Tag Archive for: Rays of Hope

For the month of May, anyone swiping their MySchool card with Rays of Hope as a beneficiary, moves the organisation one step closer to winning R10,000.

So please shop and swipe and if you haven’t already linked your card, it is available to do at the www.MySchool.co.za site.

Rays of Hope

I recently found an inspiring quote from our nation’s great leader:

Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and erradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” Nelson Mandela

I’m challenged by this – and encouraged.

I know that Jesus said that we will always have the poor with us, but he also commanded us to look after the widows, the orphaned and the foreigner and to help those in need. I love this passage where he illustrates how we are serving him by caring for others in need:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, …” –  Matt. 25

And the wise man Solomon said in Proverbs 19, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.”

What a privilege it is to be able to serve the LORD from our hearts through our words, deeds and the things we’ve been given stewardship of!

Please JOIN us in being part of creating lasting change in Alexandra township, by working with us in these 2 ways:

B-BBEE

This is greatly important for us to create sustainability in impacting people’s lives in Alex. We’re looking for people and companies to partner with for the long term and are in the position to offer:

  • Ownership
  • Enterprise (ED) & Supplier Development (SuD)
  • Skills Development
  • Socio-Economic Development (SED)
  • We’ve created a trust for our B-BBEE partnerships, of which Rays of Hope is the sole beneficiary.
  • The benefits of partnering with us in this way include:
  • the highest number of B-BBEE points available to you, due to 100% black South African beneficiaries with <50% women ownership;
  • your reputation is safe due to Rays of Hope’s 27 year clean track record and excellent standing;
  • a holistic offering for companies combining a one-stop shop for B-BBEE partnership and CSI initiatives that have real impact, working together with our existing programmes in Alex.

Our next B-BBEE Information session will be on Tuesday 29th May 4:30-6:30pm at RUC. Please RSVP to tracey@raysofhope.co.za if you’re interested in attending.

If this is not something that pertains to you, please join us in spreading the word about it – you never know how YOUR sharing this information could impact lives!

Another initiative we’re running is FEED-A-FAMILY.

We support our families in the community with non-perishable food items – this is a way that anyone from RUC can help us!

This food is sorted and provides basic supplies for the 26 vulnerable families (140 people) in our Ithemba Labantwana programme, monthly.  We aim to provide about 25% of a family’s basic needs, to relieve financial pressures and in line with our philosophy of giving people a hand up, rather than a hand out. The children in the programme are also fed twice a week during homework club.

HOW DO I DO THIS?

Please collect one of the Rays of Hope buckets at the Info Desk in the RUC Street. A list of the items of each family’s needs will be included on each bucket. The type of items are mealie meal, tinned pilchards, soya mince, sugar, long life milk, baked beans, rice, soup, tea and peanut butter. We also include every second month, cleaning products and on alternate months, cooking oil. Please take the bucket and fill it with all or some of the items on the list and return the bucket to the Rays of Hope offices (behind the RUC main building), during the week or at the Info Desk on Sunday.

If you’d like to “adopt” a family for a 6-12 month period, in providing them with a full food bucket, please mail trish@raysofhope.co.za. This would be a great help in assisting us with our budgeting for our families.

And last but not least …

RAYS OF HOPE TOUR OF ALEX

Join us on Saturday 19th May for an exclusive Rays of Hope Tour of Alex! These only take place 3 times a year and offer you an opportunity to see first hand the work that we’re doing and to meet some of the amazing people we’re working with.

DATE & TIME: Saturday 19th May 2018, 9am-2pm (meeting at Marlborough office)

RSVP: by Tuesday 15th May to Trish@RaysOfHope.co.za

COST: R100, which includes braai lunch in Alex

Thanks SO much in being part of creating lasting change for good in Alex, in these ways!

FOR THOSE WHO ARE NEW TO RAYS OF HOPE

Rays of Hope was started by members of Rosebank Union Church’s youth in 1991, wanting to play a role in making a positive impact in our country, starting with our nearest township, Alexandra. Our first programme, Rose-ACT Saturday school has been run consistently since then. Rays of Hope and RUC have continued to partner and although Rays of Hope is an independent body, we are the church’s ministry to the poor.

Over the years Rays of Hope has blossomed into a network of nine community-based programmes focusing on caring for orphaned and vulnerable children, improving education and assisting with skills development and work readiness. We’re currently impacting over 2,600 people weekly, working together with many Alex-based partnering organizations, to make a deep, lasting impact on our neighbouring community.

