Drawing on God’s strength

Allan Tabaro

Just before Christmas a few years ago, I was involved in a car accident that almost took my life. I sustained a spinal cord injury to my T4 vertebra, leaving me paraplegic, paralyzed from the chest down, and confined to a wheelchair.

Nothing can prepare anyone for coping with paraplegia and disability, especially to the extent that you have to rely almost completely on others for assistance. Suddenly the things you had taken for granted, like getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom, are no longer possible because your body refuses to function.

Questions flood your mind, and fear, doubt, and anxiety can get the better of you. It was like being in a bad dream, struggling to come to terms with what was happening, and hoping to wake up.

My family and friends were encouraging and stood by my side, but in the end, the difficult choice to stay positive and carry on with life is always a personal one. In my experience, though, it is possible to carry on.

It’s tough to deal with disappointment, and we always want to figure things out, but if faced with something man or money cannot fix, who do you turn to for answers? I had nowhere to turn but to God. My girlfriend gave me a Bible and told me I would find the answers I was looking for in it. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else,” I read, “and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33) I set out to keep my end of the bargain, and God has been faithful to keep His.

I’ve learned that He isn’t surprised by our moments of pain in the valleys; in fact, He’s quietly waiting for us to call out to Him so He can enlighten our darkness. It’s one thing to be a Christian, and another to truly know who Jesus is.

God showed me that He cared as much about the condition of my spirit as that of my paralyzed body. Before my injury, I was easily distracted by the things of this world, and I got my happiness and security from them. Now I know that none of this compares to the love of Jesus, which comforts to the uttermost.

He will heal the wounds and sicknesses of our souls and plant seeds of hope in the most difficult conditions. His light will shine into the deepest valleys. “[He] is our refuge and strength and a present help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.—Eleanor Roosevelt

Faith in times of crisis

No matter how devastating, irreversible, or hopeless things seem when you’re facing a major setback or a life-threatening situation, you can choose to continue to actively trust in Jesus and refuse to let go of that abiding trust. Faith isn’t the absence of fear; faith is what overcomes fear.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. We wouldn’t be hoping for something if we already had it in our hands. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) We wouldn’t need evidence that something is real if we could see it with our eyes.

You know that God will ultimately make things right in the next life, but that knowledge doesn’t lessen the struggles of possibly facing very painful experiences or death. At this moment in time it’s not the next life that you are having to deal with, it’s the present.

It can be pretty scary when you’re in a bad situation and you can’t see any natural way out of the dilemma. But that’s when faith comes to the fore. You just have to keep believing and trusting, no matter what things look like.

You have to keep walking on the solid ground of what God has told you to do in spite of dire circumstances, knowing that no matter how hopeless it looks or how bad things get, Jesus has you in His arms.

You may feel afraid of what you’re facing. You may not see anything you can do to fix the situation you’re in. But God’s intervention in your life isn’t based on your self-confidence. It’s based on your belief in Him and your trust in His unlimited power, goodness, and love.

You just have to believe that God can bring about what is best in His time and His way, if not in this life, then in the life to come, because you trust Him. Faith knows what is most important to know: “God will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

None of us know what lies ahead. We often can’t know if that setback we’re facing or the things we’re suffering will be gone in a minute or a month, or if they will last a lifetime. What faith knows is that Jesus will not leave us comfortless; He’ll be there walking with us.

Jesus is proud of us when we look at the waves and the winds of adversity and do like Peter did with Him. Peter said to Jesus, “Bid me come out to you on the water.” (Matthew 14:28) He was ready to jump right into the challenges because he’d seen God’s power in Jesus and was ready to put himself into those hands that he trusted would never fail him.

What are the challenges that you’re facing? What impossible situations are looming big in your life? Will you step out on the waters to meet Jesus right now so that His power can be manifested in your life? Take the step of faith, and even if you feel that momentary sinking feeling at times, you only have to call out to Him and He’ll bring you through in His perfect time and way.

