Josh Merril


Restoring Hope
In Cambridge, South Africa

STORY
February 1, 2018

At ITeams, we love hearing stories that show hope igniting within the oppressed. Below, Ricardo Zapata (a leader with ITeams in Cambridge Township, South Africa) shares Vuyo’s story, which has set up much of our current work in the community. Cambridge is poised to see significant transformation in the years ahead, due largely to the journey our partner Vuyo has been on.

“Cambridge Township is made up of roughly thirty thousand people and was originally established in 1930 as a village for non-whites. John Henrik Clarke said ‘To hold a people in oppression you have to first convince them that they are supposed to be oppressed.’ and I think that statement applies here. The education system has been purposely diminished so that difficult labor-intensive jobs could continue, and crime, drugs, and prostitution are prevalent. Much of the community has lost their drive, they’ve lost their hope, and they’ve never been equipped to get out. Even if they have a dream or passion, they have no path.

Out of that oppression comes this man, now our main partner in the community. Vuyo moved into Cambridge (literally into a shack) with his mom as a child. As he grew up, he actually supported his family by gambling, and that allowed him to finance going to school during the day.

Cambridge, South Africa

In high school, Vuyo had an encounter with some missionaries who were serving in the area and came to know Jesus. He dropped gambling and started working (instead of school) during the day to support his family. Vuyo began attending night-school to finish his GED, which he eventually completed. Following his high school education, Vuyo attended seminary, earning a masters degree before he returned back to lead Grace Community Church here in Cambridge. His story is incredibly unique because that kind of drive or passion is seen so rarely in the Cambridge community. 

It is that same drive that we hope to inspire others in this community to seek, so our ministry here focuses on empowerment alongside discipleship. Our team is working to provide support in the areas of business, education, drug rehabilitation, community care, and discipleship. We expect that projects like our community center, micro-business loan program, daycare facility, recycling initiative, and daily feeding/nutrition program will continue to see incredible growth in the years ahead. As we come alongside members of the community, we are seeing hope restored and lives transformed as people encounter Jesus and are given opportunities for the first time.” 

Vuyo’s journey is inspiring. His drive and passion have carved deep pathways of transformation for people in his community. At ITeams, we focus on Integrated Community Transformation because we believe that with the power of Jesus, lives and communities can truly be transformed. It is Jesus who brings the spark of hope back into hearts long silenced by oppression. In Cambridge and in communities all around the world, we are serving with Jesus and alongside the oppressed so that no one would be invisible and everyone would have access to food, freedom, and forgiveness.