First, a little background…
Sarah and her husband Jay have been working with OC Africa for around 12 years with a focus on community development and uplifting area called Braamfischerville for the last 7 years. “Uplifting” basically means doing everything they can to help the people get out of poverty and walk in the abundant life Christ intended for them. They have created sustainable income generating projects, they sponsor an orphan boy to be able to keep him in school, they assist with health needs, they assisted with a starting a church, they do Bible studies, help with funerals, they plant gardens, expand people’s houses so that they can care for more orphans and foster children, showed the Passion movie at Easter time, and helped build a pre-school so the little kids could have a safe place to play and learn. If you knew all their challenges over the years, you too would be wildly impressed with their tenacity and the incredible things God has done in this small community.
Last Friday, Sarah was sharing about her sewing center project. The sewing center was birthed through the assistance of a short term team from the USA who came over with some sewing machines and patterns. Fast forward 2.5 years and now the sewing center has 5 ladies and 1 man on staff and although they are still struggling to see steady revenue come through, they are all making beautiful things and making money! Sarah proudly said, “They can make ANY kind of bag from generator covers to purses and there are several who are making their own patterns. They are extremely gifted individuals!”
Sarah has been going in weekly to do a Bible Study with them as a part of “leadership development” and has been taking them through the gospel of Mark. Recently, they talked through chapter 8 and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Sarah gave an invitation and she believes that all genuinely gave their lives to Jesus that day!! Isn’t that incredible?!!!!!
(Sarah with Judith)
Recently, Sarah was doing her personal Bible study and there was a theme about living generously and investing in eternal things coming through. She made a note to herself that someone was probably was going to request money from them soon. Sure enough, a couple hours later, the leader of the sewing center, Judith, phoned and through tears told Sarah this story:
Her daughter Palesa was the only student (out of 6-7 kids) in their community who passed her matric exams. (which are like really hard tests before you’d be granted your HS diploma in the US). She did it! She beat some incredible odds to stay in school, to learn, and to apply herself to get good grades! She was accepted into the Forensic Science program at the University of Johannesburg and would qualify for grants and loans to cover the cost. The only problem was that this family still owed the High School R500 ($70) for outstanding school fees. The school would not release her diploma/matric certificate until they paid the fees. Without the certificate, she would be unable to complete the paperwork to apply for financial aid (the financial aid deadline was a few days later). Without the financial aid there would be no University education, without the education, no career… You can see where this is going. Her future was hinging on $70/R500.
Sarah and Jay were able to give from what God has blessed them with to help this bright young lady have the chance to get a good education and create a life for herself.
They are impacting the nation of South Africa, one life at a time.
These are the stories that make my heart smile, and I think God’s heart smiles too!