Activities Report for 2019

Help for the Needy

Family Care Ministries aims to make a difference in the lives of needy families, child-headed households and the elderly. We attempt to help those who are able to to find ways to support themselves.

100 households received regular food assistance in Orange Farm and Evaton West alone. Shoes, clothing and household items were also distributed whenever available. Aside from the biweekly donations of bread and eggs we pass out, a total of 632 food parcels were distributed throughout this year. Some of our Christian businessmen friends continued to join our volunteers ministering to disadvantaged families & orphan households whenever their time permitted. The counsel, prayer and encouragement offered is as helpful as the food received.

Our volunteers also visit the elderly in their homes to help clean, cook meals or collect medication at the clinic on their behalf if need be. Six disabled people received food, clothing and help with transport to get them to appointments for treatment or to check-ups.

Since August 2019, 150-200 children, mostly from a nearby informal settlement, are served a warm meal and receive basic medical care once a week. A number of children are helped with their homework and meet for afternoon studies once or twice a week.

One of our volunteers started a children’s choir to give children something enjoyable and meaningful to do in their free time while another simply set some time aside to be available to talk, play and interact with the children. Family Care Ministries was able to help some school children who needed stationary, school uniforms, school shoes and books or help with their fees.

In addition to this, we continued to bring a wholesome warm meal to 120 elderly in Brixton every month of the past year. Along with the meal we hand out one or two pieces of fruit and home baked cupcakes. The encouraging words and time spent praying with and for the elderly make the visit the highlight of the month for many of them.

Most of the weekly food donations we receive from a supermarket are delivered to Ouma Helen, who is 88 years old now. She continues visiting and ministering to needy families in Industria and Fleurhof helping in whichever way she can. We feel honoured to work with such a sacrificial and selfless woman.

The following is a list of food items distributed by Family Care Ministries volunteers in 2019:

  • 632 food parcels
  • 377 crates of assorted foods, canned and other dry goods
  • 227 kg potatoes, 150 kg vegetables, 36 large heads of cabbage
  • 40 crates of fruit
  • 70 kg frozen vegetables
  • 2,270 kg of a rice
  • 1,400 kg of meat
  • 15,600 loaves of bread
  • 400 kg maize
  • 44 kg of peanut butter
  • 45 cases of sugar sachets
  • 121 kg coffee
  • 900 l of milk
  • 720 dozen eggs
  • 12,500 kg of liquid eggs (egg pulp)

Other Donations

Other donated goods included 3 crates cleaning supplies, 115 bags of clothes, 4 crates of text books, a monitor & keyboard, an oil heater, 4 bags household items, 1800 plates & 300 cups Styrofoam, a bakkie load of saucers & cups, teacher and school desks & chairs, 4 boxes of toys, 10 large boxes of ring folders & assorted office and school supplies.

 

No Kids without School Shoes

In 2017 Family Care Ministries started the campaign “No kids without school shoes”. Throughout 2019 we were able to provide needy families and preschools with 1,420 pairs of shoes. We cannot specify how many of those were school schools but are grateful for the help we received from Sole to Sole who assisted us with shoes.

 

Events & Christmas Programmes

On Heritage Day, the 24th of September, 90 food parcels were distributed to the elderly in Evaton West.  The singing and speeches and delicious meal was enjoyed by all.

Family Care Ministries assisted Ouma Helen again to organise a party for the children, families and elderly at one of the housing blocks in Fleurhof she regularly visits. The jumping castle, ice cream, snacks and stationary gifts were as great a hit as always with the children. Everyone enjoyed a delicious meal together after some song and dance.

Outreach

The donations of 21 boxes of paper were used to print 31,000 gospel tracts, 4,450 Bible Verse booklets, and over 13,000 pages of Bible study course class sheets in two languages. Aside from what was printed by Family Care Ministries, we also distributed 600 Christian magazines and 68 devotional booklets.

