Advent is a time of anticipation – waiting and being intentionally focused on something to come. We celebrate the advent season from 01 December and build excitement toward celebrating the birth of Jesus on Christmas day.
The God we see in the Bible is the God who reveals himself as the God of Justice (Isaiah 30:18). The life, ministry and teaching of Jesus demonstrates something of the Just God. We invite you to use this advent season to look to Jesus as the one who calls us to and empowers us to pursue justice. This resource is a guide to help you engage and pray through various themes and topics that relate to justice in Cape Town and specifically how Common Ground churches respond. May you be blessed by the work God is doing in and through The Church in Cape Town and beyond.
CONGREGATIONAL SJM TEAM
Each Common Ground congregation has a Social Justice Ministry Team. These teams help congregations respond to poverty and injustice by:
1. Calling congregants to a lifestyle of Biblical Justice
2. Mobilising congregants to collectively tackle poverty and injustice in their neighbourhood
3. Supporting and participating in Common Good initiatives: Collaboration Schools and Shine Literacy (Education), The Zanokhanyo Network (Employment) and Sikunye (Early Life)
JOIN US IN PRAYER
Pray that believers will join Christ in His redemptive work and behold His purpose for us on earth.
Pray for your Social Justice Ministry team. Ask God to give wisdom, strength and a spirit of perseverance through the challenging space they’ve been called to serve.
Throughout this Advent season, ask the Spirit to speak to you about how/where you can be involved in living out your faith and doing justice in the areas and opportunities your congregation is pursuing.
GIFT OF TIME
Each day you are gifted with 24 hours. How do you use this precious resource? Do you have time for justice, or does it only go towards whatever is yours?
Time: “A commodity that has no bias. We can’t hoard it. It’s not stored in a savings account. Every person is only given 24 hours per day: it is the ultimate equalizer. For a full life that is rich in fruitfulness, we are to examine how well we use our daily allocation of 24 hours to enrich the lives of others”. – Richard Lundie
Our faith has much to say about how we cannot just use our time but should also invest it in the lives of others. You will discover that using your hours to be a blessing to others can have a profound impact on the lives of others, for today and many days into the future.
How can you be intentional with your time this Christmas?
JOIN US IN PRAYER
Pray and ask God to help you see creative ways in which you can gift your time to others this season (and beyond).
Take a deeper look into this topic on the Common Good resource page: Jesus and Time
EARLY LIFE: SIKUNYE
The Western Cape has an estimated 102 000 births each year. Sadly, around 50% of these children are born into circumstances of poverty, food insecurity and adversity which negatively impact on their development and future success. The first thousand days of a child’s life, from conception to two years old, is a critically sensitive period of rapid growth and change. This window of development sets the foundation for a child to reach his or her potential. Optimal development depends on the availability of supportive and nurturing environments in the earliest months, and years of a child’s life. Sikunye, an initiative of Common Good, is informing and equipping churches to connect with and support families in the season of the First Thousand Days. Sikunye, which means ‘we are together’ in isiXhosa, affirms the collective effort required to nurture young life and the importance of supportive relationships to achieve this.
JOIN US IN PRAYER
Pray for our city and the youngest of our citizens – to have access to the care, support, nutrition, and love that they especially need in the first thousand days of life. Pray for churches to come alongside pregnant moms and dads as they nurture new life.
In South Africa, a staggering 78% of Grade 4 children cannot read for meaning. Academic progress is severely hampered, which adversely affects self-esteem and motivation to learn – fueling a destructive cycle of poor performance and wasted potential. Common Good is determined that all children should have access to excellent education. We work from both within the system through the Collaboration Schools project, and in support of targeted literacy and numeracy interventions at partner schools.
JOIN US IN PRAYER
Pray that each child in our collaboration schools will have the opportunity to read, learn and grow in their knowledge of the world and their character as a person. Pray for Common Good as we join in the work of building a foundation of literacy so the next generation in South Africa can thrive as active, contributing members of society.
