What was the reason you began Precious
In the first month we started our children’s
ministry in South Africa, one of the boys
got raped – and we didn’t know how to deal
with it. Then a few months later, another
girl out of our 12 kids got raped. This was
way beyond what I knew how to deal with.
As we realized what these kids were facing
we knew we had to do something, so we
began a campaign called Precious to Jesus.
We designed a t-shirt that would help
develop a sense of worth in these children,
recognizing their value to God as their
creator, as well as acting as a stern warning
to others not to mistreat these kids. The
campaign grew quickly, and in 2014 we
registered as a charitable organization.
We ran successful campaigns called the
Children’s March through cities that drew
big crowds across the country.
Besides the Children’s Marches, you were
doing further research, what were you
There was a definite sense of reliance on
the young men to make it through life on
their own. We found a shocking percentage
of young men ages 16-18 responded to
our surveys with answers like, “My life is
hopeless, there is nobody to go to.” As the
young men became more isolated, they
would resort to violence and drinking to let
There is this sense of isolated independence.
Another way it is developed in the tribe
I work with: the boys undergo a ritual to
move into manhood, it’s a very important
time in their lives. As these boys grow up,
they begin to realize that, in many cases,
nobody is there for them –
you just have to man up and
take care of yourself.
After the ceremony, the
men live alone for a few
weeks in a hut, surviving
off the land; they take pride
in their survival of the
After they have succeeded,
they are accepted back
into the community as new
men. As a part of the celebration, the young
women join the celebration and dance for
them. Throughout the celebration, there
is drinking and revelling, and the men are
pressured to sleep with a random woman to
prove their manhood. As a result of all this,
there is a significant social problem where
young girls are raped, become pregnant and
then rely on their mothers to help raise the
children with no money or support.
How did you respond to all this?
I didn’t know how to process some of the
stories I was hearing and seeing firsthand. I
was shocked. The heaviness of the situation
got very overwhelming.
There was one instance where a few men on
my team got into a car accident and one of
them broke his back. As I drove to the scene,
I was at my wit’s end and told God “I can’t
do this anymore.” Then, miraculously when
I arrived at the hospital, the man walked
out of the emergency room completely fine.
That was the encouragement I needed – I
knew God was with us.
How do you think God is working in this
The South African census states that 80%
of the population identify as Christian.
Our findings don’t make sense with this.
Witch doctors are a big part of the culture;
there is a prevalence of ancestor worship.
We all deeply desire respect, and often this
is sought from the community and the
ancestors. Respect is equal to reputation, so
external appearance is the most important.
I started under-
even in the
– the Bible is
considered to be
they need to
find their own
through experience with their ancestors.
There is an attempt to have God without
Jesus, and the Bible is considered a source
of discrimination rather than hope. Often,
where there are broken family relationships
and distrust because of abuse, there isn’t
a reference point for the sacrificial love of
Jesus. These relationship issues need to be
resolved by experiencing love in a day-to-
To show this kind of life-altering, divinely
inspired love, we need to walk with people,
encourage them and show them what Jesus’
love truly looks like. It goes to the root of
so many issues. God needs to be seen as He
truly is – the Saviour and lover of our souls
– not as an ancestor who can offer wealth
and respect. Jesus Christ will certainly be
worshipped if His glory and power to set the
captive free are seen and experienced.
Respect is equal to
reputation; they don’t
care about inner
goodness, just as long
as they aren’t exposed.
“As these boys grow up,
they begin to realize that
nobody is there for them
— you just have to man up
and take care of yourself.”