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.
At Hands at Work, we are continually blessed by international teams who travel to Africa to be a part of God’s work among the most vulnerable people. We strive to embrace our short term teams as not guests, but family. Our desire is they will not stand on the outside and look in, but be on the ground, confronted by God’s heart for those who suffer, and challenged to serve with the love of Jesus. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together – 1 Corinthians 12:26
Our vision is a challenge for the church. Will the institution that the church has become simply fulfil religious cravings, or will the church spend itself on behalf of the hungry ‘lifting the cause of the fatherless’ and becoming Christ-like in its humility and servanthood. Can religion be as pure and faultless as this?
Suzette serves as a volunteer with the Hands at Work team in the United States. In 2013 she came with her husband, Abe, to Africa to visit Hands for the first time, and this year they are bringing a team from their church. Here she tells us her own personal journey and the journey of her team, as they prepare to come.
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.
This year, spread the message of Christ's love for the vulnerable children of Africa with Hands at Work Christmas cards.
We have six greeting card designs for you to choose from!
Select your country to download and print:
Standard size 5x7 inch greeting cards
Hands at Work Founder and CEO, George Snyman, will be in the UK in November! We hope you can come out to one of the following events to hear him speak. If you would like to know more about Hands at Work, volunteering on the ground in Africa, or God’s calling for His people to serve the poor, these events are an opportunity for you to learn more.
Saturday November 9th
4:00 – 9:00pm
Great Wyrley, Staffordshire
St Andrew’s Church, Hilton Lane, Great Wyrley Walsall WS6 6DS
George will be speaking to supporters and friends of Hands at Work and a team who visited Africa in 2013 will be sharing their stories. A shared meal will follow. Please contact email@example.com for details.
Sunday November 10th
Gusford Primary School, Sheldrake Drive, Ipswich, IP2 9LQ
Phone Jan Bedford on 07977027999 for more details, or visit www.greenfinchchurch.org.uk
Battisford Free Church
Straight Road, Battisford, Stowmarket, IP14 2LZ
Tuesday November 12th
Wednesday November 13th
Thursday November 14th – 7:30pm
Swaziland Fundraiser - £10 per ticket, includes meal
Wade Street Church, Lichfield. WS13 6HL
An evening about the country of Swaziland: the need of the most vulnerable children and the opportunity for Hands at Work supporters in the UK to be a voice for the voiceless in this country.
Contact 01543254110 for more details.
Friday November 15th
Sunday November 17th
Family Church (formerly Eternity Church)
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Millbrook, Guildford, Surrey GU1 3UX
Monday November 18th
We hope to see you at one of the events mentioned above! However, if you are unable to attend but would like to meet George, it may be possible to arrange a meeting that suits you better. Please note his location on each day and contact Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org and Nick at email@example.com to potentially arrange another meeting.
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.
In 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.
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.
George Snyman, Founder and CEO of Hands at Work in Africa will be visiting many churches and advocate groups in the U.S. from October 4th through the 20th. Here is a breakdown of his schedule. If you are in the area, we would love for you to come out and connect with George. If you would like more detailed information, please contact Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org
October 5: Artist Showcase at Christ Church http://www.handsatworkbenefit.com/
October 6: Sunset Church http://sunsetchurchsf.org/
October 8 – 11
October 10: St. Leonard's Church http://www.stleonardmn.org/
October 11- 17
October 12: Event for Hands at Work U.S. Advocates
October 13: Grace Church http://graceinracine.com/
NEW YORK CITY
October 17 - 20
Hands at Work’s vision is to see the local Church in Africa effectively caring for the dying, orphaned and widowed, and unified in this mission with the Church outside Africa.
Greenfinch Church in Ipswich, UK has been partnering with Hands at Work for four years. Chris Bedford, the pastor of Greenfinch, shares his story about a special young boy who broke his heart and transformed his life – and that of his church.
“I guess there are just a few moments in life when something strikes you so hard that you feel totally powerless and useless.
Back in 2011, on our second day of home visits in the community of Chilabula, the harsh realities of everyday Zambian life hit me like a runaway freight train.
Several homes had been visited the previous day and already it was clearly noticeable was that there was a distinct lack of young men everywhere we went. All the families visited were led by women and the 20 to 45 year old men were simply missing. There was talk about how many had been lost to illness (no-one ever mentioned “HIV”). It had the potential to be overwhelmingly sad and yet somehow, it didn’t hit home too hard.
