Leading by the Holy Spirit and Ministry to the Poor in South Africa with Angela Kemm (Margins 2 Mic: Season 2)

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Angela is from Cape Town, South Africa, and worked amongst those segregated by the apartheid government. It was a dangerous and scary time for her, with white people forbidden from entering areas for so called people of colour. She feared that she would be killed or put in prison. It was common for people to disappear without any news. She didn’t have a desire to be involved in cross-cultural ministry or mission, but the Holy Spirit brought it to her. In her experience of fighting apartheid, she learnt that you can’t be involved in mission without the power of the Holy Spirit. It is an intricate and difficult work, involving spiritual warfare, and cannot be done in our own strength. Angela shares how she wasn’t cross-culturally trained or aware, how she was unskilled and required training by the Holy Spirit. She would be woken up in the night by God and He would instruct her in what she should do the next day. 

Despite being the white oppressor, she was accepted by those she got to know and made friends with. She learnt that she needed to not just fight apartheid (as important as this was) but to help with people’s material needs too. People were living in iron shacks, without food or jobs, and schooling and medical care were expensive for many. She had to learn to rely on the gifts of the Holy Spirit and expect God to come through for her in serving these people. She reminds us that we don’t have all the needs and finances for mission in our strength, but it is the work of God. We trust in the power of the Spirit for all of these provisions. She tells of a time when she took sandwiches for one family, and they miraculously became sufficient for hundreds of people in the neighbourhood.

This is normal life for us as Christians that we should offer and expect, no matter where God sends us. But He doesn’t make it easy, as he is training us for battle. It is a case of praying, pushing through and trusting. Angela shares how she would read something in the Bible, take it seriously and hold God to it. One day the people from a community that she was working with challenged her: “if your God is as big was you say he is, ask him to give us each a brick house.” These friends lived in iron shacks with no running water and only outside toilets. Living like this robs people of dignity, but God restores dignity. She had seen God do so much for people that she replied to say that her God could give them houses, and that He cares for people in crisis. But as she drove away she questioned what she had done: she told herself that she shouldn’t promise what she couldn’t do, or make promises from God that she couldn’t be 100% certain were from him. She asked God to rescue her, even if she had got it wrong, for the sake of His people and for His name. 

Angela shares how she felt unskilled and inexperienced in this area of housing. She felt God say to her that she should not fundraise, and that what God had given her to do, he would provide for.

Eventually, there was a committee in place, and she was privileged to be a white person working on this team of black people. Only the Holy Spirit could open doors like this. After around three years the first house was built with running water, brick walls and electricity. Everyone knew that God had done something in this community. These were the first people in the history of the Western Cape area to have brick houses, and it was not from handouts or begging but from God.

Angela also pioneered church plants, saw people saved and many miraculous things happen. She shares of how God cares for the whole person. We give the full package deal to those that we are serving on mission. Do they have food? A home? Schooling? Are people against them? Is there injustice? This is relevant anywhere. Angela is now serving unreached people in the West, and encourages us that God’s power is with us whoever we are or wherever we are. We have power to preach the gospel, to see people connected with God, to see care given, discipleship done well and to walk people through the things in the Bible. We are not just hearers of the Word but doers and we change communities, bringing the life of the Spirit wherever we go.