Editor’s note: To help fund churches like this worldwide, give now to support the mission of Acts 29.

My childhood was filled with violence. I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, in an area riddled with gang activity, drug use, and domestic violence. Many of my family members were involved with gangs, and my father was a violent person. I spent most of my time as a young boy looking for a way out of this lifestyle—I knew I didn’t want to become like the men in my family. 

When I was 13, I started attending a local church and experienced a new type of family. The people loved me as their own and welcomed me with open arms. I was spiritually hungry and devoured the teaching I found in this church. I read books and, even at a young age, tried to preach just as the preachers did. They recognized my zeal and although I had no formal biblical training, they eventually gave me the opportunity to start preaching. 

The Question That Changed My Life

I was young and new to the faith, so I believed nearly everything I was taught in that local church. It wasn’t until later in my life that I’d gone through a crisis—something that tested my faith in difficult ways—and I realized the message I’d been preaching was one rooted in false prosperity rather than the gospel of Jesus. 

When you’re preaching about good things that people want to hear, you draw a lot of attention to yourself. I started thinking about how much I enjoyed the attention and wondered how this fit with my Christian life. Was I preaching for my own glory or the glory of God? I had a hard time answering this question. One night, I opened Google and searched, “What is the real gospel?” The answer I found in response was eye-opening. It was the first time I was introduced to reformed theology. This is when everything changed for me. Was I preaching for my own glory or the glory of God? I had a hard time answering this question. Click To Tweet

The prosperity-based gospel message I had been taught to preach didn’t stand up to my newfound reformed doctrine. 

Training Pastors in Hard Places

After this, I spent a lot of time studying the Bible and learning from other reformed pastors. My brother and I planted Reformed Community Church in Cape Town, South Africa. Our context is challenging, and we’re often mediating between gangs, trying to reduce violence in our community while pointing them to Christ.  Our context is challenging, and we're often mediating between gangs, trying to reduce violence in our community while pointing them to Christ. Click To Tweet

When I discovered Acts 29 and Church in Hard Places—an initiative prioritizing church planting in the world’s most difficult places—we knew this was the perfect fit for us. I was one of the first to complete an apprenticeship with Church in Hard Places, and it made a huge impact on our church.

We grew in depth of knowledge, and we also grew in size. The robust theological training not only helps me lead our church better but enables me to train other pastors in our area. There is a lack of solid, biblical resources for many who serve in hard places. It is my joy and mission to bridge this gap, so that others may know the beauty of the true gospel of Jesus and plant healthy churches around the world. 

Mario Maneville
Written by: Mario Maneville on November 7, 2022

Mario Maneville is the teaching pastor of Reformed Faith Mission Community Church, an Acts 29 church in Cape Town, South Africa. Mario serves on the leadership of HeartCry Missionary Society in Southern Africa and also serves as the Southern African cohort leader for Church in Hard Places. He desires to see healthy, gospel-driven churches planted in poor communities throughout the schemes and townships of the Western Cape and Southern Africa. Mario is married to his darling wife, Charlene, and together they parent five beautiful children.