South Africa’s first Mission Station has now become a mission field. Genadendal is located 140km up the N2 from Cape Town and is near the picturesque town of Greyton. The first Mission station in South Africa was started by the German Moravian Missionary George Schmidt, in 1738, amongst the Khoi people. This once flourishing mission station is now a forgotten village that is struggling with the challenges of drug abuse, alcoholism, immorality, AIDS and poverty. Some of the pastors and guardians of the children believe the situation in Genadendal is hopeless and that youth there are a lost generation. In response to this, Frontline Fellowship was invited to initiate a series of outreaches in Genadendal, believing that Jesus came to seek and save what is lost and that He promised that what is impossible with men is possible with God (Mark 10:27)!
Genadendal Mission Museum
The Genadendal Mission Museum is well worth a visit. To visit Genadendal’s church square, Die Werf, is to journey back in time. It boasts both a watermill in working condition and a fascinating museum that gives visitors insight into life in Genadendal centuries ago. There are also many interesting artefacts such as an old Heidelberg printing press, a pottery wheel, musical instruments, textbooks used at the first teachers’ training college in South Africa started as part of the Mission, and many of the old tools and implements used at the smithy. The original Moravian Mission church houses the oldest pipe organ in the country.
Meeting with the Museum’s Director
I met with the Director of the Museum, who strangely enough is a Hindu! I evangelised him and encouraged him about the potential of the Museum as a tourist attraction.
Children’s Ministry at Bereaville
On 6 July, I went with Francis and Joseph to help with a children’s holiday programme at the Moravian Church in Bereaville, which is an area adjacent to Genadendal. There were about 40 children at this event.
We gave three presentations at this meeting. The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived (Die Mees Belangrikste Mens - translated from Dr Peter Hammond’s PowerPoint), The Ten Commandments and the Evangelism Explosion Kids Gospel Presentation.
Most of the children in this area are very neglected by their parents (if they even know who their parents are), and so often misbehave in order to get attention. We had to shout many times and be innovative to get them all to keep quiet and listen to the presentations.
Holiday Programme with the Grace Foundation
Dr Roland Graser’s inter-denominational Grace Foundation organises children’s upliftment programmes during each school holiday. I had the opportunity to speak at this programme each day, for three days in a row. I spoke on The Rich Young Ruler, The Ten Commandments and theEvangelism Explosion EE Gospel Presentation.
Calling All Children
We tried to get more children to come to the meetings through driving around Genadendal in our bakkie using Oom Roland’s “loud hailer”. About 20 children participated in the programme.
Building Relationships Through Sport
In order to burn some of the mischievous energy of the children, we also played cricket and soccer with them. It seemed like the children were very appreciate of us spending time with them.
Jesus Film Screenings
We screened the Jesus Film in Afrikaans on three consecutive nights, in three different locations. On the first night we screened it out in the open, up against a white wall. I approached teenagers gathered around a fire and began a Gospel conversation with them. They acknowledged that they knew taking drugs is a sin. I invited them to watch the film. Children came out of their houses bringing crates to sit on. Eventually there were about 30 people watching the film. The second night we showed the Jesus Film at the Moravian Church in Bereaville. About 40 people, mostly children, came to watch. On the third night, we showed the film in the Moravian Church in Voorstekraal, another area overlapping with Genadendal. I preached a Gospel message on two of the evenings and Ryno, once. We paused the film at the Crucifixion and used this as the perfect springboard for asking “Why did Jesus hang upon the Cross?” We preached a straight message on the Holiness of God, the seriousness of sin and the need for repentance and surrender to the Lordship of Christ.
Set Free in Prison
On the last day that we were there, a man who was converted to Christ in prison came to share his testimony with the children. He also warned them about where they would end up if they pursued a life of crime. What shocked the children the most however, was his revelation that you do not get any sugar on your cereal or porridge in prison!
We gave each person who attended the Jesus Film screenings tracts in Afrikaans including: Where Will You Spend Eternity?, The Greatest Book in the World and also several from the Christian Literature Fund: The Way to God, Good News of the Gospel, ABCs of Spiritual Growth, Unemployed? Work to Find Work, and “I was too Scared to Talk to Jesus”. We also distributed JUIG! tydskrifte to adults.
Opportunity to Share the Gospel with a Muslim
One good thing I can say about Genadendal, is that there are very few Muslims there!I had an opportunityto share the Gospel with a Muslim who said that he used to be a Christian. We challenged him about the Deity of Christ and God’s Justice.
During another Mission to Genadendal, we had the opportunity to go from class to class at one of the schools, giving the Traffick Proof presentation (originally developed by Justice Acts). This presentation warns children about the ways traffickers trick children, teaches them good questions to ask to evaluate scenarios and tells them who to call if they are in danger. Trafficking is a reality in Genadendal! Some children told me about a white van that picked up some children who were never seen again! This presentation provides an excellent springboard to the Gospel. We explained how we are slaves to sin and we need Jesus Christ to set us free. We shared with the children that they will face God on Judgement Day if they do not repent and turn to Christ. Later that day, when we were walking through the streets sharing the Gospel, many of the children in Genadendal came running up to us shouting “traffick proof!”
Lack of Gospel-Preaching Churches
In talking with people on the streets, and with a few pastors from the area, it is clear that most churches in Genadendal are not preaching the Biblical Gospel. It seems they are seeking man-centred, pragmatic solutions to the problems they see around them and are not dealing with the heart of the matter – our sinful hearts. They are preaching that the Bible is just a book that teaches one how to live a moral life. I was told that most church-attenders do not even bring their Bibles to church!
We pray that this once thriving Mission Station would again become a Valley of Grace and even a City on a Hill, shining the light of the Gospel to the rest of the Cape. I have been invited to preach at churches and at further children’s holiday programmes.
Thank you to all those who made this Mission possible.
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to Salvation for everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa