International Ministries

We Live By Faith, Not By Sight

March 17, 2003 Journal
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The Baptist Mission of South Africa is a convention of fifteen Indian Baptist churches located in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. This group has invited Rick and I to work with them to develop outpatient church based health ministries. During the months that we have been in South Africa, we have been visiting churches and meeting pastors and church members. We are seeking to understand the ways in which the churches feel that God is calling them to health ministry. The only church that currently has a formal health outreach ministry is the Baptist Mission Church of Tongaat.

Pastor Jacob Moses has served the Baptist Mission Church of Tongaat for the past sixteen years. When Pastor Jacob was called to this church, it had only two families and was on the verge of closing its doors. Today this ethnically South African Indian church has about 80 adults and children. The city of Tongaat is located about 40 miles north of Durban, South Africa. The majority of the residents of Tongaat are Hindu people of Indian descent and the remainders are Christians and Moslems. About three years ago, Pastor Jacob and the church's missions committee felt God calling them to respond to the needs of a neighboring Zulu community. They began by bringing food. In the one room Zwelisha Farms community center building, Pastor Jacob began holding Sunday worship services and weekly prayer meetings. He is now mentoring a young Zulu man who may one day take over the pastoral leadership of this church.

American Baptist missionary Cheryl Jones leads a weekly bible study at the community center. The need of this community that cried out to Pastor Jacob and the women of the Tongaat missions committee was health care. They had no healthcare background, but this did not stop them. A local Christian doctor provided them with some basic information about how to establish a rudimentary lay health clinic. They obtained donations from a pharmacy of over-the-counter medications such as fever and pain relievers, cough suppressants and anti-scabies cream. They have distributed these once a month after the morning worship service for the past one-year. These women know that they are taking a risk. They speak little Zulu. There are current animosities and cultural differences between the Indians and Zulus. HIV/AIDs is rampant. They are aware of the crime in black townships. These women have crossed these barriers and in doing so something important has happened. They have shown the people of Zwelisha Farms that their church cares about their health. They have begun their journey of understanding how God can use their church to heal in a holistic way.

Sincerely,

Anita Gutierrez