This is a testimony of how Through His Eyes Africa came to be, it is not about me but about how God was working in my life, this is about Him.
1. 2007 You just never know the impact you can make on someone’s life
While working at the Humane Society I attended the local news station twice a month for Pet of the Week. There I met a Meteorologist who always seemed kindly interested in the pets I brought . One morning he asked if I would stay and watch his piece on Swaziland. I wasn’t quite sure what he was talking about but I could tell it meant a lot to him. I stayed and I’m glad I did; that simple invitation to stay and watch changed my life. Sometimes you just don’t know what kind of impact you can make on someone’s life, this was a defining moment for me as I watched this young man of 25 dedicating his life to helping widows and orphans in a another country. As a child, I had always been drawn to Africa and often mentioned that I would be there one day. Derek invited me to his church, New Covenant in Clio Mi. There I followed his trip through his blog, met with him upon returning from Swaziland and found myself on the next trip. Derek has been a great inspiration for me and I cherish his friendship and am thankful he listened to God that morning and walked across the room to ask me to stay.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."
2. January 2008 Went to Africa on a mission’s trip
I traveled to Africa with 6 others from the church I attended; there I stepped out of religion and into a relationship with Christ. This journey left a deep impression on my heart. I knew I would never be the same. God was molding and changing me. This was the defining moment when I lost my life as I knew it. I came home and never acclimated back to the states; I had heard that this is the hardest part of a mission’s trip and as I think about it, I wouldn’t want to acclimate back into the life I so cozily lived because then it would all be for nothing. Oh, I tried, I struggled to get back into my life……..it no longer existed for me though. God had changed my heart. I now cared about the things that He did and my old life just didn’t fit anymore. Africa for me is a place I fell in love, with the land, the people and most of all God; Africa became a part of me that added to the person God wanted me to be.
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
3. October 2008 Followed God’s leading to quit job to begin ministry
One morning in October of 2008 while staying at a hotel for my job, I knelt to pray; God filled the room with a warm glow and told me to begin a ministry to help His Children in Swaziland Africa. I'll never forget that moment as I felt His love like never before. I knew He loved me but I had never felt it like this before and I never wanted to leave that moment and that room. I had to go downstairs to the cpa classes my current company was putting on and I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay and talk more with Jesus about this vision He was giving me. Many times I had sat in His presence and felt His love but never before had it been like this. I went away with such a wonderful and confident feeling, not a confidence in myself but in the Lord. This is what He wants all His believers to have and this is part of the vision of the journey I was about to embark upon. In Swaziland I remember all too clearly the eyes of the children, those eyes haunted me long after I left; in them I saw innocence, hope, despair, a deep longing as if they were asking me to help, I saw Jesus, and I knew this is where I needed to be. I stayed in prayer for a long time that morning; you know those times when His will and yours are in complete unison and you feel like you never want to come out of prayer; this was one of them. He told me to leave my job and trust Him. I’ll never forget the relief I felt, the assurance that everything would be okay. I asked Jesus about my friend who had gotten me this job, I had only been there for a short time and I didn't want to disappoint her. The Lord said to me "It is fine Teresa, I have already taken care of it." I left to go downstairs to work and my friend came to tell me that I didn’t need to feel obligated to stay at the company on her account. She was graciously releasing me from my obligation. I never mentioned to her that I hated that job; I never mentioned it to anyone, only God. After she left me, I looked up with a smile in declaration of His speediness and thanked Him.
Matthew 10:38 "If you don't go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don't deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me.
Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
4. October 2008 Downsized everything including home
God lead me to downsize and get rid of my house and belongings. I don’t think He calls everyone to do this, but for me it was necessary. I thought it would be difficult to leave my childhood home, the home I also raised my own children in, but it was actually quite freeing. I’ll never forget the day we left; it was like a huge weight had been lifted from me. In preparation of leaving, we gave many things away. We held a garage sale with ridiculously low prices, it was great as it piqued people’s interest, which gave me an opportunity to tell them the changes God was making in me. Many stayed and talked and were interested in hearing about the people of Swaziland. I gave my blog address to anyone that would listen.
