Worcester, South Africa
One day we went to provide food for a neighborhood in Worcester that is known for poverty and gang activity. When we arrived I was struck by the appearance - several rundown apartment buildings lined the courtyard, which was a giant stretch of dusty land; graffitied dumpsters sat, rusted and half full.
As we made our way to the center of the courtyard, the neighborhood children began making their way toward us; there was light in their eyes, a hope that broke my heart. I looked around, taking in my surroundings, and noticed that there were almost no adults among the children. The adults that chose not to emerge from their homes were peeking through tattered curtains to see what the fuss was all about. It was in that moment that I sensed the contrast of hope in the children and weariness in the adults.
We set up a big pot of soup and served from our van, parked in the middle of the courtyard. The children, each carrying some variation of bowl, cup, or giant spoon to receive their food, clambered toward us, hunger in their eyes. My heart sank as I realized I was looking at the face of starvation. This wasn’t the Western “starving,” where we throw the word around after missing an afternoon snack. No. For some of these children, this would be their first meal in two days, maybe more.
Once the food was gone and tummies were full, we were able to spend time hanging out with the kids.
Our entire team was enjoying getting to know the kids when three teenage guys approached me. I was guarded at first, but quickly realized that they were kind, polite, and genuine in their interest in our group. Soon Charles joined us and we were both able to answer their questions; we were also trying to get a feel for where they stood with the Lord.
As the conversation seemed to naturally end, Damien (the most talkative of the three) said, “Please, as you get on your plane back to America, will you pray for us?” Charles said, without hesitation, that we absolutely would. After he asked if there was anything specific they wanted us to pray for, Damien said, “There are just so many things in my life that need to change.”
I knew God was giving me this opportunity, so I took it! I told Damien and his friends about Jesus - that He is the only one who can truly transform their lives. I could see a sense of relief flood over them; they were so ready to leave their old lives behind.
My heart overflowed with a motherly love for them, and before I knew it, I was speaking words of life over them. I was speaking their destiny over them. They are men of God, created with purpose, passion, and a unique calling. I explained the simple, complete Gospel to them, and then I invited them to accept Jesus - to give their lives to Him and follow Him. He is so worth it.
One of the boys already knew Jesus and one wasn’t quite ready. But Damien was all in; he knew the changes he would have to make and the things he would be leaving behind, but he was ready.
Right there, in a dusty courtyard that looked abandoned, troubled, defeated, I saw Damien come alive with hope. I led him in a simple prayer that will forever change him.
Damien had a Bible, but didn’t know where to start. So I encouraged Him to start in the Gospels, then I connected him with a local YWAM staff member so he can receive quality discipleship as he cultivates this new relationship.
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