Here We Stand – July 2017 Update

Christian Outreach Born from Struggle
by Drew Berson

Over 30 years ago, Mandla Khumalo was busy burning government buildings to the ground in protest against his people’s enslavement through the Apartheid regime. Khumalo didn’t trust God and didn’t believe in Jesus Christ. He was taught that the Christian God is a white man with a beard and that the devil is a black man with horns and a tail. Jesus Christ was used as a tool to teach black people that white people were ultimately superior and that black people were put on the earth to serve their betters.

Freedom—Khumalo was using fear and violence to fight the oppression and bloodshed wrought by the Apartheid government against his people. On the run from the law, being sheltered by a pastor, he was invited to a church service. Out of courtesy, Khumalo attended and felt God speaking directly to him in the crowd. He began to read the Bible and was brought to understand that God is love and that he must spend the rest of his life fighting for peace by acting out peace and love to all the people of South Africa. Khumalo turned himself into the police. After confessing his behavior and evangelizing to them, they released him under the condition that he would no longer use violence to try to gain freedom.

Good News—Khumalo started St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Middelburg, South Africa. The church grew quickly into a vision for a complete community change. He wanted to take care of the widowed and orphaned, provide education, inspire job creation, and create community health care initiatives. In 1989, with the help of committed American church  partners, Khumalo started a preschool to help educate the youngest children with proper education and the Good News of Jesus Christ. The preschool grew to a full-day school which opened in 2011 with only 39 students. Today, there are 900 students from preschool through grade 10, and the school will grow to a complete high school by 2019. Job creation initiatives were developed to help entrepreneurs launch new businesses and, in 2016, a new clinic and orphanage were built.

Be the Church!—The Gospel was born into this world to enter into our mess and reality. Jesus did not abandon us but lived alongside us, and died the death we deserved so that we might know our Father. The Gospel is not stagnant or simple words on a page in an old book—it is living and active. We are called to believe and that belief calls us to action, to help all those around us with real and meaningful love that points people to the one true Jesus Christ.

In early 2016, a man approached me at the parking lot and explained that he was a parent of a third grade girl at St. Peter. He thanked us for all the hard work that it takes to provide a quality education and asked a question I hadn’t heard before. He asked, “Are there two Jesus Christs?” I thought perhaps he was joking or confused but he explained that the Jesus he was taught about when he was young was an evil man who was used to prove that white people were superior to all other races. He saw Jesus as a God of inequality, oppression, and fear. He told me that the Jesus we are teaching his daughter about is a God of love, inclusion, and freedom. He said, “I want to know about the Jesus you guys are teaching the children about.”

Drew Berson and his family moved from St. Louis, Mo. to South Africa in May of 2015, to serve as long-term missionaries. He is the business manager for St. Peter’s Development Foundation, looking after projects and helping to raise support to continue the expansion projects. His wife, Lindsey, is a family nurse practitioner and is the health manager. She is working to open a health center and build community health initiatives.

Campaign Progress

Over $4.43 million in gifts, pledges, and congregational goals to date.

Thank you!

Over $1 million dollars has been received or pledged from our Michigan District Congregations! Thank you for your support of HWS.

Congregation Highlights

We would like to thank Our Shepherd, Birmingham; St. John, Hillman; St. Mark, Saginaw; and Trinity, Sturgis for their most recent gifts to the campaign.

We would like to thank Trinity, St. Joseph for their recent pledge to the campaign.

Download this July Newsletter