Thursday, July 31, 2008

Leaving in 4 hours

To say the last few weeks have been hectic would be an understatement. I know everyone has been trying to tie up loose ends and we have all been in constant communication and prayer. It is hard to believe we leave in a few short hours. I wanted to enter a quick blog entry to at least set some expectations for the blog and talk a little about what we will be doing.

The blog will probably not be updated more than a few times over the next two weeks. We tend to get very busy and it is actually better for the team to stay focused on the trip rather than constant communication with home. We will fully update the blog when we return so check back again about a week after the trip to read the details.

Last summer we searched for a new organization to work with and landed with Bridges Of Hope outside Cape Town. This will be our first team with this new partnership.

ROCKHarbor has adopted Sweet Home, one of the poorest places I have ever been and a place with zero opportunity for residents. Bridges Of Hope has been working for the past five years in a neighboring community called Phillipe and the changes are miraculous. Their goal is to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of the community by raising up and listening to leaders in that community. Once the leaders have identified the needs we work on the top needs until that top need changes. It is a drastic change from the normal American/Western solution where we come into a community and give them something they may or may not need, like a well, a sewage system, a road or a house. It is also different in that it is mostly development with relief given only when absolutely necessary. They help the community meet the felt needs, not simply meet those needs for the community. This is done through training, micro-lending or just coming along side and helping to solve the biggest problems these communities face.

This is such a simple change, but has made a profound difference in the behavior in both the community residents and we who are serving that community. It is an amazing process and we are excited to see the changes in Sweet Home over the coming years.

After about two years the top need in Phillipe became orphans. What could anyone possibly do to help the 1.2 million children that are orphaned due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa every year? Many of those orphans are in the cape flats area where Phillipe and Sweet Home are located.

The South African government has been steadily moving away from state run orphanages. They are very difficult places. Bridges had purchased some amazing land near Franschoek in a wind producing area that is like Napa Valley. They had been running retreats for the leaders and residents in Phillipe. They came upon the idea of creating a boarding school. In South Africa, the elite attend boarding schools. Except this one would be populated with orphans from Cape Flats. They would still have to return to the township when school was out, but this was a great opportunity for a top knotch education and the added benefit of taking that knowledge back into the township.

We have been given the opportunity to teach over 30 classes at the Academy over the next two weeks. Everyone will be teaching something and most are on the gifts each person has been given. From math to computers, to business, to life lessons. Everyone has been working extremely hard to come up with suitable coursework.

We have also split our team into three groups. The childrens ministry will be running a VBS (Vacation Bible School) in Sweet Home. The Sweet Home team will be running an alcohol awareness and recovery training and the Academy team will be running an after school program and helping the students put on a play (High School Musical).

We have a huge schedule in front of us and have been preparing very hard over the past six months. We are all looking forward to working in this new ministry. Please pray for team unity, safety and strength as we work in South Africa over the next two weeks.


Unknown said...

Thanks Wood for this summary. I've been trying to explain what you are doing and I'm afraid I probably left out some important parts. I can email them the link to this page for better info.

Madimetja said...

This is by far one of the greatest initiatives I have, come accross in a while. Education is the key to open many doors. Good luck.
Anna Maliboho