At Hands at Work, our volunteers are called by God from all over the world to serve the most vulnerable in Africa. Each of us has a unique story of how we were transformed when we stepped out in faith and were obedient to His call. Vusi shares his story and the journey that has led him to fully trust in God and serve in his home country of South Africa.
Known to the global Hands at Work family as baba Vusi, Vusi Mabuza’s life was transformed when he was introduced to Christianity and saw people in his own community sacrificially serving others. His journey has taken him from Apartheid in South Africa to the hills of Swaziland.
In 1960, during Apartheid, my family was forced to leave our town because the soil was good and others wanted the land. We were moved a few hours away to Masoyi (just outside the Hands at Work Hub in South Africa). I lived with my grandparents and younger sister for a long time because my mother and father worked far away. I would cook and clean and fetch water. My sister and I would only have avocado and maize meal to eat.
In 1979 I was earning 10 Rand (1 US Dollar) a week working at a store. The people I worked for were Muslim and I joined their religion. I always promised my grandparents I would buy them a big bag of sugar and a blanket. The items were cheap, but I still could not afford them, and in 1982 my grandparents died before I could buy them anything.
I remember the government coming into Masoyi with army vehicles in 1986. If we were sitting with white people they would want to know what we were talking about and beat the truth out of us, so we ran when they came. When Mandela was released in 1990 they stopped coming. I remember in 1994 when Mandela said, “Don’t fight. Sit down and talk.”
In October 1998 my wife started to get sick, and in February 1999 she passed away. My youngest son was 6 and he asked why I did not dig up the grave so she could come out. It was very hard to be a single father to our five children. I was drinking too much and I even thought about killing myself. But my neighbour, Beauty, was Christian and she kept encouraging me and telling me there was a God for me. I had seen her serving our community, visiting people in their homes as a Care Worker. I started reading the Bible, and I realised I was not alone. My heart was with my children. I taught them not to want for anything. Even when we had no food I found something – even if we just ate pumpkin leaves.
In 2001 I felt strongly that I wanted to serve my community like Beauty. I spoke to her, and she spoke to George Snyman, Hands at Work Co-Founder. George met with me and I told him my wife had passed away, I was caring for my children, I wanted to serve my community, and I was a Muslim. I started walking with them on home visits, and I became a Christian in the middle of 2001. I read scriptures, sang, and prayed with patients and children when I visited. It always felt easy and right – I knew my prayers and songs were coming from my heart.
I know what life is like for the children and families we serve. I know what it is to survive. Now, in my role on the Regional Support Team, I help our Care Workers care for the children in their communities. They need always to be encouraged about the beautiful work they are doing. This work is given by the Lord, it does not come from a human desire. When I was a Care Worker, what I was faced was realistically too difficult, but I was always there for the person I was visiting because they pain they were feeling, I could feel too.
I still do home visits in my own community. I tell people my own story and help them find courage. There are some naughty boys in my community, but when I tell them “No”, they stop. Most people I have cared for remember me because they have survived. Many wonder how I made the decision to do the work I do, but I tell them it came from my heart, and I will not go back.
I have six grandchildren now. My mother and father are alive and they love what I do! Over the years I have seen God’s miracles at Hands at Work. I have a family in this community and we care for one another; we pray for one another. When I have done wrong, people have prayed for me – it has made me strong. In 2013 I wanted to be baptised but there were still some things I needed to correct in my heart. In 2014 I was ready and I told George that at the beginning of 2015 I would be baptised – and I was – in front of the Hands Family! Now I can show the way to other young men who are becoming leaders at Hands. Even when I can no longer work, I will still come to the Hub just to spend time with the Hands family.
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