Testimonies from the Maranatha Workshops
As workshops are held throughout each of our communities across Africa, testimonies of the transformation occurring in our Care Workers lives are being told by our local leaders as they witness the work of God in many lives. Here, we share with you some of the radical changes happening in local churches, families, and deep in the hearts of the men and women we are called to serve. They are the poorest of the poor, but they are meeting Jesus, who became poor for our sakes. As the revelation of His sacrifice and love becomes real to our Care Workers, they are experiencing a completely new reality and a completely new Saviour.
Individuals discovering the truth of Jesus
During the Maranatha Workshop in the community of Baraka, Zambia, many Care Workers experienced healing and joy. One of these Care Workers was a man named Kunda who for years had carried anger and resentment deep in his heart. On the first day, the teachings gave an understanding of who Jesus is and the truth that He binds up the broken hearted and brings good news to the poor. As Kunda discovered Jesus and comprehended what He did to bring freedom and love into our lives, Kunda was filled with a new joy! As soon as he returned home he greeted his wife with this new found bliss. At first she responded in utter disbelief but as Kunda laughed, outwardly aware of his transformation, she knew it was the answer to 30 years of prayer. The following day they arrived at the workshop together, celebrating in God’s faithfulness and thanking Him for the transformation that took place.
Healing broken homes
Care Workers at Baraka Community Based Organisation in Zambia have been deeply encouraged by walking in their community and visiting the most vulnerable people in their homes. They experienced pain and brokenness but they also see hope! As part of our Maranatha Workshops, Care Workers spend a day focused on learning the importance of listening to the Holy Spirit during their home visits. Care Workers have put this into practice and returned with a powerful testimony.
“There was deep brokenness in a family we visited. The daughter had attempted to end her life, the father was intending to harm another person and the mother had abandoned the family. After hearing this, we started to minister to the family. The women spent time praying and encouraging the daughter and the men did the same with the father. After praying, the daughter knelt before her father asking for his forgiveness. He immediately forgave her and asked for her forgiveness in return. As we sat together, a sense of peace flowed through their restored relationship.”
The Care Workers experienced God’s continued healing in this family. Later they learned that on that same day they visited, the mother returned home. Faith was renewed in our Care Workers as they witnessed God move so powerfully. Each day our Care Workers now go out with a renewed spirit to bring hope, support and relief to the homes of the most vulnerable.
Peter, a local pastor and the coordinator of Chisamba Community Based Organisation, in Zambia was inspired to tell his story after experiencing a Maranatha Workshop. He grew up with an absent father, and his mother sent him to live with his sister when he was five. When Peter’s mother was pregnant with him, his father threatened to drown her baby if it was born a girl. Peter's mother begged God for a son, vowing to raise him to be a pastor. God gave her Peter. As he grew up, Peter had no desire to fulfill his mother’s vow. But she was adamant, and pressured him into reluctantly become a pastor.
Peter was placed in a local community church, preaching every Sunday. He and his wife started a family, but his heart ached. Peter resented his mother for her expectations, and he was angry at his father for abandoning him. At home, he would abuse his family and shout at his neighbours. Peter preached the Word of God, yet carried a heart full of rage. At night, he would weep alone, not knowing how to cope.
During the Maranatha Workshop, Peter began to learn about inner wounds, God's love, and the gift of salvation. He was able to recognise where the bitterness he carried came from. As he released himself into God's truths, he was filled with joy, love and forgiveness. A renewed sense of resting in God's grace is now flowing into his family and church relationships. With a new understanding of his Heavenly Father, Peter is able to honestly love and accept his own father.
When Peter first started caring for the most vulnerable children in Chisamba, he hoped to build a school and feed children. Today, this is happening. Now Peter envisions his church creating a place of abundant life; a place of healing, love and acceptance. Peter says, “We can help people who are wounded”. He and the Care Workers of Chisamba Community Based Organisation are committed to serving not only the children they are caring for, but also their primary caregivers. Each day, they are invited to the Care Point. Here, Peter and the Care Workers teach the community about God’s goodness. Peter is beginning to meet weekly with other pastors in the area. As he tells them his own story, others are sharing their struggles, and together they are finding a new sense of strength in supporting one another and their congregations. Peter says, “We need to focus on Christ, to share the gospel, and show them God's love.”
He Came to Heal the Broken Hearted
Care Workers are the men and women from local churches who have committed their lives to caring for vulnerable and traumatised children. But many of them have suffered their own traumatic experiences of abuse and abandonment. Though many Care Workers desire to provide holistic care for the most vulnerable children in their community, often the pain within their own hearts affects their ability to give.
Hands at Work is currently focused on discipling our Care Workers; striving to provide them with an understanding of the unconditional love and healing that comes through Jesus. As they are set free from the inner wounds of their trauma, they offer hope to the children that the same is possible for them. This healing is the goal of the intensive Maranatha Workshop running in each of our communities across Africa. Maranatha means, “Come Lord". Workshops are five days long and are facilitated by a team of local leaders. Though a structure has been developed, each workshop is dependent on prayer and guidance by the Holy Spirit.
