It is incredible to hear the stories and inspirations of how organizations, particularly Kingdom Culture, germinated and have grown into a life-giving resource, and what impact they are making on society. Their aim is in their name – pursuing to live out a Kingdom-based culture, to treat others as like-minded and spread the love of Christ, magnifying Him through all they are and in everything they do.
Where It Began
The decision to start this organisation was purely by accident. As Xenia Swanepoel, the founder of the organisation, was reading the book of Acts in the Bible, she realised that she has never experienced God and a Godly community as exhibited in the book of Acts. She thought that if that was the model, then surely, people should pursue it. She started crying out to God that she wanted to be part of an “Acts generation” for the lack of a better understanding and terminology.
A little while later, she felt God asking her to take a small yet bold step. She was certain she didn’t hear accurately from God because the inner city scared her, but God’s gentle voice kept speaking to her about this.
In 2006, Xenia and a group of her friends went to Pretoria City Central one night to feed the homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks. It was their first time doing something like that, so she handed out bread as fast as possible as she was terrified of the unknown. The stirring of God’s voice kept taking them back to the streets, and they have since built beautiful friendships with their homeless friends. God placed a passion in their hearts, a desire to assist the homeless and invest in their lives beyond just feeding them. This desire gave birth to Kingdom Culture, a non-profit company (NPC 2014/159950/08).
The Aim is in Their NameAccording to the founder, Kingdom Culture will always aim to introduce the homeless to the person of Love, Jesus Christ, and walk beside them as long as possible to see their lives radically transformed by the love of a supernatural and loving God.Their motive is to love the person standing in front of them, allowing them to feel how worthy they are in Jesus’ eyes and that He gave His life for them. Xenia says, “When someone finds self-worth and dignity, they start dreaming again. Hope is powerful. We’ve seen how people’s lives, with hope in Jesus Christ, get supernaturally transformed and they find the courage in Jesus to push through difficult situations, committing to bring down the use of the substances on their own (which they are addicted to), although some need motivation and assistance.”What they found is that most of their friends on the streets have heard much about God, but don’t have a personal relationship with Him. When they pray with them and they truly get to have an encounter with God, they start to accept the goodness of God and allow Him to transform their lives, while regaining self-respect. By this, the homeless start behaving differently, including being punctual and more diligent, thus many of them have been able to find permanent employment.
“If we don’t respond in obedience from a deep love for Him, all our efforts are in vain.” – Xenia Swanepoel
The vision:To empower, feed, clothe, train and develop the underprivileged people in Pretoria – and ultimately South Africa – by utilizing a Christ-centred approach with the assistance of volunteers.
The mission:To serve the community through a non-denominational, non-discriminatory service to all races, ages and genders, regardless of their circumstances. To uplift and make a positive contribution towards making a real difference in the lives of individuals and the destitute community.
How they workThey start by getting involved on a personal level. Being really interested in each homeless person as an individual, they ask them about their skills, family, health, and daily lives, just as one would get to know a friend. This has subsequently developed into actual relationships where they have come to know Kingdom Culture by name, asking about the volunteers’ lives and eventually about God.
“By showing the underprivileged that we genuinely care, they begin to care for us. Trust is earned; it is much harder to earn trust from someone that has been cast out by the world. By being consistent with our approach, we started to earn their trust and making a positive difference in their lives.” – Xenia Swanepoel
Who they serveInterestingly, more than 80% of the people Kingdom Culture speak with on a regular basis are living on the street of their own volition. This is because the people living on the streets take the responsibility to take care of their families. They are typically from rural areas, where they are unable to find sufficient jobs, so in essence, they steer to the city for work and send money back to their families. They choose to sleep on the sidewalk in order to save as much as possible. Oftentimes, they don’t eat for days for the very same reason. For some, the only way to survive the cold nights and harsh circumstances are to resort to using substances such as drugs or alcohol. Sometimes the only food they consume is what’s given by their employers or us through donations. Kingdom Culture’s main base of operations is in Pretoria Central, South Africa, but have moved to various locations within Pretoria CBD because it came to the point where many of the people they worked with had left the area because they found employment. Kingdom Culture wants to maintain its non-profit status, thus relying on sponsorships and people volunteering their skills and time.
Established projects functioning within Kingdom Culture include:
Feet on the StreetThis project was first known as “Feeding the homeless”. They believe in loving the homeless back to life. Kingdom Culture sits with the homeless in the streets on a regular basis and listens intently to their stories. They love to pray with the homeless and trust God to help them break free from addictions. They disciple and train them right there on the streets.
“Some people are so hungry for a touch of God, that even when they are busy exercising their coping solutions, they ask us for prayer. We don’t mind. We are just thrilled by the fact that they want Jesus. Sometimes, it’s a slow process, but it’s worth witnessing the transformation that only God can bring.” – Xenia Swanepoel
Worship CentreEvery Sunday evening, they have church services for the homeless in Pretoria CBD and anyone else that would love to join. It is an open platform for anyone to worship, encounter and learn more about God. They place a high focus on worship. They believe that when people learn how to worship, and by God touching and speaking to them directly, nothing would change their minds about God and their devotion to Him. Discipleship and Word teachings also take place here, accommodated by a meal to everyone after every service.
Church in the ParkKingdom Culture gathers the people that sleep in the park and put time aside to spend with them in worship and in the Word of God. This project is a miniaturized projection of the Worship Centre project, however, it is in a different location of Pretoria under the open skies on the grass.
Restoration ProgrammeThe restoration programme aims to utilize the knowledge and experience of the developed Christian community to pave a path for the homeless community to enter into their purpose within society. Kingdom Culture’s focus is to expand their understanding of God, of themselves and the modern world. However, this is not there to uplift the basic and complex modern educational standards as set by the world, but rather to harness and cultivate the natural God-given gifts and talents each have received. It is also there to drive and guide them towards their purpose on earth and how they are able to reintegrate back into a meaningful life.
The programme consists of three levels of support through biblical truths & fellowship:
- Basic life skills pertaining to communication, character, work, finances and health
- Identify and develop advanced life skills linked to an individual’s aspirations, calling and purpose in life
- Produce leadership abilities and provide access to entrepreneurial opportunities
- Our emotions and feelings
- Our thought patterns
- Moral and ethical framework
- Abilities and experiences
- Motivation and commitment
- Soft skills
- Practical skills