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🚨 URGENT: Mere Orthodoxy Needs YOUR Help

New One

March 15th, 2024 | 6 min read

By Christina Stanton

At age 14, One Mokgatle lost his father—the rock of his family—to heart failure. Young One wasn’t a Christian, and his father’s death drew him even further away from any desire to explore Christianity or any faith system. “I couldn’t understand why God would allow this to happen,” One recalls. But through God’s saving grace, One would soon begin a journey that would lead to pastoring a church plant, and then ultimately leading the Acts 29 movement all over Africa.

In spite of his sorrow and lack of spiritual comfort as a teen, One managed to stay on-task with his studies at an elite, diverse boarding school in Pretoria, South Africa, which he had begun attending the year before his father’s passing. The school, where English was spoken, provided a venue for One to excel. He was a classic overachiever: school prefect, a first-team rugby player, a competitive swimmer, and an academic success.

With such a history, it came as a surprise to One that his boarding school experience was not repeated when he started the bachelor of commerce in law program at the prestigious University of Pretoria. Expecting to achieve at his studies with little effort, the popular and driven student failed all his courses and was kicked out of his residency. Although he was graciously given one more chance to redeem himself at school, lingering grief from his dad’s death and the failure in his first year at university left him tormented by a desire for more reason and purpose. During this pivotal time, God had his hand on One Mokgatle.

One found himself invited to a Bible study, and he went. “I ended up hearing the gospel communicated clearly for the first time,” he says, discovering that Jesus was the only way. When the study ended, rather than go to his own room, he made his way directly to the corridor of someone he knew was a Christian, entered his room unannounced, and demanded, “I want to become a Christian. How do I do that?” His startled friend handed One his Bible, and told One to read the book of Romans. He searched for Romans and began reading straight through until he arrived at Chapter 10 verse 9: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” “I confessed and believed and became a Christian that night,” One states.

To develop his newfound devotion, One spent intentional time with Lerato Moselane, a senior student and devoted Christian he had met in his first year. Lerato became the first to disciple One, and together they would pray in his room with other students. “I would just watch them while they prayed. They would talk to the air; I didn’t know who they were talking to!” says One, laughing at the memory.  

One believes that his commitment to ministry was divinely guided. En route to visiting his family in Botswana while at the university, One and Lerato stopped at a friend’s home. The friend, Cory Thompson, asked One if I wanted to go to a Christian camp that was starting the next day. “The cost was the exact amount of money as the ticket back home, which I took as a sign,” One remembers. “I went, and that camp got me plugged into church, its community, and ministry at Campus Outreach. As a result, I became a leader with the campus ministry, ultimately serving as a staff member from 2008 to 2011 after I graduated.” The organization gave One a chance to not only become acquainted with ministry, but it also introduced him to his wife, Confidence, a student leader with Campus Outreach.

In his final year with the organization, it conducted a joint conference with Redeemer City to City (CTC) and Acts 29. There, One met pastors Johan Verster and Tobie Meyer of Ligpunt Church. Impressed by One, the pastors told him they believed God might be calling him to plant a church, and they invited him to be an apprentice for this purpose. One declined their offer, but the seed had been planted.

Although One left Campus Outreach for a corporate job with an economic development company after 2011, he continued his personal involvement in church as a lay leader. Pastors Johan and Tobie continued to encourage One to consider a pastoral apprenticeship with Ligpunt. In order to plant a church he would need to serve there for two years. For a Black apprentice, the white Afrikaans church was both outside of his cultural context, and outside of the social norm. However, the more One prayed for God’s leading, the more he felt called to become a pastor.

Once he accepted the opportunity, it became clear to One that the Ligpunt training provided a venue in which to broaden his perspective as a pastor, and it was exactly what God wanted him to do. In 2013 a Redeemer City to City (CTC) director whom One had met during the joint conference invited him to that group’s intensive church planting training in New York City. With the support of Ligpunt, One and Confidence spent five weeks training in how to successfully plant a church in South Africa at CTC, a church planting/network organization that was launched through Tim Keller’s ministry at Redeemer. “The intensives were incredible—I learned so much and met some incredible, influential people whom I admired, including and especially Tim Keller. What struck me the most over the years was his Christlikeness in choosing his words wisely. If you’re secure in your identity in Christ you don’t have to respond to what others will say about you or against you. This was an important lesson for me to learn.”

In 2015 One’s training was complete, and the Rooted Fellowship Church in Pretoria was planted. As One describes it, the church’s three goals were to offer a church 1) that reflected Pretoria’s demographics and culture, 2) where non-Christians would feel welcome, and 3) where believers would be challenged and equipped to be on mission in their everyday life. “God gave us a vision of a gospel-centered, disciple-making transcultural church,” One explains.

As a church that intended to see people of all colors gather, some property managers balked at providing Rooted Fellowship with a permanent venue. At first the new congregation met at Ligpunt on Sunday evenings. “Race was indeed an issue when we were conducting the search. Landlords worried that there would be too much traffic in the area and issues would arise. But fortunately, we finally secured a great space,” says One. New Hope School is where the church meets to this day. “It’s a perfect space for the congregation of approximately 250 per Sunday. In the past eight years about 1,500 have come through our doors, and our signature is in our diversity. We are, in fact, reflecting our area in the way we originally hoped and prayed,” One states.

As a church planter himself, One’s relationship with Acts 29 coalesced from Rooted’s inception. “I wanted oversight and accountability as a pastor,” One explains, “and Acts 29 has a wonderful vision. Its greatest strength is its desire to see church plants led by Indigenous leaders wherever it finds itself. It has no denominational or cultural allegiance, which is what Rooted has been trying to do all along as well.”

Not long into Rooted’s partnership with Acts 29, Ross Lester, South Africa’s Acts 29 leader, confided in One that he desired a Black man to lead the country’s Acts 29 territory. Lester formed a plan where he would develop and transition the role into One’s leadership slowly. “However,” One says, “Lester got called to join a church in Texas, which meant I had to take the reins sooner than we’d planned.” In 2018 One became the Acts 29 Southern Africa director and transitioned to the role of Africa’s regional director in September 2022.

One recognizes that healing the historic trauma experienced by so many is just one of the multitude of challenges that come with service as the head of the organization’s Africa region. “The continent of Africa is 54 countries with six time zones and more than 3,000 ethnicities . . . that diversity bleeds into theological diversity, so there is tremendous complexity in leading movements on this continent. While we can all hold to the essentials of the gospel, there are different practical implications of how it’s worked out in each culture. As well as it possibly can, Acts 29 is addressing the diversity. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t be a part of it!”

One’s vision for Acts 29 is to expand its reliance on local leaders taking charge of local church planting initiatives. “I would love to have a significant impact on the continent and beyond,” he says. As for his personal vision, he states, “My wife and I want to leave a legacy that will have a ripple effect beyond our names for Christ. We’re not perfect; we’re far from it. But it’s all worth investing our lives to see the name of Christ glorified in our lives, in our home, in our church and in Africa. It’s truly a privilege to strategically serve the continent I love with and through Acts 29.”

Christina Stanton

Christina Stanton is the author of the award-winning book, "Out of the Shadow of 9-11: An Inspiring Tale of Escape and Transformation," which has been featured on TV channels and in top publications all over the world. Learn more about her work at