The places we have been, the people we have seen, and the adventures we have experienced are countless and unforgettable.
At the end of January we flew off to beautiful South Africa for 6 whole weeks. Our travels were definitely interesting because of various weather delays but even in these moments we were able to see God's hand at work. Whether that was times of bonding in the many hours in an airport or getting interviewed for the local news sharing about how we were worshiping God in the midst of our delays. God is bigger than our circumstances, FAR bigger. Throughout the weeks to follow we continued to see this truth in our lives.
Throughout the trip we had numerous chances to speak in front of thousands of high school students sharing our testimonies, to run around for hours with kids who simply longed for healthy/loving attention, got our hands dirty helping ministries get much needed repairs done, and had opportunities to walk the dusty streets to pray with any who wanted it. We could go on forever writing about the stories and experiences! But we will share just a few with you today.
On arriving in South Africa, we began in the capital city of Pretoria. We ministered in school assemblies and churches, as well as visiting various cultural sites to get to know this beautiful nation. As a leader, one of my favorite moments happened at one of the school assemblies during our first week of ministry. We never take the opportunity to share in high schools lightly. These are moments when we are able to bring the good news of Jesus to the lost and broken. At the outdoor assembly, we began by proclaiming the goodness of God in our lives through song and then shared a humorous, yet serious, skit telling the story of a modern day prodigal son. And all while doing that, it began to rain...and rain..and then rain even harder. So much so, the principle had to end the assembly early so the students could get indoors. In that moment we were so disappointed. We hadn't been able to share our personal testimonies nor the gospel message that we had planned. In the midst of that we were wondering why God did not make a way for us to continue to share what was so heavy on our hearts. But then in what seemed like a bad circumstance, the Lord turned into good! The principle asked if we would go into various classrooms and talk with the students and we were so thankful to have another opportunity to share with them.
As I walked down the corridor, passing the different classrooms, I could hear the team sharing their hearts. Walking past one classroom I heard a student sharing about how Jesus can bring healing and hope back into your life. Next a student was boldly proclaiming the love Jesus had for each of them and that they had purpose. In that moment I was completely overjoyed and a sense of fulfillment filled my soul. THIS is what we were created to do! To boldly and unashamedly proclaim the hope of Jesus. And here our team of 23 was stepping out of their comfort zones and simply sharing what Christ had done in their lives. There is truly NOTHING like sharing the story of an amazing God with those who so desperately need that hope. And this was only the beginning.
In the weeks to follow we spent time with three awesome ministries: Ten Thousand Homes, Masoyi Home Base Care, and Iris Ministries. While with them we helped with work projects (digging trenches, making concrete bricks, weeding, cleaning, etc) and had the chance to spend time with some of the liveliest little ones you ever met!
One moment that really stands out is the opportunity that some of our girls had to visit some local brothels with Iris Ministries. As they returned with tears still clinging to their faces you could see the change in their eyes. They had seen brokenness. Yet, it did not leave them in despair, instead it deepened the desire for hope & love to invade the lives of those who believed themselves worthless.
There are so many stories, so many encounters, yet how can we put them all to words or to fully describe what we experienced? We literally walked into homes that were no bigger than a car and saw joy restored in the midst of poverty. And with every opportunity of ministry we were blown away how the Lord orchestrated it all. He is bigger than anything we face and He knows what hearts need to hear. Almost everytime a student gave a testimony, someone would come up saying it was exactly what they needed to hear.
We could go on and on, but I think it would be best to hear from some of the team about their South Africa adventure...
My heart was definitely not ready to leave South Africa but it is so full of joy from the things God showed me over the past six weeks. We are so blessed to have a God Who wants a relationship with His creation! ~Sadi
One thing that I will never forget are the days I was able to spend at a children's feeding program in South Africa. I will never forget one little girl in particular. Her name was Mclethle, and the love I had for her was so big. Even though I had just met her and there was a language barrier, right away this undeniable love poured out of me. After spending time with her and loving on her, I was filled with joy, and God just told me that what I'm feeling is just an idea of what he feels for us. That even if we feel like we're far away from him, he still loves us with the same deep love he has always had for us. God taught me so many things while on these trips and I am so grateful I was able to experience all that I did. ~ Rachel
South Africa was an amazing journey that changed my life. I will never forget all the amazing people I got to meet & all the places that I got to visit. It is so great to serve a God that knows our hearts & desires to have relationship with us. God is so good...I can't wait to tell the world what God did for me in South Africa 2018!
After seeing and experiencing the moments I have in the past month, there’s no way I can be comfortable living a selfish life. There are too many people who don’t know they are worthy of a life of light instead of darkness, and restoration over brokenness. Carrying that promise of His light and His wholeness is all I ever want to do.
I have loved this nation and these people who have shown me real joy. Leaving it all is sad, but it only means that there’s a pretty big world out there filled with people who need to know they are loved. ~ Shannon
For us to say that this semester and those moments have flown by would be an understatement! Our time in South Africa was filled with joyous dancing at church services, meeting little ones who melted our hearts, putting our hands to work, and divine appointments with the beautiful people we encountered. This adventure is one that changed our lives and we will never forget it.