Community Project

South Africa

Intro and History 

Servant Life partnered with Mission Sebenzela from 2004-2010 to provide opportunities for Americans to serve in South Africa. Led by Steve and Teresa Kinsley, Mission Sebenzela served in the Lanseria region outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, with a heart to serve others and spread the Gospel of Christ. Much of their ministry consisted of meeting the needs of the community around them.

One particular organization that Mission Sebenzela worked with during those years was Refilwe Community Project, led by Jaco van Schalkwyk.

Servant Life has continued its partnership with Refilwe Community Project in sending teams to South Africa. The teams serve at Refilwe by hosting day camps for the children from the local community and building relationships with the children who live at Refilwe.

Refilwe Community Project serves the impoverished district of Lanseria, just north of Johannesburg, through childcare programs and sustainable community development initiatives. In existence since 1991, Refilwe has grown from a small healthcare clinic to a 40+ acre facility housing a library, school, daycare center, HIV/AIDS training center, community garden, and homes for orphaned children. It is truly an outreach project to the people of Lanseria, all done under the banner of Christ.

What will my team be doing? Mostly you will be ministering to the children that live on site at Refilwe through evangelism, after school care, and Saturday kids club.  You'll also get to spend time evangelizing in Joe Slovo, the neighboring township that is home to many who don't know Christ. At the end of your trip, you'll get to enjoy an afternoon at the Lion and Rhino park as well as the Apartheid Museum. 

What does my cost include?
• In-country transportation
• Housing
• Meals
• Supplemental Traveler's Insurance
• T-Shirt
• Pre-Trip Training Manual
• Pre, During, and Post-trip Devotionals

Airfare is not included in this cost, but Servant Life does offer to book all airfare reservations.

Learn more about the ministry of the Refilwe Community Project at





South Africans make tea from dried elephant dung to induce labor in pregnant women. Scientists have discovered that it contains Pitocin, a chemical manufactured for the same purpose.

South African English contains several unexpected idioms. For example, when South Africans say they will do something "just now," it means they will do it later. "Now now" means right away.

The flight between New York and Johannesburg is one of the longest nonstop commercial flights in the world. The trip covers 8,000 mi/13,000 km in a mere 14.25 hours.

South Africans tend to affectionately abbreviate the names of their cities. As such, Durban is known locally as Durbs, Port Elizabeth as P.E., Pietermaritzburg as 'maritzburg and Jeffrey's Bay as J Bay. Johannesburg, which has long been known as Jo'burg or Joeys, has recently acquired the more African-style moniker of Jozi.

Governmental separation of powers has more than philosophical standing in South Africa. There are actually three distinct capitals: Cape Town is the legislative capital, Pretoria is the administrative capital, and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital.

The independent and mountainous nation of Lesotho is completely within the borders of South Africa.

Capital City

South Africa has three capital cities: Cape Town, Pretoria, and Bloemfontein.

Cape Town
Cape Town is the largest of South Africa's three capital cities, and is the second most-populous, and largest in land area in all of south Afica. Cape Town is considered the Legislative Capital, meaning this is where the National Parliament and many government offices are located. Due to the large number of tourists and residents in Cape Town, it is considered one of the must culturally diverse cities in all the world.

Pretoria is South Africa's Executive (administrative) Capital. Originally known as Pretoria Philladelphia, Pretoria is located in the north-eastern section of South Africa, about 50km (30 miles) north of Johannesburg. Tourist attractions within Pretoria include the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, the Pretoria National Botanical Garden, mulitple museums, and several smaller parks and gardens.

Popularly known as the "city of roses" for the abundance of flowers and flower festivals held here, Bloemfontein is South Africa's Judicial Capital. This city is an administrative centre and home to many private hospitals and educational institutions. It is located in central South Africa and is host to several sports such as stadia, football, rugby, cricket, soaring, and motor sports.

Personal Safety

Spread your valuables in various places: Keep some with you and leave some in a safe place. Never walk alone and don't wear expensive jewelry visibly.

For the latest information, contact your country's travel-advisory agency.


This is one of the few countries in Africa where you can drink the water in major cities and eat salads or unpeeled fresh vegetables and assume proper sanitation standards are followed. Don't, however, swim in any lake or river without checking first. Take along plenty of sunscreen, insect repellent and a pair of comfortable walking shoes.

