Advocate

Growth in Germany

Growth in Germany

We are grateful for the amazing support that we have seen growing in our church and surrounding communities. We have not only seen God’s hand in this but we have witnessed a deep appreciation for what Hands at Work is doing. Through regular visits and strong relationships, people have realised the love and trustworthiness that Hands at Work is based upon and therefore are willing to support the work with their finances and prayers.


Creatively Advocating (AU)

Creatively Advocating (AU)

Advocates are always coming up with creative and new ideas to raise awareness for the most vulnerable people in Africa. Rob and Helen Shaw, based in Australia, have been advocating for Hands at Work for the past few years, creatively finding ways to be a voice to voiceless, whether it be busking at the local farmer’s market or their latest venture – biking across Canada!

Be A Voice for the Voiceless – Hands at Work Youth in San Francisco

Be A Voice for the Voiceless – Hands at Work Youth in San Francisco

“I recall that when I came back from my family's six week trip to South Africa in 2011, I promised that I would remember the orphans every day — that I would not take what God has blessed me with for granted. But six years later, my friends and I were struggling to make this fundraiser a reality. Our priorities were focused on our individual universes that orbited around shallow, temporary things that should not have been guiding our lives.”

Stay Connected

Stay Connected

Stay connected with Hands at Work to hear what is happening on the ground in Africa, and around the world as we unite with the international church to bring hope to the hopeless. Hear what is inspiring us, read stories of transformation among the most vulnerable, and stay informed with how you can serve as we are called together to serve our brothers and sisters in Africa.

Stories of the Drought Crisis

Stories of the Drought Crisis

“I planted 12 meda* of soya beans, I expected to harvest 18-20 x 50 kg bags. I only harvested 2 bags.”

“I planted 20 kg of maize seed, I expected to harvest 60 x 50 kg bags. There is no harvest; the rains just did not come after I planted.”

“I planted 15 kg of maize seed. From planting the same amount of seed last year, I harvested 32 x 50 kg bags. This year I only harvested 12 bags.”

Drought Response - The International Church

Drought Response - The International Church

With the help of our advocates across the world, many efforts have been made to respond to the widespread drought crisis across Southern Africa. Individuals from our International countries have come together to pray, advocate, raise awareness and fundraise to help bring relief to the most vulnerable communities. We celebrate the work that God is doing in uniting His church across the world to bring hope to the hopeless.

A Vessel For His Glory

I still remember the hues of vibrant rust colored dirt that coated my sandals as I looked down at my feet. I recall the blazing hot African sun beating down on my shoulders. I call to mind the enticing aroma of open air food cooking around me. Most of all I hold dear the sound of all the voices in unison singing praises to Jesus! Oh how I loved dancing with our brothers and sisters in Christ as we praised our Savior! Those beautiful memories still linger in our minds as if it were yesterday.

The Forge: A Church Partner Story

The Forge: A Church Partner Story

Sam Walker first came with The Forge on a trip in 2008, and the trip has since remained a monumental moment in his life. “It was hard work for the volunteers at the Hub to accommodate me even for just one day but it made a huge difference - I caught the heart of Hands that day.”

Our Call to Give

Our Call to Give

Hands at Work envisions the local church in Africa united with the international church around the world, serving together to care for the most vulnerable people in the poorest African communities. In the US, Suzette, Michelle and Sara are three members of the Hands at Work US team who have answered this calling on their lives. Here they reflect on their call to GIVE:

Stay Connected!

Stay Connected!

Stay connected with Hands at Work to hear what is happening on the ground in Africa, and around the world as we unite with the international church to bring hope to the hopeless. Hear what is inspiring us, read stories of transformation among the most vulnerable, and stay informed with how you can serve as we are called together to serve our brothers and sisters in Africa.

Hardship and Happiness

Hardship and Happiness

Leyton Wood was a volunteer with Hands at Work in Australia even before coming to Africa. Now back in Australia, he was given an opportunity to share at his church, President Avenue Community Church. Leyton tells stories of the “contrast between hardship and happiness” he witnessed with his own eyes and heart. 

A Family United

A Family United

A past volunteer with Hands at Work, Jessie's story reveals the wrestling she faced when she met the most vulnerable children and those who serve them in Africa. Years later, she continues to be challenged by God and the Hands at Work family to care and advocate for the most vulnerable back home in the US.

 

A Letter from George

Tuesday December 10, 2013

Family,

Looking back at 2013 for Hands at Work on the very day of Nelson Mandela’s funeral is very emotional and yet a rewarding experience for me as an African and a South African. Today I am so proud to belong to the global Hands at Work family fighting injustice by reaching out to the most vulnerable children in Africa.

