Meet Gift, Steward, and Moeketsi, an energetic pioneer team resonating with passion for Jesus and compassion for people.
Six feet beat the streets of Pretoria, South Africa. Their pace is brisk and purposeful, driven by a sense of urgency. They dodge traffic, navigate crowds, and climb endless flights of stairs in the city’s towering apartment buildings. Then suddenly, they stop. For the three Global Mission pioneers they belong to have just encountered someone interested in learning about Jesus—the sole purpose of their daily trek.
Meet Gift, Steward, and Moeketsi, an energetic pioneer team resonating with passion for Jesus and compassion for people. Every weekday from eight to five, they traverse the city by foot to talk with people, pray with them, and invite them to explore God’s Word together. In the past two years they’ve studied with 1,500 people, baptized more than 200, and started two branch churches.
“I feel so humbled and yet so happy when I see someone accept Christ,” Gift says with a gentle smile. “Especially someone like Paul.”*
Paul was an angry, violent man who had a reputation for never allowing any other man on his property. To make matters worse, he was married to Helen,* a member who was no longer attending church whom Gift wanted to visit. “If I wanted to encourage the wife,” Gift says, “I had to get through the husband!”
Gift prayed for guidance, then went to visit the couple. As he approached their home, he saw Paul digging in his garden. Their eyes locked for a moment, and then Paul slowly returned to his work. “Suddenly, I saw a shovel lying on the ground,” Gift says, “and I felt impressed to pick it up and start digging next to Paul.”
As the two men dug together, they began to talk, and eventually Gift asked Paul about Helen. “Your mother is in the house,” Paul replied kindly. “You may go visit her.” When Gift left that day, Paul told him he was welcome to come again.
Gift began visiting regularly, and Paul began to call him “son.” He listened intently as Gift talked to Helen about Jesus’ love, and eventually he and Gift became friends.
Then one day Helen called Gift to tell him that Paul had left her. He had moved in with another woman from whom he’d contracted AIDS, and was very sick. Helen thought he didn’t have long to live.
Gift prayed with Helen and tried to comfort her. Then he asked whether she could forgive her husband and bring him home to care for him. Helen chose to do so.
The next time Gift visited the couple’s home, he found Paul very weak. Standing beside his bed, Gift said, “Father, God loves you. You cannot die without accepting Jesus. Please raise your hand to let me know that you want Jesus to be your Savior.” Paul was quiet for a few moments, then slowly lifted his hand. “I love Jesus,” he said, and as he did, Gift enfolded the dying man in his arms.
A few weeks later, Gift told Paul he was going to camp meeting, and Paul insisted that he go too. Gift arranged for a nurse to care for Paul during the event and pushed him in a wheelchair to every meeting at Paul’s request.
At the close of the meetings, the preacher made an appeal for anyone who wanted to be baptized to come forward. Paul asked Gift to push him to the front, where he announced that he wanted to be baptized before he died.
There is much suffering and despair in Pretoria, and Paul was only one of thousands of people struggling with AIDS. Daniel* had recently discovered he was HIV positive when Gift knocked on his door. They talked for a while, and then Gift left him a Bible lesson about how much God cares.
A few days later, Gift knocked on Daniel’s door again. Daniel invited him in and, holding the lesson to his heart, began to cry. He told Gift that when he had learned he was HIV positive, he had quit his studies at the local university. “I had given up on everything,” he said. “The day you knocked on my door was the day I was planning to kill myself.”
Gift assured Daniel that Jesus loves him and shared how he could begin a new life in Christ. Since their encounter, Daniel’s life has changed. He has gone back to school, finished the Bible lessons, and is now attending church.
“People often tell me, ‘I’m so happy now,’” Gift says. “They say, ‘I was in the dark, but now I have found the light.’ That’s why I have such a passion for being a pioneer.”
Gift sees many people in his city die without knowing Jesus. “I want to thank everyone who has supported the ministry of Global Mission,” he says, “because they’ve helped Paul and Daniel, and many more like them, know Jesus’ love before it is too late.”
* Name has been changed.
Global Mission pioneers are local people who dedicate at least one year to starting new churches in areas or among people groups where there is little or no Adventist presence. They receive a small living stipend and work in challenging conditions. Some are the only Seventh-day Adventists in an area of more than one million people. Their ministry wouldn’t be possible without your support. Thank you!
To learn more about Global Mission pioneers, please visit www.global-mission.org.
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