Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Place of Safety
(Written by Lorie)

One of the places we have been able to spend time at has been in a township called Soshanguve outside of Pretoria. For those of you who may not be familiar with South African history, a township is a place where all the black people were forced to live together during the years of apartheid (the legal separation of blacks and whites). It has been 12 years since the apartheid ended, but the townships still exist. Most of them have very limited resources with poor and unsafe conditions, many cases of HIV/AIDs, and like so many of us, broken spirits.

It has been there in Soshanguve that God seems to keep drawing us back to a children’s home called House of Joy. It was started by a loving woman named Thobile whose heart was filled with so much compassion to help children whose parents had died from AIDs and had no other place to go. She is an enormous inspiration to me. It is truly a place of safety for these twelve or so kids. All of the staff volunteer their time to help feed, care for, and love these kids. Thobile has been able to drum up some funds from local businesses to help pay for food and other necessities.

We’ve begun to know the staff and kids and have found that we have a place to serve there. Mike is using his technical skills to set the home up with a “computer center” so that the children can begin to learn computer skills. A company donated six computers (they are old, but they work!). It’s neat to see how God has gifted Mike and that he can easily and enjoyably step in and make something happen for them that would otherwise be put aside. It is a great gift that he is giving to these children as they step into the 21st century of technology!

Reed, Lacey, and Darcy enjoy seeing their new friends there, though they would like to spend more time with them outside. It is uncommon to have white people in a township, so for safety reasons, we stay inside most of the time. Reed runs around with the boys and is teaching them how to play “War” with playing cards. Of course, he wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to help dad set up that computer system either and he is quite capable!

Darcy will make a new friend with anyone so it has been fun to watch her hold hands, giggle, or try to communicate with a couple of the kids who only speak a tribal language. The girls love to have their nails painted and make-up applied, so I bring all that girly stuff and it seems to make room for good conversations, especially with the two older high school girls. Recently, Pretty (one of the girls) shared with me about her mom dying of AIDs. There is not only sadness on her face but shame as well. So much of me just wants to wrap my arms around her and tell her that she is loved, valued, and worthy. As our relationship develops, I hope to be able to meaningfully share that truth with her.

Of everyone in our family, it seems that Lacey has made the greatest impact so far. Back in February, she pleaded with Mike and I to help her set up a lemonade and cookie stand so that she could earn money to help the poor. She made a sign, drummed up business, and walked away with $111.00! This week, we rounded up Thobile, the kids, and the staff and Lacey got to explain what she did and presented them with 700 Rand! (Rand is the local currency in South Africa.) Thobile told her that great things come in little packages. As I watched her hand over that money and saw the expressions on all their faces (with tears in my eyes!), I was reminded of how God can use anyone and in any situation to serve His people for His purpose.

House of Joy is a place of safety for these children, and I do see the joy on their faces. Thobile has committed her life to serving God there and through that has brought happiness to an otherwise destitute group of kids.

Sometimes God calls us to provide a place of safety for others who cannot provide for themselves. Sometimes we need a place of safety from things that keep us far from peace, joy, and grace in our own lives.

Psalm 71:1-3
O Lord, you are my refuge; never let me be disgraced. Rescue me. Save me from my enemies, for you are just. Turn you ear to listen and set me free. Be to me a protecting rock of safety, where I am always welcome. Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and fortress.

Is there anyone in your life right now for whom you can provide a “place of safety”? Can you identify some areas of your life that keep you restless, stressful, or guarded? Find peace and safety in Jesus who will bend down and listen to you.

Thanks for all your friendship and love!


Blogger Julie said...

Okay, talk about bringing me to tears! I could barely finish reading this without having to wipe tears away from my face. It's so amazing to read about what you are doing there in South Africa and it is so neat to see how God is working through your whole family. Thanks so much for the updates and I will keep praying for your safety and that God continues to use you. I love you all! Love, Julie

10:50 AM  
Blogger Doah said...

I am deeply touched by this post Lorie. I cried as I got to the part where Lacey gave the 700 Rand to Thobile and the kids. Please tell her how proud I am and what an example she is of Christ's love and his free gift of grace. It is a rare moment here at my work, my kids have a long project to work on and I'm reading this (Yes, trying to audibly weep; rather just welling up with tears) here in class. The point being, I am taking your words and your question, "Is there anyone I can provide a place of safety for?" and I'm looking at these students to my right. My answer to your question, although it is often lost on me, is that these wonderful, not too well-off, third graders in Santa Ana need that place of safety from me and I need to create that environment for them. You've brought to mind what a wise colleague said to me many years ago: "For some of these students, this is the best part of their entire day." Thanks for reminding me of that. Again, I am blown-away by this post and it's WONDERFUL to read and SEE how God is using each and everyone of the Taylors while you are there. What a great ministry the Lord has found for you! Finally, your final question about restless, stressful, and guarded is a can of worms and would require a post, not a comment. You'll be missed and prayed for in Julian this weekend. I think I will print out your posts to date and share them with Jim and Loretta. Much love, Doah

11:44 AM  
Blogger Julie Haslinger said...

Wow! That was such a powerful story. It is cool to see God use everyone's personal gifts to make His prescence known. Lacey has always had that soft spot and now it's really showing through. She will never forget that moment.
Thanks for the challenge of looking around MY world to provide a space of nuturing and love to someone. My eyes are wide open! The Haslingers love you.
Julie and Fam

12:36 PM  
Blogger Chrisy said...

Mike and Lorie and kids,
Ok, I just finished crying my eyes out. I am amazed and in awe of Gods awesome love and how he can use you all to express it. Amazing grace and love God gives us all. And, he is letting you give it back. We need to do that everyday no matter where you are. Lorie, I hope you reach that girl and get an opportunity to make her feel loved and no shame in Gods eyes. We love you tons and are still praying for you daily. I really cant wait to get there and dive in where needed and where God wants me to be. Love Chrisy

8:25 AM  

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