The grace of God and the glory of the gospel were clearly evident during a recent outreach in the village of Mseleni in northern KZN. The community of Mseleni, in the far northeastern corner of South Africa provides a wonderful example of the difference that the light of the gospel makes in the world.
In the early decades of the last century, missionaries from North America and Britain arrived in the remote and primitive region that was the home to snakes, parasites, malaria and feuding tribes. These missionaries endured much hardship and opposition and persistently worked to establish a footprint for the gospel in the region. Their efforts were eventually rewarded when the local chief (induna) begrudgingly gave them a piece of land on which they could start building a hospital in an area where such facilities were completely foreign.
It must be said that the induna allocated a strip of land right at the top of the hill that was notorious for the high frequency of lightning strikes. He is claimed to have said that if the missionaries felt that their God could protect them on that hilltop then they were welcome to have the land. Well, 84 years later a thriving, efficient hospital stands on that very hill as testament to God’s sustaining grace.
While the hospital is no longer a mission hospital, having been taken over by the Provincial Administration (1978), it and the surrounding community continue to benefit from the legacy of sovereign grace. The general impression one gets when driving around that region of KZN is of pervasive poverty and the associated degradation of infrastructure and of the “morality” of the locals.
However, the village of Mseleni stands out as being very different from the majority of other villages in the region. A general sense of order and decorum prevails; the roads are excellent and the wide sidewalks on either side of the road puts Gauteng’s sorry excuse for the same to shame. There is a locally designed and built water and sewage reticulation system that makes the village resistant to the surrounding communities’ struggles with poor services. Fifteen thousand people within a fifteen kilometre radius of the hospital draw water from this system and so benefit from the practical application of truth in the lives of believers who are not just hearers.
There is an active Community Centre with a library, computer centre and function venue in which we ran a very well received KFC (Kids for Christ). The hospital is spotlessly clean, modern, friendly and there are no long queues of the sick and infirm waiting to receive medical attention. This efficiency is largely thanks to the biblical foundation on which the hospital was built and which is still maintained by the dedicated staff.
The region has been blessed through the wise application of biblical wisdom in the areas of orphan-care and social involvement. There is a thriving and growing micro-financing scheme that has served hundreds of otherwise destitute families to gain independence, not through a dead aid of mere handouts, but through a process of enabling the people to work and to save. True religion is practiced in the care and support given to orphans and child led homes.
In short, the effect of the gospel and the works that accompany faith are clearly evident. This is not to say that everyone in Mseleni is a believer in Christ, nor is this a claim that it is the perfect little village without any difficulties; rather, it provides evidence that where the glorious light of the gospel has shone, the people are better off and that they have been blessed by the grace of God. This realisation was a personal highlight of the recent week of ministry in the area.
We had much else to rejoice in and benefit from during the week of ministry. The exposure to a different culture with the associated appreciation of their struggles was a stark reminder of the grace of God to us in our comfortable city lives. The presentation and application of the gospel to the people in this culture afforded opportunities for our team members to learn, grow and develop. The bonds between the team members were greatly strengthen as we saw one another reaching out in ministry and using specific spiritual gifts to the glory of God.
Please join us in continuing to pray for the effective outworking of the gospel in that region and for fruit from the week of ministry there. While there are three local churches and a small hospital fellowship, the region lacks a solid Bible-believing, Christ-exalting local church. Indeed, the people of Mseleni have been the recipients of much grace and favour, but they need to come to embrace Christ and serve Him in and through a vital local church. Pray too for the members of the team that BBC sent down there. Pray that the Lord’s purpose for including them in this trip would become increasingly clear and that the burdens that were laid on their hearts will grow into sustainable, gospel-saturated examples of the grace of God to all men.