What started out to be a normal routine event of going to work one evening has changed the course of my life in a profound way, a fork in the road that I will look back on forever…..
As the plane began its descent into Johannesburg, I thought to myself ‘This is crazy! What am I doing?’ I was about to spend two months, with ten complete strangers, travelling through three African countries, with an organization that I knew very little about. Normally I would judge this sort of decision as careless, unwise and dangerous, however I only had one word to describe the bizarre situation I found myself in…GOD!
My introduction to Hands at Work was quite unique. Unlike most of you who are probably reading this article, I didn’t find out about Hands through a friend, relative, family member or church… I discovered Hands when George Snyman told me about it personally (well that’s what it felt like anyway). As a nurse, I often do night shifts, and this particular night I decided to have an afternoon nap before work. However, (for the first time ever), this night I slept through my alarm and woke up an hour later than I was meant to. After rushing around the house to get ready, I jumped in the car and began my 45minute drive to work. The moment I pulled out of my driveway, an interview began on my local Christian radio station, which continued for my entire drive to work, finishing as I entered my work car park. I had 45 minutes of feeling as though George was in my car with me, encouraging me to join Hands At Work.
The next few months were a blur of applications, Skype calls, buying tickets, taking leave from work and a whole lot of prayer. This is how I found myself on a plane, about to begin my journey through Africa with Hand’s first ever Serve And Learn Team (SALT).
We spent two months travelling through South Africa, Zambia and Malawi, meeting many incredible people and experiencing many incredible places. The more time we spent together as a team, the more we recognized the truth behind John 15:16, God had clearly chosen each of us to fulfill our specific roles within the team. It was amazing to see how quickly we transitioned from strangers, to friends, to family and how quickly we created memories, in-jokes, nicknames, songs and fun together. There is no doubt about it, not only did we become a family, but we were welcomed widely into the arms of the entire Hands family.
When you spend a significant amount of time living in communities, sleeping in care workers homes, eating their food, playing with their children, hearing their stories and simply experiencing the everyday life that these beautiful people live, you can’t help but to have your life drastically changed. I was so encouraged by the endless string of people that we met that were giving so much out of their so little, that were so passionate about caring for others, despite not knowing how they would care for themselves, people that truly knew the definition of faith.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that ‘Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’ This is one of the biggest revelations I got throughout our trip. We witnessed mothers who had faith that their children could be fed that day, we witnessed grandmothers with HIV that had faith that their health could be completely restored, we witnessed care workers that had faith to expect complete restoration of the extremely vulnerable kids that they were caring for… we witnessed faith. And us too, living back in our first world societies, have many things that we cannot achieve on our own, many things that we have lost hope for, but God is constantly reminding me of the faith of these incredible people that we met and reminding me that it is time that the western church learned what it truly means to be desperate for God in our own situations. I think we would be blown away by the miracles that happen in our lives, when we learn to surrender our pride and truly leave God room to move.
From the beginning of the radio interview with George, through to sitting on the plane about to arrive in Johannesburg, through to wandering through some of the poorest communities in the world, then returning to settle into my daily routine back in Melbourne… One thing has remained: God is God.
God is capable. God is trustworthy. And God is leading us all on our personal journeys with him. I am just thankful that my journey included being introduced to the incredible work that God is doing through Hands at Work, and excited that this really is just the beginning.