East Mountain South Africa has never sought to force new trails or impose our customs on people, but to come alongside partner organisations in our region who are doing God’s work and could be benefited by our leadership development program. From our soccer academy boys getting into a high school we partner with to leaders of Her Voice bringing non-profits together to form Stellenbosch Unite, one theme we have been delighted to see this year is how many of our partners have been collaborating with each other.
A strong partnership between the pastors and the congregations of Stellenbosch Baptist Church and Kayamandi Baptist Church has enabled SBC to learn and grow from the influence of their sister church. This connection has also meant that SBC was able to connect with residents in Kayamandi township to help during this pandemic and economic crisis in South Africa. East Mountain staff Mark and Marcie Harris were excited to be able to participate by helping with food parcel delivery programs to show care for their neighbours.
Shortly after the initial announcement of lockdown, the leaders of Her Voice, our partner in Kayamandi township that supports pregnant women and moms, formed a crisis care team, partnering with over ten other NGOs and churches all across Stellenbosch. They moved forward with an initiative to provide basic essentials and care for those in Kayamandi and Cloetesville. Hundreds of donations came flooding in as soon as the news went out. Around ten thousand fliers with information on the virus in Xhosa, English, and Afrikaans were distributed across town to inform people. The various communities of differing ethnic groups and socioeconomic classes represented in Stellenbosch united in an unprecedented way this past week before the lockdown. So many people who have never interacted with one another before strived to be the hands and feet of Jesus to their neighbours. Out of a time of fear and uncertainty came generosity, love, and kindness. In a space that could easily be filled with fear and shutting down, many have courageously chosen to love and to serve.
One of our staff members, Lindsay Shifflet, has been working closely with Her Voice over the past few years. Her involvement has grown over time as Her Voice has grown, and now she has the chance to help with the monthly newsletter and mentoring the ladies who are leading their own small groups throughout Kayamandi. Lindsay has also had the chance this year to work with the ZOE Project in Retreat. This ministry serves pregnant ladies and new moms with various services, including free counselling. ZOE has a partnership with Her Voice, and has been working alongside the another partner, the Ubomi Project part to help provide training for new doulas. It has truly been a privilege to work alongside so many amazing women in such compassionate ministries striving to empower women who will, in turn, change their communities, the lives of the children they raise, and ultimately the future of South Africa.
Training 4 ChangeS, the soccer academy where several of our staff and former residents have helped with coaching and academic tutoring, has been dropping off food and other necessities with the families of their boys every month. Resident and Staff Members, Sarah and Caleb Duttweiler have been able to provide 4-week lesson activity bundles to send with these parcels every month for boys to continue learning despite not being able to go to school and, in many cases, falling behind as other class mates are able to continue learning online. Last month we celebrated a huge win for East Mountain partnerships when all of their soon-to-be grade 8 boys were officially accepted into Calling Education, a high-performing Christian high school that is also one of East Mountain’s partners. East Mountain has often sent residents and staff to volunteer leading mentor/connect groups with high school boys at Calling Academy. We hope this is the beginning of a strong bond between two great organisations that we support!
We have also seen other connections, such as Trinity and other REACH denomination churches working to support Grace2Learn, Trinity Children’s Centre and other ministries to the Cape Flats that we parter with as our residents attend a weekly REACH theology class.
As we take a step back and look at the spaghetti bowl of ministries in the Western Cape that we are involved with, we can’t help but see glimpses of God’s master plan working in and through all of these individuals and groups for a common goal of his Kingdom!