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Women turning from darkness to light
  • by Guest Contributer
  • June 25, 2021

Ans van der Zwaag – Anglican Aid Ambassador for Umthombo Wempilo, South Africa

This past year has seen many ups and downs for Umthombo Wempilo, Anglican Aid’s partner ministering to vulnerable women working in South Africa’s sex trade.

Over the January holidays, Umthombo had the frustration of blocked sewerage (no fun at all). The cottage continues to have issues – we found out just over a week ago that they still do not have hot water.  

Umthombo has also seen more closures due to Covid. As I (Ans) am writing this newsletter, the third wave is sweeping through South Africa, where people are back in level 3 lockdown. Christ Church Hillbrow, the church that Umthombo partners with, has had some positive cases as well.

In late January, Bubbly, the project manager (pictured at left), ended up with Covid-19, which was a real concern. Thankfully the two other ladies on staff, Thumi and Dimpho, tested negative. The centre closed for a fortnight.

We praise God for answered prayer: Bubbly was able to return to work after the fortnight. Please keep praying for her as she is still quickly fatigued.

During these times of various restrictions, the staff at Umthombo has focused on staying in touch with the ladies by phone. They are giving out food parcels, as well as doing Just For Starters (a set of foundational Bible studies for new and young Christians) with the ladies who are able to visit the cottage. The staff are seeing real growth as the women are seriously thinking through what it means to be a Christian.

“The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.” Psalm 37:39
Pretty’s story

Pretty* is 33 years old. She used to work in a brothel, where the ladies from Umthombo met her a few times, but she kept disappearing and reappearing. While she was working as a sex worker, she would take her daughter to some friends to look after. When those friends didn’t want to give her daughter back, Umthombo helped her – and Pretty was soon convinced that she needed to quit her work.

At times she would come to church. Lately she has been coming regularly, has joined a church in the location she lives in, and has started a little business in “braaing meat” [grilling meat over coals] on the street.

Pretty wanted to share some words to thank Umthombo Wempilo for introducing her to Jesus and for helping her leave the brothel – it was a joy to hear what she had to say.

“I was lost in darkness, I didn’t know the Lord Jesus… until Umthombo Wempilo visited the brothel. They told us that the Lord Jesus Christ loved us and it was not too late to change. I decided to follow him. Since then, I quit working at the brothel, and I started visiting Umthombo where they helped and prayed for me. I started going to church, was baptised and started reading the Bible and praying.”

Joyce’s story

Then there is Joyce*. She gave birth to twins at the beginning of the year, but due to her mental illness she threw one of them against the wall. Her social worker placed the twins in a family and placed Joyce in a shelter – but she keeps running away and now lives on the street at the back of the church. She comes to the gate asking for Mam Bubbly, so Umthombo does what they can for her. They are in touch with the social worker as well, so they are limited in how they can help her. They provide Joyce with clothes and food.

 *Names changed for privacy reasons

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3-4

We are very thankful for your ongoing prayers and giving for this very important ministry in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Please give thanks:

  • For the women participating in the Just For Starters Bible studies.
  • That Pretty has turned from darkness to light.
  • For Umthombo’s generous supporters – for your prayers and giving.

Please pray for:

  • Safety and protection of the staff, especially during these stressful Covid times.
  • For funds to fix the hot water.
  • That Joyce will receive appropriate help, so she can maintain a level of functioning.

It is with thankfulness to God that the partnership between Umthombo Wempilo, Christ Church Hillbrow, and Anglican Aid continues, as together, we can make a difference to the lives of others.

Let grace flow through generosity

All donations to Anglican Aid for this project are tax deductible. In the case that a fundraising appeal has received sufficient donations, any surplus funds will be used for a similar activity or an activity in the same country.

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