Situated at the Southernmost coast of the African Continent, right on the Indian Ocean, lies Knysna. With a population of about 70,000 it is a town of myriad races, languages and cultures. Knysna is in the heart of the beautiful Garden Route and five hours east of Cape Town. Situated around a lagoon, it's a mountainous region and one of the only forested areas in the country. It has one of the most mild climates on earth, with high temperatures consistently between 65-80 (F) year round. The spectacular natural beauty of the region drives the local economy through tourism.
Yet like much of South Africa, the contrast between wealth and poverty, success and struggle, is stark. In just a few minutes drive from the gorgeous vacation homes and tourist hot spots is the township, where life can be much harder. It is estimated that more than 50 percent of permanent Knysna residents still remain below the poverty line. Homes are often pieced together with metal scraps and, if one is lucky, cinder blocks.
In addition to the economic disparities, the neighborhoods of the town are fragmented due to the extreme nature of the Knysna Estuary and its surrounding hills. So how do we reach all of Knysna for Christ? Each suburb is clearly disconnected from the other, offering church planters a natural opportunity of starting an outreach from their home, attempting to reach their own neighborhood first. The township community also has a similar challenge geographically as there are scores of housing settlements scattered over a wide area, divided by the harsh topography. Again, this invites a strategy for multiple church planting start-ups in each smaller community.
These are the challenges the Knysna Hope team seek to overcome through relationship-building across our beautiful town.