Written by Patty Spykstra
It has been a whirlwind these last months getting “settled” into our new home. We feel so blessed in our one bedroom flat here in Cape Town. Our friends & family from CA and the team from Michigan were an amazing help with projects around the retreat center, huge encouragement, and already touched many in the community.
Ray Haakenson, Oceans Ambassador, has been a wealth of knowledge and has already established many relationships in the community; Johan is one of those connections. He is a South African native, grew up in a missionary home and actually stayed at Oceans Retreat Center as a child.
One night we invited Johan to dinner at ORC and he shared his story. He is a humble, passionate man, sold out for Jesus and the marginalized. Johan is a well-known presence in the township of Ocean View for the last 10 years with his primary focus being the fatherless and gangs. However, as he observed countless children wandering the streets he felt he needed to start a free care center. The center has been open for over five years now and he shared that rival gang members now bring their children to this safe place where they are learning about Jesus.
Our group was privileged to see first hand the preschool and prayed for the teachers who are doing so much good in the midst of limited space and few resources. These ladies, who have families of their own, offer hope and love to these vulnerable kids. Our team was quick to help with lunch-which was simply rice or porridge-for many the only meal eaten during the day. After one group ate the bowls were washed and used for the next.
When asked what we could do to help, initially Bernie, the director, said, “Please come back” and then she added, “well we could really use some mats for the children to take their naps on. The floor is so hard.”
Our reply, “We would be blessed to do both.”
The next group out will be from Lutheran High School in Parker, Colorado and we have arranged for them to be an extra set of hands to hug and to help. We are also set to order 100 or more mats for these kids to be able to rest on in their narrow classroom containers.
It is hard for us in the States to understand what we have seen. I take comfort in the believers such as Johan and the ladies serving that they can offer food, comfort and the goodness of the Lord. They are providing a refuge for the least of these. We pray these 3,4 and 5 year olds can know Jesus and look back to taste and see that their Abba Father loves them.
Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”