First generation leaders expand CO in Southern Africa
Jeff Viljoen grew up “knowing about God, but had no idea who He was.”
“God was a distant figure in my life, far off and very disconnected, and so I built my life on things apart from him,” Jeff shared.
Abandoned by his parents at the age of 3, Jeff was raised by his grandparents. Though his home-life offered stability, Jeff knew something was missing.
He tried to fill that void with family and rugby, but painfully discovered that both were fleeting.
“In my senior year of high school, both of these structures were stripped away,” Jeff shared. “My grandmother passed away and my grandfather turned to alcoholism, I also missed my senior year rugby season due to several injuries.”
At that point, Jeff started asking difficult questions. The pastor who buried his grandmother invited the family to church, and Jeff heard the gospel for the first time.
“I repented and put my faith in Christ, asking Him to be the rock and foundation of my life.”
Jeff’s faith was sincere, but he lacked depth and direction.
“In my first year (of college), I met a CO staff person who began to invest in me and walk with me, teaching me to walk with God daily and impact others,” he shared.
"This is where God began to show me the value, as well as the power, of multiplications and life- on-life discipleship."
Today, Jeff serves as the regional director of CO Gauteng (formerly CO Johannesburg), where he oversees two South African campuses, a recently launched expansion to Lusaka (Africa) and an upcoming expansion to Bloemfontein.
Jeff is the first South African director of the region and represents CO’s first generation of South African leaders.
Today, the majority of COG's staff are South African CO graduates, including Mzwandile Zulu, GOG Area Director.
“Through CO staff sharing the gospel with me in 2007, the Lord began to work in my heart,” Mzandile (Zwai) shared.
“I gave my life to Christ during the CCP season when a pair of the CCP leaders came and continued sharing the same gospel I had been hearing for months at this stage.”
Like Jeff, Zwai quickly felt God’s call to share this new-found freedom.
"The Lord gripped my heart for missions very early. I was exposed to people that gave their life away in missions."
“Through my own experience of discipleship, I got the sense that what has been done for me, I must do for others," he shared.
This missionary spirit is the foundation of COG, and it’s driving the ministry’s expansion into Africa. “Last year, CO South Africa launched an investigation team to Zambia including US and South African staff in that launch,” said Andy Cheely, Global Resource Center Director of Operations.
"The South African team has visions for the whole continent of Africa."
"They are serious about learning from the Zambian launch to develop better models that could go further north and east like Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tunisia.”
Leading these expansions is a combination of first generation South African staff, U.S. missionaries and the young men and women they’ve discipled. As these second-generation South African leaders build on COG’s foundation, God is continuing to multiply leaders for Christ throughout the area.
A Universal Vision
Ministry expansion plans aren’t limited to COG. Other regions like CO Brisbane (Australia) are also praying for opportunities to expand, after sending missionaries to New Zealand and Thailand. And CO Brazil, who recently welcomed a South African missionary, is building partnerships through CCPs to strengthen the ministry.
Through prayer, we can help. Please join us in praying for:
The Lord of the Harvest instructed us to pray for laborers (who are few.) We need leaders who can shepherd teams during the exciting months, sometimes years, of pioneering expansion.
Multi-cultural Team Unity:
Please pray for Holy Spirit-filled character as expansion teams become multi-cultural. With staff from two or three countries, understanding and patience are necessary to serve together as they face upcoming challenges in a new country.
A final request is that CO staff will continue to be Godly partners in these days of expansion. Partnership between CO staff, local churches, sending regions and sending churches, requires individuals who are filled and led by the Holy Spirit to operate in humility and love with one another.