M is for Macassar
Macassar is the town in which we serve the local church with Tree Of Life Church. We've been involved in Macassar for just over three years and love it. Most of our white friends here in Somerset West are horrified at the thought of us going into Macassar and very few white South Africans would dare to tread in such a place. The reality however is quite refreshing.
A bit of history...
Macassar is named after Makassar in Indonesia. A little odd perhaps but there is a logical reason. In 1694 Sheik Yussuf was deported from Indonesia by the Dutch colonists and deposited in South Africa. Sheik Yussuf settled on Zandvliet Farm in modern day Macassar. With him he brought Islam to South Africa and today his shrine in the Kramat is Islam's holiest place in the nation.
Macassar then took on a life of its own in 1963 when it was declared a coloured area under the Native Urban Areas Act of 1923. However it didn't really take off as a town until 1971 with the the forced removal of Cape Coloured people from the Helderberg Basin & Stellenbosch areas.
Today Macassar is a town of about 70000 people, it has its own post office, fire station, police station, two civic halls, a clinic and day hospital and a small shopping centre in the middle of town.
Macassar is a tough place to live for our church members as there is a very strong gang culture which also controls the drug supply. Tik addiction rates are horrific especially amongst teenagers leading to an estimated high school drop out rate of 80% and prostitution on the increase. The school drop out rate is not official but is estimated by two school principals I have spoken to in the last year or two.
Despite the hardships of life, our church members love the community and are incredibly active in reaching out to the neediest amongst them. We also recently had a couple move back into Macassar from outside because they felt that was how God was leading them. Hallelujah!
We find the people of Macassar very warm and friendly and very welcoming as we travel around and meet new folk. We're not blind to the problems in the community but believe the best of the folk we meet and we're believing the Lord for amazing things in this community.
This post is part of a series in the Blogging From A To Z Challenge, April 2012.