Every day on her way to work, Mapula Maponya drove past Lion Park, an informal settlement of houses built from metal sheeting in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“My heart was just drawn to the area,” Mapula recalls. She and her husband, Navigator staff Rocky, began to pray for an inroad to bring the gospel to the impoverished community. They longed for the settlement to be transformed through the love of Christ.
In January of 2022, Mapula asked God to bring her two young women there who she could disciple and mentor. A few weeks later Mapula dropped by Lion Park to visit a friend. She met her friend’s teenage daughter and two of her friends. Mapula began chatting with them: What were their plans for the future? Did they believe in God? (Yes.) Did they believe He answered their prayers? (No.)
Mapula showed the girls how to pray. She challenged them to talk to God every morning. Two of the girls met with her again the following week. They wanted to know more about God! Mapula began studying Proverbs with them.
Soon Mapula learned the girls were struggling with math and science in school. Rocky began tutoring them. Mapula mentored them on life issues beyond spiritual growth.
The girls told their netball coach about Mapula. “The coach was excited about what I’d done with the girls and wanted to meet me,” Mapula reports. The coach wanted her to work with the 20 girls on her team!
Rocky and Mapula plunged into the youth sports community, attending netball and soccer games and helping to raise funds for equipment. They built relationships with coaches, players, and parents. Rocky began helping the boys.
“It was a miracle,” Mapula says. “God just landed these two girls in my hands. They multiplied to having about 50 kids we can assist.” This was the opportunity Mapula and Rocky had prayed for for seven years! Mapula is now studying the Bible with the mother of one of the girls.
Rocky and Mapula recruited some of the kids to plant and maintain a community vegetable garden. They raised funds to build a simple structure where tutoring, mentorship programs, and Bible studies can take place. But relationships are the core of their ministry.
“Just popping in and saying hi is a ministry on its own,” Mapula says. “Building that relationship, so people don’t just see you as ‘Mapula who comes to share the Word of God,’ but as ‘Mapula who is living the Word and also just wanting to be with us.’”
You have what it takes to disciple others. Pray that the Lord opens your eyes and heart to those in your circle of influence. Start to pray for them.
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