Many of the unemployed in South Africa are also unemployable – lacking the basic hard and soft skills required to seek and secure meaningful employment. Common Good’s employment initiative, the Zanokhanyo Network, offers a transformational Job Readiness Journey that serves as a bridge to opportunity by restoring dignity and hope, equipping people to realise their potential, and connecting graduates to employment networks. The Zanokhanyo Network is Common Good’s employment initiative. Zanokhanyo is the isiXhosa word for bringing light. We aim to shine the light of hope and opportunity into the dark despondency of unemployment. We offer transformative job readiness training that empowers the unemployed with the confidence, skills and resources they need to obtain meaningful work.
JOIN US IN PRAYER
Pray for hope and dignity to be restored in course participants as they are equipped to enter the workplace. Pray for increased opportunities for our graduates that lead to good and decently paying jobs.
YOU’RE GOING TO ANYWAY – CHRISTMAS
Christmas is full of traditions and rituals: Presents; food; gathering with friends and family. Have you ever thought about why you do the things you do in this season? Stop and think about how you can redeem the often-mundane nature of these traditions. How can you make them more meaningful and point to Christ? For deeper insight about how you can reimagine your traditions to be more Christ-centered, check out this blog post: You’re Going to Anyway
MOVIES & MEDIA
Christmas is full of movies and media in our culture. Every week during the Christmas season, there’s a movie on TV or ads for Christmas sales bombarding our every move. How can you look at media and movies with a more critical eye this season? How diverse are the characters in the movies you watch? For eg: Are Mary, Joseph and Jesus always portrayed as white English speaking people? Consider watching a Christmas movie you’ve never watched before. Afterwards, chat to your family or friends and find out what they liked about the movie. Was there a specific Christmas message? Did it represent the true meaning of Christmas?
CONGREGATIONAL SUPPORT TEAM
Common Good deploys a dedicated team to serve churches by inspiring, equipping and mobilizing congregations towards living social justice. The Congregational Support Team has many functions – from serving leaders and preachers with resources and exposure trips, to training and equipping leaders of Social Justice Ministry teams, to developing topical discipleship tools that small groups and individuals can use to inform their lifestyle response to everyday justice issues. This team seeks to catalyze a growing number of Christ-followers individually and collectively to live out justice, creating a groundswell of positive change in our society. Check out our resources page to learn more about different justice-related topics curated by our team.
JOIN US IN PRAYER
Pray for our CST team – that God would open doors for them to influence and support the justice work in our Common Ground congregations as well as other congregations in our city.
An estimated 95% of domestic employees in South Africa earn less than what they need to live off. Millions of men and women, whilst employed, are trapped in a cycle of poverty. In this context, Christ-followers, who are employers, are to actively engage with how their faith could shape the way they employ and remunerate those that are in their care. Do you employ someone in your home or place of work? Do you have influence over the wages of employees in your workplace? Assess whether the people in your employ are earning a living wage by reading this post on how to calculate living wage in SA and read more about this topic on our website.
JOIN US IN PRAYER
Pray for those that are not earning a living wage – those that are accepting/receiving less than they’re can live off because of desperation or lack of understanding. May the cycle of poverty and injustice end swiftly. Pray for employers to open their hearts and minds to the importance of paying a living wage.
Church communities across South Africa are committing to become First Thousand Days friendly. This is achieved by initiating one or more of the following activities:
• Creating awareness around FTD and Christians connecting to care for families in this stage of life
• Creating a warm and hospitable environment in churches where families with small children feel they are supported and belong
• Implementing pastoral activities that focus on families in FTD
• Liturgy that publicly celebrates new life (pregnancy, birth, adoption, dedications)
• Practically equipping parent and caregivers
• Collaborating with other community services
• Pray with and for families in this stage
“If you tenderly care for this little child on my behalf, you are tenderly caring for me. And if you care for me, you are honoring my Father who sent me. For the one who is least important in your eyes is actually the most important one of all.” Luke 9:48
JOIN US IN PRAYER
Ask God to raise up moms and dads that tenderly care for their children and connect to local churches to support their family.
