Zimbabwe Mission Trip

By Josef

In March 2014 Rafaela and I, members of Family Care Ministries, travelled to Zimbabwe for an exciting week of teaching young women and men in the word of God in Banket, a small  farming town about 95km north of Harare with a population of approximately 4000 people.  Last year one of our South African friends, who had participated in a church planning trip that his congregation had organised to this area, had given our contact details to the local pastor of this rural town.

P1010817-600Pastor Gabriel, desperate for teaching materials, contacted us not long after. He called and visited us in Johannesburg in February and invited us to please come and train the elders and pastors of his 14 small rural churches. He is a very sincere and earnest man desiring to be used of God and help the poor and downtrodden, the forgotten people on the farms.

Banket was once a thriving town with many large companies and commercial farms that have closed down a long time ago. The commercial farmers had been driven off the land which were then taken over by others who for the most part don’t know how to run these large farms or keep them profitable. The companies, unable to export their products, were forced to close down due to sanctions that were imposed on the country. This left the majority of the people unemployed trying to eke out a meager existence on the bit of food grown in their back yards and the occasional temp job. Today the little town center consists of 3 dilapidated petrol stations along the main road travelled by large cargo trucks going to Zambia & Congo.

P1010695-600The people who used to work on the big farms are only able to do some subsistence farming and so remain poor and struggle to earn their own support. Though Pastor Gabriel has a church in Banket town as well, the offerings and tithes barely cover the electricity and rental of the church. Other pastors are not too interested in ministering to people there; they prefer ministering in “greener pastures.” There are no tithes or offerings to be collected here. We admire Pastor Gabriel’s courage and determination to carry on despite the many challenges he faces including financial difficulties.

P1010640-600A bit expectantly, the meeting was attended by mostly young women and a few young men. But it was God’s set up. These young men and women had a real desire to learn and they took notes and eagerly listened to every word we shared. We had morning and afternoon classes for 4 days.  It was a joy to teach them and an encouragement to see their eagerness to learn.

Here are a couple of the responses we got:

  • Mildred: I learned about healing. And I learned about praying by myself and the 2 commandments: (1) Love your neighbor as you love yourself (2) Love your God. I learned about having faith and also about casting out demons. I learned that when my child is sick, I will pray for her. If you are sick, God is the medicine. And I learned about preaching the Gospel to the others. If you hear the Word you should tell others. Also I learned about how God loves the world that He gave us his only begotten son that whosoever believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Only Jesus died for our sins. If you have faith everything in your life would be ok. I learned about giving and about giving tithe.
  • Godknows: This was a joyful seminar. I have learned many things such as how I can be growing in faith. And I have also learned that to praise God all the time brings peace and joy in my life. I also know that God´s purpose with people is to have a better life, and to have dominion over the earth and the things which is around us such as vegetation and animals.

P1010802-600After the daily classes we went to visit the farming communities that Pastor Gabriel ministers to. On one of the evenings we held a service at the largest farming community which was attended by over 30 women, children and some youth. To reach the community we had to travel nearly 30km over dirt roads and a small flooded bridge but we made it safely there and back. You would not want to have a car break down as there is no one around to help you, especially at night. 

2014-03-19-327-600Pastor Gabriel had no money to buy food for the 4 day meeting for the 25 attendees so we had brought some non-perishable food and bought the rest at the meeting. We gave him a box of Gospels of John, training manuals and gospel literature for his members and outreach and left them with a gift to help with the many needs. It seems the Lord is leading us mostly to the poor servants of God who care for the poorest of the poor.

Activities Report for 2013

Bible Studies:

100_5527 - Copy-600Bible studies continued in the townships and throughout Johannesburg. Each group is initiated and led by Family Care Ministries members who continue to share what they have learned through the 12 Foundation Stones Course and other training they have received. Throughout classes attendees are encouraged to actively participate in mission work and look for ways to meet the needs of others or their community. They often find that as they do God looks after their own needs. Teaching others to teach others empowers.

Regular outreach and visitation continues throughout Johannesburg, Evaton West, Orange Farm, Diepsloot, and the Vaal Triangle. Prayer, godly counsel and a word of encouragement go a long way.

100_5585-600Nduduzu and Ndivhuwo in Soweto, Elijah in Evaton West, and Abram in Diepsloot continued to spearhead our work amongst the youth. As Albert Schweitzer so wisely said: “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” At this point in time the most important thing one can do for youth is to encourage them never to give up.

