REFILWE COMMUNITY PROJECT FOUNDERS
In 1997, God gave me a picture of an African village on a hill. There were clusters of small homes surrounded by children, running and laughing. Mothers were sitting on the steps of these houses interacting with one another. The church was in the centre. There were schools and a skills/business development centre. I saw fields of vegetable gardens. He told me to build the village so that the orphan children will come to know Him as their Father; to create jobs for the rural communities so that they can sustain their families; and the Government will come and see why it works, and we can point them to the Cross.”
Lanseria in 1991 was an area far removed from the infrastructure of urban Johannesburg. Government services were few and far between and people living here had little hope of accessing them. God gave a vision to Jean Stewart and Yvonne Jaques to open a clinic. Initially operating out of the back of an old landrover, this clinic brought health and hope to hundreds in an age when HIV was running rampant in our land. Despite the lack of medication to truly treat this disease, the clinic fought valiantly with the resources at their command – basic medications, healthy food and prayer.”
- Tich Smith, LIV Village Founder
- Jean Stewart & Yvonne Jaques, Refilwe Founder
Tich was a South African sports star who lost it all to alcohol. Joan had recently lost her husband. Their lives were at rock bottom when grace showed up and inspired these two middle-class South Africans to move past the racial prejudices of the Apartheid era and launch a ministry together.
Tich Smith grew up in a white middle class home in Johannesburg. and went to university in Pietermaritzburg. He played rugby for Natal at the age of 19 and cricket for Natal and South Africa. He had everything anyone could wish for, but ended up in a home for alcoholics at the age of 35. Tich gave his life to Jesus in 1986 and chose to walk His way. In 1991 he met and married Joan, who had lost her first husband, and out of the ashes of their lives, God brought them together for His purposes.
Tich worked for Sanlam from 1987 – 1992. In 1992 he started Tich Smith & Associates, and TSA Administration (Pty) Ltd in 1997. His son, Greg, joined him in the business in 2001 and now runs the business.
In 2008, Tich and Joan felt the call of God to start the Lungisisa Indlela village (LIV), which would become the urgently needed residential facility, for orphaned and vulnerable children. They visited the Watoto villages in Uganda where they saw 19 years of successfully transforming broken lives. The vision was the same. They brought the model back to KwaZulu Natal.
As a very little girl Jean Steward, had a desperate desire to nurse poor, sick people. she studied nursing at Groote Schuur in Cape Town. She became a committed Christian after being introduced to the person of Jesus by Yvonne Jaques 37 years ago. It was this life changing decision that rekindled my childhood desire to become involved with the poor of our country and start a community project; as the bible directs, to feed the poor and heal the sick. Yvonne supported me fully in this dream, as she too, had always wanted to be involved with the upliftment of the poor in our country.
Yvonne studied BSC degree at Cape Town University and became a teacher. She also went to Bible School, married Claude and I met her in Jhb. where they were pastored a church, and where I became a member. This was the beginning of our deep friendship and partnership in starting up the community work at Refilwe. Our aim was to help each other , help others!
We honestly experienced supernatural provision from God and witnessed many amazing healing and saw peoples lives change before our eyes. Today, Refilwe and LIV Durban merged, and the founders are overwhelmed that the Lord has given them the promise of growth and continuation into the future, with such a similar, faith-based project, such as LIV.
We are convinced that the church is the answer and has the resources and skills to make the difference. No longer can we sit in our church buildings and not hear the cry of the Father’s Heart for the fatherless. We are the church. We have the Father Heart of God within us. Together, in partnership with business and government, we can do it.”
Early on in our ministry, God gave me a vision of his hands surrounding the people in our little clinic as we tended them. We have always believed in working out the calling of God in our area.”