Through Our Eyes - Part 1

Volunteers from around the world of various backgrounds and ages comprise the Hands at Work team.  Hands at Work invites volunteers to come and invest a year or more of their life on behalf of the most vulnerable by becoming a part of our work, family and community of faith. During a five week orientation in South Africa, they are prepared to mobilise, equip and support the local church across Africa to transform the lives of the most vulnerable. We ask our volunteers to learn and serve in whatever way is needed. Like scaffolding, they are an essential yet temporary tool in building a structure and leaving it stronger than when they arrived.

Twice a year, Hands at Work welcomes a new intake of volunteers. In September 2014, 8 volunteers joined us to serve for one year and in February 2015 we were blessed with 13 more. They each received the same calling of God to serve in Africa, but the work He is doing in their own lives is unique. Here, some of them reflect on their journey so far in Africa.

Charlotte Henderson (UK)

Being at Hands, living with people from every kind of culture and background, I feel like I’m finally home.

I’m continually re-learning - God’s plans are always best. I’m astounded He would choose me to be His hands and feet in Africa, with all my brokenness and mess. But I trust that my Heavenly Father will guide me and provide all that I need, because ultimately this isn’t about me or my story; it’s all for Him and His glory.

Care Workers, despite their own hurts and brokenness, choose to reach out to the next generation of children to give them hope. In the midst of their own busy lives, raising their own families, they care for the lonely and the vulnerable.

Whilst our need and our brokenness may look so very different from the children I’ve met during orientation, the solution is still the same. Jesus is the One that we so desperately need in our homes and our communities, to bring hope and peace and reconciliation to a world filled with so much injustice and pain.

Celine Letkeman (CAN)

I have gone through struggles in my life and I thought that I could get out of them by myself. Yet being in Africa I’ve come to realize that I can’t. I need to completely lay everything at the cross and depend on God and trust that He has the best plan for my life. I desire a deeper relationship with God and want Him apart of my life.

As I walked with the most vulnerable children and heard their stories, my heart broke for them and the despair that surrounds them. Yet I was filled with hope when I looked at their Care Workers. I feel so incredibly privileged that I got to walk with the Care Workers and children and that they allowed me into their lives and now consider me family.

I want to take their stories of brokenness and healing home with me to Canada and become an advocate. I pray God uses these stories to bring more people into fighting for the lives of the most vulnerable children across Africa. 

Phil and Rachel and Riley McLaughlin (AUS)

The Care Workers we met made a lasting impact on us as we went with them on Holy Home Visits and sat with them in the communities. I can just imagine the welcome they will receive in heaven from Jesus. They quietly serve the Lord day in and day out when times are continually so tough.

One African leader in particular, Esnart, shared her story with us. She is an amazing godly lady who is an example to us of giving all for Jesus. She has been taking seriously the verse in James 1:27 which tells us “true religion is to care for the orphaned and the widowed.” She has been caring for the vulnerable in her community for 20 years!

Riley loves playing with the children and in the dirt piles! He lines up with them to receive his nshima and vegetables.

'Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.' – Psalm 91:1-2

Jared Wood (AUS)

Certain aspects of poverty are easy to see, such as worn out clothes, or distended stomachs from malnutrition. After spending several months visiting people in their homes, what strikes me the most is not the people struggling materially, but rather those whose biggest complaint is that they are isolated and alone, something you can't see looking from the outside.

The reason these stories are so hard to hear, is that loneliness is not only hard by itself, but it also compounds all the other struggles people are facing. A grandmother with no land and no relatives is forced to squat with the imminent threat of being thrown out. A widow has no one to mourn with. A single mother has to choose between starving her family and leaving her young children alone so she can find work.

Seeing this struggle from the inside has highlighted to me the importance of care coming to people from their own community. Local volunteer Care Workers are incredibly valuable, caring not only for vulnerable children in their community, but also their families.

Are you interested in becoming a Hands at Work volunteer and serving the most vulnerable in Africa? Learn more.