For more info about Sikunye and how they support the local church, check out: Early Life
In 2017, only three-quarters of male students who attended Grade 10 in 2016 progressed to Grade 11, while the same was true for close to 87% of female learners. During the same period, even fewer males (71%) who attended Grade 11 in 2016 progressed to Grade 12 the following year, while 76% of the females did the same. -South Africa’s Education statistics. Last updated: 29 May 2019 (source: https://www.southafricanmi.com/education-statistics.html) In 2016 there was around 1.2 million people in grade one students. If the same amount of grade 1 students were in grade 1, 12 years ago, it means that only about 30% (400 000 odd that passed divided by the 1.2 million in grade 1 now) of pupils who start school in grade 1 actually make it all the way and pass matric. Look at it this way, in 2016 there were 1 067 075 pupils in grade 10. And only 400 761 passed matric. So that is a pass rate of 37.56%. Basically only 385 of pupils that were in grade 10 in 2016 passed matric in 2018. – South Africa’s Education statistics. Last updated: 29 May 2019 (source: https://www.southafricanmi.com/education-statistics.html)
JOIN US IN PRAYER:
Pray for the staff and teachers in the schools we partner with – that they would remain encouraged in the difficult environments where they work.
Pray for motivation and proper inputs into the lives of learners so they can grow physically, mentally, emotionally and relationally.
Research conducted by the Department of Sociology at the University of Cape Town, found that graduates from Common Good’s The Zanokhanyo Network reported increased competency in communication and honesty, while employers observed that our graduates displayed high levels of competency in dedication, honesty and punctuality. Do you (or someone you know) have internships, specific hard skill training or job openings? Please let our TZN staff know. You can email email@example.com or fill out a placement form online
Also, when you see a job add while shopping or out and about, take a photo and Whatsapp it to: 063 014 8514. Our placements team can refer TZN graduates to these job ads.
WHAT DOES MY BUDGET SAY ABOUT WHAT I TREASURE AT CHRISTMAS?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21
How can you lay up your treasures in heaven? Can you spend your earthly treasures for the merciful purposes in Christ’s name here on earth?
What have you already spent this Christmas season – preparation for a meal, gifts, etc?
How can you realistically spend money wisely and more justly at Christmas?
How can your Christmas celebration be meaningful but also financially wise?
SERVE YOUR NEIGHBOURS
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.” Luke 10:27 Who is your neighbour this Christmas?
How can you show kindness and God’s love to your neighbours? Here are some ideas:
• Invite them over for Christmas lunch if they will be spending it alone or without family
• Offer to provide them a meal if you have made significant amounts of food. You don’t have to eat all your “left-overs” – you can bless others with them!
• Offer to volunteer for activities that uplift those who are in difficult circumstances (this could be volunteering at food kitchens, handing out gifts to the homeless, preparing food parcels for the homeless, volunteering at children homes etc)
How can you serve your neighbour in similar ways throughout the year?
Pray with your family about a resolution to give intentional time to your neighbours throughout the year.
When doing justice or leading large groups of people toward Jesus, there are trials and persecution that come. Leaders are targets for spiritual battles. The enemy sees the heart and advances of our leaders and wants to take them out. How can we pray for and support our leaders so that we’re in this battle with them and aware of the spiritual world during this Christmas season?
JOIN US IN PRAYER
Pray that Christmastime would be renewing and refreshing for our leaders – that God would give them rest and fresh hope for the local church and His mission.
Send your spiritual leaders or mentors a message during this Christmas season. Tell them you’re praying for them – and actually do it!
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Violence against women is a huge issue in South Africa. You may know it as Gender-Based Violence. Or perhaps Crimes Men Commit. Whatever you call it, there is a brutal reality to living as a woman in South Africa. Between April 2018 and March 2019, 2771 women were murdered (meaning a woman is murdered every 3 hours). There were 41,583 reports of rape. And many women do not report rape (some areas estimate only 1 in 13 rapes are reported). South Africa is not a safe place for women. What is it that believers in Christ can be and do to be part of forging a new future? For a country that has 70% of residents claiming some form of allegiance to Christ, we have to admit we are falling far short of the part we are to play in forming and sustaining a safe environment for women and children in our nation. So, what is it that we need to be being and doing? What does our context tell us? What does the life of Jesus show us? Here are some resources that can help you ponder this crisis in our context.
JOIN US IN PRAYER
Pray that our government is able to prioritize justice initiatives and programmes that increase the capacity for domestic violence related offences to be investigated and prosecuted in a manner that adequately protects and dignifies victims of gender-based violence. Pray that current safe homes and havens are well resourced and well equipped and staffed to receive women and children affected by violence in their daily lives.