By Kirstin Barwise (Marketing Manager)

Rays of Hope

And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did to me.”  (Matthew 25:40)

What a privilege it is to share in this mandate to love and serve our brothers as our King has told us to! And what a privilege it is to share in this mandate with YOU – the local body of Christ at Rosebank Union. Thank you for putting your resources, whether your time, talents, connections, finances and prayers, into action in helping us serve our brothers and sisters less fortunate than us.

May you and yours be blessed exceedingly and abundantly, as our Lord promises! When we sow generously, He promises that we will reap generously! Our God is not a man that He should lie, particularly in this area.

This month, we’re looking at missional living and I’d like to highlight a few people that you may or may not know of that serve in different ways, whatever they’re able to with the capacity they have, but together we serve a greater purpose – to spread the love of our Christ in a very tangible way, by (adapted from Matt. 25:35-36) “giving me food when I was hungry, giving me something to drink when I was thirsty, welcoming me when I was a stranger to you, clothing me when I was naked, visiting me when I was sick, coming to me when I was in prison”.

Some of the beautiful people I’d like to honour who have served with Rays of Hope over the years, include:

Our oldest volunteer, Dorothy, who collects food from Fournos Benmore weekly, and brings it to our Sandton office, which we then distribute to the Alex Old Age home, iThemba Labantwana (looking after orphaned and vulnerable children) and to the 23 creche’s, in Alex, which we support through our Early Childhood Development programme.

Our longest serving couple Richard & Denise O’Callaghan (both in their 70’s), who’ve served at Rose-ACT for over 10 years and who have been on the committee for longer, are absolute gems in serving the kids who come hungry to learn!

Our longest continually-involved-in-giving-back ex-Rose-ACT student, Banele Mtebele, who has been part of Rays of Hope, since starting at Rose-ACT Saturday school as a student in 2002, then became a part of our IGNITION Tertiary education support programme (whilst tutoring at Rose-ACT). Banele, now 30 years old, is an accomplished TV editor at Rhythm City, while still tutoring at Rose-ACT and has started his own Grade 9 life skills club (“Club 9-9”), to continue the work that was begun through Rays of Hope.

The amazing women, who serve in Home Based Care, who weekly go into situations, which would be difficult to face in a normal home situation, but are often next level challenging in a shack or single room – to serve those that are unable to look after themselves. Ladies, your tireless commitment is hugely admirable – thank you!

And last but not at all least, I’d like to acknowledge our longest standing staff member, Louise Cameron, a Dutch Ozzie, who has chosen to serve for the past 15 years running Rose-Act. Louise steadfastness in serving for so many years is a great example to me of commitment – thank you Louise for everything you’ve given, and continue to give, in serving in Rose-Act.

And in closing, in reference to Jesus’ words recorded at the end of Matthew chapter 25:

“Then the King will say to those on his right (the sheep he has separated), “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”.

So thank you to ALL who are already a part of this work in Alex – please keep sowing with and sharing about Rays of Hope! To those who aren’t yet a part of our work at Rays of Hope – we’d love to have you join us in this integral work in the kingdom and being a part of creating lasting change in Alex for good!

Rays of Hope

Rays of Hope’s partnership with Sparrow School in Melville that began in 2016 has continued to flourish this year. Thanks to generous donors linked to Rosebank Union Church, we were able to send 10 children from Alexandra (Ithemba Labantwana program) to Sparrow in 2017, and this year six new learners have joined the school.

Sparrow provides remedial and special needs education, with a strong Christian ethos. Not only do the children get a fantastic education, they learn that Jesus loves them no matter what their background or abilities.  The teachers know that if there is a concern about our children they can contact our field workers at Ithemba Labantwana and we can work together with the families to address it.

The first day was filled with excitement and some nerves (that were quickly settled when the children met their teachers and classmates). On the second day we received a call from the grandmother of one of the children, who was so grateful as her grandson had come back full of enthusiasm, describing every moment of his first day!

We know that these six new children will be greatly impacted by the support they receive at Sparrow, and give glory to God as we think about the progress the children made there in 2017. Their attitude towards school and learning has completely shifted. From being fearful of school and avoiding it where possible, they now love their education and are excited about learning. The confidence that this new environment has brought our children is incredible. One little girl in Grade 1 was so shy that she would never speak to or look an adult in the eye, but she has now blossomed into a playful, enthusiastic, joyful little girl who loves to joke and have fun. Not only this but she and others have gone from not understanding a word of English to communicating with ease. Several of our children have won awards for effort, achievement or for being helpful, kind and considerate classmates.

