Soweto (soh WEH toh), the largest township in South Africa, began in the early 1900’s during apartheid. Established outside Johannesburg, SOuthWEst TOwnship (Soweto) was meant to provide housing for blacks near city and work, yet separate from white citizens who held power. Made up of 27-32 smaller ‘suburbs’ it is a vibrant, scary, friendly, crowded, needy, first world/third world place. Around 65% of Johannesburg’s residents live in Soweto, officially 1.7 million people – although estimates are as high as 5 million. One third of the population is under 15, with 2 million AIDs orphans. Soweto has a higher HIV/AIDs rate than the rest of the province, as well as a high crime rate.
Soweto possesses hospitals, malls, stores, mansions, businesses and schools as well as shacks made of tin and wood, without electricity or water, garbage dumps on corners, overflowing sewers and poverty, and everything in-between. Up to 50% of residents are unemployed, managing with informal selling or government grants.
Up to 40 languages are spoken in Soweto, eleven official languages, others are spoken by immigrants from many African countries, seeking a safer, more financially stable life. A Soweto Zulu composed of Zulu, other languages and slang is considered a common language.
Despite the presence of evangelical churches, less than 10% of Soweto residents are saved. Most residents profess no religious affiliations, but in times of trouble, return to traditional beliefs, consulting ‘witch’ doctors or traditional healers to divine answers to problems. Some “churches” incorporate bits of Christianity with ancestor worship.
1. Pray that God will call church leaders from within the church body and that they will have courage to step forward and be responsible in leadership roles.
2. Transition for Faith Baptist in Snake Park as we leave for our time in the states at the end of the year.
3. Pray for the young people to make wise, godly decisions. For all Christians to trust in Christ alone and withstand family pressures to follow ungodly traditions and destructive paths.