Visit to Palm Ridge Evangelical Church – 18 May 2013

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Typical house in Palm RidgeAbout Palm Ridge

Palm Ridge, situated in the Ekurhuleni (formerly Benoni) used to be a middle class / working class area only. It is right on the border with Alberton. Today it is surrounded by a massive squatter camp, which is included as being part of Palm Ridge. The magistrates court is in the middle class part of the area; it is currently conducting hearings into the killing of Kirsty Theologo during a satanic ritual. (

Poverty is rampant in the squatter camp area. Unemployment is very high. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be a sense of hopelessness and despair.

About The Palm Ridge Church

God led Eric Chauke to start a church in Palm Ridge. Today it is a vibrant, Bible Based church, serving God with all the honour and vigour and music that inner city churches are so famous for in our beautiful South Africa.

The Palm Ridge Evangelical Church have erected a small church at minimal cost; actually, it was mostly Eric, with the help of a few men. It is a zinc structure, no ceiling, with dilapidated and broken windows, and the very barest of furniture. If an inspector has to evaluate it against all the municipal requirements, he will probably request that it be demolished. It is temporary structure. There is the trust that eventually the church will have a stable permanent building.

About the Chauke's

Pastor Eric Chauke is married to Lotina. They have 3 children: Sarah, Gift and Eric Junior. Eric is a Mozambican national who has made his home in South Africa. He has some interesting stories about being forced into the military as a child soldier during the Mozambican civil wars. One day I will ask him to write it down, and then include it in a blog.

Our Missions Visit to Palm Ridge

We at the Weltevreden Chapel regard ourselves as a missions church. So when my wife started expressing concern about the lack of space in our garage. Lack of space being due to the huge amounts of clothing, stationery, toys and other odds and ends donated to the congregation of the Palm Ridge Evangelical Church.

The time for another missions visit had arrived. Now we had to do a cleanup and packing, and deliver the goods to Palm Ridge. We duly prepared the goods with extreme haste; or more correctly, my wife prepared it, since I was unable to help due to being in full time employment. She did it with all the eagerness that she normally tackle such tasks. When I saw the goods ready to be loaded into our car, you would think that she had a team helping her. But no, she did it mostly alone.

On Saturday morning 18 May 2013, we packed all the goods into our Ford Focus. There was barely enough place for the two of us. We managed somehow. At our local church, Weltevreden Chapel, we transferred everything to the church Kombi. Val Kohler joined us. And off we went on the 45 minute drive to Palm Ridge.

Eric could only join us for a few minutes, since he had to conduct a baptism service. I just had a brief discussion with him about the document requirements needed to register the church as a legal entity. The three of us had a good chat with Lotina. She shared with us some of the challenges and concerns both in their home and in the church.

We praise God for a committed couple, faithful servants, who have faith in Christ, and a love for the believers. And because of them, the gospel is bearing fruit all over Palm Ridge.

It was a sad goodbye, when we left to return to Weltevredenpark. As normally happens, our intention was to encourage, but we left being more encouraged because of a pastoral family who has learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Click here to view the photo gallery.

The Aftermath – God's Protection in a Near Disaster

As I drove the Kombi up Christiaan De Wet Drive towards our church, the Kombi lost power. I let it coast towards the side of the road. It just refused to start. I suspected no fuel. After some calls, one of the ladies of the church delivered 3 litres of diesel. This was proudly poured into the petrol tank. The Kombi still had no intention to restart. My conclusion was that we were parked on a steep hill, so the pump could not reach the diesel. I was wrong, very wrong, as I soon found out. The lady was asked to get some more diesel.

Pastor Forsyth called. I explained the situation to him. I was alone along the side of the road. The two lady passengers had long since taken the offer of a lift to a Ladies meeting at the church.

Pastor Forsyth explained to me, in his usual inimitable diplomatic manner, that the Kombi was fitted with a petrol engine. Now everybody, with the exception of me, knows that you do not throw diesel into a petrol engine; this can damage the engine. The Pastor then hooked his little 1.6 vehicle onto the Kombi via a tow rope. And we started the 2 km trip to the church, Pastor driving the car, and me at the drivers seat of the Kombi.

Just as we turned into John Vorster Drive, the Kombi steering wheel locked, and I could not control it. I hooted and waved. Lots of traffic about. Doug figured something was wrong, and he stopped there right close to the middle of a major and busy intersection. He came to investigate and noted that the key in the ignition was not turned sufficient. I could have kicked myself. Even though the last time that I helped to tow a vehicle was over 20 years ago, I should have remembered to do it.

Nevertheless, the key was turned all the way, and we made it back to the church. I give all the honour and glory to God. It could so easily have resulted in a serious traffic incident. God truly kept his hand of protection over us.

Prayer Requests For the Palm Ridge Evangelical Church

1. The area does not have electricity. It has been promised for the past few years, but nothing has happened. Pray that the municipality will give priority to this.
2. Lotina is ill. The doctor did initially suspect malaria. She is now under observation.
3. The battery of Eric's vehicle has been stolen. The vehicle is immobile because of this.
4. Crime is endemic in the area. The Chauke's garage is not secure. The car is parked in a neighbour's yard, until the Chauke's are able to secure their garage.
5. The door of the church is busy rotting due to all the recent rain. There is a need for a new door.
6. The pit toilet at the church has long reached the end of its useful life. There is uncertainty as to what to do, since the location of the church was always meant to be temporary. The municipality can reclaim their ground at any time, without notice.
7. The area where the church is located has become very busy; lots of traffic, especially taxis; many noisy hawkers; lots of pedestrian traffic. There is no wall or fence around the church building
8. There is the possibility of buying a separate plot of ground from the municipality. It is some distance from the current location. two things need to happen first: (a) The church needs to be registered as a legal entity; and (b) Trusting God to provide the needed funds. Weltevreden Chapel is looking into assisting with both of these prayer items.

To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen  (Col 4:20)

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