While sharing the Gospel one-on-one is most effective, volunteers also used social media such as Facebook and WhatsApp, SMSs and email messages to spread God’s Word and to counsel and encourage others to find faith in Jesus.

Early Childhood Development Training and Workshops

Our main focus  in 2019 was on starting up the EDU-BUILD INSTITUTE’S accredited Early Childhood Development NQF Level 4 certification course. Though we are not allowed to offer the course for free or for a discounted price, we were able to raise some of the start-up cost and running expenses.

Aside from this training programme, Family Care Ministries held 7 other workshops. Two of these were on planning lessons and learning activities for preschool children and fitting these into a daily programme. A total of 70 principals in Orange Farm attended the two meetings/workshops held to discuss training needs and see what assistance centres may need to register and meet government requirements to become eligible for subsidies. Three workshops helped preschool teachers get some important input and training on the developmental needs of babies, toddlers and young children and on various types of activities to use in the classroom. One key purpose of the workshops is to raise the level of awareness among caregivers of the importance of the early years in a child’s life. So many of the struggles that children face in schools is due to the lack of the development of foundational skills that children should be learning about and practicing while in preschool.

Family Care Ministries also donated 2 bakkie loads of used toys, books, and office and stationary supplies to a number of preschools in Orange Farm. Here are some responses from the workshops:

Everything was powerful. I gained something important for my day care centre. Thank you.

The workshop was definitely fruitful. I really appreciated learning about a child’s needs for development and would really like to learn more. Well done, Talitha, you make learning fun.

I have learned a lot with this course work especially on how to stimulate the development of language and communication skills.

I have learned a lot but the three days are too short. You must add more days. We need at least two weeks.

I gained knowledge through the lessons I received during these days I attended. Very good.

Malawi Work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Care Ministries has assisted the outreach work in Malawi for the past 10 years. Our volunteer workers there are actively involved in training pastors and other individuals who have a desire to teach, train, counsel and encourage others. As part of our efforts we sent gospel pamphlets, Bible Study Course Manuals and Bible verse booklets to spread God’s Word and message. Family Care Ministries continues to support farming projects and youth outreach in the area.

Prison Ministry

Family Care Ministries continued the rehabilitation work among inmates at Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Centre in Makhado, Limpopo. Nearly 200 inmates participated in the course we again offered in the three prison sections of this maximum security facility. We provide the course materials which are used by three facilitators to teach the inmates. The facilitators, who are inmates themselves, are overseen by the Chaplain’s office and report to us sending the tests the students write after each chapter. 185 of the students had earned a certificate by the end of 2019. This year Family Care Ministries was again able to mail 68 Christian booklets on different themes to those 14 students who participate in our advanced course. We can clearly see that lives are changing through the lessons and teaching. Here are some responses that we got from inmates:

Piet: Since I believe in Jesus Christ in my life, I saw lots of things that have changed in my spirit, soul and mind. I feel good all the times, I don’t have anger anymore. I know how to pray and how to read the word of God. Reading the word of God affects me in my life. I have experiences according to the word of God. I know how to stay positive all the time. I sleep at night because of the word of God and I believe in Him.

Tebogo: Truly speaking now I really feel relief. It is like something was weighing me down on my shoulders but now I am always happy. God is wonderful and great. Thanks to Him. Before I was having no knowledge according to the word of God. I didn’t know how to read the Bible. But now I know and since I started I even know what God wants from us to be saved. Now I know that I must live plowing my way to heaven not looking at the worldly things because our treasure is in heaven.

David: I am truly grateful for the lessons that you are teaching me. By reading your pamphlets I have found salvation and a deep connection with the Holy Spirit. I now find it easier to meditate on the Word, pray and fast. My spiritual life has been altered. To God be the glory. Thank you!

