Durban, a South African city of more than three million people on the Indian Ocean coast, is Africa's largest and busiest port city. Durban has much to offer tourists, but is also home to problems like drugs, homelessness, addiction, joblessness, and hopelessness. Morningside Community Church of the Nazarene Pastor Gabriel Benjamin and his congregation have seen the destruction of these addictions and vices firsthand and feel that God is calling them to make a difference in their community.
Benjamin and his team can be found going out into the streets and handing out items such as soap, razors, and deodorants to those living on the streets. After seeing some of the people in the same places repeatedly, the congregation started a Bible study that meets right on the streets of Durban. They are able to share the gospel and pray with the jobless, the homeless, and the addicted.
"Sometimes it is difficult to see any success in what we do," Benjamin said. "The nature of the homeless and addicts is rather transient."
The church has seen initial results and continues to plant seeds in the lives of those they encounter.
Congregation members are always looking for needs in their community and practical ways they can meet those needs. Last winter, an informal settlement of shacks caught on fire. The Morningside Community Church was there with blankets and a helping hand for those who lived there.
Recently, the school that Benjamin attended as a child was designated as one of the poorest in the entire city. The church was able to donate new shoes to many of the children at that school.
Benjamin hopes to encourage other churches "to continue their witness to the broken, marginalised, and wounded."
"This is shared with the intention of encouraging mid-size and small church leaders and pastors to value their place in ministry," Benjamin said. "Jesus has invited you to be an extension of His voice and presence in and among the least of His children."