Change through a Pandemic
A young man from Khayelitsha was struggling with drug addiction and hopelessness. He was chased away from his home and was sleeping outside at the local mall and pushing trolleys and washing cars during the day. During lock-down he started coming for food at one of the City Mission soup kitchens.
Sometimes he would not even have something to put the soup in,” says Dumi Madondile, City Mission Field Worker, “But he would keep coming and he met the young men who were serving the food, young men transformed by God and discipled by the City Mission team, who talked with him and shared their own stories of change.
Slowly, Mabuti Simelela began to believe that maybe his life could change too. “The guys gave him space to sit and talk with them,” says Dumi, “and then one day they said ‘Tonight you are not going back to the mall to sleep, you are going to stay here with us’. And he did.”
After getting new clothes and having facilities to wash and sleep well, and friends who would walk alongside him, Mabuti started to feel like he had purpose and hope. “The guys shared their small lock-down space with him and invited him into their lives in May, and now it is December; since then that young man has never disappeared back into his old life, not even for one night.” Says Dumi.
One day they thought he had ‘lost’ him after a visit to the hospital for toothache as they could not find him after his treatment, but on their return to the City Mission centre, he was there working, dishing out food for others with his new friends. The community can see the transformation in this young man’s life. They used to see him and think he would be stealing or causing trouble, explains Dumi, but now they see him smiling, serving people at the soup kitchen, being a part of the church there, looking after the centre.
This is real change and it happened because people, especially Ayanda Gwaza, a young disciple in the City Mission flat in Khayelitsha, reached out and invited him into a community that would love him and help him find his way again. “This story gives me hope,” says Dumi, “Because it happened at a time where the world was distorted by the pandemic, and God broke into this man’s life.”
Mabuti is one of many young people who need hope in these difficult times. He also needed people to come alongside him and show him that there is a different way. “There is a cry out there from the young people caught in drugs, or in crime, or on the streets, there is a cry for help, even if they are not shouting it, deep inside, there is a cry for help.” Says Dumi passionately. And the team are there to keep responding to those cries for help. “God is at work and changing lives,” says Dumi, “And we get to play our part in that change.”