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 team, 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.
Niklas Voege (GER)
My nose is almost touching the window of the car and I have sweaty hands. I can still remember the car drive to my first visit to a community in South Africa. I only spent a couple of hours in Zwelisha. Facing this extent of poverty for the first time in my life was not easy. Still, I couldn’t picture how tough it would be once I learned names and stories of children.
I was exposed to many different communities in South Africa. I was eager to learn more about them and the work of Hands at Work. As soon as we began to revisit some communities I started to gain a deeper understanding of the lives of the children. I started to recognize children and build relationships with them. It’s heart-breaking to hear about the tragic backgrounds of children you know. That’s when I really started to understand the concept of Hands at Work. It’s not about finding solutions to every single problem. But you can provide support to the hopeless and slowly improve their situation step by step.
Jade McClain (AUS)
Within this community, I have a Mum-figure who looks out for me when I’m not well, ‘Dads’ to offer advice and wisdom in uncertain times, big brothers to annoy me, and beautiful sisters to bare my heart to. I have little cousins to run amuck with, sweet Grandmas to share a cup of tea with, and brilliant aunts and uncles to laugh with, debate with and walk this incredible journey with.
There’s something to be said for the peace that settles on your heart when you’re right where God has called you to be. A peace that quiets the doubts, the fears, the restless anxieties. A peace that encourages you to make a cup of tea, put your slippers on, and make yourself at home.
Following God’s call for my life might not always be easy, but I love that He can call me to another country, ask me to live in a community of strangers and yet overwhelms my heart with a contentedness that assures me I’m right where He wants me to be.
Heather Beeke (CAN)
I wake up, and prepare for my day. I have a heavy heart. I want to hide in my room and cry. A 12-year-old girl should not be pregnant and in charge of a household; she should be jumping rope and giggling with her friends and simply being a child. What’s the story behind the little boy with a face so scarred? What about the little girl with the beautiful eyes filled with indescribable pain? Why does the young boy have a difficult time walking? I see disabilities. I see hurt. I see abuse. I feel a heaviness in the air walking in the community with one of the Care Workers. So much brokenness – but there is hope. Hope in our Heavenly Father.
I realise God has been shattering my heart over and over. Breaking it into a million pieces. It hurts. I can’t describe it. But how much greater is God’s heartbreak over me? Yet God chose me. An unqualified, imperfect, undeserving me. He chose me to be his beautiful feet.
Daniel Wilson (AUS)
When I think of what has impacted me most during my stay at Hands at Work one thing definitely stands out. I have spent the past 6 months living in a community of Zambian and international volunteers who are striving to put their cultural differences aside and serve our one God. The individual relationships challenge and encourage me; the fellowship we enjoy as a community of believers has helped me understand many things about God's Kingdom.
Living in fellowship is powerful not because of people's efforts, but because God desires to work through each and every one of us. In John 13:34-35 Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” I have been deeply impacted by the love of God which flows through this family. I believe we are called to create this community wherever we are.
Are you interested in becoming a Hands at Work volunteer and serving the more vulnerable in Africa? Learn more.