Download Audio File: Letters from Africa Spring 2014
or read letter below:
Dear friends and family of the Hands at Work community:
The first quarter of 2014 could not have been more diverse and with more surprises than it was for me. Meeting with our African leaders in January was nothing short of inspiration. Added to this was our new Watch Word for 2014 from Revelations 3:8 where Our Father promised us open doors for this year in spite of knowing our weaknesses. Our international volunteers, after a break in December, returned back to Africa full of energy and zeal. A number of our families were blessed with new life and I watched my son Joshua getting married to the girl of his dreams. But of course, with this some curve balls also came our way. Things we hoped for didn't materialise, people disappointed us, and many times we didn't do the very things that we hoped to do.
Exactly a year ago, I met with some key Hands at Work leaders and we wrestled with a question: Which Jesus do you know and how does that influence your life on a daily basis? It took us to Isaiah 61. The scripture Jesus read when He told the people His life mission. He made clear that He came to heal the brokenhearted and to comfort those who mourn. It was deeply personal for Him and He knew each one of us by name. Now friends, that’s what I call good news. Someone came at His own expense to my rescue. In fact, He chose to give up everything. All of His rights, His status. And those close to Him agreed with Him and they agreed to pay the price with Him. A perfect community saw chaos and pain and they decided to reach out because they were so committed to love. When we as leaders again carefully considered this, it truly inspired us to dig deeper. Not only in communicating this good news to the most vulnerable in Africa, but to actually reveal it, by acting it out on a day to day basis. We call it the domino effect. We visit others because He visited us first. We decided to use the same method to reach out to others as Jesus used to reach out to us. To have beautiful feet and to go to the broken communities to bring healing and comfort. We had no official training or manual but we had a burning message of love in our hearts. Our first target? Those amazing women who tirelessly care, often without any means at all, for the children who lost their parents, and with that, all hope of a future. We decided to call it the Maranatha workshop, which means 'Come Lord, Come'. Although we firmly believed in a message, we were not ready for what took place when we hesitantly started the first workshop.
We were only a small team when we moved into the first community for the week, where we stayed with the Care Workers in the community. Our first topic that Monday morning was ‘Do you know the Jesus I know? The one who came to heal you and the one who knows your name?’ The response was overwhelming. And for the first time many of our Care Workers heard of the heart of Our Father and the compassion He has for each one of us. As the week continued we discovered the level of pain and brokenness in these precious women. Many with tears shared for the first time in public of the abuse, rape, bitterness and unforgiveness in their lives. We sat for hours watching and listening as the Holy Spirit moved in their lives. It became so clear to us that healing to them means healing to our children. We made a commitment to do this in every one of our communities, in all eight of our countries. And friends, as we continued to pursue this we looked at the results and realised that this is going to have a defining impact in the quality of care.
Of course this is only the beginning. In August key leaders will meet to evaluate the impact and all the lessons we learnt. During this time we will also agree on the way forward: how to take this to the next level of care. We are, for example, really very aware of how desperate a need there is for this workshop, in some form, to be presented to the grandmothers who are also caring for so many grandchildren after they lost their own children.
You, as a friend that supported the Hands Family, you are in the trenches with us, in doing this work. We saw how Our Father loves it when someone goes and brings the good news to those without hope and without love. But we also saw His commitment to those who support those going, as He did Himself support His son when He went. Right now, for you, life might be in a good place. Or maybe you are facing some curve balls at the moment. But I want you to know that you are also known by name, you are also passionately loved by the same Father who's got such a huge heart for the orphans. Today you must know that you are part of something amazing, you might go to work today, you might look after children, you might have to do something that’s tough for you but back in Africa there is something happening, there is something amazing happening to the broken, and you are part of that. I want you to continue with us in this, you are part of this beautiful news that someone saw pain and He went, someone came to visit us first.
Thank you for walking with us.
Blessings out of Africa.