Saving Babies and Saying Goodbyes

SA: Impact Update (Week 5)

Today is our last day in South Africa.

Come 7:30pm Monday night, we will be on a plane; back to the USA. And during that plane ride, we will be pondering our experiences here; thinking about the good, the bad and the even better times. We’ve already said final goodbyes to most of the people in the country, but it will be different once we take our first steps onto the plane.

Sad I know, but I still have to write about it all. So…(sniff sniff) here goes!

For this article, it was tempting to just jump to the sentimental ending and write about how all of our trip was. If I were to do that though, I wouldn’t be honoring the ministry time spent this previous week. Therefore, you’ll just need to put a tack on the tears and save them for Thursday night this week.

Overview: What Our Team Did

Zach and Jane (our translator friend) loving on a baby!

It was all about babies this week! The final department of Impact Africa (IA) that we worked for was called Impact Baby Rescue (IBR). The organization works against a tragedy called “baby dumping”. This is when children are abandoned and thrown in piles of trash and chemical toilets when they can’t be taken care of. In some cases, it’s “culturally okay” to throw away your infant…which is horrible.

Because IA felt so broken-hearted about the situation, they created IBR! This department provides in-depth counseling and encouragement via a 24-hour phone line that anyone can call. They’ll even go to people’s homes and talk with them for a face-to-face discussion. Many of these families though just simply don’t have any resources at all and don’t have a way to get resources. Plus, other factors get involved too such as unwanted pregnancies, abandonment by the father, the 40% unemployment rate, the depressing social standards of the squatter camps, and so on. As a last resort, they provide “Baby Safes”. These are secure and anonymous drop boxes where mothers and fathers can leave their babies. From that point, they take the child to homes and agencies so that it has a second chance at life.

Destanie Thomas speaking to patients in the Diepsloot clinic.

What we did this week was simply go into the communities and spread awareness for the cause. Things like handing out flyers, putting up posters, and promoting a resource that people can lean on, filled all of our ministry time. We did this in clinics around communities and in stopping by houses. It reminded me of political campaigning, except it’s way easier. You aren’t trying to convince people about the validity of a candidate. You literally save babies…which is something no one can deny.

Testimony: What Our Team Learned and Experienced

The IBR Team [from left to right: Lazarus (bus driver), Peony, Madi, Nikki, and Na-na (the core team minus Jane), and us of course]

The Gradual Impact of Awareness

If you’ve ever handed out flyers and gone door-to-door promoting something, you know that it can be monotonous. The progress is literally one person at a time. If you look at the grand scheme of how many people there are to speak to, you could feel like your influence isn’t worth much. Plus, who knows whether they will actually apply what you’ve told them?

At these moments, you have to think about the positives. We are the sole organization doing something like this in Johannesburg. Sure, there are baby homes and adoption agencies, but no one is reaching out to the poor directly in this context. The only way to make real impact in this cause with people who live in third-world conditions, is to do the grunt work. To go door-to-door and talk with one person after another, that’s just how it’s done for now. We are making an impact though because we let people know that someone cares; that someone wants to do good when no one else does. No child should be without a home, without love, without care. That’s the motto.

Goodbyes Can Be Difficult

Since this was our last week in ministry, there have been constant times where we had to say our goodbyes. Last Sunday night, we said our goodbyes to most of the interns when we hung out at their place. For Friday afternoon, we said our goodbyes to the IBR staff and Lazarus. On Saturday, we said our goodbyes to Mutsa, the wonderful bus driver we grew to love over the month. Then tomorrow night, we will say our official goodbyes to our lead contacts from the entire month and overall, say adios to the country as a whole.

For some of us, it will be the only time spent in South Africa or heck, in Africa. That’s tough to think about because we all thoroughly loved our time here. The culture, the communities, the people, the foods, and the service that we provided…none of us regret this decision. All of us are thankful for the divine appointment of being selected to this trip, to this team, and to this specific time.

What a Trip…

It’s one that we won’t forget. We learned great lessons, experienced significant boldness and confidence in our faith, and contributed to tangibly visible outcomes. I remember on Monday this past week, we were handing out flyers and telling people about IBR. When in the corner of my eye, I noticed someone familiar. In fact, it was a man that we spoke to on the first week of this trip. He and I were very happy to see each other, but he lit up like a Christmas tree. Because see, when we met him that 1st week, we noticed that he was wasting his day away with smoking and drinking. He didn’t seem to have much hope in his old age. We greeted each other though and I asked him how he was feeling. His response after two weeks? “My life has changed…because of you.”

The crazy part is that I wasn’t even that involved when I met him. It was an intern and a leader of Impact Africa that tag-teamed during the conversation. That first week, I couldn’t hold a chat to save my life. I was just there. It didn’t matter though, because he remembered us. Even when you may not think you are contributing, just stepping out in faith is significant enough for God to work miracles. Times like these are ones that you never forget as a believer, where you can directly see how you applied scriptures to your walk of faith (such as James 5:19–20 seen below).

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul and will cover a multitude of sins. — James 5:19–20

Every team member can relate to moments of faith like mine above.

Man…what a trip…

Final Prayers for the Trip

Safe Traveling

As we said earlier, we are leaving tomorrow night for the motherland. Plus, Zach is actually staying in South Africa for the entire summer! So simply pray that everything goes as planned and that no one gets left behind or lost.

A worship session w/the interns (Zach = leader & Bailey = percussion)

Impact Africa and the Interns

This organization and these interns that we spent time with are absolutely wonderful. IA is full of great departments and outreaches into the community that all center around Jesus and the Gospel. The interns are also very impressive and do a fantastic job at showing what God’s love looks like, for everyone and to everyone. So the prayer is for the organization as a whole and for the interns to continue pursuing Christ’s dreams for their lives.

Impact Our Homes and Normal Lives

We’ve been making an impact for the Lord in South Africa. Now, let’s do our best to make an impact at our homes, in our jobs, and in our normal social gatherings. In every instance, pray that we will continue to seek God and let His Spirit speak to us for guidance and direction.

Walking towards our destinies [From left to right: Kayla, Mariah, Harley, Destanie, and Zach (Priscilla = Photographer)]
Thank you all for reading and stay updated for the last blog post coming out this Thursday night.

Harley Liechty is a senior marketing student at Oral Roberts University and part of his heart now lies in South Africa, with the good, the bad, and even better. Support Harley Liechty in his life endeavors through his coffee fund. He appreciates your compassion. https://cash.me/$HarlsBarkley

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