Faithful God.

A couple of weeks ago Chris Overstreet came to visit our church. He bought with him an AMAZING team of people from all over the planet. I can not put into words how blessed I was to be able to take these guys to the Shelter. They loved on my people and ministered to them in a profound way.

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Gogo Elizabeth was one of my Shelter friends who was prayed for by the team. She had been hit by a car 6 years ago and was still in pain daily. The doctors had to fix her hip with a pin and had done such a bad job of it that you could see and feel the pin under her skin. She really battled to walk, even with crutches. It would take forever for her to get up the stairs.

A couple of the guys sat for a while and listened to her story, they then prayed for her. God instantly healed her. Not only did He heal her but He removed her pin in her hip. TOTALLY GONE! Pain free. She was jumping up and down praising God and running around the Shelter. She could not believe that God loved her as much as He does.

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Ian Miller is a pastor from Sydney Australia. He and his wife Chris blessed me so much. Their love and compassion for people is tangible, I felt loved and honored by them both. They spoke into my life and my ministry and their words were so encouraging. God has given Ian an awesome prophetic gift. He can look at your tattoos and God gives him words of knowledge and prophetic pictures relating to the tattoo. He spent some time looking at mine. We were standing right in the middle of the shopping mall and God gave Ian prophetic words for all 9 of my tattoos. They were spot on and profound. God really spoke to my heart that afternoon and later when I took them to the Shelter Ian went on to minister to some of the Shelter residents. It was amazing to hear the words from God for my homeless friends. So encouraging and a great blessing.

God uses whoever is willing and open to Him, in whatever way that He can.

I am excited to see who else He brings to love on my people. I love to stand back and see others loving on the unlovable. I blesses my soul to meet like-minded people.

This is just the beginning of amazing things.

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Big BOOM…… of the baby kind!!

We have had a baby boom in the Shelter. Lots of new babies being born and lots of new ones moving in with their mums. I LOVE babies! But it makes me sad to see so many little ones having this kind of start to their lives. They deserve better. The mums, for the most part, are trying their best, but sadly its just not good enough. So many of the babies are getting sick due to the living conditions and most have very little clothing or diapers.

 

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I am going to be collecting baby clothing and diapers for these little ones. It is hard being a mum, its almost impossible being a mum is these conditions. No money, no food, no home, no way to give your baby everything that they need and deserve. They love their babies and want the best for them.

If you feel that you can help in some way please let me know. Donations of funds, clothing, diapers, other baby items, formula, would be so so appreciated. If you can help please let me know!

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Whispers. (January 2014)

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Some nights in the Shelter I manage to hold it together.(My people hate it when I cry or get emotional in front of them.) Last night I got to a point where I really didn’t manage my emotions well. This chick above took me over the edge, and both her and I ended up in tears. 

Yvonne and I had a conversation last night that I will never forget. It was so profound and emotionally charged. It broke my heart and broke her whole being. She was leaving the Shelter to go to “work” and I stopped her to see how she was doing, the conversation that ensued was a defining moment for me. 
I asked if she was going to work. She said yes and I told her “please be safe”. I always say this to my girls as they leave to go to work. Most of the time they laugh and say something along the line of “OK Mum!”, some times they say “I’m always safe.”, sometimes they just look at me with sad eyes and sigh, “I wish I didn’t have to go out tonight.” 
Last night Yvonne stopped on the stairs and looked me in the eyes (she never does this) and said “God whispered to me tonight as I was getting ready.”  I was taken aback by this comment as Yvonne is usually the laughy, eye-rolling, cheeky type. She has never really been serious with me and rarely instigates a meaningful conversation with me, so I knew that this was going to be a game-changing moment in our friendship. I asked her what God had told her. 
“He told me that He is my daddy, that He loves me no matter what and that His heart is sore for me. He told me that He will take care of me, that His angels go to work with me and they fight off any bad stuff. I felt like He doesn’t want me to go to work tonight. But I have to. If I don’t I will have to sleep outside tonight, I will go hungry. So what do I do?”
 
I was standing there with a 22 year old sex worker asking me what should she do? So I said the only thing that I could think of which was “Maybe we should pray!” In my heart I know that listening to the voice of God is crucial. But how do I tell Yvonne that she needs to stay at the Shelter and not go to work when she is desperate for the money? As we stood there, me holding her tight, we prayed, as we prayed the tears came. Yvonne broke into a deep heart wrenching sob. I felt rocked to my core. Her pain seeped into me and I could feel the ache and longing in her heart to be loved and accepted and safe. Her desperation to be His child, her longing for a relationship with the only Father that she has ever known. 
As I prayed over her I asked God to let her know His feelings for her. 
I told her of how He delights in her. How He loves to spend time with her. As the peace started to flow she calmed. 
I told her that through my life I have learned that if God talked to me its best that I listen, but that ultimately it was her decision. She had to decide if she would trust Him to provide for her and stay at the Shelter and not go and sell herself. I could literally see the internal fight that was carried out for the next 15 minutes. As she sat in the stair well, stood in the stair well, had a cigarette, sat back down again….. it was painful to watch. In the end she stood up, hugged me and said  “I’m going to work now.” 
 
She didn’t have the strength to trust what she knew, but that seed was planted. The pure fact that she knows that she heard the voice of God is amazing to me. She might not have had the strength this time but maybe next time she will. 
 
Please pray for my girls. God loves them so much and He has a future and a hope for them, all that they need to do is claim it. In the mean time I will continue to love them and be there for them.   
Like my Pastor in New York says … “The need is the call.” 
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A life that never was. (February 2013)

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Durban beach front a place of beauty, fun, holiday makers and brutal gang rape. 
 
