Life Centre Announcement

We are delighted to be able to announce that the St John’s Parish Council Executive and CHS Pastorate have both given unanimous approval to start with the first phase of the Life Centre – demolition and piling!  After many years of prayer, a lot of hard work, many generous donations, the help of some amazing partners, a few miracles along the way and God’s incredible provision, we will be breaking ground in August.

We give thanks for the council building approval which we received on 9 July, the roughly R21 million raised in pledges thus far through donations both large and small, and for the prayers and encouragements which have kept us going even when we felt our strength was not enough.  Please join us in sharing the story and praying for the remaining R4 million needed to reach our minimum build cost. We look forward with great expectation to all God will do by the transforming power of his love.

Christ and Culture series

In this series we unpack some of the topics that are often avoided in our church services, as we realise how we are discipled by both Christ and the culture we find ourselves in.

Operations & Finance Manager

Microsite Reflections – a church community perspective

Microsite Reflections – a church community perspective

It is amazing how the microsite came to be through relationship and word of mouth (and God’s nudging).  Somebody spoke to somebody who spoke to somebody…… and the CHS Pastorate found ourselves unanimously agreeing to open up the church for a group of homeless women.  I love how God works in our hearts without us even noticing.  It was so exciting to be a part of this wonderful effort.  After meeting Phinius and Katlyn Sebatsane we spent a few days moving all of the chairs and stage boxes out of the church.  We had a wonderful time dividing the hall into sections to fit mattresses and side tables for the ladies and making the hall feel like home.  We converted the Upstairs Room into a lounge with a tv and blankets against the cold.  The cottage used for the creche was turned into a washing area, with a borrowed washing machine installed and washing lines strung up behind the church.

I was so touched by the many many offers of help from the CHS community.  So many people supplied food, bedding, clothing and their time (the most valuable).  It felt like a real community effort.
And yes, there were times when things were difficult, but God, as always, was so gracious and loving and patient with everyone.

A real highlight for me was getting to know Phinius and Katlyn Sebatsane who were the site managers and generously gave themselves to these ladies, sleeping in a makeshift bedroom we had created in the cry room.  They are an inspiring couple who are Jesus to people on the streets of Muizenberg.  And I think that this is one of the things that really struck me – that by welcoming these women into our building, and loving them, we were being Jesus to them.  What an incredible honour that proved to be.  To be a part of restoring dignity and giving people hope – not much can top that.
The second thing that struck me was how many groups and people (outside of CHS) have been a part of this effort.  I had no idea that so many communities had invested their time, energy and resources into the lives of these women.  It is a wonderful thing that CHS has been connected, through these ladies, to so many who have so much to offer.  Again, what an incredible privilege.

Although my role in the Microsite has been mainly as grocery shopper and administrator (with the odd bit of window fixing), I cannot express what a huge blessing it has been to be a part of this effort.  Our CHS community has shown what it is like to be Jesus to others and I hope that we can continue to do this on an even greater scale in the future.  It feels like the action of opening our church as a home has birthed something that is as yet, without form, but I can feel the potential for us to do more.

