When two worlds collide…

When two worlds collide…

It was never going to be easy. That is, taking a group of people from a relatively privileged place and partnering them with others living with the challenges of poverty and lack in Vrygrond, an impoverished community just outside Constantiaberg.

First, however, let me give you some background to what I’m talking about: Champions for the Children, Common Good’s Early Childhood Development pilot programme – a programme aimed at providing relational, emotional and informational support around the development of babies and young children and increase the access to opportunities of families of the Vrygrond. The programme took shape, in the last four months, with pregnant mom or mom of a young child from the Vrygrond community paired up with women from Constantiaberg , Rondebosch and Durbanville.

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Despite the many challenges, I’m in awe of how God’s story unfolded and how many lives He touched. Here are some of the stories:

Let’s start with Sue* from Constantia. Driving through the dry, litter-strewn field spread in front of the township, she felt ready to give up before she had even started. Never having been in Vrygrond before, she was filled with trepidation and feelings of insecurity, she revealed to me. She was uneasy and nervous. What on earth made her think she could relate to anyone who lived in a community so foreign to hers? Why had she been so detached from reality to think she could play a role here? What if the woman she was paired with in Vrygrond rejected her? What if she didn’t like her? What if she perceived her to be a privileged white woman who had no idea of her hardships and realities? What if Sue’s car broke down? Would she be safe?…

God knew all this – and, despite her fear, sent her anyway. Fuelled with a belief in the importance of the first 1000 days of a baby’s life, Sue put her insecurities aside and went into the community. The result? ‘I will never be the same person!’ she says. She has learnt to see the beauty in the community of Vrygrond – ‘to see the smiling faces, playing children, small local industries dotted along the roadside and to feel the sense of community here’. And to feel the deep pain of the disparities and injustices she has seen. God has taken her out of herself and brought her to a place where she can say ‘Here I am, Lord, use me.’

Then there is Theresa*, a mother of two children who lives in Capricorn, near Vrygrond. One particular day will always stand out to me – the day when Theresa, with her pregnant belly bearing the life of her third baby, was astounded to see footage of a baby in the womb for the first time; to learn that her baby was sucking his thumb, dreaming, hiccoughing. The delight to know ­– for the first time – more about the life God was forming inside her was something indescribable, for everyone.

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THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness is at the heart of Jesus and was a cornerstone to the Champions for Children training. In order to reach a place of healing with the intention of being better mothers, participants explored the truth of forgiveness – of self and others. Nothing could have prepared Sophia* for the impact this would have on her family. After a particularly powerful session in which God revealed problematic areas in her behaviour towards her husband, she asked her husband for his forgiveness for the way she had been treating him. This was just the first small – yet big – step in repearing their broken relationship. The following day Sophia’s husband felt compelled to ask his boss for time off so that he could come down to where she was attending the programme and ask her forgiveness too. It was so out of character – and revealed such vulnerability – that their children noticed the positive difference in their behaviour and asked them what was happening!

The story of Liana*, a mother living in Vrygrond, is another example of how God is working to rebuild families and protect relationships. Liana was carrying bitterness, hurt and anger towards her step-parents to such an intensity that she has not spoken to them for 21 years! But, through Champions for Children, God changed her heart and way of thinking about them. She’s now looking for a way to take her own family to see them in George.

NOTHING CAN HOLD HIM BACK

I stand in awe of the fierce intensity of God’s love for each woman. He fought intensily to make a way for each women to experience the teaching and to build the relationships He had planned with Champions for the Children programme. There were cars that broke down, power cables that went amiss, a premature labour of one of the participants, abuse, drunkenness, fear; and yet, each time, God worked His miracles.

Nowhere is this more evident than through the story of Camilla*, a pregnant woman in Vrygrond, who lay sleeping and hungover in her bed one morning. In the next door room, the ladies from True North (the partner organisation running the programme with Common Good) had arrived to fetch another lady for the programme; instead they went into Camilla’s room as the other lady was not interested in coming. While Camilla had to be coaxed out of bed to attend the first day of the programme, she went on to learn about God’s great love and forgiveness; she’s since given her life to Him and was baptised. A life transformed!

I’ve not even began to tell you about Michelle*, the scared, expecting teen who now can’t wait to raise her baby; Annette* who has learnt patience and humility through relating with her Vrygrond partner; Caren* who is learning to open herself up and ask for help emotionally; and Jeanette* whose life circumstances have never allowed her to believe that God loves her, until now. We have watched with awe and continue to wait in expectation as we seek to impact the lives of babies and families in Vrygrond and to create relationships across divides. And always we are reminded of God’s presence, that He IS there – no matter how hard and confusing it sometimes seems.

It is all in His hands. He is in the big picture. And He is in the details!

*Names have been changed.

*Holding image credit: AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB

Show Love This Christmas

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This Christmas, you can impact the life of an expecting mom (and her unborn child) by giving her the access to an Early Childhood Development programme, like the one mentioned here. How? By purchasing an ECD Give Hope card for only R100. There are also other cards available, which all support Common Good initiatives. Click here for more info. These cards are on sale at Common Good involvement desks (Sundays) or at the Common Ground café and the Common Good offices during the week.

 

This post was written by
Leigh is wife to Steve and mother to little Amy. She's the Common Good activator for Common Ground Constantiaberg AM, Constantiaberg PM and Wynberg congregations.

3 Comments on "When two worlds collide…"

  • Kirsten says

    Leigh thank you so much for sharing the beauty of our God’s hand in communities (Constantiaberg and Vrygrond) He loves so much, He won’t leave them unchanged for His glory. In awe again, of how He works directly in the messiness of where we find ourselves now! Dreaming tearfully of the bigness our Dad is planning through Champions for the Children in 2015. Go big team!

  • “Living social justice”… wow.

  • This just shows what God will do IF we will let him. What amazing faith, miracles and love.

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