Hands at Work begins each year with a Watchword; a guiding scripture which George, the co-founder of Hands, shares with the Hands family. This scripture is a promise, a challenge, an inspiration, an encouragement, and an opportunity to invite God to lead us throughout the year, expectant for what He will do in and through us.
The 2019 Watchword comes from Luke 9:48 (NIV): “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
Gideon Mbuzi African Volunteer (Zambia)
“This year, I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in the two Watchword meetings that were held, first in South Africa and then in Zambia. Despite the passage being the same, what was shared was distinctly different from one another. As such, I learned different lessons from both.
“In South Africa, I was struck by the need that I had to be more humble. I have to learn to humble myself like a child – to be one of the least. This was a big challenge for me, as I have a tendency to want to be the “big man”. I crave recognition for the work that I do. These are things that I realised I need to work hard against. By humbling myself, I must move to the same level as a child. This is difficult for me because it goes against the culture that I grew up in – a culture where children are often regarded as less important than adults.
“While George Snyman was in Zambia sharing the Watchword, there was a stronger focus on us sowing our seeds for the benefit of others and not just for our own gain. Everything that is happening with my role is being sponsored by the International Church and other donors. When I go into community, someone is paying for that to happen. When I get money for my phone, someone pays for that. I was challenged to sow some of my own seeds by dipping into my own pockets and giving of my time, resources, strength and energy.
“I feel as though my role within Hands at Work is to be a bridge; people must step on me to get to the other side. My job is to be the bridge between the International Church and Africa. This is humbling because being a bridge does not usually bring recognition. I am aiming to be this bridge in a way that does not bring recognition to myself this year.
My prayer for 2019 is to humble myself and have a child-like reliance on God. I want to be better at sowing my own seeds this year, rather than relying on other people’s seed.”
Michelle Damour, International Volunteer (US)
“So far, this year, it is the passage leading up to the Watchword in Luke 9 that has made an impact on me. It is a familiar Scripture, but I feel God is speaking to me in new ways, particularly through verses 23 and 24. In the New Living Translation, Jesus says “… If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” The description is quite visual – I must make a 180 degree turn from my selfishness; it’s an act of repentance. There is a cost to follow Jesus, and I have a daily choice to pick up my cross and to turn from my selfish ways. I ask myself – am I willing to give my life in order to follow Jesus? I want to say “yes!”, but I need to be honest with myself and wrestle through what that really means. Am I prepared to surrender my desires and what I perceive as my rights and entitlements? Am I able to live sacrificially and put the needs of others before my own? There must be a dying to self in order to experience new life in Christ.
“Further in the chapter, I am reminded of how easy it is for my pride and self-centeredness to distract me away from God. I relate to the disciples who were busy arguing with each other about who was the greatest while Jesus was trying to explain to them the new Kingdom. How often do I miss what God is trying to show me because I am focused on following my own ways or furthering my own agenda instead of seeking Him? I want to be faithful and attentive to what God is doing and what He is calling me to as a follower of Jesus.
“I trust that the meaning of the Watchword will continue to evolve for me through the year, and I want to remain open to what God will reveal to me. My desire is to be faithful in prayer and to seek the Holy Spirit for guidance as I try to reach out in love and compassion to those who are thought of as the least.”