Luke 12:33-34 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
5. April 2009 Refinanced motorcycle to buy a bank foreclosed home
We left our home and moved into a rental that a friend had offered to us; she was kind enough to allow us to stay, knowing it was only temporary. God directed us to purchase a home that was a bank foreclosure; we found we needed to add about $5000 to what we had in order to purchase something in our area. The idea was to no longer have a mortgage so that we could do this work for Him and not be so financially strapped. I prayed and was lead to refinance our Harley Davidson to attain the rest of what was needed. At first I didn’t like the idea because it seemed we were defeating the purpose but I knew God’s provisions were with us.
Matthew 6:26-34 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
6. Discovered new home was a church about 50 yrs ago
Within two months we found the home that felt right and was later informed that it was a church about 50 years ago. For me this was confirmation that we were in the right place. I loved how God was working in my life and the home He provided for us.
Luke 1:45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"
7. July 2009 God told me to pray for husbands safety
I traveled back to Swaziland with a group of 25, while traveling home God woke me to tell me to pray for the safety of my husband, I am thankful as God intervened and saved my husband’s life.
8. Rob was in motorcycle accident/lost income
When we landed in Atlanta I learned that my husband was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. He was run off the road by an oncoming car and was knocked out in an 18 foot ravine filled with water. He had broken his back, ribs, and sternum, suffered a collapsed lung, brain bleed and his aorta was separating from the chest wall. My team came together to pray for Rob while waiting for our flight at the Atlanta Airport. I arrived to the hospital just as the results of a second test showed that the aorta was perfectly fine. The medical professionals blamed faults in testing but I know there is great power in prayer, the Lord saved Rob in that ditch and He saved him again while lying in the hospital fighting for his life. Rob spent about two weeks in the hospital and several months in rehabilitation. It was a difficult time for us as our lives had drastically changed; Rob may never do many of the things he used to or even work again but I am so thankful that he is alive and prayed that God would somehow use this for His Glory.
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
9. Because we refinanced the bike, we had full coverage insurance on it which paid the loan in full, provided medical care for Rob and also paid his income.
God’s faithfulness in providing for us was evident; we had lost Rob’s income due to the accident but because we refinanced the motorcycle we were obligated to put full coverage insurance on it; after about 6 months of negotiation, the insurance company agreed to pay Rob’s medical bills and income. The totaled bike can be restored and the loan is now paid. We are not sure if Rob will ride again but he is alive and making progress.
10. God provides and changes hearts
The accident left a very large bruise on Rob’s chest in the shape of Africa, this made me smile, not that my husband was hurt but because Rob was never keen on the idea of me going to Africa but because he loves me, he supports my desire to go. I had been praying that God would change Rob’s heart for Africa and I could see him softening, for me this was confirmation that God was at work within him too.
11. Though His Eyes Africa Begins
I traveled back to Africa to make connections to begin the nonprofit and I was amazed at the amount of people willing to show me where and with whom this ministry can connect to make a difference. God showed Himself several times during this trip and the vision that He revealed to me was beginning to come full circle.
12. I came to Swaziland in 2010 to find where our organization could be of service through God for the Swazi people; this was my third trip. After that trip I went home and developed programs and a website and tried to get people involved. When nothing seemed to happen I got discouraged because I knew God had told me to begin this nonprofit. I prayed and prayed and prayed about this and at God's perfect timing He told me to toss the programs away, take down the website and just go and make it more personal, He told me to go and love them as if they are my own children because they are His. I did this and God has blessed me with this trip here in Swaziland and He has been working everything out miraculously to help the people. We are also conducting a bible study for women called "Empowering Women Through Jesus Christ". Many women live in severe oppression and many are abused by their husbands, through this study women will learn their worth in Christ and learn to pray for and love their husbands to Christ. We see a strong hold on the men here by the enemy and God has shown us a book called Winning Spiritual Warfare that we are giving to the Swazi people. It is a small pocket book filled with much information about how to claim God's promises for our lives. We pray God's Will will be done in all of this and especially for the property in Bhunya. God has shown us this property and the story behind how He showed us He wanted us to do something there is amazing and I would love to share it with you.
