Ten young people and three adults from churches in Guildford and Southwark dioceses were humbled and inspired after visiting Cape Town, South Africa, for two weeks in July to experience living and working in an area of need – providing a holiday club, preparing and distributing food and helping restore local community gardens.
The group was touched by the ‘simple but heartfelt’ worship, and came home with a deeper sense of their own faith and mission to serve God.
The joint mission was organised and led by the director of youth ministry in Ashtead, Grant Everson, who has previously served as a youth worker in Cape Town.
Hannah Warnock, 18, of Ashtead, shares her reflections on a faith-growing experience: “I had not prepared for the way that the trip inspired and allowed me to grow in my faith. One main reason for this was the fantastic team of South Africans that were part of our leadership group. The way that we bonded with such speed and affection was truly remarkable. And this feeling of love and unity was reflected in our relationships with the children.
“I really appreciated the simple but heartfelt worship of Jesus as we witnessed the children worshipping God, some for the first time. I could really feel God’s love radiating out to the children as we worshipped in the most undignified but honest way we could, watching their beaming smiles as they danced around the church hall. For me it truly captured the meaning of worshipping God.
“After the Holiday Club, we visited a community named Westlake, a deprived neighbourhood next to a prison. A number of us helped prepare a meal for the children in the community. We made around 400 sandwiches to take onto the street corner and give to the local children.
“This was probably my most humbling experience of the trip. The lady at Westlake simply told us to use our judgement when giving out the food, and I was extremely conscious of the level of responsibility this placed on us as the children came flooding towards us in queues.
“Their consciousness of not taking more food than they needed and their grateful words of thanks further highlighted the reliance these children have on the community centre to provide vital things like a lunchtime meal every day.
“I enjoyed every moment of the trip and really felt God taking away burdens that I had carried in England for a long time. This freedom allowed me to throw myself into serving the children, but also enjoying everything life has to offer through amazing friends, welcoming hosts and the power of God working through communities in Cape Town.”
Caption: Hannah (right) and Jenny Coffin with some of the local children they met in the Westlake community