A few years ago a poor young man called Bongi Cotiana, from the township near Leeudoringstad, Northwest, South Africa, had a dream of helping street children.

Today he is a young filmmaker and musician, but when I met him he was part of our Youth Development group in Wolmaransstad, another project we do here in the local community. It’s main focus is to help young people realise that God put incredible dreams in their hearts for them to fulfil them and that no matter how difficult their realities are – they can reach for the stars with God’s help and become everything He created them to be.

One day when Bongi and I were together in town we saw some street children wandering around. That was when he told me that one of his dreams was to look after these children as he had been one himself. He wanted to take them to his home and look after them there.

I really felt that the Lord wanted me to help him with his vision. So when we were discussing this in more depth I suggested to him to call them “God’s Children” –  as they feel they don’t really belong to anyone and don’t really have a family and parents but they are God’s Children – this would give them an identity. And I later asked him what he wanted to call the places where they will stay as I felt that “orphanage” wasn’t the best name, I thought maybe “home” or “sanctuary” and they loved “sanctuary”. That is how the name came about.

I always felt so sorry for these young children too and wanted to help them. Some of the older ones knew me from when I was involved with an organisation called Women for Peace years before. They used to call me “Miss Peace” as I would give them food and talk to them, when so many others just ignored them or had harsh words for them, never realising that they wouldn’t be in the streets if they had loving secure homes.

Bongi would find all the street children and get them together. He would call me and let me know what he needed to feed them and other things which he felt would help them. He would not only feed the street children but get them warm clothes and help them with other day to day problems they had.

We decided to set up an NPO so that he could get donations from local shops and businesses to help these children, as sometimes when my funds were limited it was difficult for him to do what he wanted to do.

I told Bongi what I had heard so often – that when God gives a vision He gives the provision! We just need to trust in His timing not ours. And His vision will always be so much greater than we could ever do on our own! But what God gives us to do He will anoint us to do it. The Bible says that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4 verse 13).

So far Bongi has only really been involved in our area in the Northwest. But his dream is to set up these shelters for them in each township in the Northwest and later all over the country – and who knows where the Lord will take it from there!

These shelters would be where God could heal and restore broken lives of abandoned, unwanted, abused young people who wander the streets with little hope of a future that God promises us all in Jeremiah 29 verse 11. It says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Sometimes I am in a position to help Bongi and other times my funds are limited too.

We are planning various projects which they can do at the Sanctuaries so that they can be self-sustainable, growing their own vegetables and having chickens (both for laying and eating) –  so they can feed themselves and sell their produce. We also hope to have various projects such as an internet café, computer training classes, woodwork classes in which they can make furniture which they can sell, as well as sewing and other craft projects, making items there too that they can sell.

Then they don’t have to be dependent on “handouts’’ for running the project on a day to day basis. In the past I have seen that when government grants are discontinued for some reason the projects left on their own really suffer because they were not prepared for that eventuality.

We have spoken of having the ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) system in each of these Sanctuaries too so each young person can receive an excellent education set at their own individual pace. We will also organise counselling for them to overcome their individual traumas which they have gone through and unless dealt with can affect their lives for many years to come.

We are also planning to run Christian motivational DVDs during the day in a hall at the facility so that people needing upliftment can come in anytime and be encouraged, being reminded in 1 Peter chapter 5 v 7 that God loves them and they must cast their cares upon Him for He cares for them.

Bongi and his team will be planning in which order to do them. Difficult to choose as they are all so great! We could also have people there who can pray for those who want prayer. We will get in wonderful Pastors and teachers to come and run workshops at the facility so that this can be a place of real healing and restoration of people’s lives.

At the moment Bongi is so interested in getting a facility for them so the children can stay there rather than just come to eat and go back to the streets again. He would like to clothe them and take care of them physically,emotionally and spiritually – and he believes this can only happen with their own suitable facility.

It is just that without a facility it is quite limiting. Bongi has found a facility which he believes will be ideal as the first Sanctuary.

I know that despite the many obstacles one faces in life God helps us to overcome them in His strength. He uses all circumstances for our good. I do realise that if I had not gone through the past several very challenging years I would not be doing what I am doing now. God needed to mould me to get me to where I needed to be so He could use me to do what He wanted me to do. And one of the greatest lessons I have learned through all this is that God never lets us down. He is so faithful when we trust Him for everything. I always think of that passage where the Lord tells us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto us. By seeking Him He will guide and show us what His will is for our lives and that is the best and safest place to be. That is true fulfilment.

Bongi has truly found his calling and despite all the obstacles he is determined to carry on, in God’s strength to make it happen! Such a testimony to others.

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