Day One: The Jesus We Know
Care Workers know of Jesus, but most have never heard of the Jesus who knows them personally; who knows them by name, cares about their lives, and came to earth to heal the broken hearted. The message given on day one is about this Jesus. Isaiah 61 explains, “He came to heal the broken hearted and comfort those who mourn.” As Care Workers are introduced to Him, new and healing relationships with Jesus and one another are ignited. Through this new understanding, our Care Workers find a renewed strength to live out their calling in caring for the most vulnerable. This first day comes with great impact as many Care Workers commit their lives to Christ.
Day Two: Holy Home Visits
On day two, we discover how the Jesus we know came to earth and moved into our neighbourhoods. He saw we were vulnerable, lost people and He had compassion on us. Before He ever asked us to care for others, He reached out and cared for us. This introduces Care Workers to a radically new understanding of why we visit vulnerable children in their homes. Holy home visits challenge the Care Workers to live as Jesus lived.
Day Three: Care Points as Life Centres
Hands at Work has always envisioned life-giving centres in vulnerable communities across Africa. Over the past years that dream has in many ways become a reality and there are thriving, functioning Care Points existing in the majority of our communities where life-giving services are provided daily for the most vulnerable in our communities. However, the dream is even bigger – to go farther in healing our children’s deep inner wounds, to also provide a place of life and love for Care Workers, grandmothers, aunties and others caring for orphaned children, as well as a place for the local church to engage in programs and minister to people. On day three, this vision is cast to the Care Workers and the Care Points are officially renamed as Life Centres as part of launching into the new season.
Day Four: Relationship Groups
Care Workers are given the space to talk about the wounds and pain in their personal lives. This is not often a culturally accepted concept and requires great vulnerability from our Care Workers. As their stories are told, experiences of rape, abandonment, abuse and anger become the primary topics. Through sharing, healing is found, lives are transformed and a new freedom is birthed within their hearts. Understanding the need to heal within themselves, a door is opened for the Care Workers to understand how they can support a child and walk with that child through his or her pain.
Day Five: Celebration
Care Workers share testimonies of God's healing and restoration in their lives. They speak with an understanding of how much they need each other as well as Jesus' grace and love. As the week ends, time is spent in prayer, praise, and celebrating God’s faithfulness.
A part of Hands at Work’s holistic model of care in vulnerable communities across Africa is ensuring that our Care Workers are supported in their own personal growth and care. Our Care Workers are the men and women from local churches who have taken responsibility for the most broken, abused and neglected children in their communities. However, our Care Workers were once these children. They often have inner wounds just as deep as the children they are caring for. Through Maranatha Workshops, Hands at Work is extending to our Care Workers an understanding of the love and healing that can only come from Jesus.
Male Care Workers in Malawi sharing during a Maranatha WorkshopAs the week begins, Care Workers trickle into the Care Point for the start of a Maranatha Workshop. Our Care Workers expect from previous workshops they have attended, that they will sit, listen, take notes and learn. But this workshop is different. This time the focus is on bringing Christ and only Christ. Maranatha means 'Come Lord.' This workshop is about the healing and restoration of each Care Worker’s heart as they begin to discover the wounds within themselves and understand the deeper truths of who Jesus is.
The hearts of the Hands at Work facilitators who are leading the workshop stand in anticipation - waiting on God. The day is opened in prayer and invitation for God to come. There is singing, dancing, and sharing of scripture. It is not long before the presence of the Holy Spirit is felt within the room. Our Lord has come.
Care Workers in Democratic Republic of Congo, worshiping during a Maranatha WorkshopEach day of the week is given to various discussions and topics to engage the Care Workers with God's heart. Foundational to this process is a discussion about the Jesus that cares for and binds up the wounds of the broken-hearted. By presenting God as a Heavenly Father who loves unconditionally, Care Workers begin to understand God has no list of expectations and wants to know us as we are. This is a breaking point for many Care Workers in connecting with Christ in a new way. For the first time, some share their own personal and very difficult stories. As they share, the door for others to share with the same honesty and vulnerability is possible. As the day goes on, Care Workers continue to discover who they are in Christ, and soon many have shared their stories, finding hope in the power of sharing their lives with one another. Through this domino effect, many Care Workers find healing, restoration, forgiveness, freedom, and the gift of new relationship. As the week continues, there are discussions about Holy Home Visits, relationships among the Care Workers, and the way Care Workers can bring life to the Care Points our children attend each day.
Hands at Work leaders facilitating a Maranatha Workshop in ZambiaBy Friday, the Care Workers are moving with a new spirit. No longer carrying anger, rejection, grief, mistrust, or other issues that have hindered their relationship with God and with each other, they share their testimonies of transformation. They have hope to continue healing from the inside out, to continue supporting one another in their struggles, and to care for the most vulnerable children in their community with the same love God has poured out on each of them.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favour has come – Isaiah 61:2 (NLT)