Our Calling: Herman & Charissa Cloete

Serving in their homeland

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. Charissa shares her and her family's story, and the journey that has led her to fully trust and serve locally with her husband, Herman, and their two boys: Michael and David.

Herman and I were both born in South Africa and met when we attended the same church in Secunda, Mpumalanga. We got married and Herman started working for a refinery and I became a stay-at-home mum looking after our first child, Michael.

Through some friends, we got to know George and Carolyn (the co-founders of Hands at Work) and visited them whilst they were staying at the Africa School of Missions (ASM). We had discussed the possibility of doing missionary work but I wasn’t ready to fully commit. Herman shared with me the verse from Mathew 9:37, ‘Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”’ I understood what this verse was saying, but always thought my role would be to pray for the workers, rather than to necessarily be one myself. However, during my quiet time with God, I felt Him lead me to the scripture Matthew 19:21-22. ‘Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.’ I suddenly realised I felt the same as the man in this story, I didn’t want to let some things go in my life. However, God encouraged me to do this, and to fully trust Him and His plans for our future. So we decided to go for it. I now had my second son, David, who was just 3 weeks old when we came and enrolled in Bible School at ASM. After each completing 3 years of theology, we knew God was calling us to give our lives fully to be a part of Hands at Work.

Herman started his role at Hands overseeing maintenance and I started in hospitality. It has been an amazing experience to raise children in the Hands at Work community; the children have been bought up surrounded by people who care for them. People within the Hands family have been willing to buy into the boys’ lives – we haven’t been parenting alone! We were also able to visit Zambia as a family and spend time in communities there, enabling us to see another part of Africa where Hands works with the poorest of the poor. This was a great opportunity for Michael and David - as is experiencing the wealth of cultures and variety of people that we see at Hands. As a result of all this, Michael is now feeling the call on his life towards mission. He has recently returned from his first community stay where he was able to experience for himself how Hands is reaching the most vulnerable people. It is such a joy seeing our children loving God and participating in our calling.

Our roles here at Hands have developed over the years; Herman now looks after the vehicles and IT, as well as maintenance, and I am involved in financial processing, invoicing and accounts. These were not the roles that we had envisioned doing but providing this support and infrastructure to the Hands team is vital.

Being a part of Hands has given us opportunities to grow closer to God, to spend more time with him, and to really develop the spiritual side of our lives. It has had its challenges along the way, but it has been very rewarding to be able to seek God first throughout everything we do. We couldn’t imagine raising a family anywhere else. The Lord has given us so much peace about being here and volunteering for Hands. We are committed to the work that the Lord has called us to do, and are willing to do whatever it is that He asks.

Are you being called? Come.