Thank you CHS for being you and for being Jesus to others

Nina Young  😊

Microsite Reflections – Opening a door to what God desires

Microsite Reflections – Opening a door to what God desires

The microsite story will live long in the memory, and this for a number of reasons but mainly because in all these things God has a great desire to be part of our collective and individual freedom journeys. I distinctly remember seeing these images on social media posted by this guy called Phinius on social media. I wasn’t sure what was grabbing me about them…the filters were extremely specific but it had to be more than that. He was documenting a journey of some special people who were living on the mountain in Muizenberg. At first they were centred around the living conditions but things changed and it appeared to me that there was a real desire on the faces of these guys to find a home. They would use placards almost like a toyi toyi, and their message was clear, ‘We are here, and we are looking for home…’
Whilst this was happening a small group of people from CHS were tasked by Brendan to look into the different options that the church could be used for in the COVID response time. Should we be a storage facility? A testing facility? I appreciate I have a home bias, but for me nothing excited me apart from the idea of the church opening its doors to become a shelter for the most vulnerable. Ron and I were encouraged to pursue the options by Brendan. To my shock however I found out that Pastorate quite hesitant and unsure about the idea of opening the church to provide shelter. I was deeply disappointed and I felt like it was a missed opportunity, I was convinced that God wasn’t getting excited about the church being a storage facility!
But these images that I kept seeing continued to poke me – a spiritual discomfort – even in the knowledge of this ‘no’ that we had heard. Who is this Phinius guy anyway? Caroline from The Warehouse already knew him and she encouraged me to make contact. I remember the moment I called Phinius, I was in the garden in my house and for some reason I was extremely nervous. I knew that I had to glean a wider picture of what was going on in Muizenberg, without giving away any idea that the church had something to offer. Phinius came across as someone with clarity and compassion, and immediately approachable. He described the story of the group of people who he and his wife Katlyn had been called to serve, and he continued to describe how a wider community of people had gathered around them…CAN groups, the Uturn NGO, some of his own friends, interactions with local councillors etc. The solitary void in the conversation was glaringly obvious, the only thing missing from this was a building.
Phinius made it very clear that their first priority was to find a home for the ladies in the group, which numbered about 10. When I heard that we might be talking about 10 ladies, and that they would be coming with a ready made social infrastructure around them, I felt like this thing could be possible, EVEN in the face of the ‘no’ we heard previously. I dropped the phone call and immediately called Brendan to put forward a tentative proposal. To my surprise he was receptive, dare I say excited; this door that I had assumed would shut immediately wasn’t shutting. It kept opening. When we fully understood the depth and breadth of the work Phinius and Katlyn had already done to ensure that these beautiful but vulnerable people would be cared for, the fear of what all of this means (or could mean) started to vanish. It all seemed possible.
The doors kept opening. The ‘no’ from pastorate became a ‘yes’. I see this as a miracle, what greater miracle is there than hearts and perspective changes? But then there was the Parish, what would they say? The doors kept opening. At the celebration dinner at the end of the time of the microsite I went up to some of the ladies at the end, and thanked them for being here: ‘We need you as much as you need us…’ Or words to that effect. The least of these (in a worldly sense) had felt welcomed in the church which is not something we can always say. And why do we need them? Because we have been given a mandate by God to open up a table. A feast table, a table whose presence reminds all humans that you are welcome and that you matter and that God has a plan for your life. So I believe there is a direct connection between the concept of the table (that emanated form the facilitation sessions in the church to build the life centre) and these beautiful ladies. Our job is to continue to find each other, and even be led by those we thought we have been called to care for.
I hope this all makes sense. Have a great day.
Kind Regards 

Barry Lewis
0833273045

Microsite Reflections – A Godly Journey

Microsite Reflections

The following was a 2020 reflection (approx. 3rd quarter), in the midst of COVID lockdown and Gods work.
 
 

 
I have been trying over the weekend to articulate what God has done in the last 4 months when we were at CHS and it’s hard. You see, when we started working with these precious women on the street of Muizenberg, we were told that we’re ”wasting our time”, ”they will never change”, ”they’re gangsters, “they’re dangerous, be careful”, ”just ignore them”, ”don’t tell them where you live or give them your number” ”don’t feed them.” ”You’re too young, you don’t know what you’re doing”. We were told a lot of hurtful things (especially about coloured people) and lost ’friends’ and ’mentors’ for obeying God. We faced a lot of persecution and rejection. It was hard and lonely. We had to choose between being the Priest and the Levite who ignored a man who was beat up on the side of the road or be the good samaritan and love our ’homeless’ neighbour; our brothers and sisters as God commanded (not suggested). Like Peter we started to doubt because of listening to the wrong voices, but God was faithful when we were not and He brought strangers (good Samaritans) on our path who believed in us and poured into us. He turned what was meant for evil into good and made what looked impossible, possible. He taught us that His love is greater than fear and His grace is greater than disappointments. He loved us to love others.
 
