Gugulethu gangster – now feeds thousands

I previously introduced you to Pastor Vuyo Nyabaza, who ministers in a suburb notorious for its violent gang activity. He navigates such badlands without fear as the criminally minded “remember the old me,” he says.

Pastor Vuyo’s “old me” was imprisoned after a foiled cash-in-transit heist. After five years of awaiting trial for numerous crimes, including robbery, theft and breaking and entering, he escaped and lived as a wanted fugitive—all before coming to faith in Jesus Christ and then becoming a pastor. That is who the gangsters remember!

But his witness in the present is far more powerful—it’s testament to the power of the Gospel of the Kingdom! Taking men from gangster to pastor! Today, he “feeds the sheep,” literally and spiritually, managing a food ministry for those who ache from little to eat—and thirst for Living Water.

“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, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Matthew 25: 35-36

Our intern, Olga, had a chat with Vuyo. This is her report on their exchange:

He shared that more and more South Africans are going to bed hungry during the coronavirus lockdown. As our ministry partner and founder of Centre of Hope Community Church, Vuyo Nyabaza and his team chose to respond to the unsettling realities experienced by the people in Gugulethu with love and hope.

Salvation surely does not come through works, but we know that caring for those in need is evidence of a faith working through love.

Pastor Vuyo feeds hungry children.

The coronavirus pandemic lockdown has left many suffering, jobless, and hungry—particularly in the destitute communities. Pastor Vuyo and his team started a feeding ministry reaching out to their neighbors in Gugulethu at the beginning of lockdown in March 2020, which Charl and Sonja initially funded.

He saw the need and suffering of his people and decided to reach out. Not only does he help by feeding them, he also provides food for their souls through the Word of God.

Vuyo and his team feed the hungry every day – alternating between three areas. Praise the Lord!

“When I saw some of the children coming for lunch, walking barefoot through the mud and in the freezing cold winter, it broke my heart,” says Vuyo. Situations like these are quite common in informal settlements, some of the children own only one pair of shoes, which usually is unbelievably tattered, if not little more than shreds.

Vuyo encouraged his congregation to step up and dig deep. They pooled their limited resources and purchased a couple pairs of boots for the children, helping some with clothing too, when able. (Note from Charl: Vuyo is so trustworthy that he would not apply food funds for clothing!)

“The stronghold of this community is alcohol and drugs. Growing up in such a community is a bondage on its own. People do not see life apart from drinking.

“Ever since we started the outreach, we realized that many people living in this area are broken, hopeless and have no dreams; they see themselves as worthless.

“Many have responded in tears to the preaching of the Gospel. ‘I want to stop drinking, please pray for me’, is the constant cry of many.

“We had both exciting and heart-breaking moments; heartbreaking to see so many people with no electricity, not enough food and no flushing toilets, seeing kids walking barefooted in mud. Up to eight people live in one tiny shack. During the night they cannot go to the public toilets for fear of being mugged.”

New boots!

He often shares testimonies of how great the Lord has been to His people. How his community responds with gratitude to the soup kitchen. How they welcome his team when they go door-to-door (really, it is shack-to-shack), sharing the Word, praying, and building relationships with the families.

Pastor Vuyo came to faith in Christ after a life of gangsterism; now he has started his own program called “Men in the Making.” He is mentoring and reaching out to young men. They deal with issues like identity, fatherlessness, community-building and protecting the women in their families. Discipleship like this is needed and plays a huge role in our African communities.

News24 reported that, “The number of households going hungry has doubled in South Africa, according to new research.” There are children who have been eating wild plants due to hunger in Africa. The pressure increases by the day, as more families depend on our soup kitchens for food.

Vuyo explains how challenging and worrisome ministry can become, because an increase in hungry people means more food and funds are needed. As a pastor and a leader, and being the faithful servant that he is, Vuyo says he holds onto Scripture and reminds himself that the Lord is with them. He promised to never leave nor forsake His children.

Our feeding ministries can easily run out of funds since we do not receive any state funding. Our ministry partners climbed in to help Charl and Sonja when they shared the need. We are extremely grateful for each of them, and their dedication to furthering the Gospel of the Kingdom.

We praise the Lord for Vuyo and his team!

Please keep Pastor Vuyo and our ministry partners in Gugulethu in your prayers as they continue serving our Lord Jesus with cheerful and willing hearts!

Olga Tshikovhi

“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 it to Me.” Matthew 25: 40

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