I see some characteristics in Mandela’s life that we hold dear to in the Hands family. He had an amazing ability to cross cultural barriers. His whole life reflected sacrificial giving. Not only did he spend most of his adult life in prison, but once he was released he continued to live a sacrificial lifestyle. During his time as President of South Africa he gave his full salary every month towards those in poverty. After he completed his career as a politician he started the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. He never stopped living a life of giving! He believed in and encouraged others all the time that an individual can make a difference in this world. Each one should just do what he or she can do.

Care Workers together in a Maranatha Workshop in ZimbabweIn the beginning of 2013, Hands at Work leaders across Africa came together in Zambia. After a time of prayer and deep introspection, a renewed commitment was made to accept full responsibility for Hands and the vision we believe God gave us to live out. Part of our time together was living in one of the poorest communities with the children and grandmothers we care for. It was a time of deep impact and out of it we developed Maranatha Workshops. Maranatha means, “Come Lord”. These workshops are an invitation for Jesus to come and reveal His Father's heart to the Care Worker. In this time, Care Workers begin to recognise the wounds that are deep within themselves. That due to the wounds they carry, they have often wounded others out of that pain. Now the realisation is being awakened to the One true healer. The One who came to pour His life into their hearts and bring restoration to their lives. The workshops have clarified the different role players in the Hands model and how we can support and encourage each other to reach the children and their Care Workers in the best possible way. Our commitment is to do this workshop in every one of our communities before the end of June 2014. As we end 2013 we have already reached many communities in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. The stories from the workshops are encouraging and we have discovered just how much pain and brokenness exists within the communities.

A highlight this year was to see how individuals and families not only visited us in Africa, but how they went home and mobilised their international communities to adopt the African communities they visited on the ground. We also saw short-term volunteers return home and then bring teams to Africa. They refused to just carry on living their lives as they had before coming to Africa. They became advocates among their circles of influence. I stayed in the homes of families all over the world where they would show me photos of our children in Africa and tell me those children’s names. They were praying for them every day!

In 2013 we had our first advocacy day in Chicago and friends of Hands came from all over the US to join us. A number of people with professional careers have cut back their working hours so they can volunteer their time to support Hands. Their skill and time will make such a difference in the countries where they live, and for us in Africa this is such an encouragement to see people accepting our vision with us and committing themselves to it.

Carolyn and George speaking to the Hands at Work family at the Hub in South AfricaAs I mentioned, this is the day of Mandela’s funeral. But this is also the day when Carolyn and I celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Early this morning, as we prayed together we had such a sense of overwhelming gratefulness. God is so good to us! He kept us together, He provided for our daily needs, He blessed us with children, grandchildren, and many amazing friends. He gave us a heart and dream to serve others. He showed us His heart! We raise an Ebenezer today declaring loud and clear that we serve a great and faithful God. Right from the start of our marriage, Carolyn and I agreed what our core values would be and we never negotiated away from them. We held to Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

We want to give that verse to everyone who is part of the Hands family and who believes in the dream of a better life for those we are serving. Hold to a dream bigger than yourself, commit to core values, and be held accountable. Today we stand as living testimonies that once you start to live for others and not yourself, you will always look back and say, “I received undeserving favor!”

George.

 

Given Freely

The vision of Hands at Work is to see the local Church in Africa effectively caring for the most vulnerable, and unified in this mission with the Church outside Africa. The second part is just as vital as the first. Outside of Africa, support comes from churches, volunteers, advocates, prayer warriors, businesses and more. When people give, and give sacrificially, to the most vulnerable children in Africa, there is transformation happening on both sides: the giver and the receiver. And when people understand that they are blessed to be a blessing, they give freely.

A Church Story

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Daphne with a Care Worker in Oshoek, South AfricaIn Australia, Daphne has been a friend of Hands for over 10 years. She has supported our work and been a voice for the children of Africa in her community, even when she was often the sole voice. But her endurance has been honoured by God. Daphne came to Africa to serve with Hands on the Short Team Service Team in July 2013. When she returned to her church in Perth, and having invited George Snyman to speak to her congregation, they began to support a community. Heart City Church is now supporting 25 children in Welverdiend, South Africa, with the hope to increase this number even further in the future. Heart City Church joins the Sunbury group, also from Australia, who support a further 75 children in Welverdiend at Pfunani Community Based Organisation. Heart City Church is now hoping to send their first team in September 2014 to experience Africa as Daphne has. We praise God for her dedication and His work in the hearts of so many people in Australia.

