Testimonies From George, South Africa!

Challenge & Revelation, Missions, Photography

Victoria Bay

Sedgefield Community

Photo Credit: Cori Bridgeford

Knysna, South Africa is a beautiful place and I’m privileged to have traveled there. While it has many accommodations much more like America’s it still has squatter camps. These were not just any type of squatter camps. Shacks built on hills overlooking the grand homes closer to the beach, the mist of the ocean waves visible from their very front door. In the three and a half months I’ve been doing ministry in squatter camps I had never seen a community so desperate for God. The very first house we visited that week, God did a miracle. We met three women, sitting outside the door and we told them about the crusade. When we asked if we could pray for them, they led us to their mother who couldn’t walk. A frail old woman, named Sarah, lay curled up in her bed, muttering a few words to her daughter which she would translate to us. It had been thirteen years since she had walked. Sarah was in a lot of pain and had many medications trying to take it away. “I believe in Jesus.” She told us, “I believe He can heal me.” Excitedly we prayed for her, expecting the God of the Impossible to do a great miracle.

When we finished praying we asked if she felt any different and she said some of the pain was gone. She walked from her bedroom to the sitting area – a walk she had not made in 7 years! Two days later we stopped by again and were able to get to know the daughter, Sophie, better. She told us of how she took care of her mother Sarah and her son who was deaf and had a type of autism. With no job, she trusted the Lord for everything she had. Selflessly laying down her own needs for those of others, the stress on her face was evident. We began to pour into her the strength the Lord has for her, sharing scripture after scripture, her countenance had changed from burdened to joyful by the time we left!

The last night I saw Sophie at the crusade with a little girl who had been with us since the crusade had started earlier that week. We all knew her well, seeing her and playing with her so often. “This one is a soup-kitchen child.” Sophie told me, “I gave her a piece of bread.. I have my own problems!” While this woman had compassion she seemed quite irritated, still holding the little girl. When I asked where her parents were she responded saying the father was dead and the mother had disappeared. “Is she staying with you?” I asked. “No!” “Where does she stay then?” I asked. Sophie continued to talk about the soup kitchen and all I could think about was how this four year old girl had no family and was apparently getting food from the soup kitchens.

There are children who have no homes. Who don’t know where their family is or where their next meal is going to come from. This trip not only made me grow into the faith God gave me for his healing but opened my eyes to see the deeper reality that these people live in every day. Please be praying for the seeds sown in our times of ministry and that the Lord would continue  to work on their hearts!

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The Sweetest Birthday Gift

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates, Missions, Photography

I wake up to my favorite girls surrounding me, singing happy birthday with a plate of eggs, cinnamon pull apart bread, along with coffee made just the way I like it. I spent an hour in the Word and dressed for the day, doing my hair and make-up all in enough time to be out the door at 8:30. It was the last day of Holiday Kid’s Club (VBS) at Impact Kids and I helped run it with a few of the other interns. I was exhausted by lunch and the day wasn’t even half over! Rich and Michelle Franzen (founders of Impact Africa) surprised me with a triple chocolate mini-cake and all the kids sang happy birthday to me, I felt so special.

But that wasn’t all God had planned for my birthday.

That afternoon we visited a children’s hospital. What I saw was gut wrenching, jaw dropping, and tear spurring.

Row after row of cribs resembling cages full of children connected to oxygen tubes, many with stitches on their head and broken legs. While in America we would elevate your leg, South Africa is drastically different. With the kids here a bracket is screwed into each child’s knee to keep it elevated, restraining them from most movements a child would want to make. The extra crib piece on top holds the leg elevated but restrains from a parent reaching to hug their child, only a hand can be held. As we gave them simple toys and gifts their entire face lit up like Christmas morning for many of your children (or sometimes how you feel yourselves.)

Children's Hospital

These photos barely scratch the surface of how I felt that day. I hope they move you as much as they moved me to take them.

My favorite part of the day, though, was meeting a little boy whose name is so long and mispronounceable I will simply name him Samuel. This little boy looked at me with the biggest droopiest brown eyes, moaning as he breathed. I stuck my hand through the crib and rather than grabbing my finger, he clutched onto my arm. I couldn’t leave this little one, this was the reason I was here. I approached a nurse and asked her if I could hold him, she quickly replied, “Of course!” I turned around and picked this little boy up, his eyes lit with hope. I held him close to me and his arms wrapped around mine, I’d never felt a clutch so strong from someone so young before. He reached up and stroked my neck and his eyes began to droop. How long had it been since this little one had been held? Before we left I fed him, the other nurses tried unsuccessfully and nodded for me to try. I picked up the spoon, scooped up the food just the same as them and Samuel opened his mouth, willing to receive from a loving hand. Having the opportunity to pray over Samuel’s life and speak into it was the best birthday present I could ever have received. I know that this little one’s life was changed, but so was mine.

God is good.

Life updates, Missions

Well, if you haven’t heard already, I’m in South Africa for two weeks! I’m finally here and super stoked.

Today was our first full day here. After an 18-hour plane ride, you are more than happy to walk around and not feel like a cramped zombie.

We are staying at African Leadership Academy (ALA), girls in the dorms and men in the opposite side of the dorm housing. This school is made of only the best students from around Africa. Th atmosphere is amazing and the students are so polite. No weird food, and the weather here is gorgeous! They’re just starting summer and are in the short rainy season currently so it’ll rain at night and before we head out to the camps in the morning but clears up quickly by noon and although windy, very comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt.

After breakfast this morning we drove to Impact Africa’s offices and discussed the mission for this trip. After we met all the interns we drove over to the children center Impact Kids has set up next to one of the squatter (homeless) camps, in a township called Kya Sands. We ate lunch with the kids and took an hour or two to play and spend time with them. They were fascinated with my camera so I let them look through the viewfinder and snap away. Love looking at things through other’s perspectives.

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Next we went directly to Kya Sands, for a discipleship group in one of the shacks. There are little “shops” set up as you walk through, the interns show us the water pumps where everyone goes to collect water for baths, drinking, and washing. Trash litters the streets and glass is constantly under your feet. No one seems to mind, walking around barefoot. The children run up to you shouting, “sharp!” (pronounced shop) as a handshake or child-like greeting. They all play and wander around the community, mothers collectively watching out for the children, even if they’re not their own. Most of them have cell-phones even though they live in dilapidated shacks. Imports like BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghinis are cheaper here and Ford, Chevy, Toyota cost more and are considered high end because they are imported.

 

After an amazing time at discipleship we head over to a lady, Tu-Tu’s, shack. Word is she recently had a stroke, we arrive and find out she’s all by herself with no one to take care of her. Her left side is in a lot of pain and she has a hard time walking. She doesn’t have anyone to bring her water or a job to supply herself with a job. She wonders why God would make her and then she could be in this much pain. She says she wishes God would just take her. Tu-Tu tells us the people gossip about her and only come in her shack to see if she is dead yet. She hopes a lady who is just an acquaintance with her, Promise, will help her. She also tells us her father worries about her and she wants to go back home to Zimbabwe so she can die there. Hoping to give her hope, I tell her the story of Job. Telling her how Job lost everything and all his friends turned their backs against him, gossiping about him. I told her about of his unbreakable trust and faith in God and in the end God rewarded him with double what he originally had. “God will be your friend, you’re never alone. If you trust Him you won’t have to worry, He’ll take care of you.” After we pray for her she walks us out the door (she couldn’t stand before we left) and asks us to come back again tomorrow.

 

So excited with all that God is doing! Can’t wait to update you more!