It Works Everywhere
William Kyle – South Africa
William Kyle – South Africa
On this particular Sunday (back in early February), I was very excited because I would have an opportunity to offer as many as five full bursaries (scholarships) to five unexpected, deserving young St. Mungo’s Diepsloot (SMD) primary school aged children. The children were given pamphlets (handouts) for their parents the week before that told about the camp and how some children of SMD’ Church school, which their child is a part of, would be granted full bursaries.
Because of gifts from Christian family members in Connecticut USA, I was granted twenty bursaries to offer 15 of the 30 children that are orphaned and heads of their households that attend SMD’ Partner Primary School, Musenga Vhadzumi. The other five bursaries are these that I am about to make available to a few children whom have been identified as highly vulnerable children living in the housing settlement of Diepsloot, where I am serving.
Once the leadership of a new and building congregation decides to expose the children of their church school to out of the community activities and events, within any culture, that same leadership must at that point make contact with these children’s parents and/or “caregivers.” The children of the church school have been faithfully coming to our church school and social outreach functions for months, they, in so many words, belong to our church, they are constituents, yet we have never really seen their care providers.
The church council and I decided that I and one of the council members, one whom could translate, should accompany the bursary recipients home to; 1. Meet their parents, 2. Explain what the camp is about and how it benefits children and their families, 3. If they desire to have there child to participate in the camp ministry, help them to fill out registration, medical and consent forms, and to witness their signing of the Parent/Camper Relationship Covenant, and lastly 4. Thank the caregiver for helping us to be a part of the team that will be working to bring up their children in the way that God would have them to go by exposing them to dream enriching experiences.
Worship service is over and all five of the children have been selected for the bursaries. Two of the children, that were selected, their parents are church members and accompanied them to church today. So, I had two of the church council members assist them in filling out there forms, while another one of the council member’s journeyed me, off the church site, down the road to one of the little girls Granny’ house, kind-a at the end of the township.
We would be able to talk to all of the caregivers at once because the little girl who’s Granny’ home we were going too, organized everything with the other little girl that was selected, as they walked in front of the council member and me. I have been able to identify this particular little girl as one of the 10-year-old natural leaders. Her peers listen to her and they respect her. Often she carries a little baby girl cousin to church school with her.
The other little girl ran off and quickly came back with her care provider, an Aunt. Greetings were done Black African style at the Granny’. When you enter you extend African handshakes to all the hands of those who are already inside, when someone else comes in, they do the same. As you shake hands with one another you also exchange greetings, in English, “How are you.” “Fine and you.” “Fine.” Special greetings are offered to Granny as an Elder. She would be greeted with a bowed head; a hung or you would place your hands in prayerful mode and bow at the knees before her.
After the greetings, where we introduced ourselves, I explained why we were there. In doing so I told them about the camp and how it would benefit them as a family. Meanwhile I could see that other persons, younger, had come into the house, filling it. The Granny was all for her granddaughter attending the camp, but the Aunt of the other little girl said no. She explained that because the girl’s parents have no knowledge of this she couldn’t give the okay, “that is how we agree,” she said. So, I now have a bursary slot unfilled.
As we began to fill out the forms I outwardly express that, “I sure would love to offer a little boy around the age of twelve a chance to participate in this camp.” Oh, I forgot to tell you that my council companion had been interpreting this entire scene. Upon hearing the translation of my last statement I noticed a young lady, probably in her early twenties, whisper into Granny’s ear. Then Granny says to me, “Fundise (Zulu meaning Pastor), I would love, so much if you could take my grandson to your camp.” A young man, probably in his early twenties interjects, “My little brother needs some help, Pastor. He has not been going to school and his crew has been stealing and getting into trouble.”
I now take you to the end of this story; the little girl (our natural leader) and her brother attended the Phila (remember, Phila means live in Zulu) Camp. They both are becoming a nucleus in our children’s ministries at SMD. Would you believe that I have said all of the above to make a statement that carries with it an entire new story? Well, a month and a half ago the young lady that whispered something into Granny’s ear earlier, along with her good friend, has become a part of the Children’s Ministry Team/Committee and Granny has come to worship with us a few times since that visit.
It works everywhere. Meeting the needs of children and helping to develop a team/network within a community that will journey together in their efforts to expose its children to life altering opportunities, builds churches and their respective communities. One step outward opened the door for an entire family to join a congregation who’s goals include meeting the needs of families, first through meeting needs of their children, then secondly by offering opportunities for them to serve and lastly, by developing relevant liturgies that meet community members worship needs. That particular Sunday serves as a continued reminder to me that, as we, Christians attempt to ‘Phila’ and show the love of Jesus, It Works Everywhere.
Rev. William Kyle
William Kyle serves with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He serves as administrative assistant to the general secretary.