For more information, contact your country's health-advisory agency.

Dos and Don'ts 

Don't photograph the people or their homes and livestock without asking permission first, and don't be offended if you're asked to pay for the privilege.

Do bring pictures of your family and friends. South Africans will love to see them.

Do bring plenty of insect repellant.


Official Name: Republic of South Africa.

Passport/Visa Requirements: All foreign nationals need a passport, valid for six months after the intended date of departure.

Reconfirm travel documentation requirements with your carrier before departure.

Capital: Pretoria (administrative), Cape Town (legislative) and Bloemfontein (judicial).

Population: 44,344,136.

Languages: Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Pedi, English, Tswana, Sotho, Tsonga, Swati, Venda, Nedebele.

Predominant Religions: Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Animist.

Time Zone: 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+2 GMT). Daylight Saving Time is not observed.

Voltage Requirements: 220 volts.

Telephone Codes: 27, country code; 21, city code for Cape Town; 11, city code for Johannesburg; 12, city code for Pretoria.

South Africa occupies the southern tip of Africa, its long coastline stretching more than 2,500km from the desert border with Namibia on the Atlantic coast southwards around the tip of Africa and then north to the border with subtropical Mozambique on the Indian Ocean. South Africa is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is one of the most socially, economically and infrastructurally developed countries on the continent of Africa.


Currency Exchange

The South African rand (ZAR) has undergone something of a roller-coaster ride against other international currencies since the 1994 election. At one point, the exchange rate dropped as low as ZAR 13 to the U.S. dollar, but it has since recovered to trade within a band of around ZAR 6-7. Major credit cards and traveler's checks are widely accepted. In cities and large towns, ATMs are plentiful sources for obtaining local currency using any major international credit or debit card. Smaller towns and villages will often have at least one ATM, but don't count on it being in working order. For security reasons, we recommend that you only use ATMs that are inside a bank or other institution.

Currency Exchange Rates


US Dollar S African rand US Dollar S African rand
$10 74.68 $200 1,493.65
$20 149.37 $400 2,987.30
$30 224.05 $600 4,480.96
$40 298.73 $800 5,974.61
$50 373.41 $1000 7,468.26
$60 448.10 $1200 8,961.91
$70 522.78 $1400 10,455.56
$80 597.46 $1600 11,949.22
$90 672.14 $1800 13,442.87
$100 746.83 $2000 14,936.52

South Africa has a value-added tax (VAT) that is included in prices marked on goods. Nonresidents can obtain a refund of the VAT on certain purchased goods. The total value of the items should exceed ZAR 250. To claim your refund at the airport, have the unused items with you in your carry-on luggage to present to the refund officer. You'll also need the original receipt, a VAT refund form and your passport.

Tip taxi drivers about 10% and give a small tip to hotel porters. In restaurants, tip at least 10% if a service charge has not been added to the bill.



The climate is mild throughout South Africa. There's really not a bad time to visit, but October is sometimes considered the best month—it's spring then, an ideal season for touring. Snow is a possibility June-August in the mountain areas. It generally rains in the afternoon during the summer (November-February) everywhere in the country except in the Cape Province, where it rains during the winter. It is always wise to bring a light jacket or raincaot for the rainy days.


The most common forms of transportation are buses and taxis in South Africa.

Servant Life will take care of all of your in-country travel arrangements.

Servant Life has missions opportunities in Cuba, El Salvador, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Uganda, Kenya, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Haiti, United Kingdom, East Asia, Dominican Republic, Houston, Dallas, New York City, Memphis, St. Louis, Montreal, and Toronto Canada.

Who Can Go
If registering and traveling with their church group, students must be 14 years old or older to participate in a Servant Life missions experience. If registering as an individual participant without an adult, students must be 16 years old or older. Student groups, college groups, adults, and individuals are all welcome on Servant Life mission trips. Teams may be made up of groups and/or individuals.

Trip Cost
Servant Life trips are priced at a BASE COST PLUS AIRFARE. The base cost varies per country and can be found by clicking on the link for a trip.

