Recently my faith was tested. The South Africa team started our ‘SEED’ project— a six day self-guided service project—in Kayamandi, a suburb of Stellenbosch, characterized by high poverty rates and metal shacks lining the streets. The goal was to go out into the town and find a project we could start that would be sustainable. Aside from this, we also had the real project to keep in mind, to build and foster loving relationships with those we met.
Amidst the smells, noises, and colours, Kayamandi is very much a close-knit community, but it has its shadows, maybe more so than other places. Kayamandi has an exceptionally high crime rate due to the widespread adolescent drug abuse that is also the catalyst to a series of other problems. Our new acquaintance, Sandile, spoke of this issue through his own personal testimony—his son had also suffered the consequences of the effects of drugs, violence, and gangs and because this issue hit home for him, he was inspired to start a Non-Profit Drug Rehabilitation Program in Kayamandi.
The following days were spent conversing and planning with Sandile about how we could aid in this process. Our priority was to balance motivation and excitement with realistic approaches, and to create a network of resources he could build upon and use. We met with a number of organizations in Stellenbosch to discuss how to create a rehabilitation program in Kayamandi. Through these meetings we learned that the real need was a connection between resources already available in nearby Stellenbosch and those in need in Kayamandi, so we changed our approach and initiated the creation of a parent support group in Kayamandi, with the idea to have Sandile as the connection for his town.
It was very hard to proceed with the project and we agreed with Sandile that the best way to continue forward was for us to take a step back and leave him with the valuable connections that we had built with various organizations and levels of government. I opened my palms at my side, surrendering the stress of the project to God. We exchanged hugs and handshakes and departed Sandile’s house with the Xhosa saying, ‘hamba kahle,' meaning ‘go well.’ It was at this moment that I had to remind myself to rely on faith that God will do something great out of all the work we did.
I learned the importance of serving God wholeheartedly. It’s easy to be happy when you reap the rewards and satisfaction immediately after serving God, but it’s another thing when you can’t see what you left. We so desperately wanted to see a tangible finish. However, when all I could see was our trials, God was working behind the scenes, and I was reminded how easy it is to forget that. If your heart is in the right place, God will do the rest.
Coming out of this experience and even now, I pray for Sandile, his family and his son, as well as for the Kayamandi community. I ask myself, what does it mean to put God first and trust in him? And even more so, what does it mean to have faith as small as a mustard seed? That when all else fails, look to God. Matthew 17:20 says, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move; Nothing will be impossible to you.” When everything seems against you, trust in God who is for you.
– Sarah Zwicker, South Africa student, 2017-18