LFS Introduces…The Bowyer Family & Soul Action South Africa

Please introduce yourself, and tell us about what you do with Soul Action South Africa.

Phil and Rachel Bowyer are co-founders of Soul Action South Africa, they live in Durban with their 9 year old son Zachary. Prior to moving to South Africa, Phil worked for Tearfund, He was a key member of Tearfund’s Innovation Team and before that co-ordinated their Youthwork across the UK and Ireland.

Rachel is a qualified teacher with a degree in Music and Mathematics.  Before launching Soul Action in Durban she spent 11 years as a primary school teacher and Special Educational Needs Coordinator in one of the UK’s Urban Priority Areas.

Soul Action South Africa has been working in Durban, in the province of KwaZulu Natal, for over two and a half years. As a result of the research we have gathered by meeting with Christians from across Durban, and a greater awareness of the situation with regards to the extent of HIV and Aids in KwaZulu Natal, we have felt led to establish a network where Christians who are serving the poor can come together, share good practice and begin to learn from one another.  It is a place where individuals can share their difficulties, a place where they can receive from one another, and most of all a place where they feel supported and encouraged to keep on serving.

As Soul Action South Africa, our aim is to facilitate opportunities for Christians who are passionate about integral mission to network, train and work together, in order that the poor and marginalised may be served in a more sustainable way.

What is 2010 shaping up to look like for your work with Soul Action South Africa?

During this year we will continue to work through the Network we have established – at present we are working with 60 partners churches and projects that serve the poor and marginalized across our municipality.  These range from an individual whose own experience of dealing with HIV led her to establish a community HIV support group, to projects that are enabling hundreds of children to go to school. Soul Action South Africa currently facilitates three network gatherings each year, with the specific aim of bringing together all the projects we are working with in order that they may share with, learn from and give support to one another.

In addition to this, we have been able to start two new initiatives which have the potential to benefit the whole Network: A network for Young and Emerging leaders and our Literacy Project.*

*Phil and Rachel have given us more details on these projects which are posted here for any of you that are interested!

What is your favourite thing about the work you are doing?

We particularly enjoy connecting with the different people across the city, learning about what God has called them to and from this gaining a bigger picture of what God is doing in the city of Durban.  From these conversations we are able to ensure the network is appropriate to the needs of the people it serves.  There is so much potential and seeing and being a part of empowering local people is such a privilege.

What is the most challenging thing about the work you are doing?

I would say the most challenging element of what we are doing is the pace at which it moves.  We are very aware that what might be a good idea to us may not be appropriate so we ensure we work with projects and churches where they are at and at their pace.  The work we are involved in is long term, we are encouraging and supporting communities to analyse their own situations and to take steps to work together to make changes for the better.

Who do you have supporting you? How do they support you?

Our church, family and friends in the UK pray for us on a regular basis and support us in that way.  Delegates attending the Soul Survivor UK summer festivals raised some funds last year, these have enabled us to start the two initiatives with young people and children this year.

Do you partner with any other organisations?

Soul Action South Africa relates to Soul Action UK.  Soul Action UK is a partnership between Soul Survivor and Tearfund.  Over the past ten years Soul Survivor has resourced and equipped literally thousand of Christian young people to live lives of integrity and worship to God.  Tearfund works in about 70 countries across the world by supporting local Christian partners and working directly in emergency situations.  By bringing together the best of Soul Survivor and Tearfund the hope of Soul Action is to raise up a generation of Christians who are whole hearted about whole life discipleship and mission to the whole world.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone that are thinking about doing something similar to what you are doing?

I think there are three main things to do:  PRAY, TEST IT OUT, GO FOR IT!

Doing what God wants you to do has to be first prize, no matter what the challenges being in that place is it always brings with it great rewards.  So if God is asking you to do something, no matter how big or small then take the first step and let God lead you.

How can others engage with you and support you in the work you are doing with Soul Action South Africa?

Soul Action South Africa can only remain effective if Christians who are just as passionate about integral mission as we are continue to get behind it.  There are many ways that people can add value to our ongoing work with the last, the least and the lost:

  • Prayer – committing to pray for our work on a regular basis
  • Volunteering – come and serve our projects, from two weeks to 6 months
  • Financiallywww.soulaction.co.za/support has details of the different ways our work can be supported

If people would like to pray for you, what would you have them talk to God about on your behalf?

For the two initiatives that Soul Action South Africa has been able to start this year:

The Young and Emerging Leaders Network – for each young person that is a part of this that God would continue to show them his plan for their lives

The Literacy Project – for the two local people that are working in school on a daily basis, that as well as teaching the children they would be able to show God’s love.

Our current funding runs out in September this year, and at the moment we are praying and looking into different ways of securing funding so this work can continue.  Please pray we would make wise decisions in who we apply to funding for.

Thank you so much to the Bowyer Family for sharing about Soul Action South Africa with us. It was such a pleasure and privilege to go out to South Africa as part of Soul in the City Durban last summer – so I have seen the amazing stuff God is doing through the Network and more!

For more information on Soul Action South Africa you can check out their website www.soulaction.co.za & if you have any questions you can e-mail Rachel by clicking here

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