“Are You Crazy?” South Africa Student Scholarship Ride4Change3 min read

“Why would you want to ride a bicycle nonstop for 170 miles?! Are you crazy?!”

It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot lately as my friend Muzi Khumalo (son of the late Pastor Mandla Khumalo) and I prepare to take on the 170-mile Munga Grit, a South African-inspired gravel race coming to Traverse City on Saturday, September 9.

The answer to this question leads back over five years ago to when I was first blessed with the opportunity to spend time with our Lutheran Christian sisters and brothers in South Africa. Like many of you over the years, I had read some stories and watched some of the movies that documented the brutal atrocities of apartheid and was somewhat aware of the racial, political, and economic tensions that still exist to this day. Yet, to be there and see firsthand the racially segregated neighborhoods and townships established so many years ago that still exist—and what the Lord can do when He has His way among His people who have been through so very much—would leave me forever changed.

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of a young Zulu man named Mandla Khumalo, whom the Lord raised up and transformed from a resistance fighter wanted by the law in the days of apartheid, to a man of reconciliation and peace by the life-changing power of the gospel of Jesus—a man who would later be called by the Lord to become a Lutheran pastor. You may also be familiar with how the Lord gave him godly vision to raise up spiritual leaders to establish a Lutheran church body (Confessional Lutheran Church of South Africa) along with a Lutheran school that would impact South African lives for eternity. As he knew well, when you bring quality education to a child you change the world, but when you bring a quality Christian education to a child you change the world for eternity! While the Lord called Pastor Khumalo home to heaven much too soon by our limited, temporal timeline in March of 2021, his vision for Christian education, outreach, and Christ-centered reconciliation continues to this day among the Lord’s people of South Africa.

Home base for those efforts is St. Peter Lutheran Church and School in Mhluzi, a suburb of Middelburg. This past year, St. Peter began partnering with a local orphanage and has admitted nearly 70 new students who are now receiving eternal formation in Jesus through a quality Christian education. Through them, our world will never be the same!

Understandably, this important mission partnership requires resources. While COVID devastated the world’s economy, South Africa has never rebounded from over 50% unemployment and widespread crime and unrest. In recent days, Christian Outreach For Africa (COFA), a USA-based nonprofit mission partner established to provide sustainable mission support toward this work in South Africa, shared a five-year goal of raising a $1 million student scholarship endowment for students to attend St. Peter Lutheran School in Mhluzi for today and into the future.

Which leads back to the original question: Perhaps now you understand why anyone would be so very motivated to ride a bike 170 miles nonstop! It’s because we are crazy—crazy about sharing the love of Jesus by making a Christian education available to as many South African students as possible—knowing full well that it will change the world for eternity!

This coming Saturday, September 9, Muzi Khumalo and I will ride the miles out of Traverse City. We ask you and your congregation to donate towards the miles we ride. Please prayerfully consider being a part of this important Ride4Change to help take a child through school and make an impact on lives for eternity through the love of Jesus. In addition, all gifts will be matched up to $40,000 through the International Ministry initiative of the Here We Stand campaign which means gifts will go twice as far! Be part of the change by following this link.

For a podcast interview with Rev. Schwichtenberg about the bike ride challenge, click here

Photos courtesy of Rev. Marc Schwichtenberg

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About the Author

Rev. Marc Schwichtenberg is the Senior Pastor at St. John Lutheran Church and School in Rochester.

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