Stories of transformation: Link4Life visit to South Africa

Two Link4Life visits to South Africa have taken place this summer; a schools visit followed by a team made up of church and community members from Great Wyrley and Cheslyn Hay. The 2013 Bishop’s Lent Appeal is enabling further investment in young leaders and has made it possible for two leaders from our partner Diocese of Matlosane, chosen by Bishop Steve Diseko, to be part of the second team.The following provides some stories of transformation taken from the second visit (July 22 to August9). Both visits focussed particularly on the charity Hands@Work but included making connections with Mercy Air and Baby Bear.




34 years old, a youth worker from Matlosane Diocese, selected by 


Steve Diseko

This has beena life changing three weeks for me. I have seen God’s love in action, working with and for those with no voice, especially the children orphaned as a result of their parents dying from HIV/AIDS. I am so thankful for this opportunity. I am looking forward to seeing how I can use these insights in my Diocese of Matlosane. Please pray for me as I discern the future shape of my ministry.




local journalist and marketing manager.

I came with my two 14 year old twin daughters on this trip with some apprehension. My husband died 15 months ago and time and time again I found my grief connecting with the grief of those we were meeting in the communities; orphans who had lost both parents, widows, grandmothers who had taken on the role of primary care giver. I seemed to spend most of the visit in tears but it was a deeply healing experience. As I return home I now call myself a Christian and hope that the Christians I have met doing such amazing work would give themselves a bit of credit!

RyanBickley – about to start A2 levels at Great Wyrley High School.

During this visit I have had a weird feeling that I am being called to something. I have been deeply touched by seeing the extreme hardships people are going through. I have been with Link4Life before to South Africa and I can see the difference in the Share Community where the Hands@Work charity is working. I can see we have to actually come here and not just send money. This trip has enabled me to take the first step in my faith. I have actually felt something; that I need to do something; that I have started on a journey of faith.

Maria Tabou – 

Youth Worker

from Holy Trinity, Heath Town

As a child growing up in Uganda I can remember that my passport has stamped in it the words ‘All countries except South Africa’. My mother said it was because of apartheid but I decided that if I was not welcome there as a black African then I certainly didn’t want to go there. When the opportunity came to go on this visit, some twenty years later, I felt it was time to resolve this deep sense of rejection and to seek forgiveness. Going to the Apartheid Museum on the day of our arrival in Johannesburg brought me to breaking point as I saw the pain experienced by black South Africans and yet the response of Nelson Mandela to break the cycle of retribution and to forgive. This visit has enabled me to fully let go of that resentment I had carried for all those years and to embrace forgiveness.

Bishop Steve Diseko: Matlosane Diocese.

Greetings to all our friends in Lichfield Diocese. This visit has been an important step forward in our partnership and in developing social action programme. We don’t yet know what will come out of this but we trust God. I am looking forward to debriefing with the two young leaders; Kagiso and Mmabatho, whom I sent to you.I am so grateful that they have had this opportunity as a result of Link4Life to learn with our partners.



Supervisor and experienced Hands@Work worker

I have been working with these care workers and orphans and vulnerable children in these very rural villages of South Africa. This visiting team has brought me fresh hope and encouragement. Not only me but also the twenty careworkers who look after the children day in and day out. Often the work is so hard and the pain of knowing their stories is so great. It was so good to see the careworkers enjoying watching the children play and engage with the young people in your team.

Rose Westwood;Link4Life Team Leader, Hands@Work member and World Mission Minister in Diocese of Lichfield.

It has been a tremendous privilege to be part of such a diverse team

; in fact we have called ourselves a collective to celebrate that diversity 


n which each is valued and each has an equal voice.

 We have learned so much about each other and have recognised a calling from God in each other to help the poor. We have 

witnessed astonishing courage and resilience in the communities we have visited and observed 

through Hands@Work 




. As a visiting team we have been very aware too of transformations in us as we have felt


utterly crushed by the pain and injustice of what we have seen

 as well as seeing that there are ways in which we 


can make a difference.

Millie Swan - age18, starting a gap year, going as a St Chads Volunteer to Qu’Appellein January.


n Britain, we don't dance.

Too reserved, how absurd


ould it be to expect us to jig or jive


r even allow our timid toes 


o tap to the rhythm of the drummers beat


read and meat of the soul

Gods heartbeat brought home


It's staccato, 

not a mournful bass that beats one two at an even pace.

It's a mad rhythm, glad rhythm, make you want to dance.

Infectious as can be it will get you with one glance. 

So come on


 leave your English reticence


nd join the wonderful wilderness dance


Next Steps:

In future we are planning for the Bishop’s Lent Appeal 2013 to be used to give an opportunity for other emerging leaders from both Lichfield and Matlosane Diocese to experience similar formative experiences for themselves. We are making plans for future visits both to and from South Africa duringthe next two years.

More details from:

Philip Swan, Director of World Mission