School graduations, church conferences, crime awareness and prayer meetings. All these take place in our church building with participation from local churches across denominations. We have many opportunities to be peacemakers in our area, working side-by-side with other churches to share the gospel.
I was a high school teacher majoring in mathematics, history, and counselling students after moving to South Africa from Zimbabwe to further my studies with the University of Johannesburg in 2001. But the Hillbrow Brethren In Christ Church, which was experiencing leadership challenges, called me to be their pastor in 2002.
We conducted a lot of leadership workshops and seminars and the challenges subsided.
At the beginning of 2008, the church engaged me as a full-time pastor of the Hillbrow BICC branch. When Brethren In Christ Church South Africa became a General Conference in 2011, l was elected as the national overseer (bishop) in practical terms.
It was at this point that we started working with other denominations in order to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ around Hillbrow, Yeoville, Berea and Johannesburg Central.
Interdenominational ministry begins
We formed an interdenominational group of four churches including BIC Hillbrow; Rock of Ages Ministries and the Church of God Total Deliverance Ministries.
We sponsored big, combined church events, revivals and outreach ministries in and around Hillbrow.
With the collaboration of the South African Police Services (SAPS) we organised very successful marches around Hillbrow against the substance abuse and crime. We also have been involved and participated in crime awareness programs in partnership with the South African Police Services (SAPS) at the Hillbrow Police Station.
Our church building is a voting polling station, something that has made it to become a community church.
Denominational pastors fraternity meetings and night prayers are held at our church, mainly because we are the only church in the area that has a church structure.
Schools and pre-schools hire our church building for graduation and other parents meetings. Different denominations also hire our church building for their conferences and meetings at a minimal charge, just to help us pay for water and electricity.
Community meetings are held at our church without a charge.
The young people of the BICC, Church of God and Rock of Ages churches come together from time to time for big services and night services.
From 2011 to date, young people from 14 churches have established what is known as the Rainbow Soccer Christian League. This league is made up of churches from the Brethren In Christ; Assemblies of God; Apostolic Faith Mission, Salvation Army; Faith In God (FIG) Ministries; and Faith and Fire Ministries. Soccer has brought churches together and it has been used as an effective soul-winning tool.
After introducing myself to the Hillbrow Police Station Commander, l was asked to come and preach to policemen and police women at the Hillbrow Police Station. As peacemakers, we are contributing positively to the communities that we are serving as churches.
Together with other churches, we have managed to write papers on the xenophobic attacks and other social ills. This has helped us a lot in our role of being peacemakers in our area.
We have also worked with the community of Zimbabweans in South Africa to bring about crime awareness to the residents and the church members alike. The church has also partnered with NGOs in dealing with depression and trauma in boys and men. And Hillbrow has invited other churches to join us in a soup kitchen that feeds homeless people in our neighbourhood.
Finally BICC has just applied for membership with the South African Council of Churches. This will be a powerful tool in taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the corners of the country.
—Reverend Benedict Ndlovu is pastor at Brethren In Christ Church in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, in the Republic of South Africa. He serves as his national church’s MWC General Council member.
This article first appeared in Courier/Correo/Courrier April 2020. Click here to read other articles from this issue.