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The Week of Bounty

By Willie Crew

 

In 1984 Cyclone Demonia hit KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, causing a devastating disaster. Thousands of people were left homeless and lost everything they had.
During this time, Pastor Danie Vermeulen from Richards Bay made a distressing call, describing the extent of the devastation. It was heartbreaking to hear the pain in his voice.

I started thinking about how we could help. While asking churches for financial support was an option, it didn’t seem enough to tackle the enormity of this disaster.

Later, while watching the news, I realized that the situation was even worse than I had imagined. It was complete chaos.

I reached out to Pastor Ed Roebert, the senior pastor of Hatfield Christian Church, where I was serving, and explained the urgent need in KwaZulu-Natal suggesting the idea of challenging church members during Sunday service to bring anything from their homes that they don’t use or need and bring it to the church that afternoon or the following day. Pastor Ed agreed to take on this challenge.

I then called pastors across South Africa, urging them to do the same. I asked them to spread the message to pastors they knew, encouraging them to participate as well.

As midnight approached, I went to bed, wondering what the next day would bring. The plight of those in need in KwaZulu-Natal weighed heavily on my mind.

The next morning, I made a few more phone calls to pastors I hadn’t been able to reach the previous night. After receiving a final update, my family and I hurried to the church.

During the service, Pastor Ed presented the challenge to the congregation of 5000 and asked me to give an update on the situation in KwaZulu-Natal. He then motivated all the members to go back home after the service and gather anything they don’t use or need and bring it to the church later that afternoon or the next day.

I’ve always believed in the latent potential within the local church.

If we can harness this potential, we can make an enormous impact in the world around us.

Looking out over the congregation, I felt the Holy Spirit urging me to see the incredible power within this community of believers. If we could unlock this power, we could truly make a difference in KwaZulu-Natal. But honestly, I wondered how many would respond. After the service, my family and I gathered items that we did not use or need from our home and brought them to the church.

Arriving, we were amazed at the sight. Cars lined up, filled with bags and boxes of donations for those affected by the cyclone. People kept coming, bringing more and more throughout the afternoon. The foyer of the church quickly filled up with donations, so much so that we had to move chairs to make space.

The generosity of the congregation was overwhelming. The amount of goods brought was beyond what we could have imagined.

Now the challenge was how would we transport all of this to KwaZulu-Natal, an eight-hour drive away from Pretoria. To make matters more complicated, churches from all over South Africa were phoning me, saying their members had also donated goods. There were hundreds of tons of goods from all over South Africa that needed to be transported to the disaster zone. Some as far as Cape Town. It was 20 hours to drive to KwaZulu-Natal.

Meanwhile, word spread about the national response, leading more churches to join in.

Meeting this enormous challenge – became a massive miracle.

To my surprise, the solution to this daunting question came from members of various churches across the country, including those in influential positions, who decided to help transport the goods! Within hours of the Sunday announcement, we received commitments from the South African Defense Force, South African Airways, South African Railways, and private transport companies all offering to help move the goods to the disaster area.

All working in unity in the disaster zone!

Once the goods reached KwaZulu-Natal, local churches and their members in Richards Bay and nearby areas took charge.

Church buildings turned into distribution centers, bustling with activity! Church members volunteered their time to sort and pack the goods for immediate distribution.

Some offered their vehicles to transport the goods to those in need. Even members from the affected areas came to help pack and deliver the aid to those affected.

Within just one week of the announcement, hundreds of tons of goods were collected, delivered, and distributed in KwaZulu-Natal!

The Week of Bounty became a week of hilarious giving!

This vision that began in my heart back then has never left me.

Seven Steps to A Week of Bounty

By Willie Crew

 

Step 1: The local church decides to organize a Week of Bounty. Step

Step 2: Select a specific date for the Week of Bounty. While any week of the year can be chosen, many opt for the Week of Pentecost, which falls on Sunday 19 May this year.

Step 3: Form a small volunteer team to assist with the sorting and distribution of the collected goods.

Step 4: Before the Week of Bounty, request individuals in need within the church to fill out a needs list. This is particularly important for single parents, widows, and the elderly who often require various items.

Step 5: Encourage members of the local church to look through their homes and places of business for items they don’t use or need and bring them to the Week of Bounty.

Step 6: During the Week of Bounty, members bring their donated goods to the church. With the assistance of volunteers, these goods are then distributed in the following ways:

  • Meet the needs of individuals within the local church.
  • Collaborating with churches in underprivileged areas nearby, allowing them to distribute the goods to their members and the community.
  • Partnering with non-profit organizations that work among underprivileged communities.

Step 7: Ensure that all the goods are distributed within approximately two weeks. It is important to avoid prolonging the project unnecessarily. There will be opportunities to repeat this initiative in the following years.