Aside from the oversight and counsel our project managers received on a weekly basis throughout the year, Family Care Ministries held bi-monthly meetings to further train, inspire, and strengthen staff and volunteers. We need everyone’s input and ideas to achieve our objectives and therefore encourage discussion and the exchange ideas.

Workshops for Educators
Primary School Educator WorkshopIn coordination with Change the World Trust we held 3 workshops for 7 primary schools from Tembisa. In total 144 educators benefitted. They were presented with envisioning thoughts and material gleaned from many educational and other websites to help them effectively deal with classroom management issues. Everyone had a clearer picture of what can and needs to be done about disruptive behaviour in the classroom and gained behaviour management skills through the strategies discusses and practiced.
Here are just a couple or the responses we got:

The workshop was great and relevant especially at this point in time when most educators are frustrated by ill-disciplined learners. What we have learnt today will help to ease the pressure and challenges which educators are faced with.  – Moses Khoele (Principal)

Definitely the workshop is so developing. I used to blame the learners forgetting that I may be part of the problem. From now on I will do self- inspection before blaming the learners. – Makwena (Educator)

I’ve learnt a lot from the workshop. I’m going to try and implement some of the ideas I got from this workshop and from my colleagues. I’m also going to share this information with others at my school. – Emily (Educator)

Early Learning Workshops

Children are the hope of the future, the future of South Africa will one day lie in their hands. They are entitled to receive a good education that lays the foundation for competence and that empowers them to realize their full potential. Each child no matter what their race or background is should have an equal chance to succeed in life. The Early Learning Workshop was put together with these goals in mind.
It’s now an accepted fact that a child learns more than half of all that he will learn in his lifetime by the time he’s five years old. Therefore Family Care Ministries offers skills development to practitioners and caregivers of babies, toddlers and preschoolers in Orange Farm. We held 5 workshops throughout 2013 and will continue to offer further training in 2014.

Here are some of the responses to the workshops:

I so liked everything about the workshop. It was very interesting and I learned more and more about early learning, especially with what to teach babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers. My suggestion is if it is possible the workshop must continue because it is good for us.

I enjoyed the lesson. You have opened my mind.

You really made my day today. You make me love children so deeply again. I am going to do my job with love and care for the children. Thanks.

This workshop was very good for me. It makes me feel good and proud of what I am doing. Sometimes you feel that you are not doing right. But if you attend this workshop you feel motivated. You make us feel proud of what we are doing.

I’m glad I learned that we must give a child a good foundation for tomorrow so that they can have a better education.

Helping those in need:
Food donations of approximately 1,000 litres of milk, 3600 loaves of bread, 600 kg of potatoes, pasteries, 60 trays of eggs, 600 kg of meat, 600+ crates of assorted foods, fruits and vegetables went to the needy, elderly and unemployed. We were able to donate or distribute a computer and printer, several boxes of new pregnancy, newborn and children’s clothes and 20 bags of used clothes, pillow, blankets and shoes. We received one bakkie load of curtain material and cut offs which we were able to pass to a skills building centre which will use them with their trainees.

Help for the Elderly

Each month of 2013 we served a wholesome meal to 120 elderly in Brixton, who are housed in complexes provided for them. Our visits are a highlight for them as we make a point of spending some time chatting with them and visiting those who for health reasons cannot leave their quarters. Many appreciate the prayer and care they have received over the years.


Prison Ministry:
Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Centre (Maximum Security Prison in Makhado, Limpopo):
In December 2013 we concluded our 8th year of ministering to inmates in this facility. We had a total of 117 inmates who regularly attended the two courses we offered. Throughout the year we mailed 1,190 class sheets as well as 57 booklets for the ten unit course  to inmates throughout the year. The material left a visible impact on lives as was evident from the tests and letters we received.

In early January 2014 we were able to award 80 students with certificates.

Here are some reactions from inmates:

Mishack:  I am satisfied with the way you help us to understand how to make a relationship with the Lord in Jesus Christ. Thank God. God bless you for giving me this opportunity.

Justice: I ask you to continue to give other inmates a chance to learn this Bible study course of Family Care Ministries because they will know the challenges of Christian living and also help them to build their faith like us as you taught us this important course. They will know that God is love and that he loves us to love one another. Thank you and God bless you.

Tumelo: Thank you for the help. I will stick to Jesus Christ because He is a Saviour.

Leeuwkop Correctional Centre
Jeff and Linda White continued their visitation at Leeuwkop Correctional Centre to hold classes with small groups of inmates. The time they share with inmates is impacting lives as they counsel those they minister to. They have been able, in some cases, to offer assistance to family members of inmates. This is much appreciated by those unable to care for their families.

