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Young United Methodists start soup kitchen in South Africa


Young adults from the South Africa Conference of The United Methodist Church have started a soup kitchen to help those in need in their community.

Members of the United Methodist Young Adult Organization are helping the less privileged in Clermont Township, one of the largest and oldest townships in Durban with a high unemployment rate, especially among youth. The majority of residents are from rural areas who came to seek work opportunities in the nearby suburbs and surrounding factories. Many live in poverty in informal settlements or shacks.

Community service is a focal point for the organization, which was established in February of 2017. Bishop Joaquina Nhanala, who leads the Mozambique Episcopal Area, robed the nearly 50 young adult members to mark the group's founding.

Nombhedesho Maquba (standing, left) volunteers with a soup kitchen ministry operated by young adults of The United Methodist Church of South Africa in Durban. Photo by Nandipha Mkwalo, UMNS.

Nombhedesho Maquba, president of Pinetown Circuit's Young Adult Organization, said she is thankful that the members are committed to their volunteer work with the soup kitchen.

"They are so united and you can swear that this is the big group with the way they do works of God. It is more blessed to give than to receive," said Maquba, quoting Acts 20:35.

Members gather twice a month at lunchtime on Saturdays on the streets in Clermont.

Maquba said the group brings and shares meals according to the week's menu. "They prepare the food from their homes so that they can serve those who are less fortunate," she said.

The menu usually includes warm soup with vegetables, bread, fruits and juice.

"Our food is healthy and most importantly is made and served out of love," said Zoleka Masiza, national project director of the United Methodist Young Adult Organization.

The soup kitchen serves approximately 55 people each week, including a large number of children and people who are not in good health — many are taking medicine, sometimes on an empty stomach, Masiza said.

Before serving the soup, the young adults pray and share the word of God with the beneficiaries.

"It is our responsibility to follow (United Methodist Young Adult) principles, which promote evangelism, for them to have an understanding and know how to be a disciple of Jesus Christ," Masiza said.

"During the process of worshipping with them, we have realized that the majority of these people, they are not God-orientated. Some of them have never stepped their feet in the house of God. So as an organization, we take the advantage and follow our church mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ and transform the world."

Down the road, the nonprofit organization aims to serve at least one meal every week and to establish other soup kitchens in all of the circuits of the Ikhwezi District, Masiza said.

The group also would like to increase the number of beneficiaries to 100 or more in each area depending on the budget.

"The community is so happy about the work of young people of The United Methodist Church. Volunteering is a practical way of exercising my faith. I really enjoy doing community service projects for my church. The team is also working voluntarily for the love of God, church and organization," Maquba said.

NandiphaMkwalo is director of communications for the South Africa Conference.

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the World Service Fund is the financial lifeline to a long list of Christian mission and ministry throughout the denomination. Through the Four Areas of Focus churches are Engaging in ministry with the poor with their communities in ways that are transformative.

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