My Calling: Melissa Warren

From Australia to Africa

At Hands at Work, our volunteers are called by God from all over the world to serve the most vulnerable in Africa. Each of us has a unique story of how we were transformed when we stepped out in faith and were obedient to His call.

Melissa (Mel) Warren is from Australia and currently supports our local leaders in Zambia at Kachele Village.

Six years ago I was visiting Hillsong Church in Sydney. For that one night, the pastor of Hillsong Cape Town (South Africa) was speaking. He shared on Africa and God spoke through that message to me. The words impressed on my heart were “care for children who don’t have anyone to care for them”. Since I was 14 or 15 I had been serving in kids ministry at church. Suddenly, Africa had captured my heart and I carried a burden for those children in Africa with no one to care for them. I knew my calling was to serve the most vulnerable, but I had no idea what that meant.

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At the time I knew one African who I was working with, so I asked him about Africa. He told me about Hands at Work, an organisation he was involved with. Everything I heard resonated with me: the local community ownership model, sustainable vision, investing in the lives of the most vulnerable. Twelve months later, I went to a church event to hear more about Hands at Work. Stories of children in Africa were told and my heart broke – I was in tears. I knew I had to come to see for myself. At the time, I was not motivated enough to come for a long period of time; I was not ready to give up my job and save money and do whatever it took to get to Africa. So I came to South Africa for two weeks in September 2011.

When I arrived in Africa, when I saw, it was more than I expected. I immediately could see how God had been preparing me all my life to come and serve in Africa. At the end of my two weeks my heart was set on coming back, and in February 2013, I returned to Hands as a long term volunteer.

Serving with Hands at Work, I realise that my whole perspective on life has changed. I came with a mentality that I was going to fix Africa, but it’s Africa that has fixed me. I came to give, but I have received and been blessed so much more than I’ve given. I have been challenged so much in my faith and my concept of how to live a servant life and to model Christ – to live daily, depending on Him more than I ever would have in my life previously. Life is so comfortable in the western world. I loved God and committed my life to Him there, but there was not the necessity to depend on Him to the extent that there is for me here. As a family, we pray before and after every meeting – because we know we cannot do this work without Him. I have developed a deeper dependence on God, one that I didn’t have in my life before, and I never want to lose that!

Are you being called?

Learn more about volunteering with Hands at Work: www.handsatwork.org/come