Ridgewood Church Reflections from South Africa 2018

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In June 2018, a group of four from New York and Texas who are affiliated with Hands U.S. partner churches Ridgewood Pentecostal Church in Brooklyn, NY, and Chinese Christian Church of Maryland in Silver Spring, MD, traveled to South Africa. During their week there, they spent time at the Hands at Work Hub, at the Oshoek Service Center, and in the communities of Mafambisa, Beeskop and Sthobela. Here are a few reflections from team members Corrin Chow, Hannah Waldvogel and Sini Varghese about their trip, which they shared in a newsletter to their supporters:

“We set out to visit the Sthobela Care Point… A place where children are fed, where relationship groups happen, where the church is involved, and where the community can come if they need help or assistance with anything. It was amazing to see how much this Care Point has grown. In 2015 I visited for the first time and saw a small kitchen serving a group of 50 children. Now, three years later that tiny kitchen has grown into a building overlooking the mountainous region of Oshoek. It serves 75 children, is known by the community, and has 7 care workers.” - Corrin Chow

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“We each got to paint our hands so our handprints could become individual leaves. The littlest ones went first and you could see a gleam of delight in their eyes. Even the older teenagers couldn’t wait to get their handprints… Every age and every gender was filled with joy. It was an honor to be a part of that moment. In those precious moments you could forget the language barrier and difficult circumstances. Love was tangible in the room, and it touched our hearts deeply.” - Corrin Chow

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“When it was time to hold the appreciation event with the Care Workers, we got to begin the morning by exchanging songs. Our group sang “God is so good” in English. It so happened that this song is also in Siswaiti and so the Care Workers were able to enjoy a familiar tune in another language. Rebecca led out a song about the vastness and depth of God’s love and how a love of this magnitude engulfs us. It was that same realization that permeated through each and every Care Worker during our card giving. There are beautiful stories of how each team member connected with the Care Worker they’d been praying for before even meeting one another.” - Corrin Chow

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“Before going to Oshoek, we had an afternoon of prayer, focusing on the Care Workers to whom we would be writing letters of encouragement… I felt that God had worked through me in spite of me. He used me in spite of my frustration even when I didn’t recognize it, teaching me to trust Him more in the future.” - Hannah Waldvogel

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“My view on missions has evolved since the trip to South Africa. I used to view missions work as  going and sharing the gospel. Now, I see there so much more to sharing the gospel. People can experience the love of Jesus through presence, encouragement and serving through daily life activities. I'm more grateful for international missionaries who give so much time and make sacrifices to serve. Their faithfulness will be seen, whether it's through this generation or generations later and the impact has eternal. This side of heaven will be filled with brokenness, disappointments, joy, and how much more beautiful and sweeter it be when we get to be home with our heavenly father!!” - Sini Varghese