Many orphaned and vulnerable children from Alexandra struggle at school. The trauma they have suffered affects their learning and daily experience while classes often have 70 students with one teacher, so individualised attention for those who are falling behind is impossible. While our homework club helps to fill some of the gaps, sometimes more intensive intervention is needed.

We thank God for this provision and for our partnership with Sparrow and look forward to seeing what God has in store for these new little ones.

 

By Jennie Morley (Social Work Consultant)

The 30th July was our annual “Rays of Hope” Sunday where we have a specific focus on the work of our non-profit organisation working to bring lasting change to the people of Alexandra Township.  Thanks to all the staff and volunteers of Rays of Hope for all the effort they put in to give us a glimpse into the Alex Stories.

The video above is a brief overview of a few of the projects of Rays of Hope.

Thanks to AG2G Entertainment for putting the video together.

Rose-Act Students

Rose-Act Saturday School is making a difference in the lives of 275 children in Alexandra township by improving their English and maths results at school to enable them to pass matric and to qualify for a tertiary education. In addition, the School focuses on providing social and spiritual life-skills. The personal impact on School attendants is profound. Rose-Act has been viewed as being very much like an extended family, where the children are cherished, treated with respect, and are taught Christian values, so that they can grow in self-confidence and, once they are adults, play a constructive role in society.

Rose-Act hosts two Holiday Clubs a year. A total of 200 learners are expected to attend the first Holiday Club this year from 3 to 7 April. It will be led by 22 passionate and dedicated adult volunteers, some of whom are themselves former Saturday School attendants who want to make a difference. How best to present the Good News about Easter has been robustly debated among the leaders who are preparing for the event. Over the five weekdays the important aspects of the seven-day Passion Week will be covered. The children will benefit from different learning experiences in small-group discussion, songs and other activities.

The Holiday Clubs are always well attended, and the children love the learning experience as well as the time spent away from their everyday humdrum environment, with lots of fun and laughter. Many children have little knowledge of spiritual matters, yet we trust that God will move in the hearts of all those present and make a difference, so that they may be led to make a personal commitment to the Lord in response to the Good News!

RoH Mission

The mission of Rosebank Union Church (RUC) is clear. We exist to call, equip and send disciples for the glory of God.
We derive this divine mandate from Jesus’ own words in Matthew 28: 18-20:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Making disciples was Jesus’ mission; it was the mission of His disciples and it should be our mission as a church. This is important because it means that everything we do as a church should be designed towards that end.
From time to time, it’s important to locate every ministry of the church within this mission to make sure that we are still on track and not guilty of mission drift. This is easier for some ministries than others. For example, worship ministry, where it is more evident how this ministry is calling, equipping or even sending disciples.

For a ministry like Rays of Hope (RoH), it’s a little harder to place. That is, firstly, because of its location: most of our work happens in Alexandra township, and we have our own offices. Secondly, structure: it has its own brand, its own board and a governance structure – which resembles a business more than a church ministry. Thirdly, because of its core work: we use terms like projects and beneficiaries, we are geared towards meeting practical needs and bringing about social change – which is quite different from being a “word” ministry. In fact, we sound more like a government welfare department!

Leaders at RUC and RoH have been attempting to define more clearly what RoH is: a ministry of RUC or a separate NPO? We have concluded that it is both. It is a full ministry of the church, like missions and counselling, but for the purposes of fundraising and outreach, it is housed in an NPO.

If RoH is a full ministry of the church, to what extent does it participate in the church’s vision of calling, equipping and sending disciples for the glory of God? RoH falls more obviously under the sending aspect.

The RoH mission is ‘to partner with Alex to create lasting change’. How does this fit into the broader RUC vision?

Let’s illustrate:
Once Zoë (a disciple) has been called (heard and received the Gospel) and after she has been equipped through church sermons and participation in discipling ministries, she is sent into the world to live and love like Christ. Namely, to be a redemptive influence and an agent of transformation in the lives of many.

She realises that she lives in a racially divided city defined by extremes in inequality, wealth and opportunities, where many of her neighbours live on less than R15 a day. She remembers 1 John 3:16-18:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

She then volunteers at RoH to get to know people from Alex and to form cross-cultural relationships: she mentors a varsity student through the Ignition project, and gives generously so that children who grow up in child-headed households can be nurtured and fed properly.