Nkopodi: Since I became a believer I have experienced the great love that God has for us and how much He cares for us. I have come to understand His Word and that it is life. It is like a rain that never goes out and returns to Him without watering the ground. I am immersed in His Word and saved. Reading the Word of God has affected my life tremendously. I can now meditate and come into connection in the spiritual realm with God. I am filled with joy for I know that His Word says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Appreciate This Wonderful World

Imagine a traveler, sitting quietly in a boat as it floats down a river that meanders through a green valley. Trees and shrubs, some in full bloom, line the riverbank. Majestic, snow-covered peaks rise in the distance. But this traveler doesn’t notice the beauty of his surroundings; he is too busy studying the guidebook, learning about the history of the area and where the river will take him.

“Look up! You’re missing the view!” We call to him, but to no avail. He just keeps on reading, his head bowed, his mind elsewhere.

There are times when we need to study the guidebook, as well as times when we need to think back or forward, but there should also be times when we stop and take in the moment.

For the next week, take five or ten minutes each day to look closely at the world around you. Focus your attention on the fluffy white clouds as they drift effortlessly across the vivid blue sky. Study the intricate design on the petals of a flower, or the graceful architecture of a tree, or the pattern of a flock of birds in flight. Look for something different each day, and thank God for His creativity.

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs,

And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

—William H. Davies (1871–1940)

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.—Anne Frank (1929–1945)

God is the friend of silence. Trees, flowers, grass grow in silence. See the stars, moon, and sun, how they move in silence.—Mother Teresa (1910–1997)

Activities Report for 2018

Help for the Needy

Family Care Ministries volunteers regularly assess the needs of the various community members we have been assisting throughout the year. Our aim is to make a difference and help those who are able to find ways to support themselves.

  • 100 households are receiving regular food assistance in Orange Farm and Evaton West alone.
  • Volunteers go to clean the houses of sick people, cook meals for them and collect medication at the clinic on their behalf.
  • 25 orphans have been provided with study materials and clothing items they needed for school. They also receive food parcels on a monthly basis.
  • A wheel chair and walking sticks were given to 7 disabled people. They also received a Bible and food parcels and clothes regularly.
  • Abused women and children received counselling and were helped to get to social workers for further assistance.
  • Youths taking drugs were referred to a rehabilitation centre for counselling and medical attention.
  • 18 children are helped with their homework and meet for afternoon studies twice a week.
  • Blankets were distributed to the elderly and disabled.

In addition to this, we continued to bring a wholesome hot meal to 120 elderly in Brixton at the end of every month of the past year. Along with the meal we give out fruit and home baked cupcakes. The encouraging words and time spent praying for the elderly make the visit the highlight of the month for many of them.

Because so many children come for food as well, some of our volunteers have prepared hot dogs, and bought snacks and juice for them and pass them out.

Most of the weekly food donations we receive from a supermarket are delivered to Ouma Helen, who is 87 years old now. She continues visiting and ministering to needy families in Industria and Fleurhof helping in whichever way she can. She has started visiting the homeless bringing once a week a warm meal to about 30 of them.

On Heritage Day, the 24th of September, 80 food parcels were distributed to the elderly in Orange Farm.  The local community gathered to sing and dance for them while they enjoyed a delicious meal.

The following is a list of food items distributed by Family Care Ministries volunteers in 2018:

  • 327 food parcels
  • 564 crates of fresh fruits, vegetables, other assorted foods, canned and other dry goods
  • 144 kg frozen vegetables
  • 112 kg of a rice
  • 775 kg of meat
  • 9620 loaves of bread
  • 125 kg maize
  • 17 kg of sugar
  • 284 l of milk
  • 15,300 eggs

 

The Band of Brothers, a group of Christian business friends who have joined Family Care Ministries to make a difference in the lives of families in Orange Farm, have continued to join our volunteers on a monthly basis in visiting and ministering to disadvantaged families & orphan households. The prayer and encouragement offered are as helpful as the food parcels. One single mother who was sleeping with her 5 teenage children on one double bed in a one room shack got a big surprise when an additional room was built for her family paid by one of the business men. It was furnished with a bed for each one them.

