Mission Highlight: Thanks again, Michelle Tom, for sharing with us more about Hands at Work before you head back to Africa to serve. Here is what Michelle shared with us:
Good morning, Christ Church family. This Wednesday, I will return to Africa to continue serving with Hands at Work as a long term volunteer. I am currently based at Kachele in Zambia, where we have a growing community made up of international volunteers as well as local Africans. We come from different backgrounds and cultures, but we live and serve together in community as the body of Christ. As the Hands at Work family, we strive to live out our faith in a Kingdom culture with Christ as the foundation.
We envision the local church in Africa caring for the dying, orphans, and widows, and unified in the mission with the Church outside Africa. As many of you know, Christ Church, along with Wellspring and Grace Alameda, has partnered with Hands at Work to support the community of Mcheneka in Malawi and sent a joint missions team there in May of last year. During this last visit, Pastors Toby, Sam, and Jeff from the Bay Area churches along with local pastors from Mcheneka met with pastors from Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. As pastors from the international church, the local church, and the church on the hill met together, we hope that the churches will support and encourage one another as family members joined in a common cause to serve the poor and reach the most vulnerable. We want to build a relationship of mutual influence and spiritual growth within each congregation and learn how to support one another in that. We pray for the role of the churches, especially with the way forward, not just in Mcheneka as we would like to see this replicated in other communities with other church partners.
As we try to reach the poorest of the poor and to care for the most vulnerable in Africa, we work in communities that are broken and traumatized. We believe that the gospel and the love of Christ can bring healing and transformation. Only God can bring hope and redemption in the lives of our Care Workers and also the children and their caregivers whom they serve. We invite partners like Christ Church to pray with us as we seek ways to support the Care Workers in deepening the healing as many of them are just as hurt and broken as the children they visit each day. As we support the Care Workers, we feel they are able to better serve those in their community.
Hands at Work works across 8 sub-Saharan African countries, and in each country, there is a team of African Christian leaders who serve and support the local communities. This picture was taken at the end of October 2015 when our African leaders gathered at Kachele. We hope to continue developing these leaders and building capacity in their work roles. For example, to facilitate collective learning and also skills development, like how to plan and prioritize.
Part of my role this year will be to continue working with and supporting 2 of our Bookkeepers – one in the Democratic Republic of Congo and one in Malawi. They keep track of all the expenses related to our 3 Essential Services (food, basic healthcare and education) for each of the communities in those countries. While building capacity is important, the emphasis is on mentorship and discipleship and how we walk alongside each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. We pray that God will raise up more African leaders who are committed to serving the most vulnerable in their own communities.
My journey with Hands over the past few years has been one of seeking, surrendering, and trusting God. One of my prayer requests is that I will continue to learn to seek God with all my heart and to surrender fully to Him and not cling onto my own desires. Last year, there were often times when I felt incapable or inadequate in my role and that I didn’t know what I was doing. God helped me to realize that it’s not about me but that in my weakness, He is made strong as He reveals more of Himself. I want my identity to be firmly rooted in Christ and nothing else.
I can’t help but be amazed that this is my Father’s will for me. There are often moments when I feel so overwhelmingly blessed – to be a part of the Hands at Work family, to participate in the work that God is doing in and through His people to help bring hope to the most vulnerable, and to serve alongside our African brothers and sisters. Another prayer request is that God will help deepen my relationships with the Hands family at Kachele.
I’m excited to continue this journey when I return this week to serve with Hands at Work in Africa indefinitely. It’s an incredible privilege and one that I am so grateful for. Thank you for your support and prayers!