But then it happened. Having walked quite some way through the bush, we arrived at a clearing where a typical African house was located - straw roof, mud walls, surrounded by a sandy, barren area. On the ground lay an older man, unkempt and distinct, wearing a huge thick coat despite us sweltering in the 33 degree heat. He sat up but wasn’t for talking much. This old grandfather had been left to bring up four children, despite his struggle to even look after himself. His two youngest children; Chatty, 3, and Cosmas, 6, where adopted by the Chilabula Community Based Organisation. The children were not at home, so their Care Worker set off to find them. Soon, the two boys came out of the bushes into the clearing. That same morning we had played with kids who looked just the same as these children - no shoes, ragged clothes, but who played with great joy and gusto and huge smiles. However, these two were different - shoulders slumped under deadpan faces. They sat down and we tried to engage them in a game. Eventually, there was the merest flicker of a smile from Cosmas - no more than a flicker - and yet enough to stir hope in me for him. Chatty, however, was a different story. His face never changed. It was sullen, fearful and confused. I feared that there was nothing that would make him smile.
Then the harsh truth emerged. His mother had died just three months previously, leaving him with his three older siblings and a grandfather. How does a child so young even begin to comprehend where his mother is, or who will take care of him, or where his next meal is coming from? Perhaps even worse than this, where does he get hugs from and who kisses him goodnight?
This one child, Chatty, broke my heart.
Can we stand by and simply watch this happen? As Matt Redman wrote “there must be more than this”.
Mark 9:37 (Jesus speaking): “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me – God who sent me.” (The Message)
I walked away from that situation and for over two years, this little child haunted my thoughts. Why didn’t I embrace the boy? Why didn’t I just grab him and hug him? Has my own culture knocked out of me the sense to love a lonely child? Why didn’t I try harder with him? What made me sit around and simply watch?
Now in 2013, we went back to the rural village of Chilabula. We arrived at a house that I did not immediately recognize, but Burton, a local Care Worker told me that it was Chatty’s house. I was immediately both excited, and apprehensive. This time, however, I was determined not to miss the opportunity to move beyond just seeing him. I would embrace him.
We walked up to the house and I spotted Chatty, sat on the floor with his twenty year old big sister, who is also looking after her own child. This time, Chatty seemed more comfortable to visit with us.
Chatty still looks a little serious, even sullen, but things are definitely different now. Just like many other Zambian boys, he was happy to play with us and showed us his plastic bag ball, neatly banded together. Burton spoke to Chatty and asked him “Do you remember this man” at which he nodded his head in affirmation. I was blown away that he could remember me. But why should he? We did nothing out of the ordinary to help last time, and yet he remembered.
I tried to do what Dads do and I put my arm around him and tried to make him smile. It worked, and suddenly everything made a little more sense and felt worthwhile. Of course, this child was depressed and confused two years previously when his mother had so recently passed away, but today, we could see change in his life. The love, support and care that Burton and the local Care Workers have shown Chatty, along with the support of his older sister have transformed this little boy. Chatty still has a long way to go in his life and it takes a bit of time to see a smile, but the life in him is slowly emerging.
This year, Chatty broke my heart once again, but not in a hopeless, despairing way. He makes me cry, not because I do not know what to do but because I see hope in the eyes of this child and because I see love being poured into his life. I see that I can be part of making a difference for one boy, living 5000 miles away on the other side of the world.”
Chris and his church consider the community of Chilabula as part of their family, congregation and ministry. Every week, they pray for the community and the children they know by name and they look forward to the next opportunity to visit them.
To find out how you and your church can be a part of reaching vulnerable children across Africa, contact your local Hands at Work office.
For other countries please contact email@example.com
When Iain and Martin touched down on African soil in February 2013, it was to be the start of something special for them personally, and for their church back in the UK. Long term volunteers, Dan and Jen Waspe invited Iain and Martin to come and see for themselves what is happening through Hands at Work in Africa. Iain is the pastor, and Martin a church member from Dan’s childhood church, Battisford Free Church. Iain and Martin were keen to find out more about what Hands at Work is doing in Africa and to explore how they could be part of God’s story of transformation in a broken community. They wanted to challenge their church in the UK, to give sacrificially to more than just an organisation; they wanted to have a personal connection to their giving. Iain and Martin could see the privilege of their church becoming true partners with Hands at Work.
In the 2 weeks that Iain and Martin spent in South Africa, they were exposed to true brokenness and suffering. They saw for themselves just how devastated many communities are and how the orphan crisis continues to sweep across Africa. They saw vulnerability in its most severe form. Iain and Martin also experienced the beauty, vibrancy, richness and joy of Africa. They served alongside both local African people and volunteers from Hands at Work. They became part of the Hands family.