Cat Levine never thought she would end up in Africa. To be honest, it wasn’t even on her radar. That changed one day when George Snyman, co-founder of Hands at Work in Africa, spoke at The Bridge Church in Venice, Florida. Cat wasn’t at church that Sunday, but over the next week, people from church asked her if she was going to go to Africa and see what Hands at Work is doing. When she finally saw the church bulletin and heard the recording of George’s message, she was challenged by three words: “Are you willing?” Cat says that was the first time in her life she truly felt called to do something.
In February 2017, representatives from Ten Talents Foundation, Nurses for Africa and Hands at Work in Africa gathered for a weekend retreat in St. Louis, Missouri. The retreat agenda included opportunities for members of the three partner groups to build relationships; reach a clearer understanding of each other's missions; agree on their respective roles in preparing, hosting, debriefing and welcoming back NFA teams; and review practical steps and best practices to advance their individual and collective goals.
Hands at Work Youth started with the three eldest daughters of families all involved in Hands at Work. As all three of us have been to Africa before, we have seen the way that youth can be impacted by Africa. We created Hands at Work Youth in hopes to encourage youth to focus their lives and actions on God's work in Africa. We hope to share about the stories and needs in Africa to the youth and their families in our own communities. Not only would Hands at Work Youth help send the teams there, but also become a support for when teams come back and face the sometimes difficult adjustments to their homes.
The Link for Life Penkridge Team consists of six students from a local High School (Maisie, Daisy, Libby, Sophie, Sam and Alex) and five leaders; their teacher (Michael), a driver (Mike), a church leader (Liz), a young leader (Joe) and me (Rose).
In June 2016, my family and I were able to visit my sister-in-law, Michelle, who is serving as a long-term volunteer in Zambia. We got the opportunity to see first hand what Hands at Work is doing in several communities in Zambia and in South Africa. After coming back, we shared our experience with our church family, Christ Church in San Francisco. The Lord laid it upon my heart to find a way to continue to connect our church to Hands at Work and for us to be engaged in giving with thanksgiving.
My story is actually a big cliche in many ways. My family moved to southern California from Korea when I was 8 years old, with typical immigrant aspirations of working hard to fulfill an American dream. We didn't have much, and we hit a big speed bump a year into our move when my younger brother got hit by a car on our way to school. I witnessed the accident, which now is a distant blur, but for many years caused me much anxiety .
Throughout these early and difficult years, my mother served as the rock. Her unwavering faith, and insistence on the rest of us actively being involved with church, in hindsight held us together. During my high school years, I served on the praise team at our church, and continued on in early college years through involvement with campus ministry.
But as I entered my 20's, difficult questions arose in my mind. Do I really believe in God, and if so, why? Was it merely an emotional byproduct of the naivete of my youth and difficult circumstances? And the most troublesome question: was I using the notion of a higher power as a crutch to compensate for my weaknesses (and by extension, does religion draw from the weak and the failed, which I certainly did not want to be associated with)?
We drove to the care point to meet over 70 children for camp. It was a cool morning, but you wouldn't know with so much energy and life in one place. The children sat according to their assigned color teams, eager to start the day, giggling together. I was greeting my team, the green team, when I found Charles*. He was a small, shy boy. "How are you?" I asked. I could barely hear him say “good”. I touched his face as I spoke to him. "Smile" I asked, but he would not.
When Michelle Tom first traveled to Africa in May 2013 for a short mission’s trip to Malawi, she hoped to respond to the Biblical calling to serve the most vulnerable, but was overwhelmed by the love for God she witnessed in the most desolate African villages, and the community she observed among the people she met which was also warmly extended to her and her teammates.
In May, five of us had the opportunity to travel from the US to South Africa, joining other volunteers from Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom for International Office Celebrations. It was a chance for us to be together in person, with each other and with the volunteers in South Africa. We met new faces, sat through several sessions and learned a lot from each other.
Over a month has passed since the International Office (IO) Gathering at the Hands Village, which brought over a dozen Hands management team volunteers from around the world to South Africa. While the busyness of life here in the U.S. eagerly engulfed me upon my return, I still find myself pausing occasionally to reflect on the experience...
Roger experienced his first Holy Home Visits in Zimba, Zambia in July 2014. As part of a short-term team with Sunset Church from San Francisco, he walked side-by-side with Care Workers visiting the poorest children in their village. Roger learned that the Care Workers visit the children to bring love and hope where there is much suffering and struggle. He learned that they visit the children because God first visited us.
Thank you to everyone who made George's 2014 U.S. Tour a huge success!
Use the map above to revisit each stop on the tour and read highlights of how God is moving people all across the U.S. to care for the poor and vulnerable!
Romina Chang is one member of a team from Sunset Church in San Francisco who recently traveled to serve for two weeks with Hands at Work in Zambia. The team diligently prepared for their service with regular team meetings, prayer sessions, and by fundraising and advocating in their local and church community. Here Romina describes the team’s fundraiser—a tea party and auction!
Michelle Tom, from San Francisco, shares the story of how her involvement with Hands at Work began and has continued to grow. What started from a short term church mission trip has developed into a bi-continental relationship between church and community.
Pam Heubner, from Minnesota, first encountered Hands at Work through her son and daughter-in-law who were volunteering with the organization via the Peace Corps. Following her exposure to the transformative work, Pam responded to an urge to further her involvement. Read below as she shares her story.
Fall is right around the corner, and it's a very exciting time for Hands at Work in the U.S. The Advocates are preparing for George Snyman, founder of Hands at Work, to visit the States this October. It will be a time of fellowship, celebrating how God has moved in our lives, and focusing on God's call for us to care for children in Africa. Come join us!
We at Hands U.S. are so thankful for what God is doing in our nation regarding Hands at Work in Africa. Churches across the U.S. are committing to communities across Africa, sending individual volunteers and short-term missions teams, praying, and raising funds so that children can receive food, basic healthcare, and an education.
I last stood on African soil more than four years ago and yet when I stepped into the circle of other Hands at Work advocates, donors, and volunteers to pray for our time together, the room instantly filled with the same sweet and heavy presence of the Lord.
Sara spent three months volunteering with Hands at Work in South Africa and Zambia two years ago. Since her return home, she has been advocating for Hands and mobilizing her home church.
Cable cars and the famous golden gate bridge might be the first things that come to mind when you think of San Francisco, but the city is also known for its love of art. When a vision to use many talented artists within the church to raise awareness of poverty and AIDS in Africa came together last year, it all made perfect sense!