 
We’re so proud of these women. It wasn’t easy but when they got the revelation of whose they are, they took their power and dignity back from the hands of the enemy. All we did was put the mirror (the Word) of God in front of them every day and remind them of who they are and God did the rest. We believe God can change anyone. There is no one He created that is too messed or broken for Him to fix. You see, homelessness can be ended, not just by housing but by a caring community. By genuine relationships. By treating people like human beings, not projects. By listening to those we serve and doing what is best for them, not a program. By providing a HOME, not just temporary shelters that only meet people’s physical needs and neglects their emotional and spiritual needs. By serving, loving and living with the people as equals, not as superiors. By sharing resources and working together as a community. By inviting God in the issue because this is more than a house (physical) issue, it’s an identity (spiritual) issue. The truth is, we can’t change people, that’s God’s job but we can love them. People heal and grow where they feel loved, not judged. We have seen God turn these beautiful ladies who thought they were caterpillars into butterflies. They’re not the same women we met a few months ago. All they wanted was love; love that doesn’t give up on them when they mess up. A place to belong and call HOME – something they tried to find on the street, but all they got was pain. We’re so grateful that we have a Father in heaven who doesn’t waste pain and hears the cries of the marginalised in society.
 
 
Someone once told me, ”If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far, take some people with you.” You see, this is bigger than us. We couldn’t do this without God, friends and strangers who we now call family. 3 months ago we had nothing, just a seed (vision) in the womb looking for a place to be planted and grow. We are so thankful to CHS, for praying and championing us to fulfil what God has called us to do. These wouldn’t be possible without your YES. Thank you for believing in us and our friends on the street. Where I come from we say, ”It takes a village to raise a child” and I can certainly say, it takes a caring community to end homelessness.
 
 
So what’s next? Well, some of the ladies are home with their families. We managed to reconcile them with their families and put them in a rehab program that finishes in January. 5 of the ladies are working with EPWP and earning some money to look after themselves. 2 of the ladies are in the process of getting their ID documents so that they can start working. In the meantime, they’re volunteering and working in different organizations to empower themselves and we will check on them weekly to make sure they reach their goal. We’re super excited for the next season for them. We know it’s not going to be easy for them but we are glad that they have a Father and a family to run to when they’re struggling. PRAY FOR THEM. Pray for them to remember like the prodigal son of how much they’re loved by the Father when they’re in the wilderness.
 
 
We believe God has started something amazing @ CHS and we want to normalise it. This is not the end, it’s only the beginning. We want to help more women on the street, but we need a building; a house of restoration for homeless women. That’s our next mission. If the church can partner with us on this mission, let us know. We are busy looking at a 5 bedroom house in Lakeside that will cost R10 000 per month to rent and if we want to buy it, it will be R3.5 million. So please pray with us.
 
One powerful thing I have learned in this time is the power of COMM-UNITY. Courage is birthed and sustained in community, not in isolation. Nothing is impossible when we put our agendas and differences aside and work together towards a common goal as people.
 
 
Again, thank you CHS for believing in us. We appreciate everything you have done for us.

Keep on praying for us.          

God bless you       

Phinius Sebatsane           

Here I Am.Send Me                  

(Missionary)

Email:pt.sebatjane@gmail.com              

Immanuel (He Is Called)

An original Christmas song inspired by Isaiah 61 and Isiaah 9.
May you know God with us this season, even in the midst of all the chaos happening across the world.

The Young Leaders Colab

The Young Leaders Colab

Exploring faith and life

The team of Youth Pastors in the Parish of St. John’s have been on a deeply transformative journey over the last 3 years, much because of our time at the SJLA. Questions about discipleship, faithfulness and context have emerged, and together we have wrestled with what it means to follow Jesus faithfully in a fragmented city like Cape Town. The important role of leadership has come into sharper focus for us and in our wrestle we have discovered that leadership requires an address, it has to find location somewhere and has to be an active practice of action and reflection. As a team we recognised the need to be having these conversations with our young people as an imperative of our discipleship task. We recognised the need to foster spaces where young leaders could consider how their faith in Jesus helped them and us navigate really significant social challenges within our society. Our picture of God has certainly expanded over the last few years, our relationships have deepened and we are discovering healthy ways to collaborate as we pursue being one Parish with multiple stories.

