USA Christians make a real difference
Teams of Christian volunteers of different denominations – many of them young people – are making a meaningful difference to the South African rural communities they are working in, under the auspices of Jaron Ministries International of Fresno, California.
JARON Ministries, International of the United States sends four such teams a year and The Vessel was fortunate to be able to conduct an interview with a group of eight of these visitors when they passed through Pretoria on their way to Giyani in the Northern Province. Another 20 of their group were to have arrived a couple of days later from the USA.
They spent about a week networking with various projects in and around Pretoria, including the Wolmer Community Project and a project at Soshanguve and were hosted during that time by the energetic André Bronkhorst, a well-known organiser of Christian youth camps for Eksderde.
Pastor Michael Bogart, Director of the Jaron Bible Institute, explained that a Shangaan Tribal Chief had donated 30 hectares of land at Giyani for the development of a youth camp some five years ago and that it was to this on-going project to which his group was headed.
He noted that Jaron was also involved in another youth camp development at Cape Town.
“We are not only here to contribute our assistance, we are also here to learn and to see first-hand what is happening in South Africa. It was a real eye-opener to visit Soshanguve, where we never felt threatened at any time, despite warnings to the contrary,” he explained.
Pastor Bogart added that it was nice to see Afrikaans people working hand-in-hand with their Black Christian counterparts, which, for the group, had shattered many myths about Afrikaners which had been fed to them over many years by the USA media.
During his visit here he would also be involved in the training of pastors.
Dr Bruce Van Benschoten, a General Surgeon attached to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, stated that he had come along to determine the medical needs of the visited communities and what sort of assistance could be extended.
Another one of the group, the vibrant Christi Orr, a student, said that she was looking forward to helping to establish a food garden at the Giyani project, which would help supplement the nutritional needs of that rural community.
She said that they would be visiting schools to encourage the youth to complete their high school education and to be diligent in their studies. She was also expecting to help fence off the property and generally share her love of Jesus Christ with people.
“It is very encouraging to meet other believers who are so like me. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ,” was her spontaneous response in concluding the interview.
The group of USA visits with André Bronkhorst of Eksderde (seated, far left) and The Vessel Editor, Ciska de Beer (standing, far right).