Christmas events:
Parties for children
Family Care Ministries organized again Christmas parties for children in Orange Farm and in Evaton West. Word is going around about the events and the number of children attending has increased every year. This year we were able to organise a magic show for one event and a puppet show for the other. The children were fascinated. It was a real treat for them as they had never seen the like before.  The games and activities were a hit again. People from the community came forward to help prepare and serve the hot dogs, drinks and snacks we had bought. Everyone pitched in to help pack and distribute the gifts to the children: pencils, colour pencils, stationary sets, colouring books, masks, cereal, snack packs and more. A company provided about 120 toys which included dolls and animal sets, Lego sets, cuddly toys, soccer balls, water guns and more. We were able to pass these to orphaned children and those from the most needy households. What a joy it was to see the smiles on the children’s faces.

Party for the elderly
Our event for the elderly coincided with the memorial service that was held in honour of Nelson Mandela. The elderly had to brave the cool and wet weather to join in the fellowship. Though the atmosphere was more sober than in previous years, everyone enjoyed the food, the raffle and sharing what Mr. Mandela means to them. The hall was beautifully decorated by volunteers and everyone went out of their way to make each person feel welcomed and loved. Each attendee received a gift bag with a pamphlet with an encouraging Christmas message, a booklet, some cookies and a coffee mug.

Malawi Work:
StuartThough most of our efforts are concentrated on the local work, in the past year members of Family Care Ministries went on two mission trips to various cities in Malawi to encourage, train and direct the work taking place in this needy country. They were inspired to see the work progressing with local youth starting various projects to meet various needs in their communities. We continued our support by providing them with gospel literatures for their outreaches as well as some financial support to help struggling workers who minister under difficult circumstances in impoverished communities. We continually strive to empower and encourage self-sufficiency.

Compassion in Action


January 3rd  with the festive season still in full swing we are called upon to serve:  It is JOHANNESBURG BY NIGHT! By 9.30pm Josef the chairman of Family Care Ministries finished a tour of Johannesburg  with Soweto, Roodeport and Florida, places you wouldn’t want to have a car break down, especially at night, dropping of 31 crates of food to needy families. Their eyes were almost as big as the crates of fresh fruit, vegetables, pastries, snacks, sweets and some meat. Their  grateful hugs warmed my heart. We had a large pick up and our one household refrigerator is way too small, so it had to go. God’s gift is God’s work.

Man shall not live by bread alone: Well, bread is important and the HIV positive folks we serve need it to take it with their medication and the school holidays makes no different to the kids that are hungry, they’re even more hungry since they have no school lunch. Josef traveled over 300km and delivered 160 loaves of bread to @ 50 families in 3 townships. He fixed a computer, prayed for people, helped with transport money for job interview. He always make it a point to leave them with some gospel pamphlets and many are asking for extras to share with their friends. We need food for the soul as well. Bread feeds the stomach but the word of God feeds souls and spirit. Family Care Ministries is here to help.

Call for help on Saturday:   RRRRRing! “Please come and collect 800kg of potatoes, they’re in a 1000kg bag loose & you have to shovel them out.”  Josef the chairman is the only driver and off he goes with crates and trailer. After 8 hours of delivering potatoes in 3 township to needy families, 3 feeding programs & 1 old age complex he finally finished at 8pm. On the way he prayed with the recipients, passed out gospel tracts and shared some hugs. We’ve read that 8 hugs a day keeps the blues away. Well, we like to contribute to the well being of our recipients and feed their souls as well as body.

Abram volunteer and Creche owner in Diepsloot:  All is well and allow me to inform you that it feels so good every time people leave my centre with plastics full of food which you provide from Woolworths on fortnight basis.  I enjoy so much to pack their carry bags with delicious healthy food. Over 10 families are benefiting from the Woolworths supply. Thanks to you and the Great Lord who planted generous love into your heart.
It doesn’t end there, the supply of breads from Albany which I also collect on fortnight basis helps 9 ECD’s including mine where each ECD get up to 15 loaves of breads. On top of that there are 15 families benefiting from the supply of breads. Where each family gets from 2-3 loaves of breads.
Thank God some poor families in Diepsloot manage to put food on the table due to your love and great efforts.
Just today, the staff members at my school are all dressed in new T shirts that looks the same. Thanks to the provision of clothes and toys for the kids. We are overwhelmed by your undying love.
Keep on making changes in people’s lives especially the poor in the poverty stricken township of Diesplsoot.    Kind regards,  Abram Kgari

We’re encouraged to find in the midst of darkness, poverty and violence little lights shining for Jesus. One such little light is Grandma Helen (76), she can hardly see and uses crutches to walk but she glows with the light of Jesus and brings it to her neighbors and regularly feeds the poor with the food and gospel pamphlets we provide.

