introduce themselves to the church and experience what was, for most of them, a very different style of worship then they are accustomed to in this small charismatic setting near Mandela Park in Khayelitsha township. The youth got up to sing, the preacher got up to sing, and intermittently throughout the service, the congregation burst into singing. The room was full of the Holy Spirit and smiles and hugs warmer than the summer air around us.
After the service, we gathered around and ate our vetkoeks (South African meat pies) as Pastor Dumisani shared Chosen Generation's “origin story”: How he would show up in rough parts of Khayelitsha with a soccer ball and get young men involved in gangs and other less-than-constructive past times to literally lay their weapons down to come play soccer together. He did this for weeks, building rapport and a safe atmosphere until finally bringing a Bible and sitting down with them to begin a Bible study. “Some of them ran the other way and some of them stayed. That was the beginning of the church,” Dumisani said with a smile.
Dumisani is passionate about creating a space where all kinds of people coming from difficult backgrounds can come and not be judged. “I told them they could take off their masks and even ask the difficult questions here,” he said. He felt called to make a place where his community members could belong before they believe and slowly get to know Jesus and what he means to them. This includes community members like Honey, who had been a drug-dealer and gangster, in and out of prison for years at a young age. Honey found sanctuary in Dumisani’s church. Now he is preaching in Chosen Generation and other churches, sharing his testimony, and even being published in books and magazines.
Previous residents Siyabulela (Steve) and Stix (Azola) are among the young men impacted by Dumisani’s soccer club, as well as Ananda, who was present at our conversation on Sunday. Ananda shared how his life was changed the day he began playing soccer with Dumisani’s group and even more so when he decided to believe in Jesus. Ananda is now the one leading those soccer groups and Bible studies as Dumisani leads the church and disciples other leaders.
Steve grew up at Chosen Generation and then participated in East Mountain residency in 2017 and 2018. He now mentors boys at one of our other partnerships, a high school called Calling Academy, where he is a soccer coach and teacher’s aid.
Stix was mentored by Dumisani for a long time before finally becoming a believer shortly before coming to residency in 2019. Stix grew astronomically throughout the year to the point that he has begun returning to Chosen Generation church to preach occasionally. At the end of the year after sitting in the congregation and watching Stix deliver an impassioned sermon on unity from Ephesians, Dumisani stood up with a look of amazement on his face and hugged Stix and asked, “Is this the same young man we sent to East Mountain at the beginning of the year?” His growth was a beautiful picture of different mentors doing sowing, watering, and pruning with a willing heart from Stix, and ultimately God doing the cultivation as part of his larger kingdom plan. Stix now works for a coffee company in the hopes of eventually starting his own coffee business/ ministry.
East Mountain South Africa sees it as a privilege to play a small part in the growth of young leaders like those that God is raising up, often out of brokenness and difficulty, at Chosen Generation.