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72 Eye-opening Hours in South Africa

It was a long trip for a short time – packed with fresh revelations at every turn. Ernie and I went to prepare the way for our first Reaching Team to serve orphans north of Johannesburg. We returned with excitement as we realized the contributions our team can make, the impact this serving experience could have on them, and the significant vision we’d be taking part in.

South Africa ranks #4 in the world for victims of HIV/AIDS, leaving behind a human debris field of widows, orphans and poverty. Long-term GFC global partner Jacqui Bland has served in South Africa for the past 5 years. While conducting leadership development training, one of her classes decided they had to apply what Jacqui taught them. So in 2009 they formed a non-profit organization and began to address the orphan epidemic around them. HOPE OF GLORY’S vision is “to give children a chance by establishing a place of safety whereby they gain life skills rooted in a faith-based foundation as a part of their life purpose in order to contribute to South African society in an effective and productive way.”

While the Gospel came to Africa over 150 years ago, it continues to be tainted with deep-rooted world view of witchcraft and ancestor worship. The church is badly weakened by formalism, emotionalism, power-struggles, and spiritual immaturity. Jacqui’s friends Violet and Monica experienced life transformation through Jacqui’s discipling ministry. Along with other colleagues, they are passionate about the vision of raising up an army of mature Christ-followers from amongst the innumerable orphans and “vulnerables” in this region.

Hope of Glory serves over 170 orphans in the region surrounding the facility – which is the home of Violet’s father. Nearly 60 showed up while we were there. Ernie kicked the soccer ball around with the boy while the girls jumped rope. The leaders gathering them all together to sing the South African national anthem for us, then listen intently as I told a biblical story from the Gospel of Mark. Meal time proved that these are hungry bunch of kids! But also a very respectful and grateful group who cared for each other. Most of them have lost parents and are being raised by a grandmother (“Granny”) or neighbor. Many of them are vulnerable to abuse with little way to defend themselves.

I was impressed. More than impressed, my heart was caught with the dream of mobilizing GFC members to assist HOPE OF GLORY in their God-sized quest of transforming these lives and this community.

For our June 2015 Reaching Team we are looking for those with:
…. Medical skills who can provide basic health checkups for the children
…. Public health knowledge who can give instruction on hygiene and health practices
…. Construction skills who can assist with a variety of building projects
…. Child-life skills who can connect with the children to minister to their needs.

And even if you don't fall into these categories, there can be a place for you on the team!

Reaching Team members will grow through the preparation and serving process as they learn about the culture and history of South Africa, the context of missions and the church, the realities of HIV/AIDS and poverty, and more. I expect it to be an intensive and stretching spiritual formation experience for all involved. Check out our webpage for more information and to access the application.

Reach South Africa holds promise for the transformation of countless lives, both ours and theirs.

Larry Nees

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