Back in 2011, there was a little church in Springs, South Africa in need of help. Springs is a city on the edge of Johannesburg. Newly ordained Louis Scheepers and his wife, Yolandi, were asked to come and lead this struggling church. Louis smiles and says, “They were very brave to allow me, this young guy, to come in.” The church flourished, growing to four services.
As the church grew, Louis and Yolandi were introduced to the concept of church planting and were surprised at how it captured their hearts. There was a lot they didn’t know, but they started considering potential locations. Louis recalls, “I knew how to grow a church. I didn’t know how to start a church from nothing.”
Then God sent family and random strangers to confirm the calling to plant and Cape Town as the location. Louis’ parents reached out, knowing something big was going on because God had placed a heavy burden for the couple on their hearts. Strangers, on two separate occasions, shared Isaiah 54:2 with them. “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.” They added, “Don’t be afraid to start this ministry.” Then a medical doctor told Louis that he must move to Cape Town due to his very serious asthma.
But still, the question lingered: ”How do we do this?” As they started looking for help, they heard about CTC, Al Barth and CTC’s four-week International Intensive training program for church planters. They applied to the program, and Yolandi, in school at the time, moved the dates of her exams, feeling certain they would be invited. She was right, and they came.
Many people in Cape Town are lonely. One person told Yolandi and Louis, “I’ve lived here for three years and have no friends.” So after arriving, they focused on relationships. In six months, they had about 100 people through their apartment doors.
They established a core group and launched Pro Deo Church in February 2017. But there are challenges:
The rhythm of life in Cape Town is one where people hesitate to commit to attending a weekly church service. They would rather leave their schedules open to accommodate a possible trip out of town or to the beach.
Church culture for kids in Cape Town involves studying very hard to pass difficult confirmation exams. Consequently, church is equated with legalism, and young adults want nothing to do with it.
But Louis and Yolandi keep working hard. They go rollerblading every Thursday night to meet people. They’ve given away water, coffee and Valentine’s Day roses with invitations to Pro Deo.
...we sense God asking, ‘Will you trust me? I’ve promised to build my church.’
It can get a bit overwhelming. Louis says, “When we get discouraged, we sense God asking, ‘Will you trust me? I’ve promised to build my church. You’re doing your part. Will you trust me to do the rest?’ And then I remind myself that this is not me building the church. It’s God. Church planting is really hard, but we have 100% confidence that we are doing the right thing.”
Yolandi shared a final thought. “To be able to introduce people to Jesus for the first time is such a privilege. Because of CTC, we were able to plant this church. We have an eight-year old child attending our church who knew nothing about God. He loves coming, and he’s going to get his first Bible. You may never meet him, but you are a part of this. There is also a single mom in our church. The father walked out, and she started coming to church when the baby was three months old. Now everyone loves this family and is sharing life with them. The reach of CTC is much further than you will ever know.”