Our oldest recipient is Sister Glover who is 86 and still going strong working in the garden and serving the community with prayer and food. It is a privilege to serve them and the many lights in the townships who do what they can to bring the light and love of Jesus to the physically and often spiritually impoverished. In the midst of darkness those lights shine even brighter.

Without a vision …

Over the past few months I have been going to Orange Farm to hold training workshops for teachers from crèches, many of them working in nothing but corrugated tin shacks.

Initially many of the principals attended. They got so inspired and envisioned that they now send their staff one by one to learn. Aside from sharing with them about the children’s needs in different areas of development, I spend time explaining about the importance of a child’s early learning experiences. Here are a couple of the key facts about child development that I share with them, that never seems to fail to envision them.

  • No matter what race or colour, every child has 100 billion brain cells at birth. The brain, the body’s most vital and complex organ, matures after birth. A child’s brain potential is not entirely predetermined in the womb.
  • How smart the child is or isn’t has little to do with how educated the mother or the parents of the child are. It has to do with how many opportunities the child is given after birth to explore and experiment through play.
  • What children do and are exposed to in the early years affects their development; it affects how well their brain will function.
  • ½ of the foundation for problem solving, analytical thinking, memory etc. are laid in the first five years of a child’s life.
  • The brain is like a muscle. If you use a muscle it grows bigger and stronger. A connection in the brain that is used will be stronger. A connection that is not used will grow weaker and the brain will discard it.

Learning facts like these fuels hope in their hearts and a realization that they can play a part to change the future of children growing up in townships like theirs where some of the basic infrastructure is still missing. Through pouring into the children in their care they can play a part in giving them a brighter future. The responses are similar each time:

Thank you for the opportunity. It was truly inspiring, motivating, joyful, exciting and loving. God bless you. Keep up with the good work. Don’t give up. Let’s change the world.

Don’t go forever. You make us feel proud of what we are doing.

You really made my day today. You make me love children so deeply again.

First of all I enjoyed being in your workshop and learned more things that I have never known.

I say as from today I want to improve my centre and kids because this opportunity is not for fun, it is a serious responsibility.

This workshop has been a real eye opener for me because it made me see things that I did not know about. It made me to know what children are like. It really helped me and I am really grateful for it.

Each time I am asked to please continue with further workshops. The Lord has shown me that I need to put together a curriculum for them to follow with simple learning activities to give them something to work with. I have made a lot of headway in putting it together, but there is still lots to do. I am praying that the Lord will make a way to print and produce some teaching materials and flashcards at a very reasonable price. They have so little to work with and it would help the program to leave more of an impact in the lives of these precious children. Each one is special to the Lord and deserves the best care. 

Teacher Training Workshops

Talitha recently received a request to share her experience and expertise with a group of preschool teachers and principals in the Orange Farm township. Having worked for years with young children, it was not difficult to put the needed material together based on the knowledge and training she had received in the different teaching techniques and learning methods in use.

Within a few days the Lord had opened a door for a venue through a local NPO who offers adult basic training. They had a container already set up and equipped with all that would be needed to host the workshop and were willing to support the effort. With PowerPoint presentation, projector, screen, hand-outs and samples of teaching aids to make in hand, we were in business.

Due to the interference of a local service delivery protest, we had to hastily change the date a few hours before the workshop was scheduled. This resulted in some of the interested teachers of crèches operating in the area not being able to making it for the newly set date. Despite this we still had 15 teachers and principals in attendance.

Talitha laid out all the important reasons and discussed the desperate need for focus on early learning and development. Many of the problems experienced by teachers in South Africa can be traced back to the lack of input the children receive in their early years when the foundation for learning are laid. Though this need has become more and more evident, little direction or support is provided to crèches in particular to the many non-accredited ones. This leaves the vast majority of caregivers clueless as how to give children the best possible start in life. 

Gross and fine motor skills development, sensory stimulation and language development were the main areas that Talitha presented methods of teaching and ideas for. Each of the attendees got a hand-out with scores of ideas. Due to financial constraints there is little access to resources of any kind. The R160-180 per child collected from the parents don’t go far enough to feed the children two meals per day for the whole month and pay the meagre salaries of the caregivers. So little is invested in resources.

