We were recently interviewed by a blog called LFS Introduces about the work we have been doing in Masiphuemelele. We haven’t done as well as we’d hoped on keeping you up to date, but we hope some of our answers might fill those blank spaces. Click here to read the original article which is reproduced below.
Please introduce yourselves, and tell us about what you are doing in South Africa just now?
We are a newly married couple in our early twenties with a sneaking suspicion that Jesus has an amazing plan to see the World made new, humans brought back to relationship with himself and each other, and that the place we should be doing that right now is in Southern Africa. More formally though, Rachel grew up in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and has been serving Church plants, loving her nieces and nephews, and loves culture. I (Liam) grew up in Cornwall near England (that’s a South-West joke) studying Theology in Aberdeen with a background in Politics and Economics and until 4 months ago was working in the oil Industry.
We are working in South Africa helping facilitate locally led, home based simple churches/bible studies, giving people the tools and education to lift themselves out of oppressive poverty, teaching people the skills to have life giving family life and care for Children.
How did you get involved with/what inspired you to work with YWAM?
YWAM just happened to turn up at the right time really. We love YWAM’s core values and have some great friends who are involved in it. YWAM is also releasing and broad enough that you can pretty much work in any sphere under their banner.
All that being said although we are relationally connected with YWAM we don’t have any long term commitment as of yet, but their DTS* program (which we are currently involved in) seemed like a good intro to our more long term plans in South Africa. We are very much of the mind that we want to build a Kingdom not an empire, so as long as being involved with YWAM serves that we will probably stay connected with YWAM.
What is 2010 shaping up to look like for your work with YWAM?
Well from January to March we will be in South Africa continuing to scope out the land and make arrangements for our more long-term return later in the year. As part of the DTS program we are doing we have to go back to our sending YWAM base Kona for a little while, after that we are hoping to visit a few churches and friends in mainland USA for a couple of weeks up until end of April. Then from May to July we will be back in the UK to visit Churches, family and find some short-term employment to help towards our return to South Africa in August.
What is your favourite thing about the work you are doing?
We get to see people all day and we get the opportunity make a real difference to help them out of poverty.
Spiritual poverty: the sense that they don’t matter to God or have anywhere to take their burdens.
Financial poverty: helping people realise they can really step out of poverty and that it is something that is on God’s heart for them.
Relational poverty: networking them with people who care about them and want to engage in community with them.
All those areas are something that we are passionate about and so being able to work with people in those areas can be very enjoyable.
What is the most challenging thing about the work you are doing?
Situations that feel hopeless have been challenging, we are working in a community of 30,000 in a 2sq mile area – there is more depravity, poverty, and brokenness than I ever thought imaginable. We often see heart breaking injustice: an alcoholic mother who neglects her baby to the point of serious malnutrition; a refugee working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for not enough money to pay rent.
There is so much need, as soon as one problem seems to be solved; a new one comes to the fore. It just reminds us that this community needs more than just initiatives, programs or even money; it needs Jesus-centered restoration in every category.
Who do you have supporting you? How do they support you?
Our families particularly have been incredibly supportive; Rachel’s parents are even currently visiting with us. We have lots of faithful friends who pray for us regularly as well as keep in regular contact (which is actually more of a support than you would realise!). The Church I grew up in, in Cornwall has committed to pray for us as a church, and our house group and great friends in Banchory from the Aberdeen Vineyard Church really support us as our home community.
In relation to financial support, Rachel and I saved for around a year – I did some web design projects on the side back in the UK to raise money. We also asked people to gift us money for our wedding instead of the normal gift registries. A number of friends and family gave us generous one off gifts, a couple others have committed to giving to us monthly which has been of huge help but is less than 20% of our current monthly outgoings. Financial support is one of the main reasons we have to return to the UK for a few months this year.
Do you partner with any other organisations?
Yes, we love to in fact. We are working closely with All Nations, a local organisation focused on planting small simple churches in peoples houses. We are working with them to integrate a business training initiative we’ve been working on for some Zimbabwean refugees who can’t find work into a more advanced program that All Nations run. We are also working on a policy and advocacy level with Justice Acts/IOM, a part of the Counter Trafficking Coalition, on a human trafficking and prostitution prevention project for the World Cup later this year.
What piece of advice would you give to anyone that is thinking about doing mission/charity work overseas?
1) Do your research – cultivate a cultural, historical and spiritual understanding of the country, understand the main difference in the culture you are coming from and the one you are entering. Find out what groups are already at work there, and understand how you want to partner with them. Learn some of the language.
2) Create Community – lack of support is the number one reason people leave missionary work, whether it be an organisation you are working with, a home church, a house group, your family, friends, a society, find a group of people who will partner with you, believe in you and what you are working for, a support team is really integral to any long term sustainability in missions.
3) Love God, Love Others – Missions work, especially in developing nations can be relationally, emotionally and physically exhausting, if you are not rooted in an understanding of the Love of God for you, and for the people in the World it must be entirely unsustainable. Relational conflict amongst missionaries is another major reason people leave missions work, get ready to be humble, submit to each other in love, you will likely come with cultural baggage and other westerners will more likely rub you up the wrong way than the local population. Bonhoeffer said in his book on living in Christians Community called Life Together – “If you love the vision you have for community, you will destroy community. If you love the people around you, you will create community.” There is no integrity in showing the love of God to a local community if you can’t practice it between other people working to the same end.
How can others engage with you and support you in the work you are doing with YWAM?
I think I’ve already been too long winded so I’ll direct you to our website for that! –
Click here to help us by praying with us, follow us on our blog or you can sign up to receive our email updates. You can communicate our story to your local Church or housegroup and we would also hugely appreciate anyone prayerfully considering financially supporting the work we do in South Africa on a regular basis, you can find more about that here.
To Read the article in its original context and leave a comment click here.
If people would like to pray for you, what would you have them talk to God about on your behalf?
1. Safety – Everyday we are working in a community with a shockingly high violent crime and murder rate and sometimes getting involved in difficult social and family situations, we haven’t had any issues so far but we certainly need God’s continued protection as we seek to be light in the darkness here.
2. Wisdom – We could get involved and see meaningful transformation in almost every sphere of society if we were to give our time to it, so please pray that we would work in strategic areas to help bring about the radical transformation Jesus announced when he was on earth.
3. Marriage – We consider a strong and loving marriage to be one of our most compelling witnesses in a community with so much unfaithfulness and broken families, please pray that we would continue to grow in our love for each other and commitment to each other.
Thank you so much for sharing with us Liam & Rachel! We will be praying for you as you prepare to get settled long-term in South Africa.
To keep up to date with what Liam and Rachel are up to, and to find out more about the different ways people can support them go to their website & blog at www.liamandrachel.com