Hungry for hope

written by Marie Mohlomi

Something new is happening in the middle of the crisis and the suffering caused by coronavirus. In South Africa, people are feeling the weight of uncertainly, fear, financial desperation, and hunger as coronavirus is surging in the country. But, in the centre of this crisis, God is moving in hearts of people He longs to rescue- drug addicts, prostitutes, and trafficked women.

OM’s Chanua Centre has been reaching out to these ladies in the streets of Cape Town. Before the pandemic, the team used to visit women working on the street on Friday nights to build relationships with them and invite them to visit the empowerment centre. The women could come to Chanua Centre on Friday nights for hot drinks, something to eat, and a chat. Usually, they came in small numbers and one-on-one chats were possible. The centre was also open on Thursday afternoons for follow-up and crafts.

One of the women, Carlota*, a South African from a Muslim background, was a prostitute addicted to heroin for 15 years. Initially, she did not want anything to do with the “church people” coming around on Friday nights. But one day she was beaten so badly that she was hospitalized, and this was a turning point for her. She wanted out of the lifestyle. Carlota came to Chanua Centre on a Thursday afternoon asking for help. The team shared the good news of Jesus with her and helped her to go through short-term and long-term drug rehabilitation. Recently Carlota was baptized in the ocean, committing herself to follow Jesus.

Since South Africa began a nationwide lockdown due to coronavirus, the ministry has had to adapt. Volunteers no longer go out on the streets to meet women on Friday nights but have only been able to meet with those who come to the centre. The ministry has turned into a feeding program for the ladies who are struggling to make ends meet. But the women are not just coming for food. The ministry has exploded with ladies wanting to talk, wanting Bibles, and asking deep questions.

Now, there are so many ladies coming to visit the Chanua Centre that the volunteers struggle to chat with them all. To try to make more time for ministry with those who are seeking, a Sunday afternoon meeting has recently been added where the women can watch a “Creation to Christ” video and learn about God’s love for them.

“We’re just making ourselves available and they’re coming. It’s beautiful,” describes Eileen, an OM worker. “When you show compassion to them like that… it just melts their heart… If we wouldn’t provide food, they wouldn’t have any.” She explains, “For so many other people the [pandemic] has been just horrible, but for this situation… God has used it for his glory with these ladies.”

In this crisis, that can sometimes look dark and hopeless, look around and see what God is doing. He is moving and nothing can stop Him! You can be part of this by praying for the ministry of Chanua Centre.
“Look! Now I will do something new! It is already beginning to happen. Surely, you can recognize it.”
Isaiah 43:19a

*name changed

South Africa: Hungry for hope

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