Adam Bedford, Missions Pastor from Westside Kings Church in Calgary, and previous Hands at Work volunteer, shares about the impact that sending teams to Africa has not only on the individuals themselves, but on their communities back home.
When teams visit the communities in Africa, they are deeply challenged by walking with the Care Workers and seeing the sacrificial way that they give their time and lives to their communities. Holy Home Visits have a way of shaking the complacency and apathy that stunts individual growth and inhibits our impact as followers of Jesus. That kind of a challenge always happens through relationship. The teams that come to visit the communities in Africa are captivated by the relationships that they build with children, grandmothers and Care Workers. Teams are prepared in advance that interacting through language barriers and cultural differences can be challenging and awkward, but when we allow ourselves to let God work through that encounter, we are enriched. The stories that teams encounter in the children, grandmothers and communities challenge their worldview and ultimately reshape how they understand the call of the Gospel in their own lives. They realise that we often misconceive poverty in solely materialistic terms. This is a way of viewing the developing world through the eyes of a wealthy Westerner. By visiting the communities that Hands at Work partners with, and walking with the Care Workers, our teams and volunteers often return challenged to reshape how they think about poverty and wealth.
At Westside King’s Church in Calgary, we believe that it is important when teams return home to create a culture of storytelling – to let the team’s experience organically feed into the life of the church. This should be a practice of any church community receiving teams back from Africa. We promote team blogs and utilise the team in leading fundraising and promotional initiatives through which they get to share of their own experiences. The difficultly in teams returning home and sharing their stories is that they cannot bring someone into the experience of Holy Home Visits. They have to walk into that home and meet that child or grandmother for themselves. Typically, our teams in time grow disenchanted that they can’t express or explain to people the depth of their experience. The deeper impact is when we challenge our teams to hold to the story they’ve been changed by, to stay committed and intentional in how they continue to live out the change they’ve encountered in their own lives. In time they become a witness to how God changed their lives through the names and stories of those they met in Africa.
Are you being called? We invite you to COME participate in God’s transforming work in Africa.