Members of Victory Outreach South Africa gathered in Bonteheuwel on Thursday March 1 in memory of one of its missionaries, Berlyn Arnold, who was killed in the area last month.
It is alleged Mr Arnold greeted and hugged a woman friend, whose boyfriend became jealous and stabbed him in the chest on Friday February 9.
Mr Arnold was working for Victory Outreach in Johannesburg, and was visiting his family while on holiday, when the incident happened.
Victory Outreach is an international Christian-based organisation with recovery homes and churches across South Africa.
All its South African and even some international members were in Cape Town for a conference last week, and it was decided to march through the area, in response to Mr Arnold’s murder.
Some of the members also gathered at the spot where Mr Arnold was killed to say a prayer.
Thereafter hundreds of them gathered in the area’s CBD, to share testimonies and have an open air praise and worship session.
Pastor Nathan Asher said because members of the recovery homes were all in Cape Town, it was decided to “retaliate” against Mr Arnold’s death “in a positive way”.
The members are all either former drug addicts, or were involved with gangsterism or prostitution.
“The message we wanted to send out today was that current gang members or drug addicts do not have to live this way. There is hope, although it seems like the community grew up without hope. Gang violence takes place so frequently that it has become the norm, but it does not have to be this way. Only Jesus can bring this change. Our nine-month recovery programme is free, and it has radically changed thousands of lives and people encountered Jesus.
“Victory Outreach International is more than 50 years old, and it has been in South Africa for the past 12 years. We have seen changes not just in the individual, but also their families. Money cannot buy this – to be able to see families restored,” Mr Asher said.
A relative of Mr Arnold’s, who wished not to be named, said he was a vibrant, humble and loyal person.
“He always helped people. He would give his last money away. His death came as a big shock to our family. We thought we would have more time with him, especially since he was a missionary. It’s said that a sincere hug caused his death. That was who he was – whenever he saw someone, he would hug them.”
Pastor James Brady, from America, said his pastor had come to sow the seed of Victory Outreach in South Africa.
“My pastor saw the need, because of the amount of drug addicts and the level of gangsterism in the community. Our ministry focuses on that in America and across the world. We specialise in recovery centres, and these are free-of-charge. I just came here to start the first centre, and then three months later I came back to open a church. We now have seven churches in South Africa. The families of drug addicts suffer just as much – mothers are at home sick, and the crime rate is high. Nobody was bringing any moral solutions.
“I myself come from a drug background. I was addicted to cocaine for eight years. I come from a broken family, and can relate to the challenges. This is not a Cape Town problem, it is a worldwide problem. We’ve been there and understand. When people come to our church, it’s not just church, but we belong to a family,” Mr Brady said.