In October 2008, we carefully selected and trained eleven key South Africans from the three main hubs in the country, they in turn worked together and gathered local teams around them from their own communities in each of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. The plan was, over the next three years, to establish a mission and training hub in each of these city-areas that would sustain the network and movement we were about to see come into being. Three months later in December community festivals were run by these teams, one in Cape Town, one in Durban and two in Johannesburg. The eleven had scanned their networks and invited friends and colleagues to the festivals who might be interested in working in their own neighbourhoods in the same way. AS a result in March 2009, 15 communities were involved (it was at this time that the sponsors pulled out). In June there were 24, and using the same process, by the end of 2009 we were working with 38 communities. Of those 38 communities 24 had a local core team of 3-5 people who wanted to see the goals reached in their community over the next three years. The rest had one committed individual, able to recruit team for events but still needing to gather a core team around them to hold things together into the future. There were still another 10 or so watching from the sidelines with keen interest hoping to jump in for the soccer world cup.
The expatriate team doubled from five brave hearts in June, to 10 in December 2009, in three teams of three, one in each of the hub cities, with myself providing leadership support. Reminiscent of Gideon and his army, our job was to train and equip, to mentor and encourage the local teams. This was the first time we had had such incredible buy in, in such a short period of time, from local people wanting to transform their communities, it was amazing! The degree of heart felt resonance to the goal was something I had never come across before. Government agencies, NGOs and Christian organisations were excited to partner with us and support the communities. Communities that had been part of the network the longest were beginning to support sister communities and we were on track to have South African trainers capacity building their own people. Teams who had run regular festivals were actively exploring ways to engage with particular sections of their communities where needs were apparent and could be met with their own resources or through networking and training.
It was truly remarkable! We had seen a grass roots network and movement come into being. Yes the cracks were showing, and we were beginning to creak at the joints, but wow, what had been facilitated and set in motion by such a small team, in such a short period of time bordered on the miraculous!
To be continued in the next few days….