A Christmas Message – Rachel McLaughlin

Written by Rachel McLaughlin, National Coordinator of Hands at Work in Africa (Australia)

Life changes... Sometimes there are those moments in life when many things in our lives just change and we realise that things will never be the same.

Imagine what it would have been like for Mary when the angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her she would give birth to a baby boy, the Son of the Most High whom she was to call Jesus.

This was a huge life change for Mary, and it makes you wonder what was going through her mind after hearing all the angel told her. I can imagine she would have felt excited, probably confused and nervous, and at times fearful, but her response as seen in Luke 1:38 was, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Instead of giving in to fear, she had the courage to embrace and accept whatever it was the Lord had for her.

For many, the most significant life change comes about when Jesus bursts into our lives, when we come to understand the reason why God’s Son, Jesus, came to earth as a baby. For many of our short-term team members, a life change happened as they walked the Hands at Work communities, coming to know the orphaned and vulnerable children and their amazing volunteer Care Workers by name. As their stories unfold, many hear the voice of Jesus speaking into their hearts in love.

Hearing from someone who has returned from visiting Hands at Work can draw us towards change as we begin to catch a glimpse God’s heart for the poor. Understanding God’s heart forces us to wrestle with our heart: How we are going to respond to what we have seen and heard? How can we make a difference to these children and Care Workers?

These are important questions, so I encourage you to continue wrestling. I have found that you can make a difference and change the lives of these children “one child at a time”. For our supporters, I can vouch that you do make a difference, as you sponsor, and as you advocate for the children and be a voice for the voiceless, speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves. Galatians 2:10 – “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

For those who have given generously this year, you should know that you have played your own part in a ‘life-change’: for a child, for a Care Worker, and for a community. You have been such a blessing and an encouragement to me and to the Hands at Work Australia Team. We deeply appreciate you! "A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor." - Proverbs 22:9

Thank-you to the businesses who have generously supported Hands at Work this year.

Thank-you to the children who have raised awareness and funds for other children who are in need, icing cakes and organising gold coin donations at their school.

Thank-you to our partner churches and groups for continuing to step out in faith to care for the community you partner with Hands at Work in Australia with. Thank-you for the fundraisers that you have organised this year.

Thank-you to those advocating on behalf of the children with your churches, friendship and other groups.

Thank-you to those on short-term teams who have visited Hands at Work in Africa this year and brought hope and encouragement to the children and Care Workers as well as to Hands at Work in Africa. We look forward to the teams visiting Hands in 2017. Why not consider joining one of these teams or organising a group to go?

Thank-you one and all, we are together!

All of the volunteers at Hands at Work in Africa (Australia) wish you and your family a very Blessed Christmas as you remember the reason for Mary’s life-change, and the whole world’s – Jesus!

Rachel McLaughlin