In March of 2011, I traveled to Port Elizabeth, South Africa to lead mission teams to work with my cousins, missionaries Kevin and Corli Hall. God used that trip to bring my family to where we are now, full time missionaries to South Africa serving along side Kevin and Corli and my cousins Jeremy and Bekah Hall.

Traveling to South Africa helped me realize the true spiritual dearth of a very religious place. If you come to South Africa today you will see a country that has a lot of places that are called churches. Around town where most of the white population live you will see somewhat of a rich church history. There are many Baptist, Charismatic, Methodist, Anglican, etc. Some of these churches are clear in their presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, while many of them are not. It would not be very different from what you might find in a large city in the U.S.

However, what burdened me for South Africa more than anything wasn’t really what was going on in the city, although their is still a great need there. It was what was going on in the townships. The townships are mostly the poorer areas on the outer part of the city where the majority of the black South African population live. In these townships, I realized that there were also a lot of different churches. These were churches that carried the same name of Baptist, Methodist, Apostolic, Dutch Reformed, etc just like the city churches, but the reality was that these were churches that preached a health and wealth and Word of Faith Gospel. These were churches that preached Jesus as God’s Son, but to truly be in good standing with God it was also needful for you to sacrifice to the ancestors. A Gospel preaching church was a rarity or non-existent among the black townships. Something that was also sad was the fact that the churches in the city who preached the Gospel did very little to no outreach in the township communities. Christians in town didn’t see the different color and the different language as their responsibility.

After doing more research I found that my cousin was only one of a handful of missionaries starting churches in the townships in all of South Africa. I couldn’t find more than 5 independent Baptist missionaries who were targeting blacks as their primary ministry, especially in their own language. Blacks, who represent 80% of the population and number over 40 million people, have very few Bible preaching churches in their communities and have even fewer missionaries planning to work among them.

The need in the townships is great. Fear and racism has limited Bible teachers and preachers from entering these areas. Shallow, unbiblical doctrine has invaded these people, yet there is little to no biblical alternative. South Africa is a field ready for the harvest. Religious freedom is wide open. It’s legal to preach in the schools, on buses, and in the streets. The only limitation that exists now is lack of workers: a lack of workers who know the importance of learning the black language and adapting to the black South African culture, a lack of workers who won’t settle with only working with the people groups and languages that are easier and closer to their own culture, a lack of workers who won’t allow the crime statistics and fear deter them from going into areas where the need is the greatest, a lack of workers who understand that every creature includes every race and income level no matter how rich or how poor they are, and a lack of workers who are willing to wade through the cesspool of sin to pull the lost and broken out of their hell-bound destination.

Project South Africa is a team of missionaries who have a goal to break through the barriers of working in these townships. There was one family with Project South Africa in 2011 when I first visited. There are now five. As Kevin and Corli continue to work in the now three churches with plans to open up two more very soon, my family, along with the Jeremy Hall family are busy learning the Xhosa language. The Stephen Underwood family and Jason King family are busy raising support in the States hoping to get here soon.

We are excited to see how the Lord is growing our team, but more workers are needed. We have barely scratched the surface of the need here in Port Elizabeth, which is South Africa’s 5th largest city. More needs to be said about the needs in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, etc but time doesn’t allow me.

Maybe you’re considering missions, but feel overwhelmed by your lack of exposure and experience in cross cultural ministry. Our team at Project South Africa would love to invite you to come and work with us. Come get your feet wet and have an opportunity to learn, train and work along side of a team of missionaries that have a heart for teaching and getting people involved in the ministry. Wether it’s a short term or long term commitment, we would love to see you plugged in.  

Maybe you’re considering missions in Africa. We could love to have you come and be a part of a team of missionaries that have a heart to get the Gospel to all the people groups in South Africa, and from here train people to take the Gospel to other parts of Africa and the world. The labor force potential is great here in South Africa, and it’s a great base for touching Southern Africa and beyond.

Maybe you haven’t even considered missions.  That’s where I was when I turned 18.  Missions wasn’t even a possibility or a potential path for my life.  Even though I grew up in Bible preaching mission minded churches, going to the foreign field didn’t even cross my mind.  So I know where you’re coming from.  I would like to ask you to consider a couple of things though;  if 95% of the world’s population lives outside of the United States and most of those people have less access to the Gospel then people living inside of the United States, don’t you think there’s at least a 50% chance God might want you to work outside of our wonderful country?  I’ve even said to some, with 95% of the world’s population living outside the United States and with Jesus telling us to take the Gospel to every creature, I believe there’s a 95% chance God wants you to be a foreign missionary.  Now that might be my simple mind at work, but that’s partly what helped me to open up the possibilities of being a foreign missionary.

Our Project South Africa team doesn’t believe everyone is called to be a missionary to South Africa, but we do have a desire to help train people in missions who will go around the world preaching and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Come and train with us, and you never know, maybe God will lead you to stay with us to reach the world with the Gospel over the long haul.