A Business Story

We are often inspired by how one person’s story of Africa can create a ripple effect. In the US, Lauren Lee, who works as part of the Hands US International Office, shared her passion for the children of Africa with her friend Bill. Bill works for Microsoft and this company has a program where they will potentially match funding for charities. Lauren encouraged Bill to apply to this matching program and his application was successful! Bill contributed 5,000 USD and Microsoft matched this funding, allowing 10,000 USD to be donated to Hands at Work, specifically to the Malawi Service Centre! This support is an amazing example of how we can each use our influence and voice to advocate for the most vulnerable children. 

An Advocate Story

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Jacob Erick with new friends in AfricaIn September 2010, Todd and Katie Wells served in the Democratic Republic of Congo for 7 months, living with Pastor Erick, our Hands at Work Congolese leader. As they returned to Canada, they knew their hearts would never be the same. When they gave birth to their son, they named him Jacob Erick, after the pastor whose life had inspired them. They also decided to raise funds for the community of Kitabataba in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where children were receiving home visits from Care Workers, but had no food security, access to education, or basic health care. In the beginning it was quite difficult. People who had not been to Africa did not understand the level of urgency. But in His mighty faithfulness, God gave Todd and Katie the strength to persevere, and they secured support for 50 children. In September 2013, Todd and Katie returned to the Congo and visited Kitabataba where they witnessed the transformation that has happened over the past couple of years. They could see the part that their support had played, but what impacted them more deeply was seeing the servant hearts of the Care Workers who had become like parents to the 50 children of Nyota Community Based Organisation. They could see Erick’s influence everywhere as the Care Workers displayed his same compassion and love. Also, Erick had the opportunity to meet baby Jacob in Zambia for the first time! Todd and Katie and their friends and family are now increasing the number of children they support to 75 children. This commitment requires sacrifice, but it is a sacrifice that is building God’s kingdom.

As the lives of the children we give to are changed, our own hearts experience a deeper understanding of how God has given everything to us. He gave us His son. “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

This Christmas, may we give thanks with a grateful heart.

From My Living Room to Nigeria

By Stephen Jo

Stephen was a part of a short term missions team that visited the Hands at Work Hub in South Africa back in 2007.  He was greatly challenged by what he saw and the work that Hands is doing and has been a supporter ever since. Here he reflects on his recent trip to Nigeria where he was able to visit the children he and his friends and family have been supporting for years.  

It all began in the living room of my house in Southern California back in 2009. I invited George Snyman, Founder and CEO of Hands at Work in Africa, to come and speak to a gathering of my friends.  That evening, God stirred the hearts of all who were there, although many of them had never visited Africa before.  As a result of that meeting, we decided as a group of eight families to support 100 orphans in the Badia and Ilaje villages of Nigeria.  We started this support in January 2010 and have been doing so ever since. June 2013, after several years of supporting the orphans in Nigeria, four men from the group finally got a chance to visit the villages in Nigeria.  It was a life changing trip that none of us will soon forget. 

The streets of BadiaGeorge met us in Nigeria to lead our team.  On our first day, he led us on a walk through Badia, a large urban slum just outside the capitol city of Lagos.  The four of us had seen numerous examples of poverty across several continents prior to this trip but the level of poverty in Badia was by far the worst. The community was composed of densely arranged plywood shacks with trash littered everywhere.  There was a stench in the air from pools of stagnant water and a lack of sanitation.  Thousands of people populated this slum with 80% of the women being prostitutes and 60%-70% of the children being orphans

It was difficult walking through Badia because of the extreme poverty and the fact that there was a spiritual darkness hanging over this place.  However, about a half hour into this uncomfortable walk, something unexpected happened.  I saw a girl in a bright red shirt standing about 30 yards ahead of us.  It was her bright shirt that caught my attention.  She was looking at us and saw Peter, who is the local leader for Hands in Nigeria, standing next to me.  Her face lit up with a smile when she saw him and she came running toward him.  She jumped into his arms and gave him a warm hug then quickly ran off to play again.  I asked Peter who she was and he said, “It’s one of your children.”  That moment was like seeing a ray of light in the darkness.  It taught me the impact that Hands was having on this community in just the short time we had been there. "It's one of your children"

The following day we visited the Care Point in Badia where I had a chance to meet the girl in the red shirt.  She turned out to be an adorable 9-year-old girl named Rachel.  She is an orphan who lives in Badia with her aunt and sister.  Unfortunately, her aunt is a prostitute who works out of their one room shack.  This means that Rachel and her sister are woken up and asked to wait outside when patrons visit their home at any hour during the night.  It’s heartbreaking to know that there are children who have no choice but to live in this way, but Rachel’s story reflects the life of many Badia children who live in this same manner.  Fortunately, there is real hope that Rachel’s story will change some day. She is enrolled in a school through our sponsorship and the Hands Care Workers are raising her in the gospel. For these reasons, I am very hopeful that the cycle of prostitution will someday end with her.