In a recent study conducted in the Western Cape, 70% of church leaders reported that there were no church activities created for 0-2, pregnant mothers or fathers. The rest indicated that very limited and infrequent activities took place. But, these same leaders also affirmed that the church has a major role to play in the First Thousand Days.
What part is your church playing in this important stage of life?
What can you do to support your church in loving pregnant moms and new families?
JOIN US IN PRAYER
Pray for God to raise up godly families in your church. Pray that church leaders would have fresh vision for serving this age group in their congregation. Ask God to open your eyes to ways you can get involved in serving families in your local church.
Today we focus on our specific Collaboration Schools. Our Common Good staff are on the ground in these schools:
• Boundary Primary School, Bonteheuwel
• Disa Primary School, Bonteheuwel
• Silikamva High School, Imizama Yethu
In these schools that Common Good serves, there are:
• 1808 current learners at our 3 Collaboration Schools – 730 high school learners; 1078 primary school learners
• 68 foundation phase learners at 2 Shine Centres (Kewtown Primary & Kleinberg Primary) – as per CG website
• 104 Staff in total (69 Teachers) at our 3 Collaboration Schools – this includes all staff (teachers, principals, support staff, interns and ground staff)
• 14 Common Good Education Team Staff that serve these schools.
JOIN US IN PRAYER FOR:
- Peace in the Imizamo Yethu Community which is home to most of the Silikamva students, especially over the holiday and festive season.
- Peace in the Bonteheuwel Community which is home to the Disa and Boundary Primary school learners, especially over the holiday and festive season.
- For safe and nurturing home environments for all our collaboration school learners – to help them achieve their full potential. Starting with peace and good family relations at home over the festive season.
- That each child in our collaboration schools would be kept safe over the holiday season – physically and emotionally. That they would be kept safe from bad influences and would make good choices.
- That all our collaboration schools school staff would return to their posts in the new year- well rested and with renewed hope and strength for the year ahead.
- Silikamva Grade 12 Learners leaving school would find meaningful employment or study opportunities as they go out into the world.
- Continued wisdom around policy and strategy for the Collaboration School Pilot Project into 2020.
- Ongoing wisdom for the Common Good team in building genuine, collaborative relationships with school leaders and teachers into 2020.
Too many people see their worship of God as being mutually exclusive to their daily vocation. Work as worship is not just for pastors or ministry employees. Service to God through our work is at the heart of Christianity. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 ESV Genesis says we’re all created in God’s image. We’re designed to reflect this awesome Creator as we embody God’s qualities as one who creates. And, beautifully, God did not merely create for functional use or just for use 9-5. What is unique about how God created you, how you think, the gifts and abilities you encompass? Think about how many people desire work in South Africa and have few opportunities to live out their God-given creativity and productivity.
How can you help others in their journey to find meaningful, creative work?
Who can you inspire and encourage to be themselves, to cast off the fear of being different, and shine in their uniqueness?
How can you celebrate your abilities and use them to show others how creative and brilliant God is through your work?
JOIN US IN PRAYER
Pray for the trainers of the TZN course – that they would have wisdom and strength to teach and encourage students. That they would pull out the confidence and beauty that God put in every one of His creations. Pray for the graduates that they would find favor and continue to grow in the workplace where God places them.
READ THE CHRISTMAS STORY
Read through the first 2 chapters of Matthew and Luke. Both accounts are different and when read together, create a fuller account of the birth of Jesus. I encourage you to do some light research into who God included in his birth. Who were the Shepherds? Who were the Magi? Are they the kind of people you would invite to your birthday? Perhaps you’ve heard the Christmas Story so many times before, that the miracles that occurred 2000 plus years ago have become so ordinary that they don’t stir a sense of awe and wonder in you anymore.
What about this story do we often miss or what does culture strip from its message?
How can you make this story come be prominent and come alive in your home this year?
JOIN US IN PRAYER:
Pray that your family sees God’s sacrifice, Jesus’ life and the Christmas story in a whole new light this Christmas.
