Monday, December 5, 2011

Tanika’s Story: A Backpack Full of Hope

Every 60 days, eleven-year-old Tanika Rodrigues fills her backpack with 150 copies of The Upper Room daily devotional guide and walks to school through the streets of Eldorado Park, passing graffiti, broken windows, and security fences. Once there, she shares copies with her teachers and others who hunger for words of inspiration.

An estimated 750 people in Eldorado Park, South Africa, are sustained spiritually through the daily meditations of The Upper Room because of this young girl’s mission. When Tanika was five years old, her grandmother read the devotional guide with her for the first time. Afterward, Tanika decided to give a copy to her teacher.

Soon other teachers and parents expressed interest in the daily guide, so Tanika asked her grandmother if she could have more copies to share. The staff of Africa Upper Room Ministries in Johannesburg was delighted by this young evangelist and began to provide a regular supply of devotionals for Tanika. 

In Africa, family and neighbors customarily share copies of magazines and books. At least five people read each copy that Tanika delivers. [Watch video about Tanika and share it with your networks. Visit]

Giving The Upper Room is one of Tanika’s favorite things to do. “It teaches about God and gives a prayer for the day.”

In 2002, Africa Upper Room Ministries opened an office in Johannesburg, when Roland Rink, a South African businessman, felt led to organize Upper Room programs and expand circulation of The Upper Room in his part of the world. Now Rink coordinates these efforts from within the continent and envisions a time when Africa Upper Room Ministries can sustain itself.

Today, The Upper Room is distributed in over 100 countries and in 40 languages around the world. In Africa, it is distributed in five languages: English, French, Portuguese, Kiswahili, and Zulu. Every day, millions of people are reading the same meditation and praying the same prayer.

Your prayer and financial support is valued. Please join the staff and volunteers of Africa Upper Room Ministries as they impact communities across Africa, including Eldorado Park.   

To give to Africa Upper Room Ministries, visit



The region southwest of Johannesburg is known for a high crime rate and civil unrest. Nearby Soweto was the site of the 2010 World Cup but is best known for the Soweto Uprising decades ago. On June 16, 1976, crowds of students protesting apartheid filled the streets. Police fired guns at the demonstrators and the ensuing eruption of violence killed both black and white South Africans.

Eldorado Park, a lesser-known and smaller township in the region has had struggles of its own. Throughout—and since—apartheid, Eldorado Park has had one of the highest suicide rates and drug problems in the country. Historically, Eldorado Park has been home to mixed races, those who did not easily fit in other segregated, predominantly white or predominantly black communities. One South African describes it as the “forgotten township.”

In 1994, apartheid officially ended; children like Tanika are too young to remember South Africa under an oppressive and segregationist rule. It is a new South Africa, but poor, urban communities like Eldorado Park—though free—still struggle economically and spiritually.  Their people are hungry for hope. [Visit]