The break every chain event was held in Khayelitsha by Urban Heroes of the Message in partnership with Radio Tygerberg. The urban hero is a guy who was once a problem, and now he is a solution in his community, family and work.
The much anticipated event finally arrived in the community of Khayelitsha, with the people coming in their numbers to fill the auditorium. Radio Tygerberg was there……..The Message SA was there………and so too were our urban heroes, all eagerly waiting for the event to start.
The event commenced with prayer and an overview of the purpose of the event and how it came about.
Following on from this, an urban hero took the stage to present the first speech; the second speaker then gave his story, and both these urban heroes moved the audience to tears. The Message’s Kinetic IV also performed a song for our audience, which was a real blessing to the people.
The families were really touched by the whole event; in particular, one woman was so moved by the testimonies that she couldn’t contain her sobbing, and left the auditorium where she needed to be comforted by one of the pastors.
What made her to cry like that was when the group of urban heroes asked the people for forgiveness for any crimes that might have been committed against them. This affected everyone, to the point that the different pastors took turns praying for the victims of crimes and those who are in abusive relationships. They prayed for us and for those in prison.
This was one event that I believe shook the people to such an extent that they left with renewed hope ignited in their hearts for the good of Khayelitsha.
Chains really broke down and the walls of darkness and separation fell as God took control of the stage and released his people. Parents were asked to come to the front for prayer, and the host of people who responded was testimony to these people being broken and looking for solutions.
Recently we were privileged to have pastors from the Assemblies of God visit our Message Enterprise Programme (MEP) in Drakenstein. Read below a letter of reflection from Pastor Theo Roman and his experience to our MEP class.
To the Reader,
My name is Theo Roman and I am Pastor of the West Reach Assemblies of God (AOG) Church. I am also a father and a community leader in my residential suburb of Westridge in Mitchells Plain. Having lived on the Cape Flats for many years, I have been exposed to the realities of the societal challenges that plague our communities, and the resultant effect upon families, but particularly upon the youth. I therefore carry a burden for fathers and young people.
I visited the Drakenstein Correctional Facility (DCS) in November of 2015 and again in January this year as a guest of The Message Trust. Our perspective of life inside of the prison is formed mostly from second hand knowledge. Great was my surprise when I came into contact with twenty-seven young men who exude hope and discipline with the vision and resolve to give back to the communities that they once took from.
Listening to their stories, the common vein that runs through each young man is that of fatherlessness and the adverse effect this had upon their lives. Whilst they now take personal accountability for their past actions, one cannot shun the lack of proper mentoring and grooming that contributed to rendering these young men vulnerable.
The Message Entreprise Programme (MEP), coupled with the spiritual emphasis inculcated by The Message Trust, demands of churches and church leaders to embrace these young men prior to their release, and to ensure that they are correctly assimilated into society upon release and thereby break the cycle of re-offending.
My visit afforded me the opportunity to interact with these young men, share the Word of God with them and enjoy the Breaking of Bread as commanded by the Lord Jesus. My observation of them is that there is a sense of genuineness without ignoring the flaws inherent to the process of character formation in their past lives. Whilst it is difficult to overlook these, one is imbued with an enduring hope that should they stay true to the programme, and find themselves accepted within a community of people after their release, it will enhance their healing and restoration.
I believe that in communities where the pervasive culture of gangsterism and violence has caused a rift between fathers and sons, we have a mission field in which the 45 pastors that visited DCS desire to aid in the reconstruction of society and the family unit. The church that I lead, is poised to accept a newly released young man from DCS and the membership have been desensitised against stigmatiszation. We believe that we can make a difference and be a role model to other faith-based institutions.
I wish to reiterate my opening comments, by emphasising that I have a burning desire to be a father to sons who have lost their way in life, a father to sons who have need of a mentor. I’ve also surrounded myself with spiritual fathers with similar convictions, and my daily prayer is to see the hearts of the biological fathers turned back to their own sons, so that together we can restore the laughter and joy on the streets of our communities.
(Chairperson: The Assemblies of God, Association – South Africa)
On Friday 4th March, KineticIV departed the shores of Cape Town to participate in The Higher tour hosted by The Message UK. 19 hours of flying time later, we finally arrived in an icy Manchester, to a warm welcome by Tim Owen, who had waited patiently while Border Control cross questioned us for 2 hours!
