Pierre and Rentia DeJager
Pierre and Rentia live in the same town as we do-Bela Bela in the Limpopo province of South Africa. Pierre has a teacher's heart. He started the first mixed race school in the town of Louis Trichardt in 1988 when this type of thing was not done. His ministry is teaching: young adults through the Young Life ministry and rural people thru the Farming God's Way ministry.
In Young Life he identifies and works with potential leaders and develops in them the skills to in turn identify and work with other kids their own age. These relationship skills earn them the right to be heard in sharing their Christian faith. They have a weekly club meeting where fun is practiced and relationships are formed. These culminate in a yearly camp where the gospel is presented, commitments made, and discipleship taught, and then the process starts over again. Pierre disciples and works with the leaders who then work with their friends they have brought to Young Life. Pierre attends these weekly club meetings that the kids lead themselves and leads the yearly camp. He started Young Life in Zimbabwe 8 years ago and in South Africa 3 years ago. Leadership teams from Zimbabwe often come to SA to help in the camps and other activities that the SA kids do. Both groups helped with and were instrumental in the success of our first Vingerkraal Winterschool. Rentia is never far from Pierre's side and is especially involved in the young ladies lives and hosting the camp. They have had the leadership from the various clubs to our home for weekend training and team building.
Farming God's Way (FGW) is another teaching ministry that Pierre excels in. This teaching for local and often rural people teaches them how to plant, tend, and harvest a small corn or garden plot that will help to provide food for their families. This is a two day teaching that details how to prepare the soil, plant the seed/seedlings, nurture the soil to provide maximum growing conditions. Something that we think would be so simple is a skill that has to be taught and repeatedly followed up on. Pierre first stated teaching this in Zimbabwe and since that time has made a significant adaption that we have not seen done by anyone else. He takes a variety of small seedlings (beetroot, tomatoes, onion, cabbage, carrots) to each location every two weeks in addition to the corn that was planted early in the season. Seedlings have a minimal cost and with their labor investment this helps to create independence and sustainability. This allows for the soil to be cultivated year round as compared to the normal practice of planting one crop, usually corn, and once harvested the ground lies idle until the next season. This concept makes maximum use of the ground that supports year round growth. It's the concept and practice that we are most proud of. FGW has been taught several locations and the two we are most proud of is at Rolihlahla Feeding Center (Queen's) and Vingerkraal. Queen's is a feeding center located in Mokopane, a town an hour drive from where we live. The center is a drop in location for the most disadvantaged kids in the disadvantaged part of town. There are 140 kids with 100 of these being orphans or child headed households who attend. They are given a meal, helped with homework, provided a safe place, and given love and attention. Two volunteers (Piet & Daniel) do the gardening which provides a good variety of vegetables that is combined with rice/soy packets and pork that we provide. This combination makes for a good varied nutritious meal without creating dependence. They have the pride of taking care of their own orphans and disadvantaged children. Another farming location we are proud of is Vingerkraal. This is a rural location of 1,000 people. Pierre has a small core group of ladies that he has been working with for two years. At the 2015 Winterschool we are going to have a mommy school for the mothers while the kids are in school. One of the things that will be taught is the farming/gardening by Pierre. Our goal for this community is over the next five years to teach them to be dependable, consistent, and the ability to grow a high quality product. We have already made contact with one of the nearby upscale restaurants on a game farm to provide them with vegetables for their restaurant. As this unfolds it will be a huge step forward for providing for their own independence and sustainability. Our goal for this farming training is to help create independence in a simple program that can be easily sustained. We feel strongly that this is the simplest and easiest step to be taken to break the cycle of poverty. Our goal in all that we do is skill development that leads to sustainability. It will always take more time, effort and involvement but it is the model that will create lasting change. It's about creating self worth and pride of accomplishment. These are skills and values that can be taught to the next generation.
Pierre is an inspiration to us in all that he does. From his family to ministry. He has his values in the right place. His love and concern for the disadvantaged and youth comes thru in all he does. We especially appreciate that he always puts relationships over projects.