Therefore, she is sent via RoH to become this redemptive influence. She works hands-on at repairing the torn fabric of our society by effecting reconciliation and justice.

RoH provides an ideal context for calling disciples

Jesus himself described his ministry as “… the good news is preached to the poor” (Matt 11:5).
Luke summarised Jesus’ ministry simply: “… He went around doing good…” (Acts 10:38)
Jesus told his disciples to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:16).

Jesus went among the neediest people of his day, doing two things: good works and sharing the Good News. It is no wonder that so many of his followers came from this demographic. His good works among the poor created the ideal context for hearing the Good News. The good works were a picture/ illustration of the Good News. People saw and experienced God’s love practically as they heard about it.

I have found that it is in these contexts that sharing the Good News about Jesus is not forced but becomes as natural as breathing. When I follow Jesus into these broken contexts, I find myself crying out to God often because the needs are so great and the only possible hope is Jesus. People often ask for prayer and when they don’t I offer it. I do not ever remember my offer to pray being turned down.

People in these contexts are often puzzled as to why I have bothered to be among them, and that I would give them the time of day. I often have to explain that is not about me “giving back” it’s about the fact that I myself was once destitute and Jesus came to ME and laid down his life for ME.

What could be more central to the mission of RUC?

For some of our orphaned and vulnerable children in Alexandra school is a daily battle. Due to the trauma and lack of parenting/support they have suffered, many of them have missed out on the foundation of education. They spend a huge amount of energy trying to hide the fact that they don’t understand, not wanting to be embarrassed or shamed. Consequently, they continue to fail year after year but eventually get pushed up to the next grade without ever learning the basics. Over the last year through our observations and one-on-one work with children at homework club, as well as input from teachers and school reports, we have been identifying children who desperately need additional help.

An example is a child who was orphaned earlier this year and came onto the Rays of Hope CHH (Child-Headed Households) program a few months ago. We had begun to notice that she was very behind in understanding simple numbers and letter recognition even though she is in grade 4. On one occasion she came to homework club distressed that she couldn’t do her maths homework and worried because she would get in trouble. As we sat with her and looked at the work we realised she was being asked to do complicated multiplication and division worded in a paragraph type question; we sadly knew however, that this particular child had not even grasped the concept of adding single digit numbers or recognising the alphabet. It is heart-breaking to see a child in such a state and knowing that in an hour at homework club each day, we cannot possibly bridge the gap. The students are in class sizes of up to 75 children so the teachers at school have no time or availability to focus on an individual who is falling behind.

Enter Sparrow Foundation School in Melville who work on the basis that there is ‘space for every pace’, not giving up on those who have fallen behind in other settings. In August and September were able to have 10 of our orphaned children assessed. We were initially discouraged because three of the children were found to be so far behind that they were two grades below the lowest special needs learners of their age. Praise God for this amazing school and their director Jackie Gallagher’s commitment to wanting to accommodate these learners. The school decided to open a special class specifically for these three children which would take them back and instil the foundations they have missed. The other seven children were accepted into the remedial and special needs stream, with regular assessment so that if they reach a point of catching up they can go back into mainstream education.

On 10th October, the ten children arrived at Sparrow with their guardians who were provided with a tour of the school. Sparrow kindly gave the children second hand uniform so they really looked the part. It was so wonderful watching their faces grow more confident as they proudly put on their new jerseys. Today marks the beginning of 10 new journeys where the children will be able to access individualised educational support, speech and occupational therapy as well as counselling to address the emotional trauma they have each been through. With big smiles on their faces the children’s accounts of their first day ranged from an enthusiastic ‘GREAT!’ to ‘the teachers at Sparrow are nice and caring and give us the attention we need’.

We are so grateful to Sparrow school for accommodating our children, we wholeheartedly thank our donors who have generously funded the school fees for the remainder of 2016 and 2017. Most importantly, we give all glory to God who does not let even a sparrow fall to the ground without his consent and consistently shows us that he has numbered the hairs on our precious children’s heads and cares for each one immeasurably.


Note

Many thanks to all the people involved through Rays of Hope and the Child-Headed Households project and for the generous donors for their labour of love in Alexandra. It is inspiring to see our members sent out to be a Redemptive Influence in our city!

