This week our team ventured into the most dangerous community in the Eastern Cape: Lavender Hills. One of our team values is Joyful Resilience, which God gave us lots of opportunities to practice through sickness, fear, and humbling experiences. We worked with Rise Up, a ministry run by Pastor Ivan, who works full-time to be with the kids of Lavender Hills.  

Each morning we served cereal to the people in the community. Ms. Sharon has been doing this for 16 years, so the community knows to go to her for a meal. Afterward, we went to peoples’ homes in the community and heard their stories about gang violence and apartheid. It was good to hear the reality of their hardships, but also to see the tender and watchful care of the Lord. Each person we spoke to was unbelievably aware of the goodness of God and their praise of him was very encouraging. Every afternoon we got to spend time playing with kids in the community. It was obvious that their home lives weren’t good and it was a blessing to love these kids and share Jesus with them. 

One particular moment our team got to practice Joyful Resilience was when Pastor Ivan asked us to get the cereal for the next morning. We thought we were supposed to get five bags of cereal. We got eight bags of cereal and were glad to be helping Pastor Ivan out even more than he had asked. The next morning we told Pastor that we got some extra bags for him, but it turned out he had asked for double, meaning we were three bags short. We felt very knocked down and humbled at that moment. But we pressed forward anyway with what we had. God stretched the eight bags that we had and for the first time that week, we were able to feed everyone who came to us– and we had extra bags at the end!  

It was so good to see God move. This was just one way we saw him provide for his people in Lavender Hills. God is truly faithful and sustaining. I (Emma) think we can all agree that we’ve seen God taking care of people here and can rest in knowing that while we only played a small part, God is with them for eternity.

One thing that God has been teaching me this week is the fruit of faithfulness. After working with Living Hope and hearing Pastor Ivan’s story, God has been highlighting the act of living by faith and his faithfulness to us. I feel refreshed by the idea that I can work in God’s Kingdom and give my all, but know that he is faithful to come through in places where I can’t. 

We ended the trip with our hearts full of gratitude for what we experienced and what we learned about ourselves and God. It will be good to continue to implement what this culture has taught us–full dependency on his faithfulness– into our lives as we had back into life in the States.  

Emma Williams