When I was 12 years old, my parents separated and I remained living with my mother and younger brother. It was difficult being the firstborn because when my mum was sick I was responsible for caring for my younger brother, all whilst trying to attend school.
As the years quickly went by, early retirement became an option for us in September 2014. At that point we began to earnestly seek God about what our next steps would be. With many ups and downs, questions, concerns and conversations with our family about this big decision to make, we knew that God was calling us to Africa.
It is a prayer asking God to stir us up! As such, the words now point me to something much deeper than stirring puddings. In Hands at Work, we talk about ‘making it personal’ and fighting for the children of our communities as if they were our own. But it is so easy for our hearts to become indifferent or worse still, hardened, to the injustice and pain we see around us.
When I first came to Africa, I think that I subconsciously associated the word ‘brokenness’ with weakness. I was fearful of sharing the broken areas of my heart because I was embarrassed by my past and ultimately feared rejection and judgement. I struggled to share because I didn’t fully understand and recognise the depth to which the brokenness and pain in my heart had spilled over into many different areas of my life.
“I find that often people think of discipleship as something that needs to be taught in a course but from what I can see in the Bible and from personal experience, discipleship is being with people and walking through life with them. If I think back to the people who have discipled me, I think about the people who have spent time with me and have been a part of my life. It is the act of being together.”
Jesus was born to die and, in doing that, won for me a life that He desires to be lived in all its fullness. Easter also helps me to surrender myself afresh to living a life that honours Christ and seeks to serve those around me. For me, it’s a time of thankfulness, self-reflection and recommitment.
During this placement, the volunteers were out visiting communities, helping wherever was needed and observing the work of the local office teams. It was a time to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to live out the biblical mandate God has given in James 1:27, ‘to care for the orphans and widows in their distress.’
As we sat, each of us working on our designated bit of the banner, which was to depict the crucifixion, one of the younger prisoners said: “I don’t know this story. What happened?”I opened my mouth to respond, but before I could get any words out, the other prisoners started to tell him the story of Easter.
Hannah and Farzam Mohajer, long-time friends of Hands, along with their two young girls, left their home in Canada in September 2016 to join Hands at Work. Currently, they are serving in South Africa. Hannah reflects on the impact of her time in Africa thus far, and how it has sown seeds into the lives of her daughters.
Today I met Sarra*. A mother of three, who lost her husband sixteen years ago. Left as a widow, her husband’s brother came in and “claimed her”. He used her solely for sex, and she bore two of his children in the subsequent years. He took no responsibility for her or her children, and has now completely abandoned them.
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. Farai tells his story of following Jesus in Zimbabwe, and how compassion for the poor and a desire to mobilise the local church has defined his life.