Judy Riddell has always had a deep desire to serve God overseas, and after waiting many years for the opportunity, next month she will be traveling to Hands at Work in Africa for an extended time. Here, she will be serving alongside international and African volunteers, caring for the most vulnerable in Africa. Please pray for Judy, as she leaves her family, friends, and community in Australia and heads to Africa to serve. Read Judy’s story and how God has shaped her into the Godly woman she is today.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
"I grew up in Australia in a Christian home, and when I was 22, participated in a short term missions trip to Papua New Guinea. As a result of that trip, I believed God was calling me into cross cultural work. In preparation, I went to Bible college, where I met my husband. Together we went to Jordan for two years to study Arabic in preparation for entering Iraq to ultimately work with the Kurdish people in that country. After the first Gulf War we were able to freely enter Northern Iraq where we lived for the next 8 years, helping to run a rehabilitation centre for children with disabilities. This work was so rewarding with many wonderful opportunities to build relationships with the Kurds. In 2000, I unexpectedly returned to Australia with my three young children when my marriage broke down. Since then, I have been living in Sunbury, Australia, and have spent the past 17 years raising my children. With cross cultural work still on my heart and with my children now finished high school, I believe God has given me another opportunity to serve again in this capacity."
How did you become interested in Africa, and specifically Hands at Work?
"I first heard about Hands at Work through Phil and Rachel McLaughlin at Sunbury Baptist Church. I attended fundraising nights for Hands at Work to learn more and see how I could support and be involved with the organisation. In 2015, my daughter and I had to opportunity to participate in the Sunbury Baptist Church team to visit Hands at Work in South Africa. We went for two weeks, and were deeply impacted by the people we met and the communities we visited."
What led you to serve with Hands at Work this year for a longer term?
"I have Long Service Leave available and I thought and prayed about how I could use this time. With the desire to serve in cross cultural work still so strong in my heart, I saw this as an opportunity to participate again in this field. So I enquired whether there was an opportunity to serve with Hands at Work for this time."
You are leaving in just over a month now – what feelings/emotions are you experiencing?
"I am excited about going to Africa, and looking forward to it immensely! However, as the time draws closer, I sometimes feel a little anxious about travelling on my own and what I will be doing exactly but I know I need to trust the Lord in all of this."
Is there something specific you are most looking forward to?
"I am looking forward to being in a country less privileged; a country that does not have all the opportunities we have here in Australia and to experience how the Kingdom of God operates in a completely different environment. I am also looking forward to hearing the stories of the Care Workers and the children and to learn from them and encourage them in some way."
How can we, as Hands family and friends in Australia, be praying for you while you are in Africa?
"Please pray I will be a blessing and a help wherever I may go. Pray for my young adult children staying at home, and for my elderly parents here in Sunbury. Pray I will be open to all the Lord wants to show me and do in and through me while I am in Africa."
Like Judy, many men, women, and families are called by God to serve in Africa and around the world. Are you being called to serve with Hands at Work in Africa? Come!