By Freddy Ward – Public Representative
Vukukanye is the Xhosa word for “Rise and Shine”. It is the name we have given the unique model of Christian discipleship developed by OLIA over many years of gospel work in the townships of South Africa.
The Vukukanye method was born from the growing awareness that traditional gospel ministry methods were unable to address the deep-seated emotional isolation experienced by so many in the townships. Despite seemingly vibrant cultural and social activity, individuals are deeply isolated from each other by powerful cultural forces and survival strategies that fuel rampant mistrust. Children become adults and grow old, never experiencing unconditional love or sincere concern for their deepest spiritual and emotional needs. Even God becomes just another survival strategy – a give-and-take agreement with the Christian God that may help them along the way if they keep their side of the agreement.
Out of this growing knowledge, the OLIA leaders started a small program of engaging with a few individuals on a very personal level. These engagements took the form of exercising the selfless love of God in acts of service, practical help, and especially emotional and spiritual support in every trial of life; this while constantly teaching God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ, and what it means to obey his command to love one another.
They slowly saw this small group of individuals undergo a profound transformation. Discovering God’s love for them and experiencing love, forgiveness, acceptance and support from one another, produced in them a joy and a peace previously unknown, without any change in their circumstances.
It slowly became evident that the most effective way to sustain the spiritual growth that these groups were experiencing (and to reach more people with this practical outworking of the gospel) was to organize them into small groups of three. These small groups are established by mature members of the ministry who are moved to love and care for others near them in the same way that they themselves have been loved and cared for. Leaders identify and select their own group members, normally within close proximity of their own homes, and draw them into the group with love and compassion. Over time, as members grow spiritually and emotionally, new leaders are produced who are equipped and eager to start their own groups. In this way, entire households and families are being reached and transformed by the gospel message.
And this is what the “Vuku Family” is about – helping others see and feel the love of God revealed in Jesus; turning people from darkness and despair to light and hope; seeing individuals and communities “Rise and Shine”, to the glory of our great God and saviour, Jesus Christ.