Almost 4 years ago, I left a big piece of my heart in a tiny country in Africa called Swaziland. After spending 3 months in a foreign missions context, I wasn’t ready to leave. As I flew home to South Carolina, I felt certain The Lord would let me be part of bringing His gospel to Africa again one day.
So you can imagine my excitement at the fact that I got the chance to lead Servant Life’s trip to South Africa. With me were Bailey, Jaime, and Mandi – 3 girls ready to be outside of their comfort zone for the sake of the gospel. I’m incredibly thankful that these are the three that The Lord hand picked to serve in South Africa.
With the exception of Jaime and Mandi, we all met for the first time in the Atlanta airport in mid- June. All three of the girls have traveled the world extensively and were excited for a new journey. After a pretty long 15 hour flight (there’s only so many times you can watch Frozen), a suitcase that didn’t make it, and an hour long drive north of Johannesburg, we finally made it to Refilwe.
The first night in South Africa is pretty much a blur. We arrived at Refilwe, turned on some heaters, (Side note: It is COLD at night in South Africa in June. Keep that in mind if you ever visit during their “winter!”), ate dinner, and called it a night.
For our first full day, we got a tour of Refilwe and all its resources. Refilwe is a children’s village set on acres and acres of land in Lanseria, an area just north of Johannesburg. On site at Refilwe is a pre-school, community center, a baby house, a clinic, several homes for foster/adoptive families and long-term volunteers, and an office. I was very surprised at the amount of ministries that are present right there at Refilwe.
We were thrilled to find out that we we were able to help out at the baby house on some of the mornings. [insert heart eye emoji here] The baby house is named El Roi – which is based on Genesis 16 where The Lord protects Hagar/ Ishmael and she says “I have seen Him who looks after me.” El Roi has taken in many abandoned babies, cared for them, and helped find them forever families. Currently, the women at El Roi are caring for 12 of the most adorable babies I’ve ever seen. Bailey and I got the great privilege of helping out at the baby house the morning of an adoption. We got to feed and play with little baby L before his parents officially made him a part of their family. Because of privacy reasons, we didn’t get to witness the actual adoption, but to be a part of the moments leading up to that life changing event is something I will never forget.
More than anything else on the trip, Baby L’s adoption was the most humbling part. That day made me stop and praise The Lord for His ultimate adoption of me. Like Ephesians 2 says, when I was dead in my trespasses and sins, following the course of the world, living with a spirit of disobedience, the God of the universe rescued me. My words can do no justice to what Scripture so beautifully tells: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4-5).” What an incredible picture of grace from a loving and just God. It’s just as wonderfully overwhelming 4 chapters earlier in Galatians 4 when Paul highlights our adoption and freedom. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God (Galatians 4:4-7).”
I would venture to say that nothing has provided such a rich and clear picture of the gospel for me as adoption. Baby L made no decisions in his adoption. As a sweet little baby, by God’s grace, he was taken in, cared for, and chosen by his parents. The same can be said of me. I had no part in my adoption. I cannot take any credit for becoming a part of The Lord’s family. It was in his infinite love that He chose me. He came to me. He redeemed me. HE! I’m beyond thankful that I serve a God who knew no sin but became sin so that I could become His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), that I might proclaim His glory to the end of the earth.
Glory to God for making me his daughter and for giving me a week in South Africa to be reminded of what I too easily take for granted: that He has made me His own.
– Alison Matthews