Westmont Magazine My Summer as a Missionary
Maybe it seems strange to some that I, a 22-year-old with a lot to offer the world, would set aside the offerings of the world and come to South Africa to work among such intense suffering. My life in the United States was nice — great friends, great church family, great job and great potential. As Luke 12:48b says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask more.”
My goal in serving in South Africa has sharpened: It is not to overcome death, but to bring hope in life and death. This hope comes through salvation in Christ Jesus and the real love He offers to each of us. As Christ’s love is a love of action, so is the love I attempt to imitate. The action includes my obedience to serving here and struggling to combat the destruction of apartheid and AIDS, which are the great contributors of the physical, emotional, and spiritual deaths here in South Africa.
,p>This work, though sometimes difficult, is a complete blessing in my eyes. I work for the betterment of others and their situations. I work toward education for people here and in the rest of the world that leads to understanding and a heart that’s stirred, and a subsequent change of worldview that the gospel of Christ might be heard.
There are five of us on the Bridges of Hope committee, and we have each teamed up with a member of the Philippi community. I am serving with Elizabeth, a health-care worker. Her role involves organizing and sustaining home visits to the very sick, distributing food and medicine parcels to those in need, developing a community garden, establishing small chicken farms to provide a small income for the health-care workers who now volunteer, and hosting knitting workshops for HIV victims and promoting their products as a micro-business.
I felt very unsure about stepping into such a position, but Elizabeth indicated that my presence alone gave her and the other health-care workers a boost of encouragement to continue in their volunteer work. She was excited to have my skills, creativity and vision to see things become better.
Things like the knitting workshop have much more value than the micro-business that might come forth. Many of the women are unemployed and have nothing to do all day; this gives them something to do. It brings them together so they can talk and encourage each other. The knitting sessions are a precious sight to see: many women sitting in a circle, working diligently. Then, every once in a while, they break out into song. Some of them even stand up and start dancing! It’s a beautiful song and beautiful dancing. They have babies tied to their backs, cloths wrapped around their heads, and the biggest smiles you’ve ever seen.
What do I hope to accomplish? I hope to encourage the women to a point where they understand they can do it. They can lead their community and make a positive difference. They are equipped. Ideally, our team wants to be able to leave, knowing that everything would continue and only get better. Most of all, though, I hope the community of Philippi encounters the love of Christ in a way they never have experienced.
Here is a definition of hope: the unseen eternal promises of Christ. I daily live by the hope I find in Christ alone, because, apart from Him, the world is, well, hopeless. My struggling would be in vain if I didn’t know there was a greater end to it all and a better way to live here on earth: a life of peace and love and freedom.
Rachel and another Westmont graduate, Grace Chisholm ’03, have agreed to stay and work with the organization for at least another nine months.