Just last week a teenager in Alexandra died a horrible death because of a stolen cell phone. Zanele (not her real name), whose parents had both died, was living with her aunt and uncle. Her uncle sent her to get his cell phone charged and on her way home she was mugged and the phone was stolen. When she arrived home without the phone her uncle flew into a blind rage, poured paraffin over her and set her alight.

She died. Killed for a cell phone!

Zanele was part of a girls support group connected with our Rays of Hope Child-headed Household (CHH) ministry. Understandably the other girls and our Rays of Hope staff members involved in Alex have been deeply traumatized by this senseless and brutal murder of one of their own. With the Lord’s help they are seeking to help one another come to terms with it. Zanele’s uncle is in police custody and her aunt has fled to who knows where.

This is just one example of the heartbreak and pain that our Rays of Hope team encounters almost weekly as they serve the poor and needy, the helpless, homeless, and hopeless in Alexandra. Orphaned children, pregnant teenagers, single mothers, unemployed fathers, tired grannies are all on the receiving end of the love of Jesus, his saving gospel, and the practical help that comes to them in a steady stream from RUC through our Rays of Hope staff and volunteers.

One of the things that makes me most proud to be part of RUC is the vibrancy and variety of our social concern ministry, particularly focused on Alexandra. In one way or another hundreds of members of the RUC family are involved and are making a difference in the lives of those who Jesus referred to as “the least of these brothers and sisters of mine” (Matthew 25:40). James reminds us that,

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . . .”

And Proverbs 19:17 declares that

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.”

Caring for the poor is not an option for the Christ-follower, and living in South Africa where the poor and needy crowd in on us at every turn provides us with abundant opportunities to show our true colours as Christians and make a difference in the lives of others.

May God save us from the hard-heartedness that constant confrontation with the poor can lead to, and may he guide us as we serve Christ by serving his poor.

My thanks to our Rays of Hope staff and volunteers, and to all who give in countless ways. You will be rewarded for what you do.

Your friend and pastor,

Leigh

Reflecting on my Tour of Hope experience

I told people before the tour that, in a moment of weakness, I agreed to do this thing. This “thing” involves three days of sitting in a saddle (eina boude!), cycling more than 300 kilometres to raise support for Rays of Hope projects. All the way from Clarens in the Free State to Alex in Joburg…

Now you must know the last time I was on a bicycle it was my old “dikwiel fiets” in school – too many years ago to even remember what it was like. This dikwiel was designed to take you from point A to point B – no gears, cleats, bells or whistles … back then helmets were for sissies and gloves worn by rich people’s kids to keep their hands warm in winter! Many years later, about 4 months ago, I got back in the saddle, only to discover that what I used to enjoy as a kid has now become a science, requiring strength, equipment (some real larney stuff nogal), endurance and technique.

Well, I took the challenge (or “bait”, Ian and Duncan?), borrowed a bike (thanks Eugene) and went on this thing to suffer for the Lord. I cycled about 250 kilometres, chickening out on some of the hardest stretches of road and climbs, fully aware of the fact that Joan would not appreciate being a widow at this stage. But, on reflection, I enjoyed the tour, if only to say I did something I never dreamed possible. And in the process I have also learned much from this experience:

  • There’s a whole fraternity of cyclists out there, forming a close bond, who were willing to take me in. Thanks to all those who rode with me in this race for your care, advice, patience and acceptance… and teaching me your cyclist language. You made me think of Jesus … and his story of the Good Samaritan.
  • It takes much endurance to ride such a distance. It made me think of my Christian life during which I need to run this race (live the life) with endurance.
  • The support team was excellent – vehicles, motorcycles, food, accommodation. It’s impossible to do this tour without good support (thank you, Jennifer and team). Once again, it made me think of living in Christian community, where we support one another in Community Groups, worship, serving … a whole “cloud of witnesses”.
  • I often thought about the real reason why I put myself through this pain! The support raised will help people far less privileged than I am to have some chance of changing their life circumstances. Perhaps picking up a sore bum and legs was worth the effort!
  • The road looks VERY different from a bicycle, especially the inclines. I never experienced them so steep in my car before! I have much more respect for and understanding of cyclists. I still think they are crazy, but I can better identify with them, the guys and girls “out there”. When Jesus became a human being, He showed us what true identification is. We can learn from Him about caring more for our fellow human beings.

To all who supported, sponsored and prayed for me for this tour, thank you! I know the Lord will richly bless you for making this a worthwhile exercise. I think next time I’ll do the trip in a car – it’s much easier putting my foot on an accelerator!!!


Photo courtesy of Charles Pitt