Members of Shincheonji churches in KwaZulu-Natal recently gathered to lend a hand and give much-needed help to the communities of uMlazi and Inanda affected by the recent floods. This flood relief project forms part of the church’s Shincheonji Cares initiative to assist local communities across Southern Africa.
Msizi Magwaza, a spokesperson for Shincheonji Church of Jesus in KwaZulu Natal, said that the Shincheonji Cares initiative was born out of the desire to provide hope, love and care to communities in desperate need. “We decided to seek out those communities who have very real and specific needs but have not yet been addressed by local or national government due to a lack of funding and manpower, or who have not yet received help from other relief agencies. Our congregation members want to lend a hand practically, unite as one, and show that we care.”
According to Magwaza, Shincheonji Church identified two communities within uMlazi and Inanda with specific needs, which have not yet been addressed, where the church and its members were able to physically help. In uMlazi congregation members went to clear rubble and restore damaged and exposed walls of at least one house. The resident of this particular house is an old and frail lady. “With the coming Winter cold and rain, we felt that this house deserved priority,” the church spokesperson said. “We encourage other churches and businesses to do the same.”
Many residents are stranded due to damage and destruction to their houses and have to live in the local community hall. One of these uMlazi residents, Jabulani Mkhize, living in the Imbalenhle Community Hall, said, “Our lives have drastically changed since the flooding. We now live in a community hall, in close proximity to one another with very little privacy.”
Shincheonji members handed out food parcels to those families who took in their neighbours who lost their homes, and other community members who were drastically affected by the floods. 157 uMlazi residents, left homeless after the floods, are currently housed at the Imbalenhle Community Hall. They each received a prepared meal and were treated to a special performance arranged by the church in cooperation with other community groups, including the God’s Grace Choir. The children were not forgotten – party snacks to distract from their current situation and face painting to bring cheer to the occasion.
“I’d like to express my warmest gratitude and appreciation towards Shincheonji Church for showing tremendous support, and unique assistance. The food they cooked was delicious and we enjoyed the meal. We are very thankful for the words of hope and encouragement,” Mkhize said.
Another resident, Xolani Mqadi, explained that, “There has been a massive difference within the ward, and you can tell by the magnitude of the work they’re doing to assist us. People are delighted.” He also expressed how business owners, the South African Police Service and the Department of Education have shown tremendous support.
The Ward Councillor for uMlazi Ward 79, Khumbulani Cele, said at the volunteer event on Saturday, “I feel very very great. I want to thank the church and all its members for their support and for coming here to support. The love the church has for the people who are affected by the floods, I thank you for that.”
The Ward Councillor and Shincheonji Church expressed their hope that many other organisations will also join and do the same to make a visible difference and help the community practically. Cele thanked everyone helping and concluded with the Shincheonji slogan for the day, “We are one. Simunye!”
Another team from Shincheonji Church went to Inanda, a township situated 30km north-west of Durban. Congregation members joined by the community removed waste and refuse that washed out along the riverbank after the flood. The waste was causing flooding at a nearby bridge in the area.
Magwaza, spokesperson for Shincheonji, said, “Our congregation members are excited to do something, even if it’s small, that could make a difference to the community.”
Thusile Buthelezi, a resident living in Inanda Ward 57 expressed her gratitude saying, “I am very happy. It showed me that there are still some people who love and care for us as the community, especially in this predicament. I believe this is God that has send them to us!”
Inanda Ward Counsellor Vincent Khunzu said that, “In Ward 57 we lost 4 family members, but since the church was visible in the community and supporting the community by the cleaning campaign, at least the pain the community feel, we feel some sort of counselling was done by the church.”
One community member expressed his gratitude by saying that some Shincheonji congregation members have driven from far and wide to come and help. “Considering the expensive petrol prices, taking their time to come and make a positive change – to make this world a better place – we are thankful and grateful for everything.”
Magwaza said, “Many communities have lost hope. Through our Shincheonji Cares initiative we want to encourage them by being there, helping to rebuild and clear, and to show the people of KwaZulu Natal there is hope. We want them to experience what can be done if we work as one – great things can be achieved, and change will come.”