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. Angel shares her story and the journey that has led her to fully trust and serve in her local area in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
I come from a family with lots of children and, thankfully, both of my parents are still alive. As a young girl, I didn’t have many friends and was often lonely. When I was 12 years old my auntie, who lived over 300km away, wrote a letter to ask if I would come and stay with her. My father agreed and so I went to stay with her but, only two days after joining her family, the challenges really started and I began to experience immense vulnerability. I didn’t know why God was allowing me to go through these situations. Living with my auntie and her family, I was not treated well. I was frequently called names and had things thrown at me, and it was common for me to go to bed hungry. My father was sending money for my school fees but it was a long distance to walk every day with little food. Thankfully there was a neighbour who, out of kindness, would give food to her children to give to me, but when my auntie found out I was physically abused.
For a long time I held a deep bitterness in my heart towards my auntie and her husband because I wondered why they had called me to live with them? Was the purpose simply to make me suffer? When my parents knew that I was being used for manual labour and not treated well, they brought me home with them. Even though I went back and continued on with life, I couldn’t forget what I had experienced.
The bitterness that I carried remained with me as I grew up, and I carried it into my marriage. When my auntie knew that I was about to get married, she purchased some pots to give me as a wedding gift, which I knew was her way of trying to make peace, but my heart was broken and I felt deeply wounded by her actions. As she offered me the gift, I was appreciative but was unable to forgive and forget the trauma that I had experienced.
Before I connected with Hands at Work, I was a teacher. While I was teaching, God led me to a couple who were connected with Hands at Work and I started teaching them French. It is through them that I began to learn more about Hands at Work. As we spent time together, I asked more questions and desired to learn more about what they were doing. In 2008 I was asked to become the bookkeeper for the Likasi Local Office. Even when I joined Hands at Work, it was not because I felt called. It was a secondary job to go along with my teaching job. Yet, as time went on and I spent time with George Snyman, co-founder of Hands at Work, I began to realise that this was my calling and we are called to serve and give of ourselves. In 2012 I felt God leading me to quit teaching so that I could focus more deeply on serving the most vulnerable children.
Through serving with Hands at Work, I have learned what it means to forgive. A few years ago, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to forgive my auntie and pray a prayer of forgiveness. I was able to talk with her and release the bitterness and bondage that I had in my heart. Afterwards I felt joy and a new sense of connection with her.
Even though I experienced challenges, I know that I went through them so that I could understand how painful it is for the vulnerable children who we are serving at Hands at Work. Over the years I have seen God’s faithfulness in my life and would not be where I am today without the hand of God on my life – for which I am very thankful.
Angel lives in Likasi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, with her husband and six children. She continues to serve as a member of the Hands at Work local office team in Likasi.
Are YOU being called? Come!