Khanyisa Community Church is located between two police stations and two communities – Manenberg and Gugulethu, both affected by overwhelming social ills. Yet in the midst of this the Kingdom of God is at work, breaking down barriers and drawing people in love towards Jesus.
Siviwe Minye, the leader of Khanyisa, has a heart to see communities changed by the loving presence of the local church. He has always believed that God is calling them to build a church that is representative of both communities. The church had attempted, for a number of years, to create a space where both Xhosa and Afrikaans people were able to meet, make friends, and discover Jesus, crossing the man-made divides. “We have always envisaged a place where people of different race groups and languages worship together,” he says.
As a leadership they chose to use Alpha as a tool to attempt to create community. One of the people in the church brought Siviwe a list of three pages of people that she had invited to the first evening. He admits to a certain amount of scepticism. Despite all the door-to-door activity and the individual congregants taking responsibility, he was not sure that anything would happen.
However, on that first night he was in for a big surprise. Eighty people arrived, mainly from Manenberg, and the leadership then needed to find an interpreter. Khanyisa has always had a Xhosa/English translator, but that evening they needed a third, in Afrikaans. So began a beautiful journey of God drawing two communities together, forming friendships and breaking down barriers.
As a church they have seen prejudices and barriers broken down by Alpha, through the opportunity to have open, honest dialogue and the sharing of meals. Hospitality and love are the hallmarks of Alpha in this church. Alpha has helped create open spaces to the extent that the church has a lunch time kitchen where members of the various Alpha groups meet to have fellowship together. The life of the church during its Sunday meetings has also changed with regular translations into Afrikaans taking place and the church learning more Afrikaans worship songs. Siviwe tells how Alpha tested and increased his faith, and helped bridge a divide that he had been asking God to help him with for a while. The church continues to run Alpha and is continuing to see God bridging the divide between Gugulethu and Manenberg.