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History Of Gateway Christian Church Since 2004
History of Gateway Christian Church
In the interest of providing basic background information I am a United States citizen who has served in pastoral ministry since 1976. My wife, Mariaan, was born and raised in South Africa. We were married in December of 1995 while she was visiting the U.S. at the request of a local church in my hometown of Decatur, Illinois.
My first contact and involvement with Gateway Christian church occurred while visiting family in South Africa and friends of Mariaan who were now attending Gateway in 2001. During this period we were requested to conduct a seminar in the church and were able to establish a meaningful relationship with the pastoral couple, Martin and Elsa Dupper, as well as many other members of Gateway church. During the second half of 2003 while ministering in South Africa, Mariaan and I were once again able to teach and conduct seminars at Gateway.
In July of 2004 I received a phone call from Martin requesting that I fill in for him over a three month period as he was planning a prolonged sabbatical. However, during our meeting with him and Elsa, we were informed that he was, in fact, now planning to resign permanently from pastoral ministry. Over the next few days, in follow-up meetings with the Eldership, Mariaan and I agreed that I would serve in the Pastoral role for a minimum of three months, providing Martin with the opportunity for prayer and reconsideration. He announced his resignation to the church the following Sunday morning August 1st, at which time I requested of the members that we remain diligent in prayer that the Lord’s will be realized in the midst of these troubling circumstances.
Earlier in 2004 I had been made aware of a controversial issue that had been gaining momentum within Gateway which was of such significance that the church would ultimately need to take an official position. The matter to which I refer was identified to me at that time as the “Hebraic Roots Movement.” My initial intention was to avoid the issue as much as possible because I felt that it was not my place to address the situation so long as there was a possibility that Martin may return in the near future. Nonetheless, for the following reasons it quickly became apparent that such a strategy was not possible. First, Martin continued firm in assurance that he would not be returning. Secondly, the Eldership of Gateway was unanimous in its opposition to the movement, and thirdly, the matter under consideration was considered to be of such importance to all concerned that it simply could not be avoided.
Because my knowledge of the movement was extremely limited, I ask for nominations to an Advisory Council of various church members which could hopefully help stabilize the church for the immediate future, and set up weekly meetings in which all concerned could engage in open discussion. I also contacted the Director of “Jews for Jesus” in South Africa in order to gain insight and obtain counsel.
Because I do not consider it necessary or beneficial to enter into a detailed account of our beliefs on the subject, I will rather simply note that we ultimately lost the basis upon which to hold meaningful discussions. The most influential proponents of the movement within the church held to the position that the New Testament as translated and handed down from Greek manuscripts (apparently due to anti-Semitic influences) rather than Hebrew are inaccurate and therefore unreliable. Consequently, without an objective frame of reference one is left only with speculation and hearsay. This reality, coupled with the advice of the Director of Jews for Jesus in South Africa motivated us to announce that Gateway Christian Church would not adopt the teachings and beliefs of the Hebraic Roots Movement.
Sadly, approximately half of our membership considered this position unacceptable and chose to withdraw. At this point I want to clearly state that I have never viewed those who chose to leave Gateway at that time to be maliciously motivated. Rather, I believed then, and still believe that they have a sincere desire to discover and walk in truth.
Since 2004 Gateway has continued in the Hartbeespoort area and sought to serve in the kingdom of God as lead by the Holy Spirit. In the interest of providing helpful information, Gateway could probably best be described as an evangelical, charismatic church. However, we use these terms, not to serve as walls of separation, but solely as bridges of understanding. We place great importance on contributing toward the unity of the entire Body of Christ.
Alongside the typical day-to-day ministry of a local Christian church, the outreach of Gateway has primarily been focused in three specific areas since 2005. They are the T.L.C. Center in Hammanskraal, a local church in the Bokfontain informal settlement, and a weekly “Soup Kitchen” in Ifafi. Beginning in 2013 we now work alongside other local Christian churches to minister into the needs of the Orange Farm Informal settlement near Kosmos.
The T.L.C. Center is, for all practical purpose, a home for adults and children who would otherwise be homeless. It began in the home of its founder Mrs. Johanna Mokubyane and later moved into the (then) informal settlement of Hammanskraal. If memory serves me correct, in 2003 when Mariaan and I became involved, the center was home to approximately twelve adults and six children. In 2006, due to the financial support of a local church in Tennessee, U.S.A. we were able to supply the center with a generator, electrical wiring, and a refrigerator that operated on either gas or electricity. Since that time the municipality has brought electrical power into the area and, due largely to the efforts of Christians in Hammanskraal the center has grown into a much larger, modern facility that serves the needs of approximately forty five adults and children.
The Bokfontein local church was originally founded in the Melodie informal settlement and later moved. As in Hammanskraal, throughout the years our efforts have largely focused toward contributing to the practical and physical needs of the Bokfontein church, although we have worked alongside them in conducting various youth ministries and their leadership team are regular attendants at seminars which are held at Gateway.
The Soup kitchen is basically a “street” outreach that ministers to anywhere from eighty to one hundred forty men who are in the area looking for piece-jobs every Saturday morning. Various members make and serve approximately eighty liters of tea or juice along with sandwiches. A member of the church then teaches from the Bible and prays with the men as part of an evangelistic effort. We are regularly able to hand out bibles due to shipments we receive from friends in Tennessee, U.S.A. Twice a year we hand out clothing which is donated by the members of Gateway church and purchase food which is also distributed. During Easter weekend 2013 we invited and transported all who wanted to attend a viewing of “The Passion of the Christ” and were blessed to be able to baptize sixty three men. It is our intention, with the Lord’s blessing, to conduct a similar outreach this coming Easter weekend.
In October of 2013 we became aware of six children who had been abandoned in the Orange Farm informal settlement near Kosmos. Thankfully, the children had been taken in by Pastor Moffat Munthali and his wife, Gladys who live and minister in this settlement. Again, with financial support from friends in Tennessee, U.S.A. we were able to construct a “Wendy house” large enough to accommodate the pastors family and the six children. Since that time we have been invited to work alongside other churches who were previously involved in this settlement in meeting the ongoing needs of food, clothing, education, etc.
Gateway Christian Church is firmly committed to the belief that Jesus Christ is our only Lord and Savior and welcomes all who acknowledge and confess Him as such, without deference to race or culture (Rev, 7:9-10). Consequently, although not a large congregation we consider ourselves blessed to have a membership of believers from fourteen different countries or nationalities. We look forward to many more years of productive service alongside other local Christian churches in the Hartbeespoort community, and of course, the return of our Lord.
Pastor Steve Kidd