Hillsong Africa Foundation is what it is today because of the amazing full time and part time volunteers that serve in it and make it what it is. Everyday I am amazed at how dedicated volunteers arrive to serve our communities selflessly, displaying a passion and zeal for God, His house and the people that cannot be artificially cultivated.
One thing that Phil and Lucinda Dooley inculcated into Hillsong Cape Town from the start is a strong sense of volunteerism and a passion for people. Our Senior Pastor Brian Houston always says that “our church is built not on the gifts and talents of a few individuals but on the sacrifices of many”, which embodies the spirit of our church in everything that we do.
The definition of volunteerism is the following :
(Sociology) the principle of donating time and energy for the benefit of other people in the community as a social responsibility rather than for any financial reward
Volunteerism along with generosity, I believe, is one of the keys to seeing exponential growth and development in the church globally.
All HAF’s projects and programs are done with volunteers who have a heart and a passion to help those who are less fortunate. Volunteerism is the reason why week in, week out thousands of people are being fed, clothed, finding value and meaning in their lives, being trained with skills and finding jobs in local townships across Cape Town, South Africa. Our volunteers in HAF have decided to be the change and to stop being indifferent to the need around them. Nelson Mandela once said:
“A different world cannot be built by indifferent people.”
There is strength in the church, both locally and globally, when we take what God has placed in our hands, our skills, our resources, our passion, and place them at the feet of the cross and submit what we have to that which is much greater than ourselves. God has tied himself to the church, through good and bad, as the vehicle for change within our world and the sooner we realise this and get behind the vision God has placed in our leaders hearts the sooner great things will begin to happen in our communities. I have seen architects, lawyers, bussinessman and doctors give of their resources, services and time to the Tembaletu project and whilst their volunteerism blessed the church it by far blessed the individuals involved more. There is testimony after testimony I can share of individuals who volunteered their services and resources to the bigger picture of church and whom God has in turn blessed. Couples who were barren were blessed with children. Businessman giving their services and time for free have seen exponential and unexplained growth in their business ventures. On a lighter note I have even seen lonely single people find their spouses through volunteering together. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying volunteer because you want something from God, but what I am saying is God is no mans debtor. When you sow into the fertile ground of the church you will reap ever increasing harvests both in this life and the next.
My personal experience in serving as a volunteer started in church many years ago. As a young man I didn’t know which direction to go into, what God had called me to do and because of the way South Africa was structured because of Apartheid I ddint have many options open to me. Instead of sitting around waiting for someone to come and give me an answer I began to serve on our churches production team, then on the av team, then on venue control until finally I signed up for our year of your life program. Each team I served in different areas it taught me more and more skills that I could use in life, including when applying for secular work positions. It was in the church that I gained the confidence to speak in front of leaders or in a public setting. It was in the church that I learnt to use a computer, use Word and the internet. It was in the church where I learnt to be a leader and how to work in a team dynamic. What I learnt in the church environment I carried with me throughout my life and I believe that I became the leader that I was in politics, business and the church because of availing myself to God through volunteering in the church setting.
I believe that herein lies a missing key for the youth of today, especially the youth of Africa and the developing world. For too long we have allowed the world to lie to us that we are powerless, that we have to sit and wait for someone to come along and drop something into our outstrectched hand. The truth is that the power to change our lives lies within using what God has already placed in your hands. You have health, you have strength, you have a working body. Yes unemployment is high and jobs are few, but jobs are available to those who demonstrate a passion and have made the effort to learn skills and experience, especially if that experience came through volunteerism. God, after all, has created us for good works, to display His glory and the best way to do that is by volunteering in the church :
Ephesians 2:10 says. “ For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
I had a dream of changing our country from its shameful Apartheid past and being one of the politicians that contributed to the building a new country for our children. I wasn’t connected, I had no tertiary education but I began volunteering at a local political party. I did everything they asked, errand boy, driver, etc. eventually I learned the skills of being a politician and began to be asked to do some speech writing, PR, etc. All this time I was volunteering, sometimes working part time to support myself and even full time whilst then volunteering after hours and on weekends. I started getting nominated for senior positions in leadership until eventually I was elected into the senate where my dream came true and I helped build a better democracy for South Africa. The point of my story is that when you step out and begin to volunteer you dont only help others but you begin to help yourself. I want to encourage even those young people who are in need, without jobs, with no real hope for a future, to pay it forward, to sow their efforts through volunteerism into others who are in need. Through the process you will discover yourself, grow in your skills set and store up heavenly riches at the same time. Start in church, the house of God, you will learn a lot. If no-one wants to give you an opportunity to volunteer in the secular world create one.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith
When we started feeding people who were bordering on starvation and severe malnutrition in Mitchells plain last year, our church volunteers spent the first 5 months making food at church and bringing the food to be handed out in the community later in the day. As we built relationships with the ladies in the community we started getting some of them involved in the cooking process and started getting them out of the hand-out lines into the kitchens. The women rose to the challenge and now we provide the ingredients and supervise whilst the women from the community cook and serve their own friends, family and neighbours, freeing our volunteers up to minister the word of God, counsel those in need of guidance and share the love of God. What is even a greater outcome is that HAF have now started working with these women providing them with ingredients and know how, and these women have started baking various goodies such as donuts, vet koek(a local delicacy) and have started selling these as a small business to start providing for their families. In our projects we have discovered time and time again, that people who come along only to receive are not people you can build with long term but those who come and are willing to serve, in spite of their own need, are foundation stones you can build anything with.
“Volunteerism is something that could change the way we look at our world and it can change our world itself if we can harness its power and true potential. It can change the power dynamics in our own mindset from that of victims of our circumstances to captains of our destiny if let God in and let His love guide us and change us.
A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under which they will never sit.”
~ Greek Proverb
(Hillsong Africa Foundation CEO)
For more information on The Hillsong Africa Foundation and how you can get involved, please visit hillsongafrica.com