One of the harsh realities of profound poverty is frequent trauma. A study recently conducted in one of the vulnerable communities near Pretoria found that seventy percent of its children suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The challenge of a traumatized society becomes even more difficult when the role models in the lives of children and families do not know how to recognize and minister to those who suffer. Day care and safe house workers often correct or punish unwanted behavior without being equipped to identify and minister to its underlying causes. Sometimes in churches, women and children who cry out in grief are sent to deliverance ministry before being asked what is wrong!
The dilemma of communities, churches, and crèches ill-equipped to minister to trauma is an opportunity for the church to bring life. Over the past two years, Chandra has worked with one of our partner organisations here in South Africa to train safe house personnel in caring for the traumatized children who come to them. More recently, she and a social worker were invited to train a group of pastors from a suffering community north of Pretoria. The pastors diligently took notes, asked questions, and requested that they please come back and bring more training.
What an exciting opportunity! Please pray with us that the God of all Comfort and the Prince of Peace will turn the tide of trauma away from this beautiful country. We so love being part of advancing His kingdom in this nation!
2016 so far: highlights at Berakah
After years of pushing through for a few significant achievements in 2014 and 2015, this year has brought several breakthroughs with it by August.
The kitchen walls have been plastered and painted. The bare concrete floors are now leveled and tiled. A hand washing basin (sink) is now installed, as well as a geyser (water heater). This improvements are a significant step towards meeting health code requirements for certification.
A local building company installed and painted gutters on our classroom buildings. Additionally, they weather-sealed the roof on one classroom building. The stoops in front of the classroom blocks have been repaired and new steps added to meet safety requirements, and all of the bathroom stalls are newly painted.
As a non-profit organization in South Africa, Berakah must comply with many regulatory and governance requirements overseen by several different agencies in the South African government. Many of these requirements had never been fulfilled by previous leadership due to lack of awareness. In addition, the purchase of land for Berakah in the mid-1990s had never been completely finalized, leaving the center with no title deed for its own property.
Prayer points for further breakthrough
It's only August, and we are believing God for more breakthrough in 2016! Please pray with us as we push through in the following areas.
Hearing and Vision Screening for the children
What crazy person decides to read in the book of Numbers for devotional time? Yeah, me… that’s who. What tedium! What boredom! “All Scripture is God-breathed,” I remind myself. So what is all this counting about? Why is this here? And why I am I spending this moment in time reading it?
That moment counted because God spoke to my heart. “At the Lord’s command through Moses, each was assigned his work and told what to carry. Thus they were counted, as the Lord commanded Moses.” (Numbers 4:49, NIV)
At the command of God, each person was counted. If God has counted each and every one, why do I waste so much time discounting myself? Every person counts. The work they do, counts. You count.
As I move through our city, I am overwhelmed by the sheer population counts. So many people! But each one with a story. Each one loved and counted by God. Including me. Broken, crazy me. My surrendered, laid down life counts. I have an assigned work by the living God that matters. So I will stop counting my list of items that disqualify me and hear the word of the Lord.
There are so many people waiting, searching, longing to know that they count to someone, anyone. The someone they long for is Father. But how will they know, unless I stop discounting myself and tell them?
Every person counts!
Because You See
2015 was a year of many trips to long-queued government offices in bustling downtown Pretoria for Chandra as she worked to resolve some issues that had arisen with Berakah's governance as a registered non-profit organisation in South Africa. Here is her reflection of one of those days in city centre.
Pretoria City Center… again. Loud, dirty, buzzing with people. I must be watchful. Keep my bag close. Trust few, if any. The inefficiency of the government offices is maddening. I wonder if a fresh coat of paint, a little bit of deep cleaning, and better lighting wouldn’t cheer everyone up, especially those who have chosen the role of public servant.
I give the required paperwork for the third time. And leave unsatisfied, but hopeful that maybe, just maybe, a little bit more progress will be made. Then I move on to the next government office, attempting to get answers to clear the way forward, the future of Berakah threatened by her history.
I noticed him as I hurried past. Dirty, scrawny, knees pulled up to his chest. Blind, with a Styrofoam cup in his hands. No sound from him as the world whizzed by. But I saw him.
On my way back, I decided to get him a burger and a drink and just sit with him for a while. Me, a nicely dressed white woman, sipping a coke on the dirty city street with a shriveled black man whom nobody seemed to see.
But I saw him. Only because, God, you did.
I had to grab his hand to direct him to the cup. When was the last time he felt human touch? When I first touched his arm, I startled him and he shifted away. But he took the coke and guzzled it as if he had wandered in a desert for days. I then directed his hands to the cheeseburger. He took only one hungry bite before putting the rest in his pocket. Perhaps he didn’t want to be greedy. When would his next meal come?
He reached out his hand to me a few times. I guess to see if I was still near. I was. But only because, God, you are.
He tried to hear me speak in his one good ear. I don’t think he could hear or understand my words. I hope he could feel Your love, Your compassion. The people continued to walk by as the two of us sat. They looked. But I don’t think they saw.
Thank you, Lord, that you see, you hear, you care, and you are near. In that moment, all the business no longer mattered. All that mattered was him. Is YOU.
“Nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.” —Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Mike & Chandra Noviskie,
missionaries to South Africa
CCF Missions is a ministry of Christian City Fellowship.