“According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” 1 Peter 1:3
Hope is a powerful thing, and so is hopelessness. Over 12 million people in South Africa live in squatter camps. They are surrounded by rich homes and beautiful landscapes, while they fight to survive in tin shanties and breathe despair. Rich Franzen, the founder of Impact Africa, is passionate about interceding and changing the trajectory of these people’s lives.
He shared with us a story this morning about a man who he met who was drinking and doing many things to put his life and health in danger. The man told him that it really didn’t matter because he would only live to be 30 years old anyway. So, the man figured that he should just have fun until he died. He was living in a hopeless situation, and he is not the only one. Sixty-eight percent of the world’s AIDS population lives in South Africa. Death is an early expectation.
Only thirty-percent of the students who begin first grade will ever graduate from high school. So, their futures are dim. However, Impact Africa is working to change that for many people. Today we visited the squatter camp called Diepsloot. It is a square mile parcel of land that the government has set aside for these low class people. Some of them are South Africans, but many have come here from countries more north in order to find work. Because Rich recognizes that formation for small children is the most effective, they have a preschool right in the squatter camp of Diepsloot. They give the children an education and meals, but more importantly, they break the cycle of hoplessness. They teach them that there is a better way, and that way is Jesus. He alone can redeem them and give them a better future. Impact Africa has three other schools like this and are working on an additional two.
Also, understanding that 9th grade is when most students began to drop out of school, Impact Africa works with the government-run, public schools. They are able to provide a Life Orientation class that teaches many things, such as the effect of drugs on their bodies, and they are also able to share about Jesus. Out of that ministry, they have also started a Bible study where real Christian transformation is taking place and Christian leaders are rising up.
Over the next week, our missions team will be visiting many of the other ministries that they have in these communities. Rich has seen so much fruit from his ministry here that breaks into the darkness and meets people right in their suffering. In fact, this is exactly what Jesus does for us. He walks right into our brokenness and offers us hope. Its what He did on the cross and its what He does every day. And God is using Impact Africa to lead the poor and the hopeless straight to Jesus. Rich believes that right here in Johannesburg, there is such an opportunity to share Christ that the harvest isn’t just ripe, rather its rotting away.
Pray for our team this week as we learn more about the work of Impact Africa and how we can support them well in the future.