Hands at Work holds a strong commitment to discipleship. Through discipleship, we see the development of healthy, mature leaders who have a deep understanding and dependency on Christ. A clear focus for Hands at Work is raising up African leaders – not those hired, but rather ‘raised up’ through Hands as sons and daughters. For these African leaders, Hands at Work is discipling them in four key areas:
Spiritual Walk with Christ
It is foundational for any Hands leader to have a personal, mature and growing relationship with Christ. Encouraging and aiding this is our commitment to them personally which we know will benefit the work they will do to serve the local vulnerable communities across Africa. Hands at Work gives its leaders a number of opportunities to grow in their personal relationship with Christ, including the mentorship from a senior Hands leader, the opportunity to be part of a weekly small group, being part of the regular Hands at Work prayer meetings, and through tools such as the Watchword manual and other Bible study material.
Sesinyana Mlombo (African Volunteer, South Africa) reflects on the discipleship that she has received which has helped in her spiritual walk with Christ:
“I think, firstly, that it was in my church that my spiritual relationship with Christ began to grow. When I came to Hands, my walk with Christ grew in many ways. I had people like Brenda and Craig Rebro* and Jen Waspe* who kept encouraging me in who I am and what God wants me to do. Hands at Work has allowed me to grow and learn more about Christ.”
*(International Volunteers, based in South Africa)
Developing the character of a Hands leader is directly linked to their personal growth and the impact they can have on the work they do. Hands at Work gives its African leaders the space and opportunity to grow, in an environment of acceptance and accountability. It is the desire of Hands at Work to develop leaders of humility who are faithful, committed and trustworthy.
Floyd Mdau (African Volunteer, South Africa) reflects on the way that his character has been refined and developed over his time with Hands at Work:
“Throughout my time serving with Hands at Work, Tyler Ralph (International Volunteer, Canada) has been helping me understand more about Hands. He has reminded me about the reasons why I’m here to serve and what I’m doing. It wasn’t always easy but it was good to have someone who held me be accountable and who helped me to grow spiritually.”
When international volunteers join Hands at Work, they are exposed to a cross-cultural context from the start. They live as part of a multi-cultural community; having left the culture and context they were born into. The same exposure is also needed for our growing African leaders: they need opportunities to be exposed to community living in an environment that is going to be challenging, but one that will ultimately equip them to better understand the ‘kingdom culture’ that Hands at Work desires to create. These opportunities include exposure visits, extended time spent in countries other than their country of origin, and living and working alongside other African leaders – from a variety of countries – as well as with international volunteers.
Gugu Sibanda (African Volunteer, South Africa) reflects on what it means to be a part of a community of people who have helped to shape her world view and her view of Christ:
“Since I joined Hands at Work, the person that has been helping me grow in my faith and my work life is Audrey (African Volunteer, South Africa). During our weekly team meetings when we read the bible, she helps me to understand what the bible is saying. She explains the Holy Spirit and what different things in the bible mean. She has brought clarity and a deeper understanding of the scriptures into my life.
Another person who has impacted me is George Snyman (co-founder of Hands at Work). We had a Field Coordinators workshop last March and he took time to share his story with us. With things I didn’t understand, George helped bring clarity. He has helped me to grow spiritually and has encouraged me to see things in different ways that I had previously.”
Key Skills Needed to Run an Organisation
The dream of Hands at Work has always been for the ministry to be put firmly into the Hands of local African people. Those coming around to support the work – the International volunteers and the many friends and supporters of Hands – are the ‘scaffolding’ that is used to build the structures and develop strong processes. The scaffolding can ultimately be ‘unbolted’. But it is the local African leaders who bear the privilege and responsibility for the ministry of Hands at Work to be taken and developed in future years.
Bethel Mkhabela (African Volunteer, South Africa) reflects on what it means to help bear this privilege and responsibility for the ministry of Hands at Work:
“When I first volunteered with Hands, I was serving on the maintenance team. A few years ago, I moved from the maintenance team to the Service Centre team in Hazyview (local Hands at Work office). This was a big step for me to take. On the maintenance team I knew what I was doing and I was comfortable, but when I moved to the local office it was challenging. I had to change the way I did things and was out in the communities far more often. At the Care Points in community, I am supporting mostly female Care Workers whereas when I worked on the maintenance team it was mostly males. As I work with females, I am learning a lot. The work that we do has reminded me of my childhood as I used to be one of the kids at the Care Point. It has been a blessing to help the children and the youth.”