Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

6/12: Unlikely characters, cabbage, and Crossroads

Today was to be our day of rest for the week. Ryan has taken on a terrible cold, and was in much need of extra rest; however, God had another agenda for the day… a wonderful one! We had a lunch meeting planned for 1:00 pm with a couple who has worked for Campus Crusade most of their lives, and are currently working with a program called Crossroads, which works with schools on HIV/AIDS prevention efforts. Paul Anderson, our friend and host for the few days we are in Pietermaritzburg, had been trying to set us up with some different projects in this area, but he did not expect to have anything until Friday. At about 8:40 am today (Thursday), he called to say that if we could be in town by 9:00 am, the director of Gateway could meet with us. We skipped our showers, and scrambled to quickly get ready and headed into town. We learned about the partnership of several churches that have come together in Pietermaritzburg to provide a wide array of programs, including a pregnancy center, a school of fashion, a sewing program, and a school. The organization is currently restructuring and exploring the most effective way to move forward. Currently most of the programs are located in the same area – a bit disconnected from the most needy areas of the city. We learned that they plan to move these programs closer to the population that would best utilize them.

As we walked out of the building, we began to say our goodbyes and prepared to leave for the morning. As we neared our cars, we met an older woman who was carrying a large cabbage. Yes, cabbage. She introduced herself as Edith Stevenson, and said she was heading out to one of the projects to drop off the cabbage, and asked if we would like to see the project, and when we replied “yes”, she said, “great, can you give me a ride?” We’re still not quite sure how she was planning on getting there in the first place? On our way out, we filled up the bed of the truck with bags of clothes, a basket of goods, a container of fuel, and several other items – including the cabbage. We also picked up Edith’s older sister, Rene. On the drive out to the project, we learned that Edith and Rene were born in the bush to missionary parents. They grew up in southern Africa, attending schools in Bualwayo, Ndola, and South Africa. They have committed their lives to serving God through their ministry to people. What a testament of faith! Rene struggled getting into and out of the car; she explained that she had been in the hospital for about six weeks not that long ago. She said, “If I were to retire, what would I do?” So, we dropped these two incredible women off at an old, abandoned factory, which they have helped to convert into a church, and are currently working on an effort to train local women how to sew and teach them to sell their products and provide for themselves and their families.

After our adventure with Edith and Rene, we headed back down to the Durban area to meet with John & Margaret Jacobson, with Crossroads. They have been with Crusades since 1968, serving in the US, Jamaica & South Africa. More recently, they have begun working with the Crossroads program focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention, particularly in the schools in Southern Africa. We watched an incredibly powerful video that they use in their trainings, and learned about their curriculum, which incorporates a strong HIV/AIDS prevention piece, as well as sharing the gospel.

We are excited to see how we may partner with these incredible organizations, churches, and individuals that we have met throughout this trip. Please be praying as we process all that we have seen and heard and make sense of the next steps.

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