No Kids without School Shoes

In 2017 Family Care Ministries started the campaign “No kids without school shoes”. Our volunteers who visit families regularly had noted that some of the children didn’t have any school shoes while others had shoes that were too small or broken beyond repair. In 2018 we were able to provide 341 pairs of school schools to needy children in Orange Farm and Evaton West. We are grateful for the help we received from Sole to Sole and from a caring and concerned business man who provided 150 pairs and helped to distribute them among the children of the families we regularly assist.

Other Donations

Other donated goods included a gas heater and 157 blankets which were distributed during the cold winter months. In addition to the food, caring for the needs of families included the passing out a total of 111 bags of used and new clothes and more than 400 used and new adult and children’s shoes. Family Care Ministries volunteers also distributed 30 dozen sanitary napkins and 550 adult diapers to those who needed and could not afford to get them. A wheel chair and walking sticks were provided for 7 disabled persons.

A friend who was closing down her business gave us 3 bakkie loads of fabric and thread. The material was delivered in Orange Farm and Evaton West and promptly turned into bedspreads, pillow cases and clothes by the ladies who could sew. Nothing went to waste.

Family Care Ministries volunteers also distributed 850 stationary sets, toys and books to children in the area. Four fire extinguishers and four First Aid kits were given to preschools who lacked the finances to purchase this essential safety equipment.

Training

Early Childhood Development Workshops

Our ministry to principals and caregivers who work in the ECD environment continued to grow.  The message to lay a better foundation for the future learning for South Africa’s children in township areas reverberated with many and the sense of personal responsibility in this task is growing. It is becoming better understood that the struggles children face in schools is due to the lack of foundation children received in their early years.

Family Care Ministries held workshops in Ennerdale, Vlakfontein, Eldorado Park, Naturena and Orange Farm. 165 principals and caregivers were able to get some important input and training on the developmental needs of babies, toddlers and young children and on various types of activities to use in the classroom. We received some sponsorship and were able to donate teacher guide books, picture cards and other educational toys to some of preschools but a lot more has to be done to meet the needs.

The caregivers didn’t realize how easy it can be to make a puppet until they tried it. Using a plastic bottle and some fabric they came up with these amazing creations.

Here are some responses from the workshops.

Thank you for the opportunity to come to the workshop. 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. – Lesedi E.C.D. & Preschool

Thank you very much. It is important, motivating, exiting and I learned many things. Please come again.- Mkanyezi Day Care

The workshop makes me feel better and teaches me how to take care of the children at the centre. The pictures that I have seen show me how to take care of and love the children and what I have to do or say in front of them. I’m teaching! I have enjoyed everything that I’ve seen and learned today. – Buhle Smart Beginnings

For me the workshop was good, for us and for the children of Orange Farm. You opened my eyes and let me see that I am very important and I play a big role. I have to keep it up and help the others and come back again. I love what you are doing and I wish you can come to our crèche and guide us. We are with you on your side. We will make it big. – Sedibeng Sa Thutu Day Care

The workshop has been a real eye opener for me because it made me see things that I did not know about. It helped me know how children are like. I am really grateful for it. Thank you for this.- Nkululeko Pre & Nursery School

 

Our volunteer heading Family Care Ministries’ ECD training project was able to meet with 90 principals from the Orange Farm area to discuss plans for 2019.

Thanks to the help of Calulo Foundation we were able to upgrade a preschool in Orange Farm. The roof at Isibuko Sezwe Preschool was leaking into the classrooms every time it rained and some of the support beams had rotted needed replacement. We fixed the problem so the 30 children could be in a safer environment. The drab looking paint was peeling off the walls in places. A young team of volunteers worked for a couple of days to brighten up the classrooms. With Calulo Foundation’s help we supplied the fabric to sow 30 mattress covers that were needed and curtains for the classrooms.

Family Care Ministries donated some used toys and bought some educational toys, teaching aids and books for the children as well. The teacher guide we gave each teacher lists scores of simple-to-do activities that help create a stimulating environment for children. In addition, Family Care Ministries offered 6 training workshops for caregivers from several of the preschools in the area.