We had brought some teaching aids that Talitha had made out of household materials. She showed how with relatively little in the way of resources a lot can be done to aid fine motor skills development in children. Out came the muffin trays for sorting, the noodles and shoelaces to string them on, the clothes pins to be pegged to plastic containers and other materials to teach practical life skills or stimulate a young child.

The highlight of the workshop was the presentation of a method developed by Glenn Doman the founder of the Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential. With the aim to increase, develop and expand language, improve cognitive skills and strengthen both the long-term and photographic memory, this method uses pictures cards to teach children classified and structured knowledge. The principles of this teaching method can be applied to learning to read sight words and mathematics as well. We went over all the details of the program and will in future workshops dedicate a session to creating some of these materials so that each of the teachers gains practical experience in the use and making of these teaching aids.

The response and reaction was very positive and the workshop was an encouragement to all those who were able to make it. For the time being we are scheduling and hosting this workshop on a monthly basis. To aid teachers and crèches further, we are busy creating material that we will offer to them at cost price. The greatest challenge is lamination and colour printing cost. If you are able to support this project in any way, we would be grateful.

Christmas Activities 2012

Christmas is the one time the world is compelled to recognise Jesus as the day of His birth is remembered! He was born into poor and humble circumstances much like the billion children living in poverty today. He came to show love to the downtrodden, show love to all and to bring a gift of infinite worth, eternal life. What a privilege and wonderful time to share with others what Jesus came for. Christmas offers new hope and new courage which is so sorely needed in the darkness that prevails in the world.

Family Care Ministries volunteers want, more than anything else, touch lives and reflect the love that He has brought into our own lives in a tangible way. So our focus for the yearend was to spend time with the children, young people and elderly.

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Bottled up?

Family Care Ministries has been supplying Bible Course materials and courses to inmates for the past seven years here in South Africa. Below are some comments they have made that give a little glimpse into their lives.

As we read and meditate on the Word, as we believe His promises and claim them as our own, we find that wonderful things await us. The warm sunshine of His love melts away tension. Like a breath of fresh air, the breeze of God’s Spirit clears our minds. We see things from the heavenly perspective and see new possibilities and challenges before them. We find new faith and inspiration. “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63)

Learn to turn to the Word when you feel bottled up, and His Word will set you free. (John 8:31,32)

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Passage to freedom

God’s love and forgiveness are amazing. Though we as humans are bound to make wrong choices, God still loves us. It saddens Him when we willfully do wrong, but He doesn’t hold it against us if we are sincerely sorry. Instead, He extends His arms in forgiveness. We may still have to live with the consequences of our wrongdoing, but once we ask Him for forgiveness, He forgives.

“As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:11,12) Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

The following comments were made by inmates that are participating in Family Care Ministries Bible Study Courses at correctional institutions in South Africa. Lives change when we face our past and find in Jesus a new beginning.

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Upcoming Christmas Party for the elderly

Last year’s Christmas party was such a success and great fun for the elderly that they have been asking us on our monthly visits whether we will hold another event for them this year. Friends of ours, who run food programs for school children and the elderly in nearby areas, will join us in the effort and have helped secure the Jan Hofmeyer community hall for the event which will take place on December 10th.  Everything becomes easier and doable when we all pull together for the many needs from tables to chairs, decor, dishes and gifts.

Valverde Country Hotel has so generously offered to provide the food. Elize will bring the salads. Talitha and Josef will sponsor the coffee, tea and juice. Others will provide the cakes. Alain and Patricia are arranging for prizes for a draw and will keep everyone entertained.

Aside from preparing a meaningful program, we’re putting together a small gift hamper with a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, face cloth, a chocolate to keep them sweet and a Christian magazine to provide foor the spiritual needs. For this we need YOUR HELP.

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Urgent Need

We will be having two Christmas parties again this year for approximately 400 children in Orange Farm and Everton West, two townships about 40km south of Johannesburg. Preparations are in full swing. We will play games and give the kids an opportunity to decorate a Christmas tree while learning what the holiday is all about. We know the events will be much appreciated as the high unemployment rate in these areas (80%) has a big impact on families leaving little if anything for the children. Every bit of help can make a difference.

We would like to give each child something that lasts and is needed like the stationary sets (R12 or R5) below and a colouring book that includes Christian, character-building stories (R5). We will also need to buy hot dogs, buns, juice and snacks for each. We urgently need donations to cover these costs, which amount to a total of about R10,000 ($1127), R25 per child! Thank you for considering to help. Please see our bank and paypal account details below.

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Family Care Ministries is registered as a Non-profit Organization in terms of the Non-profit Organization Act, 1998     Number: 007-316