Airfare Information
Servant Life will book all airfare through our travel agency. Everyone on your team must travel together. We book group airline tickets and cannot accommodate special requests for different individual flights. Due to commitments to our missionaries to have groups there on set dates, trip dates are not flexible. Once a ticket has been purchased in your name, it must be paid for regardless of circumstances. All tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable.

Servant Life works with missionary partners in each country. Your team will be helping our missionary partner with various needs, and exact details may vary from trip to trip. Specific details for each missions experience can be found by clicking on the trip's link.

We encourage anyone interested in a Servant Life missions experience to go ahead and apply for a passport. The amount of time it takes to get a passport varies, and we cannot book plane tickets without a copy of each person’s passport. Any costs associated with obtaining a passport are solely your responsibility. You can download a passport application and read instructions on obtaining a passport online at

Immunizations and any costs related to them are the sole responsibility of the trip participant. All childhood immunizations must be complete (measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus). We also HIGHLY advise any immunizations recommended by your physician and/or the CDC for the area of travel. Both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are strongly recommended for all international travel. It is solely the traveler’s responsibility to obtain information on required/recommended travel immunizations and travel precautions for the area. The CDC website is and has up-to-date info on immunizations for every country.

Once You Register
Shortly after you register, you will receive an email from the Servant Life team with forms your group needs to fill out. These forms, along with a deposit of $250 per person, are due by November 1. If you register after November 1, the forms and a deposit of $250 per person are due within 30 days of registering. A registration is not complete until we have received your deposit. Registrations cannot be held beyond 30 days if the deposit has not been received.

Parent FAQs

Will my child serve alone or as part of a team?

Your child will be part of a Servant Life team, which can be made up of groups and/or individual participants. If your child is registering alone, he or she will join the team at a domestic or international airport, and stay and work with them for the remainder of the trip.

What kind of supervision will my child have?

Servant Life teams are led by our in-country ministry partners. This partner serves as the host and leader for the team from the time they land in-country at the airport until they depart at the end of the mission experience.

How safe are these trips?

Servant Life makes every effort to keep your child safe during their entire experience with us. We visit every location before sending a group, and work with partners in the country who are familiar with the area we will be staying in and working in. We research and plan the safest places for your student to eat, stay, work and play.

Who will the teams work with?

All teams work with established Servant Life ministry partners. These are either missionaries or ministry leaders who have a history of service in the country and programs that fit with the mission of Servant Life.


Financial Guide

Servant Life is committed to providing a quality mission experience at the lowest possible price. Our goal is not to entertain, but rather to bring the teachings of Scripture to life.

The cost of the mission experience includes in-country costs, such as:
• In-country transportation
• Housing
• Meals
• Supplemental Traveler's Insurance
• Sponsoring local students to attend camp
• T-Shirt
• Pre-Trip Training Manual
• Visa, if applicable
• Exit tax, if applicable

Costs not covered in base cost of the trip include:
• Airfare
• Passports
• Immunization Shots
• Snacks
• Souvenirs
• Personal expenses while traveling and in-country, including meals in airports
• Any additional costs associated with the trip before you arrive and after you leave

Financial Guidelines

Deposits of $250 per person and a copy of the front page of your passport are due November 1. If you register after November 1, a deposit of $250 per person and a copy of the front page of your passport are due within 30 days of registration.

Deposits are non-refundable.

Servant Life will secure all airline transportation through our travel agent to insure teams arrive together. Once your group is in place, let us know as soon as possible so we can secure your tickets at the lowest possible rate.

You are responsible for the payment of any purchased tickets. Once a ticket is purchased, payment for that ticket must be in our office within 5 business days.

All tickets must be secured and paid in full 60 days before departure. Payments for airfare must be made via check. We cannot accept credit card payments for airfare purchases.

Summer Missions Payments:
The first payment, which is half of the base cost, is due March 1.

The second payment, which is the balance of the trip cost, is due in the Servant Life office no later than 35 days before departure. If your final balance is not received by 35 days out, a $100 late fee may be applied.

PLEASE NOTE: All checks and money orders must be made out to SERVANT LIFE. Please mail all payments and donations to PO Box 36307, Birmingham, AL 35236.

South Africa Trips

* Dates and locations are subject to change