When George first spoke it to the Hands at Work staff, the message was a hard one: “Hands at Work must be off ASM property within six months,” he said. “By January, 2008, we will not live on this campus any longer, we must be on the land we’ve been given.”
A hard message, when spoken on land yet completely bare of buildings. Yet George spoke with a smile, because although it will take a literal miracle to get the property ready for the staff, teams and footprints students to live and work there by January, and although the alternative—scattering the Hands at Work staff around the region—would devastate operations and momentum, he says this is a chance to forge the collective character of Hands at Work like no other.
Since the beginning in 1998, Masoyi Home-Based Care (MHBC) and Hands at Work have operated from the Africa School of Missions (ASM) property in a wonderful partnership that gave Hands facilities and housing and gave ASM students practical outreach opportunities. Last year the process of moving MHBC offices into the community began in faith; in September they will be open.
In early 2007, ASM gave Hands a dream property just across the road from ASM. The timing was divine: with operations—staff, teams, footprints—growing 65% per year, Hands was busting at the seams. But late last month a condition was added. Because ASM is also rapidly growing, the move must happen by January 2008.
The practical obstacles are significant: local government must grant subdivision; though construction is underway, there is not enough labor; funds are inadequate. Hands has never built infrastructure for itself, throwing everything instead into African projects and communities. Even with this first step, the development of other project facilities—the farm in Zambia, the Masoyi center, a clinic in DRC, a Care Centre in Mozambique—must only speed up.
Yet the excitement here is palpable. It is a new time for the staff. Leaders have committed to be the first to sleep in tents on the property if necessary. The entire staff committed to fundraising first from within itself. George calls this commitment “the crossing of our own little River Jordan”. It is a pioneering chapter of Hands at Work’s life, one requiring courage, commitment and grace to write.
The place will be called Hands at Work Village. It will be the communication center of international operations. Hands’ staff offices and homes will be there. Visiting teams will stay there. Footprints students will train, live, and be sent across Africa from there. It will clearly display a core strand of Hands at Work's DNA: a lifestyle of simplicity and an environment where God entrusts His resources to reach those who desperately need them. Visiting teams and students will experience a model of simple living there to take home and stir their own communities.
“We invite our partners and the extended Hands family to be part of the history of this new model,” said George. “Be part of shaping its character and ethos, slogging it out, and growing with us. Sow into the work; visit us; pray for us daily; share the story of breaking new ground.”
For those who would like to give to this project, here is Hands at Work's banking details:
Handsatwork – Building Project
SWIFT CODE: SBZAZAJJ