Former gangsters plant a church!

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” Isaiah 52:7

Getting started!

Vuyo sounded excited on the phone. “We’ve been given a building to start a church,” he said.

I was my usual skeptical self. This comes from years of seeing how mission organizations and missionaries in Africa have been manipulated, mislead, lied to, ripped-off and held hostage until they sign the mission buildings over to the locals.

The telephone conversation with Vuyo continued as he shared the location: Gugulethu. Gugulethu? To western ears, the word is merely an indecipherable tongue-twister. But to Africans, it’s code for “gangster land.” Translation: “It isn’t really your building, so how do you protect yourself—and not just your physical self, but also your financial self? What happens if you invest in repairs and then the owner suddenly wants you out? Who are you accountable to? Who do you expect to join the church? How can you meet in a dilapidated old building with broken windows, no electricity, toilets or water? Are you nuts?!”

My reactions may sound a bit rash, but in African missions, we quickly learn the difference between faith and idealism. Faith is God-given and God-nurtured. Idealism is often man-derived and ripe for exploitation. So, we rely on the Holy Spirit for discernment.

Testimony

Vuyo was a gangster and partner in crime with Gcinikhaya Makoma, whom I shot when he made up part of the attackers at the St James church massacre in 1993.

Vuyo ended up in prison after a foiled cash-in-transit heist. After five years of awaiting trial for numerous crimes, including robbery, theft and breaking and entering a domicile, he escaped and became a wanted fugitive.

When he was found, all the other charges against him were withdrawn. He was convicted of escaping from prison and sentenced to five years.

During his incarceration Vuyo came to faith in Jesus Christ and as they say, “The rest is history!”

In prison he met Steve, a notorious gang leader. We’ll hear about Steve’s turning to Christ soon, on our  missionaryinafrica’s podcast.

Our Stone Hill ministry has been the fortunate beneficiary of Vuyo and Steve’s ministry with each of them speaking at our camps and preaching at Sunday evening services. We’ve seen their practical love for their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and their fellow man. Their dedication to God’s Word and concern for the lost are amazing.

How could I not help with supporting a church plant in gangster land? Where else is a ministry to Christ more needed? And who else can even relate to these local street thugs, let alone minister to them?

Vuyo and Steve immediately got to work. First, the cleaning of the hall began. Sixty chairs were purchased for parishioners. The broken and non-existent hand basins and toilets were replaced. Running water was connected. A new stage, built. The broken doors and windows, replaced. All this over the past month.

The first service

When the first Gospel service took place, not everything was in order. But then, the Gospel of the Kingdom must go forth.

Ten people put their faith in Jesus Christ at the first service. Now, a month later, those 60 chairs are already too few!

No time is wasted in discipling the new converts. Meetings take place every evening and new converts are added daily. These are trained to tell others about their newfound faith and then report back, with the reactions and questions they receive incorporated into presentations to reach and teach new believers.

One day at the ministry, a demon-possessed woman, carrying a small child, was delivered from her tormentors; she turned in faith to Jesus Christ. The young child was also prayed over.

Later she testified to how peacefully her and her child now sleep at night; no more medicine from the witchdoctor and no more child screaming through the night.

Vision

Vuyo and Steve dream of running camps for their newly converted youth. This setting can provide them a respite from the exhausting distractions associated with normal living in a devastated community, such as gangsterism, drugs and illicit sex.

 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12

Charl van Wyk

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Living for Christ in a squatter camp – Part 2

Quote from Mabhuti in this Salt and Light radio interview: “In order to be able to tell people something and they understand. You first have to be what you say! So, you have to be an example! So if I tell people about the God and His Law, I have to submit under those Law.”

Listen to how the Gospel of the Kingdom changes lives!

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Her previous job entailed helping pastors…. fall

“Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9

We are told by theologians that Old Testament worship involved all five senses. I really appreciate in the Congolese churches the element of touch, which seems to be missing in many of our Western churches.

Men hold hands in friendship! Yes, that is pretty awkward if you’ve been brought up in the West!

Laying on of hands, if not done frivolously, meets a strong human need. Still, my friends in the United Kingdom tell me that they are not allowed to touch a child in the church’s children’s ministry. Even if the child has suffered an injury of some sort and is in need of comforting, the leaders may not pick them up and cuddle them. What an indictment of society and its inverted approach to corrective measures.

