Toy drive and seeds of hope

Everybody can help, and even gently used toys help. Over the recent festive season, many followed their hearts and let themselves be inspired by the spirit of giving. Money was donated, a disaster area in the Philippines received further reconstruction help, and trees were planted.

Roaring engines, black leather jackets, and soft toys. Once a year, thousands of bikers meet in South Africa for a very special tour, the annual Toy Run. They collect toys and books, tie them to their motorbikes and ride through the cities. At the end of their tour, they donate the items they have collected along the way to orphanages, hospitals, and other organisations.

The districts of Gauteng Mpumalanga, Gauteng Limpopo, and Gauteng KZN collaborated with New Apostolic bikers of the Gauteng region to collect toys for the November Toy Run. The youth in the congregations were tasked with spreading the message to collect soft toys, books, stationery, and other essentials which would be handed over to the bikers to distribute to organisations in need in the region. On 26 November the bikers set off to the congregation in Gezina, where they were welcomed by District Elder Quinton Hinrichsen. Apostle Jerry Joubert welcomed them in Bedfordview. And in Towerby they were also warmly welcomed. Many of the toys and teddy bears soon found a new home.

Music for the needy

In the midst of the busy Liberty Promenade Mall in Mitchell’s Plain, South Africa, shoppers stopped to listen to “Silent Night”, forgetting the Christmas bustle for a few moments. The management of the shopping mall had invited the New Apostolic Church Choir from Lentegeur District to render Christmas carols at the mall on the evening of 13 December. The onlookers and the crowd seated were entertained with carols which included “Silent night”, “Christmas is a time for love”, “Dit is weer Kersfees” and “Hark the herald angels sing”. As a thank you, the management of Liberty Promenade handed over a donation to Masakhe Foundation, the charity of the New Apostolic Church Southern Africa. The delightful evening closed with a powerful rendition of “We wish you a merry Christmas”.

Rays of hope

Young people from the Niederrhein district in Germany had collected more than 2,000 euros in donations during a benefit concert in support of Aktion Lichtblicke, an association that supports children, young people, and their families who are dealing with material, financial, or mental crises. The organisation also supports families who have had to flee Ukraine. At the end of December, several young people presented a cheque to the organisation.

Young people from the district of Göppingen and Kirchheim in Germany braved the cold and set up a booth on the town’s market square on 14 January and sold waffles and cake to support a local church that runs a soup kitchen on its premises. The cold hands and feet were worth it because the young people were able to hand over 600 euros in proceeds to the soup kitchen.

Give instead of take

Over the Christmas season there were many activities and campaigns during which the more fortunate gave something to those who have less or sometimes nothing at all. The town of Vöcklabruck in Austria had come up with the idea for a reverse Advent calendar: instead of receiving a gift, those taking part donate an item. New Apostolic members from the area gladly participated and collected non-perishable food such as flour, sugar, or rice. The rector was able to drop off more than 200 kilograms of goods and present 800 euros to the foodbank and clothing depot.

Also in Southern Germany, the members from various congregations collected non-perishable food for a food bank. Thanks to human aktiv, the aid organisation of the New Apostolic Church Southern Germany, a donation could still be handed over to the staff of the food bank, which sells food items at low prices to people who have little income or are unemployed.

In Ghana, young people watched the faces of children light up as they distributed gifts to them after the Christmas Day service together with Apostle Benjamin Ohene-Saffo. The youth walked through the part of town where our church is and distributed the gifts. The months of preparation paid off when they saw the children’s eyes light up. The young people also used the opportunity to invite the parents to visit the church with their children anytime.

Rebuilding efforts continue after typhoon

It has been a year since Typhoon Odette slammed into the Philippines destroying everything in its way. People are still dealing with the aftermath. The island of Palawan was also badly affected. Many things have not yet been rebuilt. The relief organisation NAC SEA Relief was on site last year to help with the reconstruction. To get farming and crops going again, the head of operations, Mabelle Bagtas, distributed vegetable seeds and fertiliser. Another concern is schooling, without which children have no future: the charity was able to make a contribution through the scholarship programme. And although it was difficult to source building material, NAC SEA Relief managed to successfully repair or rebuilt houses.

Two hundred trees for a better climate

Members from the Bammental congregation in Germany ended the year 2022 with a bang by doing something to counteract global warming. On 28 December brothers and sister of all ages met in the forest to plant 200 trees together. They planted maple saplings to bring more diversity into the beech forest. A forester helped them plant the saplings, and after two hours they were all in the ground and the planting holes filled up with leaf-free soil. Everyone was hungry afterwards and dug into pretzels.