As Team Leeu wraps up our trip, we wanted to take a moment to pause and reflect on some of the things the Lord has done. 

The Lord has broken our hearts over the problem of fatherlessness, not just in South Africa, but also at home in the United States. The presence of a father is crucial in a child’s life and the lack of one causes many problems. Here, though, it has caused some to run to our Heavenly Father for comfort and protection. Many of these have reached out to others to help guide them to the Father as well, such as Maso in Eerste River and Simeon in Stellenbosch. 

We’ve seen ministries spring up out of a desire to help and serve others, such as Living Hope and the Dream Centre. Both have incredible stories of God’s provision, protection, and faithfulness. We’ve learned that following God’s leading can allow for Him to use us in powerful ways we never even imagined.

The entire team has experienced both growth and pruning in many areas. We’ve recognized idols of comfort and affirmation. We’ve cultivated a servant’s heart and want to get involved in ministry and serve others back home. Team Leeu learned that ministry does not always have to be halfway across the world, it can be at home in our neighborhoods. 

A common theme throughout our time has been joy and gratitude in all circumstances, even in the face of disappointment. South Africans are joyful and filled with gratitude for what they have. There are people in the world who have far less than we do in the West yet are more joyful and thankful than we are. Team Leeu has learned that complete reliance on the Lord and trust in him leads to many great things. We’ve heard story after story of last-ditch situations where God has miraculously pulled through. God is at work in South Africa but is also at work at home in the United States.  

We’ve also learned that self-reliance and complete autonomy is not always healthy or helpful. Teams are built by people sacrificing individual autonomy to cooperate for the greater good, and we struggled with that. Our team is made of many different and independent people, which caused conflict that we needed to work through together. Communication is key in any team, especially in the Body of Christ. 

Our devotional on this trip has been selections from “The True Vine” by Andrew Murray. Building off of John 15:1-2, it taught us about the relationship between Jesus (the True Vine), the Father (the Husbandman), and ourselves (the Branches) so that we may produce Fruit. This has permeated our trip and caused us to think deeper about Jesus and the Father and lean into them to live a Spirit-filled life. 

This trip has been difficult yet fruitful. In times of conflict or exhaustion, we’ve grown closer together and closer to the Lord. God has worked in each of us, drawing us closer to him and allowing us to recognize our dependence on him. We each have a new heart for ministry and for serving others. Idols have been exposed, strongholds have been broken, and we are ready to return to the States utterly changed, not looking back. 

Elizabeth Kessel