Oscar, a former Congolese award-winning soldier, joined the army for one reason: He lived in a gun-free zone – but he desperately wanted a gun!

I’m always fascinated by people who think that gun-free zones mean that nobody has guns. Wrong! The enforcers of the gun-free zone are always armed, and in most gun-free countries, this means the military and police. And citizens live in absolute fear of these all-too-often state-sanctioned gangsters!

Oscar needed a gun to murder his father, whom he hated! His father played no part in his life and wouldn’t pay for his education, even though he paid for international studies for the children of friends.

Long story short, Oscar came to faith in Christ. His father died a natural death and I even had the privilege of seeing them visiting together.

The power of the Gospel of the Kingdom changes lives!

Oscar went to Bible school and became one of the first missionaries sent out from the Congolese Come and See Church as a witness to the refugees in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was commissioned in the usual African manner: hands laid on him, lots of prayers and no funding.

Oscar’s wife, Mado, set up a small shop to help put food on the table of the growing family so that Oscar could dedicate his time to caring for the flock. South Africa’s crime rate is one of the highest in the world. Mado was attacked by a street thug and lost her unborn baby.

Oscar and I were praying for the Lord to bring a close brother to walk the often lonely road of the missionary – far away from your own culture, friends and family – and few that can be trusted in your new strange and dangerous environment.

The Lord sent Ron and Bishop of Souls! Ron and Oscar are quite a team and travel together on ministry outreaches to places where angels literally fear to tread. They’ve seen it all. Bullet holes in their hotel windows, their car cruising down an embankment, hippos trying to disrupt a baptism in the local river, violent spiritual attacks, demons physically wrestling to avoid being expelled, and of course multiple cancelled flights.

By God’s amazing grace, even though Oscar was sent out as a missionary to Congolese refugees, he has seen many South Africans, and refugees from other countries, coming to faith in Jesus Christ.

The challenges he is now dealing with are:

A homosexual has come to faith in Christ and wants to leave his partner but doesn’t earn enough to even pay rent for a room, let alone buy food.

A prostitute has come to faith in Christ – now he wonders how to find her regular employment?

A married woman has left her family and lived a wild life on the streets and contracted HIV. With her bending her knee to King Jesus, how do we reunite her with her husband and children?

A woman, involved in the occult, came to faith in Jesus Christ. Her previous job entailed helping pastors fall. She went to churches with the express goal of starting a relationship with the pastor and leading him into an affair that would end in the demise of his ministry.

She was apparently extremely successful at her job, but when she arrived at Oscar’s church service she realized that the game was over. She says that for the first time she couldn’t get her evil way and on hearing the preaching of the true Gospel, turned to serve Jesus Christ as her master and King!

Now, the trouble has just started! Satan doesn’t like his children being saved from darkness.

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

The congregation has endured multiple crimes. Besides burglaries, congregants have also been held up by armed thugs as they left after a service – all their personal belongings were taken at gun point.

Added to this chaos, trespassers broke into the church building – with no sign of entry; stole nothing, but left a knife in a flower pot and human bones on the alter. This has occultic significance!

Soon thereafter, a fire started in the church building, but was extinguished before causing too much damage. The spiritual attack on Oscar, his family, and congregation has manifest in the physical.

Will you please enter your spiritual war room and lift Oscar, his family and congregation up in prayer?

Charl van Wyk

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Living for Christ in a squatter camp

Christian Action kindly offered us a monthly slot on their Salt and Light radio show on Radio Tygerberg (104FM) in Cape Town.

Listen to how the Gospel of the Kingdom changes lives!

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Stone Hill Early Childhood Development Centre opens

After a looong wait, our Stone Hill ‘Early Childhood Development Center’ has opened!!

We praise and thank the Lord for His amazing grace! Thank you to every one of our ministry partners who helped bring this vision to reality!

Apparently, the children were so hyped this morning that they ‘didn’t want to listen’!!

“Children are a heritage from the Lord…Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” Psalm 127:3-5

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Sneak peek at my new book ‘Shooting Back Again’

I’m busy working on a sequel to my book ‘Shooting Back’; I thought you might enjoy a sneak peek at ‘Shooting Back Again’:

“Hand me your gun… your wallet… and your cellphone,” said a voice behind me.

