Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bringing Freedom to Freedom Park

5:11 AM
Freedom Park. The name implies more optimism than what meets the eye. This squatter camp is home to more than 40,000 residents from all over Southern Africa. Rustenburg actually contains the world's largest platinum deposits, making mining a lucrative business. Thousands and thousands flocked to the area with hopes of employment and wealth. But for many, they found neither, and and thus Freedom Park became home to many. Along with utter poverty, disease and crime run rampant. According to rough numbers, of the 40,000 occupants over 75% test positive for HIV/AIDS. This is where our team began ministry this week. Partnering with Tapalogo, a hospice & home care NGO, we began to bring freedom to the residents of Freedom Park. One huge need they had was for an organized library for the Orphan & Vulnerable Children (OVC) after school program. Thousands of books & workbooks had been donated, but never organized or assembled. We worked hard and had it together in about 4 hours. We spent the rest of the day playing with and loving on some really precious children. Later in the week, we had the opportunity to follow the nurses from the Tapalogo Clinic of Freedom Park out on their home visits. We witnessed some real poverty firsthand. Houses – if you could call them that – were put together out of metal siding and whatever other scrap materials could be collected. One woman had turned her one room tin hut into a 3 bedroom home with just curtains and string. But what was even more apparent than the poverty, was the joy of these people. As we went from house to house to check on their health, we also offered prayer, which everyone eagerly accepted. One Xhosa woman couldn't contain her smile as she talked to us. But she was telling us how she had no food left in her house, no more money and no job to earn more. After we prayed for God's provision in this woman's life, we left some of our own lunches with her. One woman we prayed for had just moved into Freedom Park from Lesotho a few weeks ago, after her husband's death in the mines. She came with hopes of collecting his final paychecks, but so far hasn't received a dime. Her teenage son is also hoping to take his father's place in the mines to continue supporting his mother. The needs were great, but our Savior is greater. We humbly lifted each of His beautiful children up in prayer, knowing our words didn't fall on deaf ears. The proof we saw of that today was Shelley. A few months ago, some of the YWAM Rustenburg staff had prayed for her to find a job to support her fiancĂ© and young son, as all 3 of them were HIV positive. God intervened and Shelley was given a job the Tapalogo clinic. Shelley walked the streets of Freedom Park with us doing her job, stopping by her own home so we could meet her new husband and son and pray for them as well. God's eyes are on Freedom Park, and today we were able to be His hands and feet.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

About the author

Joy Muldoon is a full-time missionary and part-time blogger. Read about her travels, adventures, and missions here!