Soweto Church Plant Aids in Racial Reconciliation

Editor's Note: Sihle and Gigi Mooi are planting in Soweto, the largest township in South Africa just outside of Johannesburg. Townships were created during apartheid and became centers of resistance. Today Soweto is a vibrant city in its own right, but many visible reminders of the past remain. The challenges involved in planting a gospel centered church in this township are enormous. Please pray for Sihle and Gigi as they develop their church.

In 2008, my husband Sihle and I planted Soweto Community Church. We have many hopes and desires for this community. We hope to be catalysts for racial healing, reconciliation and justice in South Africa — one of the most racially polarized countries in the world. God seems to be accomplishing that in the most unexpected of ways.

20% of the world's orphans live in Southern Africa. North Pretoria is one of the most conservative (white) Afrikaans communities in all of South Africa, and from this region came the system of Apartheid which separated and subjugated all people based upon race.  Most recently, we've begun to work with a home for abandoned babies in North Pretoria that is run by a couple from an Afrikaans church there. The home began receiving black babies, something which increasingly alienated them from their Afrikaans community and resulted in their no longer having a church home. As a result, they asked us (all the way in Soweto) to baptize their seven abandoned babies.

One of these is Usher (pictured), three months old, who was born in a field in Soweto and left to die. By the time police found him he was dead — frozen solid from hypothermia. He was wrapped him in a blanket and the police were taking him to the morgue when the officer decided to take him to the hospital instead. Usher's life is truly a miracle. He has had some serious physical repercussions from the hypothermia, though — a very weak and stiff neck which constantly made his head fall backward, and brain damage. You can see in this photo I have my hand on his neck as I'm praying healing over him. On that day, God healed him completely! I visited the orphanage a few days later and the house Mother said he was a completely different child.  His neck is completely normal and the doctor has given him a perfect bill of health! He's now in the process of being adopted!  

We were overjoyed to dedicate the seven abandoned babies, and had no idea that — along with the babies — would come 16 Afrikaaners from North Pretoria to our little church in the largest black township in all of South Africa! Most of them have been church goers their entire lives but had never been in a church service with black people. Three of them spent more than 20 years in the Military Police Force under the Apartheid government, and even violently patrolled the streets of Soweto not far from where our church now stands. After the babies were dedicated, one who was a Colonel in the Apartheid Military (who was unwilling to even touch black babies two years ago) gave a tearful testimony of how the Lord was using these little babies to change his life and heart with regard to racial prejudice. Sihle brought several of our Sowetan leaders to the front, then invited these Afrikaaner military men to come forward and be embraced by our black leaders. There were many tears shed in those precious moments.

Most of the babies in this home come from Soweto, but there are hardly any places to care for such children in Soweto, so they are taken all the way to Pretoria and other neighboring cities. Sihle and I have an enormous vision for this enormous need; to raise up these such vulnerable children with nurturing, a love for the Lord, and a burden for the restoring and rebuilding of this beautiful country. We are planning to launch a Children's Village for orphaned/ abandoned children, and eventually a home for abandoned babies attached to our own home. Please pray for all the pieces and the funding to fall into place to enable such a great need in our community to be met. May we raise up a new generation! And please continue to pray for deep, Gospel transformation in the Afrikaans community, and that God will use us in that process.

You can find photos of the baptism here.

Many, many thanks from the heart of South Africa