We have been attending the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Manzini and one Sunday one of the Associate Pastors, Pastor George, came to us and began telling us about this land he owned in Bhunya that he has given to God. He told us that he told God He could use the land for whatever he saw fit. He had been praying about it and hadn't received all of what God had wanted it to be but asked if we would pray too. We were amazed by his story and his humble way. He asked if we would be willing to go look at the property the next day and we agreed. We were to meet at Emafini Christian Conference Center at 11:00. We had to go into town that morning to get some things printed, while there it took longer than we had expected and I had forgotten my phone back at the conference center/hotel so I couldn't call Pastor George to let him know we were running late. I left the materials at the printers along with a book about praying God's Word for the attendant to write a few of the prayers for her personal use. We were late in getting back to Emafini and Pastor George had already traveled onto Mbabane as he had some errands to run there. We called him and set out to meet with him in Mbabane to travel together to Bhunya. We were having difficulty in connecting with him and when we finally did we had realized that we were previously parked right next to him but God had us park across town and walk to where he was. It was like God was stalling our steps for a reason and we were soon to find out. As we were standing in the parking lot talking to Pastor George, deciding which car to take to see the land in Bhunya the Chief for that area pulled in right next to us. We were all amazed as we needed her approval on this project and she was leaving for the States the next day and we would not have gotten her go ahead on this project. Out of all places and times for her to show up, we knew this was a divine meeting. Pastor George introduced her as Chief Wisdom Thembie Zwane. It occurred to me later that I had prayed for wisdom that morning, I had to chuckle as I could see God's work all over our meeting, His sense of humor in my prayer and how he stalled our steps so we would be in the right place at the right time to meet the Chief. We talked to her about what we had received in prayer; the Lord told me this land would be a place of refuge that people would come from all over to seek spiritual healing, He said there would be abundant food (gardens) and water, Sifiso, the cook at Emafini is a godly man that has partnered with our ministry and he also prayed and received a vision from the Lord that it would be streams of living water. We parted ways with the Chief as she left us with her blessing and was quite pleased with what God had given us. We received a call from the printer that the machine stopped working because it needed time to cool off so we couldn't go get the materials yet, the attendant mentioned that it pleased her because it gave her a chance to write more of the prayers out of the book she borrowed from me.
As we traveled to this mountainous area, Tammy, my colleague and best friend that started this nonprofit with me who also has a big heart for the people of Swaziland, had said that God had just given her a revelation that this land would be a place that people would flee to from all over to seek refuge. When we arrived we were in awe of God’s creation, the beauty of this large valley and mountainous region and the living water of the beautiful river. We smiled as we stood at the river as both Sifiso and myself had received water in our vision from the Lord. We spent much time in prayer over the land and we felt God’s peace there. We knew He had big plans for this tranquil place and we prayed that people would come and receive what God had planned for this. We were all amazed at God's hand on this project. As we traveled back down the mountain in quiet solitude, I was torn between feelings of awe of what the Lord had just shown and revealed to us and feelings of sadness as my best friend was getting ready to journey back to the states. And off to the left as we traveled there stood a little hill that had been burned up, the grass and brush were all black, but right in the middle was a large, beautifully bloomed flower and I thought how odd for it to grow in such a deadened area. I asked Pastor George to stop the car as I had felt that the Lord wanted me to go up the hill and check it out. As I did, He showed me that the orange flower was me as I was in my purpose and plan He had for me. Off to the side of the bloomed flower was another flower that had poked through the ugly burned ground too, but it was not bloomed yet; He told me this was Tammy and she must go home to be with her husband because there she will bloom as that is His plan and purpose for her. I was amazed at His words because I had been feeling sorry for myself as I knew God had laid it on Tammy's heart to cut her trip short and to go be with her husband. I was feeling sorry for myself because I would be left here all alone. Although we are never alone when we belong to the One and Only God, He is so good in showing us things that we need to see and I am in awe of His ways. I am confident that His Will for Tammy was to go home and His Will for me was to stay longer. Tammy has done a great thing for His Kingdom in being here and she is doing a greater thing for His Kingdom in going home because I knew she was so torn. Just as I am about staying with my family so far away. We can take comfort in knowing when it's God's Will, He makes a way for families too. I love Him and I Praise Him!