Our first gig took place on Sunday 6 March at the Lighthouse Church in Trafford as guests of Paul Hallam. We performed to about 150 people who so enjoyed our performance that we were asked to perform an encore at the end of the service. KineticIV was then invited to do a video interview (documentary) for a college that attended the service
On Monday 7 March, we had an early start as we headed out to our first school, namely Kingsway School. This was the very same school that Nick Shalavi from Vital Signs (one of our Message UK bands) had attended and from which he got suspended! The first day was quite a “culture shock”: we had all the kids stand and join in the performance, but the moment we started ALL the students sat down again. We quickly learnt that we needed to amend our approach, so it was back to the drawing board. With Tim’s guidance we developed a new formula which proved successful with the remainder of the schools we visited. The schools we visited and our other activities for the rest of our stay included:
8 March 2016
Hindley High: together with Twelve24 we performed to around 500 kids.
9 March 2016
Kingsway School (again); the afternoon was spent at The Message offices helping out at Genetik sessions.
10 March 2016
Kingsway School (3rd time!), this time to 200 kids; later we had studio time at The Message office, before an evening performance at Thursday Night Live.
11 March 2016
Spent the day in studio, followed by the evening on the Eden Bus
16 March 2016
Ramillies, a special needs Private school; we did a dance workshop and mini performance.
18 March 2016
Manchester Grammar, our final school performance.
The team were really blessed by their visit to Ramillies where Mr Colin Richards was our contact. The kids welcomed the training workshop and the performance was also a hit. The teachers were amazed to see how 2 learners in particular reacted to the music. One of the boys had severe autism and the other suffered from cerebral palsy. The teacher told us that the boy suffering from autism had run out of the hall the last time they had a music act, while the boy with cerebral palsy only ever moved when he walked to his classes. Both boys were on their feet dancing and screaming “We are enjoying this”. The teacher was really blown away by this, to the extent that he called his colleagues and kitchen staff to witness the miracle as it unfolded.
The Higher Tour took place between 16 and 20 March 2015 and was hosted at the 02 Apollo. Over the four days we performed to approximately 5,000 young people. The highlight of the tour was Friday evening where we experienced the Apollo packed to capacity. We witnessed about 1500 people respond to the Gospel that week, even an 83 year old lady. YES, 83!!!!
Over 450 people attended our third annual Vision Night banquet hosted at Jubilee Community Church. Through the amazing cooperation of the Department of Correctional Services, 21 students from our in-prison Message Enterprise Programme (MEP) were among the guests. Angus Buchan, our key note speaker, had been into the prison earlier that day and shared the Gospel with around 300 offenders, as well as spending some time with the MEP class. “When I look at these young men I have hope for the future of our country… they’ve got fire in their eyes!” he told the Vision Night guests.
Vision Night provides The Message with an opportunity to share stories of what God is doing through the organisation, as well as show appreciation for our partners and supporters.
KineticIV kicked off the evening giving the audience a taste of how they share the Gospel with young people in schools and youth groups across the city. Following Uncle Angus’ inspirational address, Tim Tucker (Message SA CEO) shared about our goals to empower young people, equip the church, eradicate gangsterism and expand into Africa. “We want to see young people become role models, build strong Christian families, become constructive and positive citizens, and be empowered to shape the future.”
Chumani Ndzala gave insight into what this looks like in reality. He works in one of Message’s micro-enterprises – Gangstar Furniture. “My job reminds me of my life. I turn old wood into beautiful products… the things people cast off as rubbish, still have amazing potential. And that is what God has done with my life.”
The evening culminated in a powerful and emotional performance by the MEP students who led the guests in two worship songs. Many in the audience were in tears as they witnessed first-hand the transforming power of the Gospel in the lives of the young men.
Message UK CEO, Andy Hawthorne, closed the evening with a rousing challenge to support The Message and partner in raising up generations of urban heroes.
For me, there has always been something captivating about South Africa. Before my trip with The Message, I had visited the country on other occasions and had fallen in love with its people, its landscape, its heartbeat. So when I made the decision to spend three months volunteering with The Message – a charity I also love – in South Africa, I was expectant that I would see a great move of God happening. The trip exceeded my expectations!
The Message SA operates out of a little office space in a business park, which in no way parallels the scale of the charity’s vision. I was immediately welcomed in to the Message SA family as if I had been part of the team since it began. The Message in South Africa follows the pattern of The Message UK, with its unashamed focus on evangelism and the power of Christ to restore but adapted it to be relevant to the culture of Cape Town.
