South Africa’s Jacques van Bommel and his wife, Lizzy, had only $1,000 in their bank account when they stepped out in faith 10 years ago and started a ministry to bring hope to the millions of needy children in the South African nation.
“We inched out in faith, and God provided one step at a time,” says Jacques van Bommel, founder and director of Reaching a Generation (RaG), the umbrella organization that now hosts a chaplaincy program, leadership academy, archery club, mentorship program and life orientation training.
Realizing only a small percentage of children in South Africa attend church, van Bommel says RaG sought to find a connection between schools and churches. One result of that exploration is its National School Chaplaincy Programme, begun as a joint initiative with Joyce Meyer Ministries, Focus on the Family and OneHope with a goal to equip educators with Christian-based resources to help address problems youth encounter. Fifteen months after the launch, more than 400 registered chaplains now work in schools throughout South Africa.
The ministry’s International Leadership Academy allows churches to go into schools and select top students to train as the country’s future leaders with a biblical worldview. Students are helped to identify needs in their own communities and then develop programs to address the needs through community-based initiatives.
And in 2011, RaG launched a campaign in partnership with the Zambian Police.
“We have agreed to train [officers] on how to use the gospel to prevent crime,” says van Bommel.
In addition, RaG plans to use a donated pontoon boat to hold children’s church services in river communities in Zambia where poverty, syncretism and witchcraft are prevalent.
“The best time to see the most fruit is when [the children] are young,” says van Bommel, who came to Christ when he was 13 because of a schoolteacher. “Our own lives have been changed because He reached us when we were kids.” —Sarah Breed