Written by Tanya Cummings of Plentylife Church, Doreen VIC
People are always absolutely amazed when I tell them the story of how we got plane ticket’s to Africa. I’m sure you remember the story how we signed up to go to Africa on a mission trip, trusting God would provide the money for our plane tickets, but as the time neared for plane tickets to be paid for; I realized that even with the fundraising we were planning there wouldn’t be enough money for us both to go, so I told my daughter Jess I wouldn’t go. She responded saying ‘I believe we’ll both go and we won’t have to pay for the tickets”. I was unbelieving, but the next day Michelle phoned and told us that she’d won two tickets to Johannesburg and she was giving them to us! It was a miracle for us, and we knew for sure that we were meant to go to Africa. I’m very grateful!
Our time in Africa was as amazing as the miraculous provision of the plane tickets to get us there!!! We met so many amazing, loving, and inspiring people, and witnessed such poverty that I can say I will never be the same again.
In Africa we visited poverty stricken semi-rural communities around Luanshya, in Zambia. The church we went with (New Horizons church in Whittlesea, Victoria, Australia) has been in partnership with these communities since 2004. They’ve gathered enough sponsorships to begin feeding programs in each of these communities, contributed to building schools, put in wells and support local volunteer teachers and care-workers to care for the most poor, vulnerable, and orphaned children in their communities. Hands at work train people to establish and run these three essential services in poor communities when they receive 50 sponsorships for children in that community. They are doing amazing work in transforming people’s lives and giving them a hope and a future. It was great to see their work first hand.
‘Life is very hard for them’
One day we visited homes in the community with the local volunteer care workers trained through ‘Hands at work’. I visited a tiny house in which a frail grandmother and a disabled grandfather were raising their 11 orphaned grandchildren. One of them was a double orphan. She’d been left on the doorstep of this family as a baby, and then the parents in that family also died. As the care worker told us her story, the little girl (13yrs old) sat on the ground and cried. I went to sit with her in the dirt and comfort her. I cried too. The grandma didn’t want me to sit in the dirt. She wanted me to sit on a bit of plastic she dragged out of her house. This piece of plastic was their couch, and their mattress, and their blanket, and whatever else it needed to be. I was amazed at how welcome and hospitable they were to us (despite having nothing by our standards). When it was nearing time to go, we asked the grandfather if there’s anything we could do for them. He said “dig me a well”. We only had 20 minutes left and didn’t know how to dig a well so went to fetch water at the closest well instead. It was a ten-minute walk each way, which is impossible for him, and hard for the grandma and young kids. Life is very hard for them.
‘We have so much…’
Before we left, people said to us…”You need Africa more than Africa needs you”. We didn’t know what they meant. We thought Africa wouldn’t have such a big impact on us because we knew what it was like to struggle. As a single parent of three kids, a student, and a low-income earner with a mortgage, I’ve known what it’s like to be poor by Australian standards. We’ve depended on food parcels and the generosity of friends, and God’s miraculous ways of provision to get through tough times….but none of this prepared us for what it’s like to live in poverty in Africa – in places where there’s no water, no electricity, no toilets, mattresses, blankets, food, income, or ways of getting income, no government benefits, no parents, no car, no books, toys, nothing! Third world poverty has made me see that no one is poor in Australia.
We have so much in this country! I can no longer take that for granted, or ignore third world poverty. So, firstly I’m responding with humble gratitude to God for allowing me to be born in Australia and have so many good things and comforts to enjoy and appreciate it. And secondly, I’m responding with words. I’m telling everyone I can about Africa and the poor there, and the work that ‘hands at work’ is doing over there. Thirdly, I’m responding with action. I’m sponsoring a child at $20 per month and getting everyone I know who is willing to do the same. Together we can impact a whole community. I also want to take a mission team over to see these African communities for them-selves. I want all Australians to go to Africa, because I too now believe that we all need Africa, just as Africa needs us.