We went to South Africa three years ago filled with good intentions to make a difference. We had followed a sense of calling, and our desire to steward our gifts and experiences, and found ourselves living and serving in the township of Soshanguve with an InnerCHANGE team. Together, we were seeking to draw the marginalized into meaningful relationships with their Creator, bring holistic transformation in our community, and follow scripture's injunction "to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8).
When we arrived in Soshanguve, I longed to be busy and be doing “meaningful” things. I threw myself into our neighborhood kids’ club and other team activities. Our growing relationships with local young people developed into a “Teenagers’ Hangout” on Saturdays. I often found myself praying “God, use the work of my hands and my heart” as I muddled through the day, hoping that my actions meant something.
Faced with this challenge, our team surveyed our community, and asked how we could serve them.
As we listened to the response of those in the community, God nudged our team and the questions changed. Instead of simply asking how I could serve the community, I started to wonder how our community could serve together? What assets were already there that we could encourage?
Our team invited neighbors to partner with us in our different ministries, and to dream up new ideas. As we did this, it quickly became clear that I was not the only one wanting to find meaning. God was already at work in our neighborhood and friends; it was our task and privilege to partner with him and with them.
One week there was a new older face at our Teenagers’ Hangout. Loatile had heard some of the girls talking about our group, and wanted to get involved. As we talked afterwards and shared our stories, she spoke about her desire to see girls growing in self-esteem and making good life choices. We’re both so grateful for the friendship that grew: she found a team to help her to put those dreams into action, and I found a leader to connect with and love our teenage girls.
Over the past two years, the InnerCHANGE South Africa team has moved into a new season of supporting community leaders like Loatile. There are local apprentices being mentored, and they are the ones leading ministries such as our Teenagers’ Hangout. As one friend told me “I always knew I wanted to help, but now I know that I have something to give.”
My husband and I have now returned to Scotland, and it was such a gift to hand over our various activities to local leaders. I remember our team leader Luc quoting the African proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” That summarizes much of what I learned in this season.
Now, as I seek to establish life in our new neighborhood in a lower-income district of Glasgow, my focus won’t only be on my own hands, itching to be busy. Rather, as I seek to get to know our neighbors, I will look for opportunities for all of us to serve and to change the community together.
What About You?
Think about your areas of influence (family, work, community, church).
Where is God inviting you to pay attention and partner with him? Ask God to give you fresh eyes to see the potential in these areas, as well as the problems.
What opportunities are there for you to not only serve, but also to partner with others around you—maybe to help fulfill the dreams on their hearts?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Debbie Horrocks and her husband, Paul, live in Glasgow, Scotland. They served with InnerCHANGE in South Africa from 2013-2016 and are discerning the next place God has for them to live intentionally among the poor and marginalized in Scotland.
This post was first shared on the Blessed to Give Blog. Read the original here.