Erena van de Venter, the founder, was stirred as a teenager by David Wilkerson's "The Cross and the Switchblade" to one day be able to reach out like Wilkerson did, to gangsters and drug addicts caught up in the violence and addictions of Worcester's streets. Erena studied to become a Social Worker and in 1983 her dream became reality when she founded The New Life Gang Project in Worcester, South Africa. This God-given and God-driven ministry grew and evolved over three decades - seeing the establishment of Kibbutz El-Shammah ("El-Shammah" means the manifestation of the presence of the Lord) in 1993 in the community of Roodewal.
Roodewal once was the headquarters of the feared Cape Town Scorpion gang. It was also known as the gates of hell. Yet this is the community where God showed His power in the eighties by breaking the reign of gang rule, and began showering His compassion, mercy and grace through the establishment of Kibbutz El-Shammah.
Edmund: He was addicted to alcohol and drugs. After years of steadily declining, he reached a point where he was put out of his parents house, and he had to scrounge for food – even fighting with the dog over dog food. He cried out to God. He also knew he had a daughter somewhere, and he asked God if their paths could cross. One day in 2017 the mother of his daughter turned up at his house and dropped off their 17 year old daughter, saying “You’ve neglected your duties for 17 years. Here she is. Take up your responsibilities!” God answered his prayer, but he was in no state to take proper care of himself, let alone his beautiful daughter. He came to the Change Makers for help. Edmund gave his full cooperation and fell in love with Jesus. His life changed dramatically and his parents agreed to take Edmund’s daughter under their wing. Edmund’s transformed life was visible to all, and he was asked to go into shadow leadership. By 2018 he became a full time staff member. He has a wonderful servant-heart leadership style.
Brendon: He was not only addicted to drugs, but also deeply involved in gang activity. He didn’t have a happy childhood, and didn’t know nurturing parents. Left to fend for himself, he found refuge within a gang, and early in his life he had to learn to handle a gun and perform orders from his leaders. It led to a life of crime, and consequently he was referred by the Children’s Court to a School of Reformatory. Things never got better for Brendon. Until one day the young boy whom he fathered, said to him: “When are you going to become a real dad?!” That was the turning point for Brendon. He sought help, and successfully completed the Change Maker program. He showed real leadership potential and was asked by leadership to shadow staff. He proved himself and has since been a tower of strength to men coming through the program.
Mia: With 20 years of community volunteering, Mia finally received training to become a registered Social Auxiliary worker in 2016. She is fulfilling a prophecy she received early in her life, that she would one day work with men, training and equipping them with skills. Mia enjoys seeing men being taken out of darkness, going through our 'Behaviour Modification' Program, and finding their God-given identity and purpose in life. With diligence she makes sure that all staff members are performing their duties and that the program runs smoothly. She is our Program Manager.
Aubin: He was addicted to drugs for 16 years! He saw how friends around him were being transformed, and longed to also be healed from his drug addiction. He had lost everything – there was little left of the house that was bequeathed to him. He had broken it down systematically to feed his drug habit. He was living in a small shack that was falling apart. When the opportunity was given to him to go to a rehab, he grabbed it. After rehab, he was enrolled in the Change Makers’ residential program. He gave his life to Jesus Christ, and we all witnessed a great leader emerge. Since those early years (2013), Aubin got married, refurbished his house, his family received healing, he not only became a staff member, but also joined the leadership team, and eventually became a board member of Change Makers Worcester. Aubin is the House Manager of the Change Makers.
Redgy: He has a remarkable testimony of a life being transformed by the Blood of Jesus Christ. Being plucked out of a lifestyle of addictions in the entertainment world in Cape Town, he returned to his hometown Worcester nearly 12 years ago. He earnestly pursued the Lord. Becoming Christlike and discipling others was his passion. He was recruited by the Change Makers to stand in the gap for one of our teachers, and we discovered his remarkable ability to teach. In 2017 Redgy became the full-time teacher of the men in the program. He is also our relief worker.
Jim and Elaine:
-Our spiritual father and mother, all the way from StillWater Retreat Ft Wayne, Indiana, USA. They visit us as regularly as they possibly can, and continue to coach our team. www.stillwaterretreat.org