It is not so much in the individual stories told, but in all the stories told together.
It is this phrase that led us to the theme ‘A New Story’ for the 2nd annual Preferred Future Honouring Awards ceremony in March of 2017 designed to celebrate an array of missions and justice champions and the work they have been pioneering on a local church level and across our South African borders. Our guest speaker this year was founder and director of GastrowBloch Philanthropies and founder of The South African Institute for Advancement, Shelagh Gastrow.
As Preferred Future is the justice and missions division of the Assemblies of God Group of Churches, our main activities have always been engaging the various churches within our Group to encourage and champion significant justice and missions work within their churches. This event is one of the ways we can facilitated networking, developing and resourcing strong local church leaders and encourage them to lead significant work.
Hall of Fame
Every Year PF awards those who have sacrificially pioneered missions and social justice work through their lives, given time and finances, often with huge personal cost. The couple that was awarded this year have made a significant and sustainable impact on the communities of Western Zambia, devoting their lives and the lives of their families to being a great work that continues to bless, uplift and bring hope so that others may live. The 2016 Hall of Fame award was presented to Paul & Marinette van Coller.
New Champions Award
PF have an intentional emphasis on identifying and developing Strong Leaders who will lead the Significant work in our communities. Leaders who will be starting schools, partnering with impoverished schools or developing the entrepreneurial capacity of our school leavers. Leaders who will actively develop and support our current missions work as well as possibly pioneer new missions work. These call these leaders champions!
Most of these Champions are brand new in this role – so this is as much a New Story for PF as it for them.
This year we presented a new award to Honour and celebrate one of these new Champions and their team in the area of missions and in social justice, who are demonstrating exceptional leadership in their pioneering endeavours.
The missions award this year was presented to the mission champion team from Connexions Church in Benoni on Johannesburg’s East Rand. For their concerted efforts in promoting missions in their church, we presented Garry Foster, Arthur Reynolds and Emir Jacobs with this award. From their first exploratory trip to Zambia in 2014 they had sent their first team from their church within 8 months and are planning to continue sending teams each year. We honour their pioneering spirit, initiative and proactive approach.
The 2016 award for the champions working in social justice was awarded to Elisme Schoeman from GracePoint Church in Fochville. Elisme was identified and release in August 2015, within 4 months, Elisme and her team were actively engaging with a school in their local impoverished area of Greenspark and were beginning to partner with the school to provide literacy and support to their staff and learners. In January 2016 they had revamped the library of the school and had begun to implement a strategy to introduce a literacy program that will begin in the 2nd term of this year.
Excellence in Community Engagement
Honouring the PF value of community engagement, PF presents the Excellence in community engagement award. This Honour goes to those whose work demonstrated excellence in their delivery of education in the previous year and contributed to upping the value of education in their broader community. The 2016 honouree was Life Child: The Peace School near Quelimane, Mozambique Innovation and Creativity in Community Engagement This year PF awarded an project that demonstrates the PF value of forward thinking and new recognised ideas. The Innovation and Creativity in Community Engagement goes to work that introduces both Innovation and Creativity in solving Justice or Mission gaps in their community. This year’s award was presented to Won Life for their teacher mentorship program.
Championing the Cause of a Champion
PF appreciates that behind every strong champion is a senior pastor who has consistently and passionately promoted the work of mission and justice in their local church. This award is entitled the Championing the Cause of a Champion and is presented to a senior pastor who has consistently given both mission and justice a consistent platform, not only at a prescribed time of the year, but throughout the year. This leader has also invested to the church’s champion through time, attention and wisdom. This year’s award was presented to Graham and Jenny Evans.