Gangsters to gentlemen
Prison ministry is a major focus here because of the powerful grip of gangsterism on South African society. I had the privilege of attending a session of the Message Entrepreneurial Program in Drakenstein Prison. This is led by Jennifer Belcher, a trained lawyer who has been completely captured by the need of the young inmates in South African prisons and spends her time training them to be entrepreneurs. In this class, the men were discussing their own business models and learning to think like CEOs – they were incredibly articulate and most of what they were talking about was way beyond my knowledge level! I was deeply impressed. Some of the men also stood up and shared about their past experiences and were treated by their inmates with encouragement and respect. There was such a feeling of unity within the room. When they led me around their cell, a small room where around 25 of them stayed, I noticed Bibles neatly tucked under pillows and Hillsong posters on the walls. You can imagine how different this must have been to their previous lives.
I was so happy to meet with the guys again for their graduation ceremony, which happens when they have successfully completed a year on the programme. This was such a joyous event, with plenty of family and friends present in the audience and many sweet old mamas tearing up at the sight of their sons in graduation robes. The most memorable moment for me was when all of the class held hands and sung at the top of their lungs, ‘My chains are gone, I’ve been set free…’ It was so powerful seeing young men who were in true physical bondage, jubilantly proclaiming the freedom they have found in Christ.
What I truly love about The Message is their desire to provide support for these young men once they have been released from prison. This is not only spiritual, but practical help. I became close friends with several of the ex-offender that now work under The Message running small enterprises. These include a clothing range, an ice cream company and a furniture business. It was eye-opening learning about their stories – not only the struggle of township life that led that many of them to make poor decisions, but the fact that some of them used to be South Africa’s most wanted men. I couldn’t connect the violent, dangerous men they told me they were to the softly-spoken gentlemen that I knew them to be. Every time I spoke to them, I felt so proud to be part of an organisation that offered men like this such a radical second chance.
Community up close
A third area that The Message focuses on is community transformation, known as Eden. To me, this was all about restoring hope to communities that had long felt forgotten about. I was part of leading a club called ‘Thursday is Girl’s Day’ where the young girls from the local area were invited to the Eden team leader’s house after school. Instead of wandering the streets or sitting alone in their run-down houses, they were able to find a safe haven to socialise, share their hopes and dreams and make rainbow cookies! This soon turned into a Bible study, which was actually what the girls were most excited about.
Eden also partners with a local church to deliver the most amazing feeding scheme for homeless women and their children, the majority of whom live in the most appalling conditions under a railway bridge. The women collect recycling all week and are then able to trade this in for points to spend on toiletries, clothes and food items. This system is especially effective, because it gives the women a sense of dignity as they have worked hard collecting items all week in order to earn points. It further enables them to choose what is most necessary for them at that particular time, rather than being handed a general package. Even though the actual day of points trading was noisy, messy and absolutely chaotic, it was one of my favourite things to be involved in. I loved seeing the delight and appreciation when these women found a little shirt that perfectly fit their child or their favourite flavour of soup was on offer that day.
A dream come true
I also got a chance to see a childhood dream come true and pretend I was part of the Message South Africa’s first mission band, Kinetic IV. I travelled with them to the rural community of Citrusdal to partner with Hebron Community Project. Here, I saw them perform to 250 unbelievably excited children at Paardekop Primary School and lead a three-hour creative programme. The next day, we opened the doors of Hebron’s community centre to the whole village. Tiny infants, high school kids and grandparents came from far and wide for the time of worship, dancing and prayer. I was able to anoint sweet old ladies with oil and pray for healing, despite my inability to speak a word of their language! After our trip, when reflecting on the impact of this mission to Citrasdal, Neil Hall, the Chairman of Hebron exclaimed, ‘The Valley will never be the same again!’ It was evident that the message of Christ had stirred hope and excitement in so many hearts that weekend, and the villagers felt united to one another in a way they had not experienced before.
A final memory for me that I feel is worth mentioning was taking on the Three Peaks Challenge. As The Message’s annual fundraiser, we challenged ourselves to climb the Three Peaks of Cape Town (Lion’s Head, Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain) in one day – which is an extremely physically exhausting task. There were around 60 of us that attempted at least one mountain and there was such an incredible team spirit present the whole time. I valued every minute because as I climbed, I was able to learn many people’s personal stories – whether ex-gangsters, the charity’s director or an international volunteer just like me. Everybody pushed themselves to their own limit and we raised much-needed funds in the process. Reaching the top of that last mountain was an experience I will never forget and reminded me that achievements worth having take time, effort and overcoming hurdles.
I am forever changed by my experiences with Message South Africa and I am certain that I will one day return to this country and the people that I love so deeply.
