You may be interested to watch an episode of ‘Unreported World’ on Channel 4 entitled ‘Schools Under Siege’ (episode 8, November 2019), which can be found on 4 Catch Up. The programme reports on gang warfare in Hanover Park in Cape Town where our former minister, Rev’d Mike Crockett, is working to help transform the lives of gangsters. We are supporting him and Camp Joy through our church project this year. It is harrowing viewing but puts into context how important Mike’s work is and why our fund raising is so necessary.
Insights Gained into Gangland Problems: Three Moving Breakfast Talks
The first 2 Lent Breakfast talks have taken members, from all round the local area, deep into the Birmingham and Cape Town gangland problems. On 29th February Rev. Dr. Carver Anderson, author of a leading report for the WM Police Commissioner, spoke of the different world, technically and socially, inhabited by poor youngsters in deprived areas angry at the lack of opportunity to find a better life. He spoke of the invisible wall that exists between them and the rest of society, much of which shuns them and hope only that the authorities will keep the problem away from their front door.
Carver’s powerful message was that the church had to be on the other side of the wall, listening to the community, compassionate, praying for them, absorbing the anger, seeking and suggesting ways through the wall. Those present left moved by his insights and passion for change.
Camp Joy: They were moved again the following week when the technology held up between the UK and Cape Town and they were able to see and listen to their former minister, Mike Crockett, Pastor Craven Engel and former gang members over a Skype link from Camp Joy. Craven’s church, supported by others, is in one of the most dangerous ganglands in the world at Hanover Park, Cape Town. By listening and being there Craven’s church has gained the confidence and trust of that community. They know the gang leaders and are able to mediate between them, reducing the murder rate. They have also changed the lives of former gang members because they show that God loves everyone; that everyone has worth and that everyone deserves a second chance. The gathering ended with those at the Solihull end singing the blessing “The Lord bless you and keep you” to Edna Handley’s beautiful tune to those in Cape Town. There were a number of damp eyes in the church.
In the 3rd talk Jon Pedley asked us how we, the church, the establishment, saw young people. Were they ‘a problem’, wayward, too young to offer much. Were we suspicious, anxious, when we saw a group of hooded youngsters coming down the street? Was there an invisible wall? Or are they seen as ‘young persons’ with the emphasis on ‘persons’, that is individuals with ideas, views, talent. Body language would show. They are growing up in a tough digital world with extreme pressures of expectation. It takes time to build confidence. It takes time for a young person to feel they belong. The risk of getting into trouble, going astray, especially if they come from difficult homes, is high. The key, said Jon, was to treat them as equals, to offer responsibility, to be there if they sought advice. This is the role of the church and individual Christians: to be, like Jesus and those in Cape Town, there for those in need.
CAMP JOY – ROUND THE WORLD YACHT RACE
On the evening of Friday 28th March, a crowded church hall enjoyed a night to remember when big Malcolm Evans gave a rollicking talk about his adventures in the 2013-14 Clipper Round the World Race and his participation racing from San Francisco to London in 2014.
Started in 1995 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, 12 identical yachts race round the World, in 8 legs, every 2 years with professional skippers aboard but otherwise wholly amateur crews. The audience alternately laughed and gasped (sometimes in amazement, sometimes in horror) as Malcolm described life working as a team to crew the boat, the cramped conditions and limited sleep, the daily diet of pasta – and more – pasta, fighting with sails, climbing the mast, the occasional 70 foot high waves and the many other dangers. Despite the incredible emphasis on safety, sadly, it has happened over the years that crew members have been lost at sea. However, the crew worked together to gain every advantage and together celebrated their achievements. His story was amazing, exhilarating, frightening and awe inspiring – all told well and with a laugh and a smile. When asked, he replied that if he had been 30 years younger (and with wife Cathy’s consent), he would go again – the whole way round next time!
It was a great night with over £300 more raised for the Church’s Camp Joy project.
A GREAT CAMP JOY BARN DANCE (8th February)
Three things make for a great Barn Dance – a lively band, a good caller and a crowd wanting to dance. We had all three in Solihull Methodist Church Hall last Saturday night. The Cats Whiskers band were at their foot tapping best and the caller was a star getting everyone on their feet joining in. Sixty plus people filled the hall, with ages ranging from 3 to over 80 all enjoying the dancing together throughout the evening. Excellent food and drink was served up at at the mid-time break, and besides a great evening enjoyed by everyone some £550 was raised towards the Church’s Camp Joy project, helping to rehabilitate gangsters in Cape Town.
BURNS NIGHT CELEBRATIONS
The Camp Joy church project reached its halfway point of 12 different fund raising events with a traditional evening of which Robbie, himself, Scotland’s greatest poet, would have been delighted.
The room was set for 24 guests and decorated with tartan prominent and Scots’ ballads in the background. The fish soup was delicious, the haggis properly addressed, stabbed, and enjoyed with tatties, swedes, peas (and a wee dram) and followed with an exquisite desert. Meanwhile a Scots’ quiz tested many.
Robbie’s 37 full years of life, from his tough upbringing to triumph in Edinburgh; his attractiveness and wonderful gift for word pictures of people and day to day life were described and toasted; his whimsical Ode to a Mouse read; and all joined in singing 4 of his songs. Well done, especially, to the organisers and those who helped behind the scenes.