This journey is what we wanted to invite others on, a journey that would deepen our theological reflection and grow our discipleship. This was essentially the start of the Young Leaders Colab, a 14 week leadership journey for those 16 – 22. YLC was birthed out of the desire to grow young leaders in community. We designed and covered 5 modules that included exploring our stories, unpacking the idea of collaborative leadership and considering the significance and process of critical thinking. We also looked at the spiritual practise of friendship and explored ways to foster a new imagination. The rhythm of meetings meant that we met for two consecutive weeks and then had an off week – so as not to rush the process but to create time for reflection. Every week we gathered (online) we started our time together looking at the life of Jesus and in particular , we camped in the Gospel of Luke reflecting on 10 movements of Jesus growing a deeper and more faithful picture of discipleship and the call to follow him here in our world.

25 young leaders joined the YLC journey from across the Parish and St. Peters. It was a mixed group of people from across socio-economic, cultural, racial and gender divides. It meant that young leaders could reflect on their own experiences in this city but also that of others – could share about their communities and the schools they attend and places they frequent and explore their own theology and how that influences how they live in this world. For us this was only the beginning of a long walking together in discipling and growing leaders for a City in great contestation. In the midst of a very trying and challenging year, these 14 weeks brought me great delight and hope. I am so thankful for the Youth Pastors team in this Parish – we do have some really phenomenal (younger) leaders: who think deeply, who love God above all else, who are actively discipling others in their following of Jesus and who want to be faithful in their leading in this city. It is beautiful to bear witness to their formation.

Blessings

Keegan Davids

Parish Youth Pastor

You can watch the 5-part YLC series on YouTube here.

Parish Worship Nights

The Parish Worship Night collaborations have emerged from a number of stories that have somehow come together at a time when we have been forced to be away from each other and stay in our corners rather than do something new and fresh. Some of those stories are being able to lead worship at different churches in the parish, young people gatherings and camps, staff prayer mornings, staff retreats and lots of other opportunities to have different people from all over the parish leading and worshiping together.

When Covid hit and things started to move online, there was a Good Friday Service that had been put together by the Parish Leadership Team, where all the Ministers shared on ‘Jesus’ Seven Words from the Cross’ and different worship leaders took part in the service. This was one of the most beautiful things to witness, as it gave a picture of “One Church with Six Expressions”. That was followed by a Worship Night that we premiered on Easter Sunday. And we followed that up with our first online Parish Worship Night on Pentecost.

At the time we recorded remotely and sent each other the music recordings and videos which were synced and edited together to try and make them sound decent. This evolved to what we now are now doing monthly, with in-person filming and recording, observing all Covid protocols. We hope to move to some sort of live streaming events soon.

But the Parish Worship Night is not just about a bunch of people who love Jesus and music, coming together to worship, and inviting those watching to join in – although it is all of those things too! It’s also about a variety of styles of music, leadership, experience and theology coming together, being embraced and challenged. We have had some meaningful engagements through devotion, conversation, prayer and we’ve also had new songs being written and shared over the past few months. In addition, we’ve started reading and engaging with a helpful book that focuses on diverse worship –The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World, by Sandra Maria Van Opstal.

And so the Parish Worship Night has been a catalyst for more collaboration and exploration of skill sharing, exchange in musicians and singers across the Parish, song writing and developing a theology for our worship as Capetonians and South Africans that is different to other parts of the world. That has included challenging the style and language we have adopted formerly without questioning what it means for the communities we lead.

What we have witnessed and been part of, within and outside of our monthly gatherings, are a bunch of people who love God and so, too, love people, and have met through this common love for leading ourselves and others in worship. For the November collaboration, we managed to have a socially-distanced meal together as tangible way to be with each other around the same table because we actually also want to, as our friendships deepen.

written by Charlie Alexander
Youth Worker, St Peter’s Mowbray

Advent Kids Video Series

Advent Kids Video Series

 

In case you don’t get a chance to go to church this season, our children’s ministry team have created a weekly video series for the season of Advent.

Week 1 is a short children’s introduction to the season of advent.

 

You can find the other videos of this series and more from our amazing kids church team within this playlist