As visiting Pastor Vinnie Menzo of New Jersey looked out over the congregation at City Harvest International in Pietermaritzburg, he said, “I can hear the sound of children singing. Their music is permeating their neighborhood, bringing hope and healing.”
Pastor Vinnie, known to have strong prophetic gifting, said these words without knowing how important music is to the ministry of TEAM missionaries David and Marj Patrick, who were sitting in church that day. They work as lecturers at Union Bible Institute (UBI), where Marj serves as Deputy Principal and David serves as the choir conductor. They also oversee a children’s ministry that has become known for their beautiful singing.
The ministry, started for children who are mostly orphans in the care of relatives, meets in the home of Mama Ngubane. She graduated from UBI at age 65 after completing the three-year theology course. Upon graduation, she told the Lord she was old now, and that He could take her home if He wanted to. He replied to her by saying, “I am just beginning a new work with your life.” At first, Mama Ngubane was too ashamed of her two-room dwelling that had no indoor pluming or necessities and mostly dirt floors. How could a children’s ministry be held here? But she obeyed the Lord and allowed her home to be a meeting place. As children began to gather, the local church offered food so that Mama Ngubane can cook soup for the children and other destitute neighbors. She holds Sunday school lessons with up to 30 or more children in the afternoons. Lessons include singing worship songs, praying, and learning Bible stories together. Children ranging in age from four to 14 pray about the serious issues affecting their community such as sicknesses, alcoholism, children who have been abducted and mutilated for muthi (medicine for witch craft), poverty, and crime.
The children love to sing worship songs together and have become well known on the local level. A local radio announcer invited the children to perform at the community radio station. The children sang, gave their testimonies, and recited Bible verses on the radio. When the group returned to their township, people met them in the street. They had heard the radio program, and the sounds of the children singing had permeated the neighborhood, just as Pastor Vinnie had prophesized. A local music producer also heard the radio program and contacted David and Marj because he wanted to record the children. They recorded an album titled “Abantwana Basembali,” which translates as, “The Children of Mbali.” They chose that name because Mbali means flower, and God hears the prayers of these “flowers” in his Kingdom. The Lord is bringing hope and healing to everyone who hears the children singing.
-Written by David and Marj Partrick, TEAM missionaries in South Africa
-Photos provided by David and Marj Patrick
Listen to a song from the children’s album called “Avulekile Amasango,” which translates as, “The gates of Heaven are opened; thru Christ, we can enter.”