We have been In South Africa for almost 4 weeks now and God has shown Himself faithful in many things. We have been very busy with ministry, school work, and visiting the beautiful sites of South Africa.
This week we worked with a ministry called Ten Thousand Homes. The name of the ministry sounds like they go around building homes everywhere, but in fact, they do so much more than that! Not only do they build homes for those in need, but they also do feeding programs in multiple communities, hold after school programs, sports clubs, and tutor the children, and they build water wells for various people and ministries. Many of our students were greatly impacted by this week!
Some students reflect on their thoughts from Ten Thousand Homes:
"Going to the hospital visit and the children's ward showed me a different side of missions. You're able to give love in simple ways and see hope in the children's eyes." -Alyssa
"I think it was different than the other ministries that we have worked with. We felt like a team with everyone from the organization, and they're very accepting even if they may not know you well." -Brittany
"Working with Ten Thousand Homes reminded me of the importance of simply caring for children! It was fantastic." -Tim
The following is a story from one of our leaders describing an experience she had during a hospital visit.
"As we took our first steps in South Africa, my intentions were for our students to get the most out of what they were about to experience. I knew that God was planning huge things for each of them, so my goal was to set them up for Him to move. As the trip went on I was touched by many things and seeing the students grow for themselves in the Lord was fulfilling. I thought that I was completing what God had for me here in South Africa. However, one day as we were working with Ten Thousand Homes, God did something amazing. We went with the leaders of the ministry to a hospital where we had the opportunity to visit the children's ward. Before we even stepped foot into the hall, the leaders told us that this specific ministry is one that is the hardest for them. As we walked through the hallway, my initial feeling was heartache and I understood what they meant. On one side of the hallway there were kids who were infected with HIV/AIDS or Tuberculosis, and on the other side of the hallway were kids recovering from all-over body burns, malnutrition, and much more. It was our ministry to talk with them and play with them. After walking through the ward I ended up in a room with three children. One was sitting up in his bed looking very sad, another was laying under his blanket with no movement or emotion, and the last child was curled up in a ball facing the wall. I began talking to the first child I mentioned. He was very shy, but one of our students, Chandler, came in and got him out of his bubble and they interacted with one another well. So I moved onto the second child who was under his blanket, lifeless. I began to speak with him and he barely knew English. I did as much as I could to encourage him and then prayed for him and left. I walked out of the room to move on to other kids. However, the Holy Spirit kept speaking to me to go back to the room and interact with the third child. I fought it for a while because of fear, but then I finally gave in and went back. Why was I so anxious about going back? The third child had a severe case of Cerebral Palsy. I wondered how God could even use me to encourage this child.
As I reentered the room, I looked to her bed and her position had changed. She was now facing out and was moving back and forth. I talked to the nurse standing in the room and confirmed with her what her disability was. I also asked how long she had been in the hospital for. The nurses answer took me by surprise. She answered, '10 years'. The sad truth about this hospital was that even though the government provides free health care, parents can drop their children off and then never come back for them again. I am assuming that she was born there and never left. So there I was, standing next to this child, not knowing what to do or what to say. So I simply began to talk with her like I would any other child. I would ask questions, I would tell her how beautiful she was, and I told her how much Jesus loved her. As I spoke to her I gently touched her face and played with her hair. Slowly, I began to notice that she was trying to look at me and pay attention to me. When I talked about Jesus to her it looked like a smile was forming on her face. As I continued, she began to lay against the railing, as close to me as she could, and she just rested there as I spoke to her. And then I heard God say, 'This is the most she has been touched in years'. In that moment, I wanted to break down in tears. Because she has been there for 10 years, she was considered one of the regulars. Who knows how often she was visited or how many times in a week she was touched. She was forgotten. She was in desperate need of love and affection. In the midst of my inner turmoil, God did something great! She laid down again and this time, she had a huge smile on her face - I could see all of her teeth! A person could feel the shift in the atmosphere. Something was different about her countenance. God spoke to me and said, 'Touches of love heal'. It was in those moments that I realized so much more about God's love. I could have worked so hard the entire trip trying to please Him, but all He wanted was simple obedience. He asked me to do something I was afraid and uncomfortable to do. He asked me to step out of my comfort zone and risk being ridiculed. He wanted me to obey Him when I didn't see any benefit. Simple obedience gives Him all the glory that is due to Him. I know that I was brought to South Africa for that one girl to feel God's loving touch, and it was my absolute honor to fulfill it." -Liz