Stephen and his team with Peter and another local volunteerIt was a blessed experience to witness how God was using our modest support to change the lives of the orphans in Nigeria.  We saw how Hands was bringing hope to places like Badia where none would be expected and children without any choices had hope for a better future.  Most remarkably, our partnership with Hands gave 4 Americans an opportunity to be in a gospel community with 100 African children an ocean away.  None of this would be possible without the loving God who not only cares for the orphan and widow but also graciously allows us to partake in the work of caring for them too.

The Church outside Africa: Canada

Hands at Work envisions the local church in Africa effectively caring for the most vulnerable, and unified in this mission with the church outside Africa.  

The vision of Hands at Work has spread to many countries around the world.  In Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK and USA a Hands at Work office has been created by passionate individuals who want to make a difference to Africa’s most vulnerable people.  These volunteers and their International Office serve as a bridge between the local church in Africa, and the church in their country.  They communicate with and coordinate the volunteers, churches, and advocates who partner with Hands at Work in Africa.  

Hands Canada volunteers serve as the body of God’s people joined as a family of believers.  They are working with churches in Canada: congregations and pastors who have a specific church they call home.  Together, the church in Canada is supporting 1,100 children (increasing to 1,410 by mid-2014) throughout DR Congo, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Hands Canada volunteers and friends worshiping together at the Hands Canada CelebrationsIn August 2013, Hands at Work Canada came together for a one day celebration to worship God, to learn from one another, and to stand together in support of the most vulnerable people in Africa.  Approximately 50 past and present volunteers, supporters, and advocates travelled from across Canada to meet in Calgary, Alberta at Westside King’s Church.  For one day, the Hands Canada community was able to be together:  to eat together, and fellowship in the way that is so vital to the community in Africa.  Many Canadian volunteers work alone or in small groups in each city, often living hours and hours away from other volunteers in other cities.  Also, many are unable to travel to Africa to see the work on the ground and yet, they give their time to help further the Hands at Work mission because they want to do what they can to serve the most vulnerable.

Throughout the day, multiple sessions were held.  “The Jesus We Know” reminded us that Jesus chose to seek out and love the oppressed, and that while saying ‘yes’ to his call to care for the most vulnerable is hard, it will bring us closer to God.  “The Wall” presented the wall of protection Hands at Work is striving to build around the most vulnerable children, with Christ as the foundation, and holy home visits as an essential layer.  Other sessions discussed teams and volunteers, and gave an opportunity for those who had recently been in Africa to share about their experience.  The last session, “Living It Out”, challenged us to live out the life Jesus has called us to, not just in Africa, but in Canada.  We want to have holy home visits in Canada where we visit one another to be with those we love as the local volunteers do when visiting children in Africa. 

Participants in the "Beautiful Feet" Fundraiser walk in chitenge wraps and with buckets of water to raise awareness of the children and Care Workers who walk long distances each day to survive After the sessions concluded, the first “Beautiful Feet” Fundraiser was held.  “Beautiful Feet: Walking for the vulnerable children of Africa” is a fundraiser started by Hands Australia.  Funds were raised in support of our vulnerable children, who walk many hours every day to get water or get to school, and for our Care Workers, who walk huge distances to visit children in their homes.   Participants walked three laps (2.5km) around the church property, on the third lap even wearing chitenges (traditional African wrap around skirts) and carrying buckets of water.

 This celebration reflected the unity that is vital to Hands at Work volunteers around the world and on the ground in Africa.  We are together.  We value relationships and the calling of God to love and support one another and serve the most vulnerable no matter where we call home. 

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common – Acts 4:32 ESV

Ashley Humphreys is a volunteer with Hands at Work in South Africa.  Serving from May 2012 - May 2013, she returned to Canada for a few months where she was blessed to attend the Hands Canada Celebrations and connect with the Hands Canada family.  She is now serving in Africa long-term, currently with the Communications Team.