Hello dear Christian friends,
It has been a while since our last update, and we thought to take this opportunity not only to fill you in on what has been happening here at Rose of Sharon but also to thank you for partnering with us in the work the Lord has called us to do this past year. 2020 has been a difficult year filled with many challenges, but it has also been a year of blessing as we have looked to the Lord for His help, leading and guidance.
2020 saw our country brought to its knees with the COVID-19 pandemic. With the strict lockdown regulations our economy was crippled. Unprecedented numbers of people lost their jobs and we have never seen so many folks on our street corners begging for food despite the strict protocols in place. Our movements were drastically curtailed, and we were warned that with our comorbidities, both of us fell into the high-risk category and were ordered to stay at home. With these challenges we had to find a different way of continuing with the work of evangelism and mercy.
With the Lord’s help and your wonderful financial support, we were able to set up a system whereby we could buy grocery vouchers and send them via mobile phones to those who had access to phones. We were also able to send cash donations via ATM’s to many folks who lived within reach of an ATM. We were also able to stay in contact with many of our Pastors and elders and encourage them during this testing time.
Some of the low points of this last year were Des breaking her foot in February and Gavin falling and injuring himself in October, which has led to a lengthy recovery. The lockdown which came into effect in March saw some friends and family being infected during the months of April to July. Ouma Klara, the principal of Tiny Tots passed away earlier in the year. Fikile was robbed of her mobile phone at knife point and we had to replace it in order to stay in contact with the family. Pastor Kubheka of the Kwa Lubisi Church being held hostage and nearly murdered while doing his job working for our Electricity Supply Commission in October and then just weeks later, the Kubheka’s home was broken into and ransacked. In November we received the sad news of the passing of Pastor Eddie Tom’s wife in Graaf Reinet.
Despite the lows there has been the persistent high of the Lord’s hand on our lives, blessing us in ways so unexpected and intervening in our circumstances, leading, and nudging us in the ways we should go. We are so grateful for modern technology and being able to worship with fellow believers via Zoom and YouTube as well as attending prayer meetings in the same manner. This has made the “loss” of not attending church bearable although we still long for Christian fellowship and being able to sing God’s praises together in corporate worship.
Gradually the pandemic started to ease, and infection rates dropped, and we were gradually lowered to level 1 lockdown restrictions which hardly affected us at all. We started preparing for our Christmas outreach only to be hit with a 2nd wave of a more virulent strain of COVID-19 which has left our country reeling with the highest rate of infections and deaths that we have ever had. We are now back to level 3 lockdown restrictions and our movements are once again curtailed. Thankfully, we were prayerfully able to do physical Christmas outreaches to the areas of Kliptown, Paddevlei and Eldorado Park. These are sprawling shanty towns and slum areas in the province of Gauteng. It is mandatory for us to wear masks but unfortunately, we found very few people wearing them and no children with masks on. This made the outreaches extremely unsafe. Every time we stopped, we were swamped by hordes of desperate children and adults alike all pushing and shoving with no social distancing, no masks and absolutely no sanitizing. Unfortunately, because of the chaos we were unable to take any photos.
We had in the meantime started a “virtual bucket” fundraiser, whereby folks could donate cash instead of filling a bucket with groceries. Large cash donations were sent to Redeeming Grace Fellowship in Dovho, Khakhala Christian Church in the village of Khakhala, Graaf Reinet Baptist church, Kwa Lubisi Baptist Church in Pongola, Bizana Baptist Church in Mbizane and Undungi Christian Fellowship in the village of Undungi in the Transkei. The Pastors of these churches have undertaken to buy groceries for the neediest folks in their congregations and to buy some sweeties for the Sunday School children in lieu of a Christmas party.
We were also blessed to be able to continue to support numerous very needy families during the lockdown. Most of you would know of Patricia, her daughter Fikile and the 5 grandchildren all living in a tiny shack in Paddevlei. With the lockdown they were prevented from foraging for firewood to cook and heat water etc, so we undertook to provide coal on a weekly basis. In addition to their usual support Sharon of Sharon has also undertaken to supply groceries for the whole family on a monthly basis. We have been doing this since March and will continue into the foreseeable future. They have virtually none of the basic amenities that we tend to take for granted, although electricity was installed in their shack late last year. The family desperately needed a fridge so for Christmas Rose of Sharon bought them a fridge. It was delivered amidst great excitement as well as a host of other items including toys for the Children for Christmas and a stationary pack containing everything each child needed to start the new school year. Please do look at the photos below.
We continue to support Tiny Tots Day Care Centre although we have not had the opportunity to visit them since the passing of Ouma Klara. The new School Principal is Ouma Klara’s daughter in law, so we feel hopeful that all is well there.
On Christmas eve, Des cooked her usual Christmas meals for the many beggars on our street corners. Because these folks stand on busy street corners where it is nearly impossible to stop for more than a few seconds we were able to take only a few photos but please do have a look at some below.
So, friends as we go into a new year, we need not fear the unknow because our Lord God is with us. Our aim and challenge for the New Year is to live by these words found in Colossians 3:16-17
“16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
With much love in Christ from us both and all at Rose of Sharon
Gavin and Des