If you would like to do a short missions trip with the Message Trust or a one year internship, please email [email protected]
This year’s Proximity Conference was held from the 23rd to the 24th of October. This was the second Proximity hosted by The Message Trust since we launched the charity in February 2014. The conference was held at the Warehouse in Wetton, Cape Town and was the first time we included a youth event on the Friday evening before the main conference on the Saturday.
The purpose of the Proximity conference was to gather like-minded Christians who are passionate about reaching urban youth in the toughest communities across Cape Town. It was encouraging to have many church representatives from some of our most challenging communities.
The Friday youth event was amazing! We had over 100 young people attend from all over Cape Town. The evening started with a session of inspirational worship led by a worship band from Common Ground Church. During the evening we also had our own Message SA band Kinetic IV perform a number of their songs to the young people in attendance.
Andy Hawthorne (founder of The Message Trust) gave an appeal for all young people to rise up and imitate the great heroes of the faith of recent years and commit themselves to becoming “Slaves to Christ”. One exciting outcome of the evening was 5 young people indicating that they would be interested in joining one of our 3 Eden Cape Town teams!
Saturday’s conference began with worship by the Jubilee Community Church band. Our two keynote speakers were Vuyo Nyabaza and Brett “Fish” Anderson. Both speakers challenged the audience to live authentic lives and match the gospel that we proclaim. The conference also hosted four seminars discussing topics around Urban Mission in Cape Town.
The afternoon of the conference included a panel discussion which was made up of all key note and seminar speakers and was chaired by Alastair Buchanan. The panel discussed questions from the audience which were texted in throughout the conference. The panel was followed by another stunning performance from KineticIV and was followed by an inspiring challenge by Andy Hawthorne about following in the footsteps and example of the Salvation Army in serving urban poor in Cape Town.
The conference closed with a rallying call from Tim Tucker our national director. Tim ended the day by inviting the whole conference to come up and pray for our latest Eden team who were commissioned for mission in Pelican Park with our partner church, Cape Gateway International Church.
Proximity illustrated that God is moving across Cape Town and stirring the hearts of his people to move into some of our most needy communities to share the love of God through word and deed. Eden teams are always planted in partnership with local churches with the goal to assist them in becoming more missional amongst young people in their community.
If you would like to find out more about Eden please contact our Eden Regional Director Alastair Buchanan on [email protected]
It is always wonderful to see churches from different denominations and communities coming together to discuss reaching Cape Town with the gospel. Last Wednesday in Rondebosch East churches and organisations in areas ranging from Khayelitsha to Kenilworth and Ocean View to Mowbray came together to do just that.
30 pastors and leaders gathered for a lunch provided by The Message, to hear Andy Hawthorne , Tim Tucker and Steve Van Rhyn speak about The Message’s vision for the Cape. Other communities represented by leaders at the lunch were: Delft; Muizenberg; Wetton; Capricorn Park; Nyanga; Tambo Village; and Athlone. It was really encouraging, given our country’s history, to see such an excellent cross-section of Christian institutions there – from the more affluent areas to the poor and also fairly evenly representing all the major race-groupings in Cape Town.
We were warmly and efficiently hosted and served, at their venue, by the Cape Bible Fellowship.
The lunch was opened with an introduction by Alastair Buchanan, our new Church-Liaison Officer. Alastair shared that The Message Trust mission is to raise up generations of urban heroes and it does this through four streams – Creative Mission; Community Transformation; Prison ministry and Christ-centred Enterprise. All of these streams are ways to serve local churches, especially those in disadvantaged communities that require encouragement and support.
Andy Hawthorne, the founder of The Message and leading International Director shared The Message Trust vision (check this video) for the lost in our cities and our eagerness to assist churches in reaching young people with the Gospel of Christ and discipling them.
Andy was followed by Tim Tucker (SA National Director), who explained how churches and organisations could practically get involved in this passion to “Raise generations of Urban Heroes” out of tough communities struggling with “poverty, unemployment, gangsterism and crime” to become “Godly leaders in their families and communities for generations to come “. The final input was a warm personal testimony from Steve Van Rhyn, the leading elder of Jubilee (the first church in SA to become an Eden-partner with The Message).
To close Andy, Tim and Alastair formed a Q & A panel and answered questions that the guests put to them about church partnership.
Overall it was a wonderful event and we hope to facilitate further discussions with local churches about serving them kingdom mission across Cape Town. The feedback we received from pastors and organisations was very positive and we will be arranging meetings to discuss how we can work together in the future.
If you would like to know more about how The Message Trust can serve your church please contact [email protected]