It was fifteen years after the St. James Massacre and I was once again called upon to use my firearm in a dangerous situation.

I was at the Reclaiming Africa for Christ Biblical World View Summit near Cape Town with Frontline Fellowship, the mission organization I was working with at the time. The conference in Mizpah was held during June/July 2008. It featured more than a dozen lecturers and numerous films and outreaches.

I had invited a former APLA (Azanian People’s Liberation Army) terrorist to the summit. Sipho had been a Unit Commander in the organization and told me he had come to faith in Christ.

At that time, I was host of a radio show called Salt and Light on Radio Tygerberg in Cape Town. We planned to do a radio show with one of our guest speakers at the summit, Philip Stott, a Creation Scientist.

When Sipho heard I was going into town in the mission pickup truck, he approached me. “I need to get back to the township urgently,” he said.

I was surprised. He was supposed to stay at the summit for the entire time.

“I have a meeting with the PAC leaders,” he insisted. “They are meeting now. They owe me some money and I need to discuss it with them.”

The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (once known as the Pan Africanist Congress, abbreviated as the PAC) is a South African Black Nationalist movement that is now a political party. It was founded by an Africanist group, led by Robert Sobukwe, which had broken away from the African National Congress (ANC).

“Please give me a ride into town and drop me off at Khayelitsha,” he said. This is a partially informal township 20 miles (30 km) south-east of Cape Town, South Africa

I agreed, and he jumped into the back of the small pickup truck. It was a single cab with a cap (canopy) over the truck bed. We call the small pickup, a ‘bakkie’ in South Africa. The Creation Scientist joined me in the front and we set off.

Obviously, it was impossible to communicate with someone in the back of the vehicle so before we left, we discussed exactly where Sipho was to be dropped off when we got to Khayelitsha. I told him I wanted to drop him off at the local sports center and then continue from there to the radio station to do the interview. He was happy with that.

As we turned off the National road, Sipho suddenly started shouting out the side window of the truck cap.

“Do a U-turn,” he screamed, pointing. “Do a U-turn now, and let me off over there!”

I was completely taken aback. It was only a few hundred yards from the place we originally agreed on. It wasn’t as if he had to walk a few miles. He needed just to cross the road.

I did the U-turn and stopped for him to jump out of the truck. I also got out and helped to retrieve his bags from the back of the vehicle.

Suddenly, I was aware of someone behind me.

“Hand me your gun… your wallet… and your cellphone,” he said.

I spun round. Two men stood there. One of them pointed a pistol in my direction. Subconsciously, I noticed it was not pointed directly at me. I thought afterwards he may have done that to protect himself if he was caught by the police. He could say it went off by accident and he didn’t actually point the weapon at me.

At the same time, I knew if I made any move, he would shoot me immediately.

They body-searched me and found my cellphone, identification document, and my wallet. They also discovered foreign passports belonging to summit participants. I had their passports with me as I had to get them sanctioned by the prison services so they could minister to the inmates later.

They searched me repeatedly for weapons.

“Give us your gun,” they shouted.

“I don’t have a gun,” I lied.

They were convinced I must have one on me and kept searching. Finally, they gave up. Fortunately, they never found the weapon in my ankle holster.

They left the former APLA Unit Commander alone, other than asking for his cellphone. Instead they went straight to the elderly Creation Scientist and harassed him.

“When the door opened,” Philip said later, “I hardly noticed. It was almost as if it had happened in a dream.”

“Give me your cellphone. Now!” said one of the men looking straight at Philip. He later described him as a reasonably tidily dressed man.

“He was not quite as dark as most Africans – probably some racial mixture – and his English was surprisingly good,” Philip said. “Somehow I seemed to be in a trance and couldn’t focus on him or pay attention to what he was saying. My attention was fixed on the gun in his hand – it was in sharp focus and the barrel was pointing at my stomach.”

The conversation went something like this.

“Give me your cell phone.”

“I haven’t got a cell phone with me.”

“Give me your money.”

“I didn’t bring any money with me.”

“Give me your gun.”

“I haven’t got a gun.”

The thug didn’t believe him. He started again on his cycle of demands, searching Philip for whatever he could find.

“Why haven’t you given us your cell phone?” a second thug demanded. He also had a gun.

