Tyron is 17 and attends Eldorado High School in Eldorado Park where he is in Year 12. He grew up in a family environment that was dominated by Muslims and was indoctrinated with the Quran. When he heard that Pastor Jacobs, a Bible League Project Philip Coordinator, was running a course in his school, Tyron decided to attend. His interest was not what he could learn, but how he could prove Pastor Jacobs wrong. Pastor Jacobs noted, “He clearly did not believe in Christ as the one and only Saviour, but he had a problem with some of the verses he came across as he was going through the Quran.“ Tyron questioned many things, including how Jesus could truly be equal to God; if he was really the way, the truth and the life; how God could say that men and women were equal in his eyes when Islamic religion refuses this. Even after extended conversations with Pastor Jacobs, Tyron still did not understand, but he set himself a challenge to discover the truth. He feared the persecution that could occur if he studied at home so he searched the Scriptures at school, using the Bible that Pastor Jacobs offered to him.
As he studied, Pastor Jacobs began noting a profound change in his life. Tyron began quoting Scriptures, especially those centering around the arrival, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. He was fascinated by how Jesus always spoke about love, that His intent was to bring salvation rather than condemnation. The contrast between Jesus and the prophet Mohammed which Tyron had been taught about was stark; where Mohammed preached death and destruction, Jesus spoke of life and peace. Tyron asked Pastor Jacobs to pray with him, saying these words:
“God, I want to know you, I want to serve you. I do not seek heavenly comfort or respect from other people, I just want to know you. Please show yourself to me, abide in me and I will abide in you. I just want to know you only are God and Lord, King of kings, ruler of my life. Amen”.
After Tyron gave his life to the Lord, there has been a great change in his life and this has flowed into his relationships with his family and school communities. He has started a movement called Christ Youth on the Move which goes around to different schools spreading the Gospel through rap music performances.
Lentshaletse is 14 and attends Ramaina Secondary School in Mafikeng, where she is in Year 9. She was raised by her mother and has never met her father, nor does she know anything about him as her mother refuses to talk about him. Lentshaletse struggled to begin any kind of conversation with her mother who would give terse answers, if any at all, and often becomes withdrawn, angry and abusive.
Growing up in this difficult environment, Lentshaletse struggled to show respect to anyone and this greatly affected all her relationships. She was disrespectful to peers, teachers and family alike. She began keeping company with people who led her down a dark path and began smoking, drinking and living the type of life that no young person should ever endure. Though she was desperate for a change, she didn’t know how she could do it or who she should talk to.
A pastor spoke in Lentshaletse’s school assembly and, when she was finished, the pastor gave an invitation for those that were interested to attend a Bible study that would be held after school hours. The pastor promised that all those participating would receive their own book to study. As Lentshaletse listened she decided that this was the change that she had been looking for!
Lentshaletse cried as she went through the lessons. Here she was learning that there was a God who knew her and loved her. She was motivated to find a church and attended a service where she gave her life to the Lord and became convinced that her mother would also discover this love that had so totally changed her life.
After becoming a Christian, Lentshaletse saw great changes in her life, her grades improved, she began respecting her peers and teachers and they in turn began respecting her. She stopped drinking alcohol, smoking and messing around. At home, her attitude towards her mother changed so that she was able to treat her with love. This change in her was seen by her mother and one Sunday, as Lentshaletse was preparing to go church, her mother stopped her and asked if she could come along. Lentshaletse was delighted, her mother came with her to church that day and gave her life to Jesus – their relationship was completely restored!
Nosipho is 17 and attends Lancea Vale High School where she is completing Year 12. She is the second of three children and was raised by her single mom, who did her best to raise her children. Unfortunately, her mother couldn’t find permanent employment and couldn’t afford to raise all three children herself, which meant that Nosipho and her younger brother were raised by her grandma. While her grandma could not provide much in terms of material things, she did teach Nosipho to take education seriously.
Though Nosipho wanted to respect her grandmother’s teaching, she also was constantly in an environment that was pushing her to do the opposite. She felt great pressure to do the same as her friends and began to consuming alcohol, smoking and gambling. This led to great guilt, she was uncomfortable with what she was doing which made her constantly unhappy, but she didn’t know how to change.
Pastor Jacobs attended the school and began teaching students from the Word of God. He invited them to enrol in the Project Philip GOLD (God Ordained Life and Dream) program. Nosipho enrolled and from the first lesson was radically impacted by the thought that God not only loved her, but had a specific plan and purpose for her life. She became a model student and perhaps most importantly of all learnt that she could have a vision for her life. Nosipho realised that she had the ability to decide what her future would look like. She decided that she was going to attend university with the goal of becoming an IT Manager at a prominent company in the community. When she graduated from the GOLD program she was overjoyed as she was presented with her certificate and her very first Bible.
This year Nosipho enrolled at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where she is pursuing the vision that she saw for her life through the GOLD program. She prays too that as others discover God, they can envision their futures and would be filled with strength from above to start the race diligently and finish it with excellence.
