Grateful for the Open Door

George and Carolyn Snyman, Hands at Work in Africa Co-Founders

George and Carolyn Snyman, Hands at Work in Africa Co-Founders

To our global family,

Carolyn and I just celebrated 21 years since our Father called us to bring hope to the most vulnerable. Looking back one cannot help but to become completely overwhelmed with emotions… emotions of gratefulness! Through all the valleys and mountain tops we can say this morning, “Not once did we ever for one second regret our step of obedience to follow His call.” Today we look at what our Father is doing all around us and it humbles us to no end.

At the beginning of 2014, God gave Hands at Work a promise through this year’s Watch Word:

I know your deeds. See, I have set before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
— Revelation 3:8 (NIV)

Throughout this year, the promise of an open door was fulfilled time after time. It is important that we do not just pass by the end of the year without recognising all that has happened by the grace of Our Father. The growth in all aspects of Hands at Work has come not because we are fancy or strong. We can raise an ebeneezer today to the work of God, in gratefulness, because we are humbled by his promise that told us, “I’ve got things ready for you. On my watch you will be okay”.

Father, we thank you for the many ways you have blessed us:

  • In Zambia, our International Volunteers and Local Leaders are living together at Kachele Village. For years, Kachele was like a sitting bud. This year it seemed to blossom overnight! 12 new African leaders joined our team. God sent us these amazing people! Construction and upgrades were happening every few weeks, in South Africa we could not keep up with all the changes! Community living is such an important part of who we are.
  • In South Africa we also saw much growth at the Hub. This year, the Chapel was finished, we received more office space, accommodation upgrades happened, more houses were built and we were blessed with new vehicles!
  • More International Volunteers committed to serving with us long-term. People who had only committed to one year said they could sense God was doing something in this place and said they were going to stay. Our volunteer intakes are growing for 2015 as we see people who want to give up their lives to come and serve in Africa! We also saw how our amazing volunteers in our International Officessacrificially gave up paid work to serve us! Their commitment to serve is such an encouragement to us in Africa.
George speaking with friends, supporters and volunteers from Hands at Work UK

George speaking with friends, supporters and volunteers from Hands at Work UK

  • Our teams from around the world are growing at a rate we can hardly keep up with. The economy has challenges, people are losing their jobs, and many NGOs are struggling to find people who will join them. Yet we don’t know what to do with everyone! We have learned more and more about how to facilitate our teams, and this year we sent people out from the Hub and Kachele to support and receive teams. Our teams are coming from all over the world, sacrificing their holidays to be here.
  • Our Vision Trips were a revelation in the last year. Church and business leaders came from the UK, Canada, the US and Australia, going into many countries with our leaders. The impact on their lives was massive. Every church leader who came returned home and their church became one of our partners. God gave us this tool, and we put a huge amount of work into it. In the beginning no one wanted to come - but He made it successful and next year we will not know how to fit all the trips into 2015!
George with Bethuel, a young leader, walking in a new community in Swaziland

George with Bethuel, a young leader, walking in a new community in Swaziland

  • Our work on the ground has gone deeper. Our Regional Support Team based in South Africa has worked to expand into new communities in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland. In every one of their existing communities, they have increased in the number of children being cared for. They held camps for children right in the community – providing love and joy for our kids in a whole new way.
  • Maranatha Workshops were held in every single community to reach our Care Workers with a Jesus who knows their names, and who cares about them. It was the biggest operational undertaking we ever accomplished in the history of Hands! One partner from the UK said, “I don’t know what you’ve done but everything in this community has changed. It’s obvious the Care Workers have been impacted.” This is just the beginning of something massive.
  • Our Hands at Work Community is digging deeper in our walk with each other and God. Apart from daily and weekly times together we celebrated special times like Lent, 40 Days of Prayer and Advent. The way our new leaders stepped up this year was unreal! Taking ownership for Hands, knowing it belongs to them. From the Service Centres to the Regional Support Teams, relationships are growing and we are seeing breakthroughs after walking many tough roads. We also saw many new babies in the Hands family this year and we celebrate each new life!

The Hands at Work Community in prayerHow is all of this possible? Doesn’t it make you grateful? Do you see what God is doing in our midst?

He is busy doing something spectacular here, and it’s all His grace. We have nothing to boast about. I do however believe we have one challenge to respond to when we hear a message like this. How did it go with your personal growth this year?

We can have all the money in the world, all the people who can support us, all the cars and buildings. But if we are not growing personally in our spiritual lives and character, this will all come down. Our Father has another story to tell next year through the Hands family. Lord, may we be ready to receive it together.