Prison Ministry

When a fire was set at Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Centre, the classroom facilities used for Bible studies were damaged. The repairs on the rooms took longer than expected. There were therefore no classes in session during the first half of 2018. Because of this the total number of Bible study enrolments for the year was quite low compared to previous years.

In addition to this we experienced long delays in getting mail to inmates via the postal service which made it difficult to keep the course running. With the help of the residing Chaplain and his office staff though, we did manage to keep classes going for the second half of the year.

Family Care Ministries invested in Christian booklets on different themes to distribute to inmates. We were able to mail 95 to those participating in our advanced course.

Here are some responses that we got from inmates:

I enjoyed the course very much. Since I started this course, I pray and read my Bible daily. This course helped me to understand the Word of God better and now. I love the Word of God. More than anything else in the world, I’m willing to change my life for the better.- Lucky

I enjoyed this course because this course is teaching me about love. It teaches me that without love you’re nothing and other things I need when I go out. It encourages me to stay away from stealing. I thank God for that. Thank you.- Frans

I have enjoyed the course very much and I have also learnt the deep things of God which are hidden that most of the preachers of today don’t teach in the church. They teach so much about motivation and the pleasures of this world. I would like to receive more books of this teaching.- Sifiso

I don’t know how I can say thank you for this course. I thought I was alone. I thought there is no one who loves me. But now I know that there is Someone who loves and cares about me. His name is Jesus. The book of Luke 6:38 says, “Give to others and God will give to you.” There is so much that I learnt in this course.- Siyabonga

I enjoyed the course greatly. It helped me weigh my faith and works as a Christian and helped me see see that I am still lacking in many ways, i.e. helping those who are in need spiritually and material wise. The stories used as examples in your pamphlet taught and motivated me greatly.- Sipho

Christmas Programs and Events

Family Care Ministries did not manage to raise the funds needed to host the yearly large Christmas parties for children in township areas. It was decided that the funds that we were able to raise would be invested in ways that would benefit our dedicated volunteers more directly. They sacrifice their time and put a lot of effort into the work without receiving any remuneration. As most of them do not have jobs, we assisted them in ways that would help them be more effective in their work. Two volunteers received cell phones that would enable them to document their activities and communicate with our chairman and coordinate projects more effectively. A single mother was given a sewing machine that would enable her to make better use of donated fabrics, fix second hand clothing items, and raise some needed support for her family.

Although we cancelled the Christmas parties in Orange Farm, Evaton West and Soweto, Family Care Ministries did assist Ouma Helen who organized again a party for the children at one of the housing blocks she regularly visits. We had brought a jumping castle for the event but found on arrival that there was no electricity in the part of Fleurhof. We had to go in search of a generator and got a much later start than expected. Despite the delays though the children had great fun and spent the time waiting by playing games and showing off their dance skills.

Outreach

Boxes and boxes of paper were used to print 20,200 gospel tracts, 2,440 Bible Verse booklets, over 6,000 pages of Bible study course class sheets, 64 Bible Study Course Teacher Manuals, and other pamphlets in three languages. Aside from what we printed, we also distributed 500 Christian magazines, 47 Bibles and 307 devotional booklets. A member of the Gideons International joined with their daughter to hand out over 100 New Testaments to the elderly and others of the Brixton community.

While sharing the Gospel one-on-one is most effective, volunteers also used social media such as Facebook and Whatsapp, SMSs and email messages to spread God’s Word and to counsel and encourage others to find faith in Jesus.

Malawi Work

Family Care Ministries has had a work in Malawi for the past 9 years now training disciples and leaders who have a desire to teach others to teach others. As part of our outreach we sent gospel pamphlets, Bible Study Course Manuals and Bible verse booklets to assist trainers and trainees to spread God’s Word and message. Family Care Ministries has supported a farming project and youth outreach by supplying 5 soccer and 5 netball balls.

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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