Ilonka attends Letsatsing Combined School, is 19 years old and in year 12. When she was five years old she became infected with various diseases that were not easily cured. These sicknesses took over her life, disturbing her school routine and affecting her relationships – many parents would not allow her near their children as they didn’t want them to catch her diseases. When she was ten years old her parents got divorced and her father left Ilonka and her mother to fend for themselves. Ilonka’s mother was not employed and was unable to provide for her basic needs. Often she would go to bed without any kind of food. Due to malnutrition and other factors, Ilonka’s schooling suffered and she repeated some school years due to bad results.
A Pastor visited her school and launched the GOLD program – Ilonka couldn’t wait to get started. Immediately after she heard the Word, her heart jumped. There was something about this message that resonated with her. She was encouraged to pray more and to rely only on God, regardless of her circumstances.
As the lessons continued, Ilonka noted a marked difference in her life. She was developing both mentally and spiritually, life was becoming more joyful, she began to live in hope. Ilonka called her mother every night to pray with her and this brought them closer together to the point that her mother began opening up to Ilonka, for the first time they cried and laughed together. Through the studies Ilonka realised that her past experience of life was not what God had designed. She was determined that her situation would change. When she completed the GOLD program she was overjoyed at what God had already done in her life and that her future looked positive.
Ilonka’s faith continued to grow as she studied God’s Word and she saw her health improve too. Her performance at school went off the charts, she was so confident in who she was and who God had created her to be. Her mother found a job in a nearby business and they both became active members of a local church. Today they are inspired to share the message which has transformed their lives with people in their community.
Belinda is 14 years old and attends Ntsikana Primary School in Year 7. She grew up in a single parent family with only her mother and brother to support her. They lived in a squatter camp, a place with tin houses, no proper sanitation, electricity or clean water. Her mother was a domestic worker which meant she was away all week and only came home on weekends, leaving both her children completely alone during the week. Not many people in the squatter camp were employed, which meant that there were constantly a large number of people trying to fill time. Rape, drugs and theft were an everyday occurrence. In this environment, Belinda found it impossible to concentrate on her studies and chose instead to embrace the lifestyle. She began to bully others, steal where she could and built a reputation where no one would want to cross her.
The principal of her school announced that they were going to begin a Bible study class and asked for students to enrol in the program. Belinda felt that she should, but to keep up appearances, she decided against it. Fortunately for her, a couple of her friends decided to join and were talking about what they had learnt the following day. This peaked Belinda’s interest and, after being invited by her friends as they were going that day, she attended the group.
Though she entered the classroom with great doubt, she was immediately drawn to God as she began to understand the incredible love that He has for His children. This inspired her to learn more about who God is and the more she learned, the more her life was changed. She rebuilt her relationship with her mother and brother, makes a point of showing respect to elders and teachers and is involved in many different school activities. As she puts is, “Now I’m living a more meaningful life.” She recognises that the Word of God brought light to her and she is now excited to share that light with others.
One student from Daveyton High is Amelia, who is 15 and in Year 8. When she was just 8 years old she lost both her parents in a car accident and from then was moved from place to place. Her uncle wanted to take her in but his wife was against the idea so when Amelia moved in she was mistreated by her aunt. Amelia was really made to feel like she was not part of the family and was made to do all the chores while her cousins did nothing. If something went wrong she was always the one that was blamed, even if she hadn’t even been involved. After some time of this, Amelia decided the best thing for her to do would be to run away.
Thankfully, Amelia only ended up spending 2 nights sleeping out in the open, as God sent along a very generous lady who, after hearing of Amelia’s situation, offered to take her in. This lady began teaching her many life lessons about respect, working hard, studying and the like. Eventually, Amelia’s family reached out to her and she decided to move back in with a different aunt, which meant she was moved again, this time to a place far away surrounded by mines. The moving around meant that she could not consistently attend school and she was held back as her peers continued progressing.
With this aunt, a lady that truly cared for her, Amelia had the opportunity to really make a good life for herself. However, she didn’t respond well and her schoolwork suffered, with her aunt being called in several times and asked to address Amelia’s behaviour, but to no avail until one day a Pastor came to the school. Now usually Amelia found any kind of preaching a bore. She didn’t understand the Bible at all and the way it was usually taught didn’t hold her attention. This Pastor was different though, he brought a booklet which captivated her immediately because it spoke of a God who had created her with a purpose. She decided to attend and started seeing things in a completely different way Being able to discern between right and wrong she decided to make some changes in her life. When she completed the program, and was handed her certificate and a Bible, Amelia started crying as she realised the incredible change that God’s Word had brought about in her.
Since then, Amelia has taken a different approach to her schooling and seen her results improve dramatically. She has a much better relationship with all the members of her family, including the aunt who had previously mistreated her. The Pastor that ran the program in her school runs a church in her area, so Amelia has begun attending and continues to grow spiritually. Because of God’s Word, Amelia now has hope and confidence in her future.