In Cape Town, we are all faced with homelessness, even though homelessness is not a struggle that we personally face as our daily reality. We may face it from the comfort of our home when someone rings the doorbell asking for food, or at the traffic lights or taxi rank when someone asks us for shelter money. We face it when we see people sleeping in doorways, under bridges or in makeshift shelters. In South Africa, an estimated 200 000 live rough every night. In Cape Town, an estimated 20% of people live in household poverty (set at less than R2 455 per month for a household of 4) which leads to many people being inadequately housed. Poverty impacts directly on the quality of home life because of factors such as overcrowding, inadequate sanitation, unsafe structures and distance from work. These conditions also move people to live on the streets.
How can you be more aware of those that find themselves on the street? What is the spirit asking you to do to minister to those who have much less than you have? Could you clean out your closets and donate gently used clothes, blankets, and shoes to ministries that work with those that are homeless? Could you volunteer at a shelter during the Christmas season or make that a regular rhythm in the new year? Ask God to open your eyes and heart to the Homeless community in Cape Town.
Check out the Homelessness Resources including the Good Giving Guide
PARTNER WITH COMMON GOOD
At Common Good we create opportunities for those marginalised by poverty and injustice to realise their full, God-given potential, and mobilize the church to engage and act justly. We seek to make a positive and lasting impact in the areas of early life, education and employment, so that individuals and communities across the city can build brighter futures for themselves. Common Good has 55 employees that strive to be the hands and feet of generosity and justice across Cape Town. We’re always looking for partners and volunteers. What is God calling you to do this next year? Could it be to join Common Good and an initiative we serve?
Find out more about us, how you can support our work, and ways to volunteer through Common Good. Get involved!
JOIN US IN PRAYER
Pray for Common Good as they represent God’s heart for justice in our city and provide opportunity for the local church to serve.
“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf…” (Jer. 29:7).
LIFESTYLE OF JUSTICE
How do we, as Christ-followers in Cape Town in the 21st Century, respond to challenges of social justice, both within ourselves and in the world around us?
The gospel of Jesus Christ has great power. One expression of this power is how it transforms our hearts and lives. As we follow Jesus, and the gospel sinks deeper into our hearts we develop new passions, new interests and new behaviours. Powerfully, the gospel will birth in faithful believers a passion to see justice come. The lifestyle of a faithful follower of Jesus will increasingly demonstrate a heart for those who are vulnerable and victims of injustice. Justice is not something that is to be outsourced to professionals. It is not something that is only for those who are ‘wired that way’. The pursuit of Justice is something that every Christ-follower is to engage with. The God of Justice leads his people to pursue justice. These resources are intended to give helpful tools, wisdom and insights in order to equip believers who are at different stages of connecting their faith, to the call for justice for the vulnerable and victims of injustice. Through these, we trust that you will take a few more steps in your journey of justice
What adjustments can you make to your lifestyle of justice this coming year? How is God calling you to be part of His story and acting justly? Ask God to show you how to invest in your local church, neighborhood and the city.
In the First Thousand Days of life, a baby’s brain, body and social development is at its most intensive learning phase. The brain in this phase makes one million connections per second and grows up to 80% of its total size. During these early days, the trajectory of a person’s development is established. Consider this Christmas eve that Jesus had a first thousand days, too (Jesus and his First Thousand Days)
Out of every 2 children born in South Africa, one child’s brain will be wired to learn, grow and succeed and the other child, often born into adverse circumstances, will have a brain that is wired to survive. The latter struggle to learn and often end up dropping out of school and keeping work later in life.
JOIN US IN PRAYER
Pray for equality in the South African landscape – for environments and homes to help children grow and succeed, not just survive. Pray that each Christ-follower will join the village it takes to raise children – especially in a climate still recovering from spacial apartheid and division.
THE GOD OF JUSTICE CAME NEAR
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Today we pause to recognize that God took on a humble position in coming to this world. He had a purpose and focused on that mission. He didn’t have to come but He chose to.
This Christmas remember …
You have a purpose.
You have a role.
As a follower of Jesus, you need to model his humility to serve the world.
Where has God planted you? Where are you dwelling and why is that purposeful?
Today, celebrate the Saviour that came to be amongst us and to be justice for us all.