Our Season of Service program is more than short-term volunteering. We think that each person who dedicates their time, money, and talents towards working alongside us doesn’t just have the opportunity to give. We hope there is something incredible and life-changing to gain. We are dedicated to creating an atmosphere of belonging for everyone who comes to Ten Thousand Homes.
Our uVillage Campus is a place where anyone can feel safe enough to heal, to learn, and to grow. After all, homes are simply safe spaces. Every person on this planet has the need for a home, because we can’t heal and grow alone. It’s humbling when we get to hear the stories of this transformation happening.
Sarah joined us for a month-long Season of Service earlier this year. Today she is sharing about her experience in South Africa and the breakthrough that happened in her life during that time.
Last year I went through some pretty tough stuff. There was a lot going on, and none of it was really good. Then, to top it all off, I was sexually assaulted as I was heading to university one day.
My world fell apart. I didn’t know what to do, so I did the only thing I knew to do. I just kept going, taking each day as it came, even though I was dying on the inside. I couldn’t believe that God would let this happen to me. You see, I had already been through this before. I was raped as a child and had to work through that for many years. I still am. I had told God that I was frightened, that I was terrified of something happening again. He told me to trust Him. I did. And then it happened again.
As each day went by, I pushed God further and further away. People kept telling me that I just needed to let God heal me, but they just didn’t understand. I wasn’t going to let God do that again, because I couldn’t trust Him. I was better off taking matters into my own hands. I did this for quite a while, and did a terrible job of it.
When I found out I was able to go to South Africa with Ten Thousand Homes, I was super excited. I had dreamed my whole life of going to Africa and loving the children there. I couldn’t wait, and I was sure I was going to have some profound impact on someone else’s life. God was going to do amazing things for other people through me. At least that was my plan. God, of course, had other things in mind.
Because I felt at home at the uVillage campus, I felt comfortable to spend time with God and work on things with Him. I wasn’t nervous or feeling out of place. I felt a peace which I haven’t felt in a long time, and that helped me to open up to God. I think it helped me realise that it was why God brought me to TTH, to serve Him practically yes, but also to get away from the bustle of my life and spend time with Him.
While in South Africa, I used my free time to sit and talk to God. There were some lovely quiet spots with beautiful views. I would also use those spots to read a book I brought with me, which was about breaking free from your past and becoming the woman God has created you to be. One chapter especially challenged me. It was talking about forgiving people who may have hurt you in the past and giving it to God. At first I refused completely. How could anyone expect me to forgive these people? Obviously, I was going to hold onto bitterness and resentment for the rest of my life. I mean, how else was I supposed to live?
I think the thing that helped me the most during that time was seeing how dedicated the staff and other people were to spending time with God each and every day. And I loved the fact that they were all still human, they still had their faults and their own journeys. But they weren’t on the journey alone, they were doing it with God. That’s what made me understand that I couldn’t do it alone, that it was just hurting me even more, and I needed to invite God back into my journey again, because He is the only one who can get me where I need to go.
As God pursued me more during my month of volunteering, I realised that I was the only one suffering from my lack of forgiveness, not anyone else. I discovered that forgiveness does not mean what happened was okay. Forgiveness means what happened mattered, that it hurt, and that it was God’s place to judge and not mine. So, very slowly and hesitantly, I let go. I forgave. I voiced all the things which hurt me, and then gave them all to God. I actually said out loud that I forgave those who hurt me and they were now in God’s hands, not mine. Suddenly, it felt as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Suddenly, I could breathe easy again. Suddenly, I didn’t have to struggle through each day with the heavy load I was carrying. Suddenly, I felt something that I hadn’t felt for a long time. Freedom.
I cried. But these were tears of joy.
As I sat there smiling with tears streaming down my face, God came and nurtured me and spoke to me in that moment. He told me how much He loved me, that I was beautiful, and that I was priceless to Him. He told me I was worth fighting for, and nothing in this world could ever change my worth. And He told me I was an overcomer.
With these words treasured in my heart, I was able to leave my time at TTH and go back into the unknown with a renewed confidence. No matter what happens, no matter what I come up against, I know that I can overcome it, because I know my God will be with me every step of the way. I can say from experience that His plans are always best, always. Ten Thousand Homes is one of the best places to be vulnerable, because everyone else around you is too! Don’t let fear or anything else hold you back. Go there and experience God’s amazing freedom.