Last year, I joined the team going to South Africa late in the game. At the time, I did not even live in Nashville and was not a part of the Rolling Hills community. After learning about what the group would be doing while in Cape Town, it was not a hard decision to join the team. Though I have been out of the country on several occasions, I did not really know what to expect. This is usually the case with any trip! I knew we would be meeting a lot of people, coming face to face with the AIDS epidemic and spending time in a township called Red Hill. What I experienced was so much more!
God used the trip to open my eyes to a suffering population I have never really thought much about. It is easy for those of us who are blessed to live in a country where so many resources are readily available to reduce the plight of so many who are without to a statistic. While there was a lack of resources in Red Hill, there was no lack of hunger for love and hope. Building on the partnership that exists between Rolling Hills and Living Hope, we spent our days giving the greatest gift we could, the message of Jesus Christ and the hope and love he has for all the residents of Red Hill through a variety of activities. Another exciting task for our team was a one day retreat for the Life Skills Educators who work in townships all around Cape Town every day throughout the year. These incredible leaders are from all over the world but primarily from South Africa. They are literally in the trenches as they go into schools and townships teaching children of all ages about the love of God. How refreshing it was to meet such joyful servants who are dedicating their lives to something that truly matters. It is one thing to pray for and read about people who are in such need in every sense; it is an entirely different story to experience it first hand. The Life Skills Educators are on the front lines of a war against AIDS and poverty and spend a great amount of time with students who cannot afford the luxury of a formal education. When we boarded the plane at the end of our time in South Africa, I knew I would return.
I am looking forward to once again being a part of the daily life of Red Hill. I am excited to reconnect with people I met this past year in the township and to meet others for the first time. Encouraging the Life Skills Educators is certainly high on my list of things I am looking forward to as I return with a new team in 2011. Perhaps the most exciting prospect of all is in knowing we will once again bring with us the imperishable gift of Jesus Christ who can heal the hurts of those in Red Hill.
The team Rolling Hills sends out each year to this special place represents so much more than arts and crafts with children, encouraging Life Skills Educators and building medical clinics. These teams help build a bridge between the ministry of Living Hope and the community. This bridge is used throughout the year by Living Hope to bring resources to meet the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of the people in Red Hill.
As the time approaches for the 2011 South Africa team to return to Cape Town, please be in prayer for those who have made the commitment to go. Also remember those people with whom we will interact, especially those who live and work in Cape Town year round. This trip is significant in both in the life of Rolling Hills Community Church and the ministry of Living Hope because it is an opportunity for the church to act as a true body, being the hands and feet of Christ in place that longs for His presence.
-Audrienne Casey, South Africa 2010 and 2011 Team Member