NewLIFE was established by Pastor Gene King in the early 1980s, in Raisethorpe, Pietermaritzburg. The small but passionate fellowship of people moved to various venues including tiny shops, ill-equipped school classrooms and abandoned church buildings, in its first few pioneering years. Pastor Jay and Kumarie Naiker joined the fellowship in 1993 and assumed leadership when Ps King left for Dalton. In 1997, Pastor Daniel and Caroline Govender joined the fellowship, which at that stage was in a classroom at Suncrest Primary School.
Over the next few years Pastors Jay and Daniel strategized to establish NewLIFE so that the original vision of the church – reaching and training people – was firmly realized, and so that property could be acquired. Between 1997 and 1999 NewLIFE relocated to a shop in Allandale Drive, and then to a large commercial warehouse at Bayson’s Industrial Park, in Birmingham Rd. These were radical steps of faith in God, as the congregation was not only small but comprised, largely of young and newly married couples with toddlers.
In January 1998, NewLIFE established an independent Christian registered day school at its Birmingham Rd rented facility, called Christian Life Academy. We were blessed by a group of generous donors who supported both the church and school as we served the community with Christian education. In 2005 we handed the school over to Tabitha Ministries – a partner ministry in Pietermaritzburg, that served a disadvantaged community.
Our team of young, visionary elders and leaders prayed earnestly for God to open doors for property and in September 1999 we moved into 37 Veerappa Rd, Northdale. One of our business leaders found this dilapidated residential property, alongside a shebeen (illegal bar) and brothel, and negotiated a price for us to purchase. As leaders concerned about the morally destitute community, we found this location perfect for the preaching of the gospel and Christian education. Without any money or a bank balance, we took the bold step and purchased the property. After renovating and extending the building (with the church men and women) we celebrated our move of both the church and Christian school into our own building, in September 1999. Our celebrations were short lived as we soon ran out of space with the growing church and school congregation, and as destitute people walked in, off the street, for spiritual and physical help.
In 2001, Pastor Jay and Kumarie emigrated to New Zealand with their young family and Pastor Daniel took over the visionary leadership of NewLIFE.
Through a combination, of what can only be described as miracles, we signed a lease agreement with the church of the Nazarene for the use of their empty, vandalized and dilapidated church building, about 200 metres from our Veerappa Rd building, on the corner of Veerappa and Jewerlal Roads, in December 2001. The work created was huge and we needed to activate our radical faith to realise the dream of getting a bigger building, but also the vision of purchasing this property. We moved into this leased building in January 2002 and took territorial ownership, as the spiritual authority, over this vile corner spot in Northdale. The property had no fence, windows were broken, and the basement was water-logged, to name but a few of the challenges, and behind us we had an open field and a rapidly developing informal settlement.
From 2001 to 2005 we worked extensively in the Site 11 informal settlement especially in assisting pre-school children with schooling and speaking English.
During our 2001 to 2009 growth curve, wewere tested with major spiritual and physical warfare. We endured a number of burglaries and physical attacks, but God always saw us through. Our equipment was always replaced, and our security became stronger and stronger, and we were developing very positive relations with the community. However, one of our biggest challenges was space. The church of the Nazarene building was 109 square metres, and the basement toilets and makeshift kitchen was in ruins. Our congregation was growing, but more than physical growth we were now exercising our vision for multiple departments and programs for teaching and training of the gospel message. Our young eldership implored the church of the Nazarene to sell their property on many occasions, and eventually through a miraculous intervention the Nazarene leadership agreed to sell in 2009.
On 28 February 2010, we were the proud owners of a property in Northdale, zoned as a religious site – 14 Jewerlal Rd. The finances for purchasing the property came in the very last minute as God stirred the hearts of people to give. We could pay for the property without accessing any credit or commercial loans. The congregation was ecstatic, and we knew God had placed us on this corner for strategic community transformation. In 2011 we drew up plans to extend the buildings and in October 2011 building operations started, under the direction of our governance elder, Anand Naidoo, who at that stage held a full-time job. For the next 23 months God supernaturally provided financial and human resources so that the structure could go up. Anand, who is highly employable and skilled, was surprisingly retrenched for 12 months during this building period – he endured a whole year with no financial income. He devoted his time, skill and resources for the entire building period on the property and by physically doing the work with the labourers. The greatest miracle was, he was not a trained builder and was learning on the job and did not receive any salary or honorarium from the church. God’s provision over his life and family is another testimony to supernatural provision.
In September 2013 we moved into our brand-new incomplete hall with great joy. It was uncarpeted, toilets incomplete, kitchen incomplete, offices incomplete, parking a mess, but we had great rejoicing as we recognized this as the handiwork of God. In the same month we launched The Leadership Academy as a post-school teaching and learning empowerment centre. We started our first class of 11 enthusiastic students on the SATS Crossroads program.
From 2013 to date our congregation has grown in spiritual stature and we have positioned ourselves as a spiritual and educational resource centre for the greater Body of Christ so that the Kingdom of God can expand in this earth.
To God be the glory for Kingdom expansion!