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Meet the ‘Gang Pastor’ Behind Cape Town’s Viral Coronavirus Cooperation

South Africa Gang Pastor
Courtesy of Andie Steele-Smith

This article was first published at Christianity Today, on May 21, 2020.

Somehow, an Australian-born investment banker in England went to South Africa and got mixed up with the “Americans.” The gang, that is, in one of Cape Town’s most dangerous shantytowns.

And with them, the Hard Livings and Clever Kidz.

Called by God into a life far from his Christian but comfortable existence, Andie Steele-Smith has recently won international acclaim as the “gang pastor” crossing rival lines. Serving the last five years in 2018’s second-highest homicide city, he has led murderers and drug lords to cooperate amid the coronavirus pandemic as a new distribution network for soap and emergency food delivery.

In addition to endemic crime, Cape Town counts 10 percent of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in all of Africa, and 60 percent of South Africa’s cases.

With both mass media and the masses desperate for good news amid the pandemic, his story has been told by the Associated Press, the BBC, CBS News, and even earned a quip (at the 12:30 mark) on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, himself a South African from Johannesburg.

CT spoke with Steele-Smith, who attends Hillsong’s Cape Town campus, about his calling, the spiritual impact of his ministry, and whether “15 minutes of fame” makes the situation better or worse:

You started out as a successful investment banker. How did you end up in South Africa?

I grew up in a strong Christian home and church, but until I was about 40 years old, my life was all about building my own empire.

Around 12 years ago, I visited San Diego to buy a coffee company. Invited to what I thought was a megachurch, little did I know…

Please click here to read the full article at Christianity Today.

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