When Iain and Martin touched down on African soil in February 2013, it was to be the start of something special for them personally, and for their church back in the UK. Long term volunteers, Dan and Jen Waspe invited Iain and Martin to come and see for themselves what is happening through Hands at Work in Africa. Iain is the pastor, and Martin a church member from Dan’s childhood church, Battisford Free Church. Iain and Martin were keen to find out more about what Hands at Work is doing in Africa and to explore how they could be part of God’s story of transformation in a broken community. They wanted to challenge their church in the UK, to give sacrificially to more than just an organisation; they wanted to have a personal connection to their giving. Iain and Martin could see the privilege of their church becoming true partners with Hands at Work.
In the 2 weeks that Iain and Martin spent in South Africa, they were exposed to true brokenness and suffering. They saw for themselves just how devastated many communities are and how the orphan crisis continues to sweep across Africa. They saw vulnerability in its most severe form. Iain and Martin also experienced the beauty, vibrancy, richness and joy of Africa. They served alongside both local African people and volunteers from Hands at Work. They became part of the Hands family.
One community that Iain and Martin spent time in is Share, in Bushbuck Ridge. Share is a small, secluded and extremely poor village. Many of its inhabitants are refugees from Mozambique with no South African identification, making it difficult to gain employment and apply for grants in South Africa. Due to the isolation and lack of employment in the community, many of the men are forced to work in the mines in Johannesburg. Alcohol abuse is commonplace for those that choose to stay. A group of 20 local Care Workers, from the local churches in Share have united with the dream to bring hope, healing and life to the vulnerable children of Share. Iain and Martin had the privilege of walking with these ladies, hearing their stories, sharing in their daily work and hearing their dreams for their community. It was Share, this small village in rural South Africa, that Iain and Martin knew was the perfect partnership for their church. Shares in Share!
On returning to the UK, Iain and Martin shared stories of South Africa with their church congregation. They spoke of the children they had met, the places they had visited and the Care Workers who had impacted them. They also challenged their church to have an active, long term partnership through Hands at Work. Iain and Martin knew that a partnership would not just support the community of Share – it would impact the entire church too.
Iain encouraged the church with an idea to buy ‘Shares in Share’: individuals, couples or families could ‘buy’ a share in the community of Share. Each £15 ‘share’ would ensure children access to food, education and basic health care, per month. Funds raised also will also go to support Dan and Jen Waspe in their service. It was with tremendous excitement that Iain reported that Battisford Free Church has now taken up 20 ‘shares in Share’. 20 children, in the vulnerable community of Share will now benefit because of the sacrificial giving of a church in the UK.
It started with an invitation to come, it progressed with a challenge to advocate, and it continues with a commitement to give.