You may be thinking, “How in the world could I ever get to the place where I could be on the mission field?”  Let me take just a few minutes to walk you through some things that may help.

I started out in mission be accident.  A good friend of mine, Chris Gardner, invited me to Peru for a five month trip just to experience a foreign country in March of 1995.  I sold my little Chevy S-10 pickup truck to pay for the airfare and I was on my way.  God used that trip to change my life.   During my trip I started learning and training under Chris’ dad, Austin Gardner.  His knowledge and heart for missions and church planting was like nothing I had ever known.  It was from his influence that brought me to where I am today.

I would love for you to come visit us in South Africa to see if God might open doors for you the same way.  If missions is a direction you believe the Lord is leading, more training is definitely in your future.

I’m glad to know that Austin Gardner and his team at Vision Baptist Church and the Our Generation Training Center are still equipping and training young people for missions.  Through their camps and conference to their full Bible college, the things that were available to me as a teenager starting out are now available to so many other young people.  Through the Our Generation Training Center, college credits are available for coming to South Africa and learning “for the field, on the field” for six months.

Although I’m very bias to our team here at Project South Africa, there are many other training teams around the world that are also connected to the Our Generation Training Center.  Whether in South America, Asia, Europe, North America, and Africa, there is a place where you can learn.  Feel free to contact me personally in order to take your next steps.

  • Trackback: | Project South Africa
  • Posted October 29, 2014 11:41 am
    by Sandra Buntin's

    Great article, I love hearing about the progress being made in South Africa! We just had the pleasure of meeting the Jason King family and are excited for them that they are joining Project South Africa. Thank you for sharing the progress and work that is being done there.

    • Posted October 29, 2014 11:38 pm
      by Austin Gardner

      The Kings are a great family and your church will be blessed to support them.

    • Posted November 1, 2014 12:56 am
      by Mark

      Thanks Sandra. We’re looking very forward to having Him and his family here. God has brought us quite a way since Jason and I first visited Port Elizabeth together back in 2011.

  • Trent Cornwell
    Posted October 29, 2014 6:12 pm
    by Trent Cornwell

    Great challenge! Even though I knew the story I still was reminded to see God’s hand through it all. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

    • Posted November 1, 2014 12:59 am
      by Mark

      Thanks Trent. I pray God can use this to raise interest for missions all over the world, not just South Africa. Missions is just normal people taking steps toward the heart beat of God.

  • Posted October 30, 2014 3:12 pm
    by Robert Canfield

    Mark, thanks for writing this article. I can’t wait to see God work through the team and make South Africa a missionary sending country. Love you guys.

    • Posted November 1, 2014 12:52 am
      by Mark

      There’s definitely a lot of potential here Robert. Please pray for the pastors here especially. They are a great group of you g guys.

      • Posted November 2, 2014 4:34 pm
        by lubabalo sitole

        Amen mfundisi, siyayidinga imithandazo apha…

        • Posted November 3, 2014 10:30 am
          by Austin Gardner

          Lubabalo, I didn’t understand a thing you said!

          • Posted November 5, 2014 12:07 am
            by Mark

            Translation- Amen Pastor, We need prayers here.

  • Trackback: (by Mark Coffey)
  • Posted November 3, 2014 4:09 pm
    by Eric Elrod

    Awesome, Mark! Thanks for sharing. In the townships outside of Port Elizabeth, how many churches are there?

    • Posted November 5, 2014 12:05 am
      by Mark

      Eric, right now we have 3 with our team, with plans for 2 more to open very soon. There are countless amount of other churches as mentioned in the article, but I don’t know of any that preach a pure Gospel. I would hope at least some of those preach a true Gospel. Unfortunately, we haven’t located any for sure right now. I know of a Baptist Union church but don’t know about it’s doctrine.

  • Posted November 5, 2014 6:31 pm
    by tim kelly

    thank you for sharing this I enjoyed seeing the ministry in South Africa firsthand.

    • Posted November 6, 2014 12:15 am
      by Mark

      It was great having you here. I hope you’re enjoying your time at the Training Center and look forward to having you back over here one day.

  • Posted November 6, 2014 8:21 am
    by Scott Watson

    Mark this is a great article and I was glad to see the full account of your burden and call to South Africa. I pray that the Lord will continue to bless the efforts of the team there and many South Africans will join in with us around the throne praising our Savior’s name.

    • Posted November 6, 2014 8:46 am
      by Mark

      Thank you very much for the prayers. We hope to see many come to Christ. Thank you for having a part.

  • Posted November 7, 2014 11:29 am
    by Kanon Bloom

    It is exciting to hear about how God is using you guys to reach people in desperate need of Christ. Thanks for proclaiming the need for missionaries.

    • Posted November 9, 2014 10:56 pm
      by Mark

      Thanks for commenting Kanon. We are praying that many more laborers will be raised up.

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