“I hardly caught a glimpse of it,” Philip said, “before it was pressed against my side. The first thug stopped groping my clothes and the second took over demanding my money, my gun, and my cell phone. I explained once again I just don’t have what they’re asking for. Thug number two seemed to lose patience as the first thug attempted to remove my camera from my jacket. The long barrel of his pistol swung from my stomach to my knees and back again.”

“Give me your cellphone!” Thug number two demanded angrily as he jabbed his gun into Philip’s ribs.

“I felt as though I was in a dream,” recalled Philip. “Could this really be happening? What could I do? I was almost paralyzed as I gestured helplessly with my empty hands.”

Finally, they left him alone and began searching the truck thoroughly, opening the glove box to have a closer look. One of them was standing with his gun facing towards Philip, while the other looked for guns. They were adamant we had a gun and threatened to shoot us if they could not find it.

While their attention was diverted, it gave me the opportunity to pull out my firearm. Crouching down and keeping my head below the bonnet (hood) of the car, I moved around the vehicle and past the driver’s side window on the right with my gun clasped in both hands.

Sipho heard me cock my firearm and took cover on my side of the vehicle. I moved to the front of the pickup and shouted at the thugs. For a split second they were distracted, and I opened fire with my 9mm Heckler and Koch pistol.

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Planning for victorious ministry in 2018

“Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Matthew 6:10

Personal benefit is hardly the focus of our ministry partners when it comes to supporting the Great Commission in Africa!

Many were praying fervently for our family and outreaches, helping with brick and mortar projects, others getting their hands dirty on the ground – we are so encouraged!

Despite all the spiritual warfare to stop the work from going on, our partners are part of the ‘winners circle’ and this takes tenacity, lots of patience and an understanding that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Defeat doesn’t bode well with a conquering Christ!

ECDC

Our ‘early childhood development center’ and medical clinic buildings, in Stone Hill, are almost complete!

We thank the Lord for our ministry partners and pray that He will multiply their seed sowing and increase the harvest!

Church building

Our Stone Hill ministry has been blessed with a beautiful old, ruined Stone Church building. We are thrilled! No more church services under an open roof in the freezing cold of winter!

The building is dilapidated! Windows are smashed, suspended wooden floors broken, holes in the ceiling, and even human excrement left on the floor by those pillaging.

We are praying for $8,000.00 to secure the building from those wanting to ruin it even more, painting the interior, repairing wooden floors, replacing broken window frames and doors – so that we can safely meet for our myriads of Gospel outreaches, Bible studies and discipleship training sessions.

Our ministry has grown so large that we have had to use buildings outside of the community. Praise the Lord this is about to change!

Reaching MPs

My ministry colleague Ron Kronz and I spoke at a ‘Dominion Mandate Conference’ in Lusaka, Zambia. The Lord used this outreach to great effect, including a national television interview; and among many new opportunities, opened the door to us addressing Zambian politicians at a conference in March 2018.

The organizer of the event desperately wants to distribute books on Godly government, especially through their ministry to police, intelligence and defense force leaders. Bible College and chaplaincy ministry opportunities have also opened!

Importing Godly books, subsistence and travel, facilities rental and food for conference attendees stands at $3,500.00. What a fantastic opportunity to disciple the ‘governing authorities’ teaching them that all authority is subject to the Lordship of Jesus Christ!

He is Ruler of all the nations and Lord over all authorities!

I’ve been asked to speak at The Mid Atlantic Reformation Society’s ‘Educating the next generation’ conference in PA, 5-7 October 2018. The future of Christendom IS our children! How are we instructing them to make an impact on the culture?

Hope to see you in PA next October!

Partnership

Should the Lord lead you to financially partner in any of these exciting projects, giving a gift is easy. Simply choose the process for a safe, secure and private donation.

Donations can be made by:

1. Phone – Credit card – phone 1-480-968-4100
2. Online at – ITMI Donations
3. Checks – may be posted to: In Touch Mission International, PO Box 7575, Tempe, AZ 85281
(Checks can be made to ITMI and designated to Charl by sending an attached note of how you want your gift allocated.)

A blessed New Year to you!

Charl van Wyk

PS. Without you and others standing with us, it wouldn’t be possible for us to serve God, to this great extent, in the task of helping fulfill the Great Commission!

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