Just over 2 years ago a young woman called Priscilla (Smithy) was walking the beach front trying to raise money for her shelter rent. She was begging and asking tourists to help her get a roof over her head for the night. Not managing to raise the R18 needed for the night she ended up spending the night on the beach. At some point during the night a gang of 8 men came upon her. She remembered seeing them earlier in the evening and was very aware that these men were not here to help her. She spent then next couple of hours being raped over and over by each of the men. They beat her badly and left her to die in the blood soaked sand. No one came to her rescue. No knight in shining armor, no police officer, no kind member of the public. She was close to Addington Hospital and so when she came around she dragged herself there, where they patched her up and sent her on her way.
9 months later she gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy.
 
Smithy is just 1 of thousands of girls through out this country who is victim of “corrective”rape. Smithy is a lesbian. This is something that she really battled with as a child, being a lesbian growing up in the townships is not an easy road. There is a great amount of prejudice and violence shown towards any one who is homosexual. People see it as a ‘disease” or a “problem” that needs to be “fixed” and due to this many people keep the fact that they are homosexual secret. They live in fear. They try and live a heterosexual lifestyle in order to keep themselves safe and to keep shame away from their family. This is how Smithy lived much of her life. 
The abuse started when she was 4. Her mother was a sever alcoholic and had a number of “uncles” coming to the house on a daily basis. Smithy and her siblings were used to fulfill these men’s sexual needs while their mother got drunk in the next room. This went on until Smithy was 7 years old at which point the children were taken into care and by which point the damage had been done. For the rest of their childhood the 4 children were handed from home to home, separated and abused in each home. 
 
Smithy finally ran away to the streets when she was 14 years old. Separated from her brothers and sister and alone she had no way to fend for herself other than prostitution. Some nights getting enough money for the shelter other nights not so lucky and sleeping on the streets. For the next 20 years this was her existence. 
I met Smithy 5 years ago when I started spending time in the shelter building relationships with the girls. When I first met her I will say I was slightly terrified of her. She was wild to say the least! She had had a partner for a couple of years and their relationship was volatile. One night they got into a fight and her partner stabbed Smithy in the eye. By the time I met Smithy her eye had turned white and she was totally blind in that eye. She was covered in scars and the majority of the time she was drunk or high or both. First impressions are a funny thing. I took one look at this woman and I recoiled. She was hard to look at. I know that that is a horrible thing to say, but it is the truth. The years of abuse had taken their toll on her outward appearance as well as her inner person. BUT the second she opened her mouth and started to talk everything changed. She had the softest voice. Was very gentle and incredibly loving. 
 
I totally fell in love with this woman. She is funny and cheeky. Has an amazing sense of justice and wants only good things for others. When she was raped she conceived her son. Knowing that there was no way that she could provide for him she placed him into the care of a family friend who lives in the township. Then along came my friend Jane. And to cut a long story short she took the baby in with her and her family and now we have found a family to adopt the little guy. The love and sacrifice that Jane has shown to this baby is amazing, she has literally saved this child’s life.  
 

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Although this beautiful child came out of such a horrific situation his life is FOREVER changed by the love of others. He has a future and a hope. He is going to change the lives of others. 
 
After the rape Smithy turned even more to drugs in order to cope. Smoking cocaine and sugars to take away the emotional pain, getting addicted and then taking them in order to maintain the numbness. She tried to stop but when she did the emotional and physical pain was just too much for her.  It broke my heart to sit and watch her disappear before my eyes. All I could do was pray. Many times I sat on her bed in the shelter and just held her hand and prayed for her while she slipped into a drug induced sleep. The drugs were making her irrational and many times she didn’t know where she was or what was going on. There was no helping her. She didn’t want to go to rehab, she didn’t want help. She just wanted to be numb and the only way that she could do that was to continue with the drugs. It has been a while since I have been able to hold a conversation with her, she was slurring and confused. 3 days ago she collapsed in the shelter and when the ambulance failed to turn up the girls from the shelter physically carried her to the hospital. When I got there she struggled to recognize me. When she finally remembered me all she could say was “help me”, over and over she said this, my heart broke into pieces it was like I could physically feel it shattering inside my chest. I knew she was going. I knew in my heart that she wasn’t coming out of it this time. I prayed with her, Jane prayed over her and as we were leaving Smithy said to me “Vash please don’t throw me away.” Those words were the last ones that she said to me. Those words in that moment changed me. It was a defining moment in my life.  
 
I received a phone call at 5am today to tell me that Smithy has passed away. 
 
Smithy died alone, no family to hold her hand, no family to take her body and give her a funeral, no family to mourn for her. But there is me. And today I am mourning for a life that never was. Never was loved, never was celebrated, never was given a chance to walk into its full potential and destiny. A life that was snatched and destroyed before it was even given a chance to flourish. A beautiful woman who was crushed physically, emotionally and spiritually, over and over. I will mourn for my friend. A woman who I loved. A woman who I never stopped believing in. A woman who gave birth to the most beautiful and amazing child. A son who will grow up knowing that his mother loved him beyond everything else. A son who will break the cycle of abuse and drug addiction, poverty and destitution that has been the norm in his family for generations.
Smithy died with the peace and reassurance that her son is going to spend the rest of his life being loved and cared for. 
I will never forget my friend. I will never forget her laugh, that deep belly laugh she would get when she really found something funny. I will never forget how she took her handful of coins that she had made begging and bought her and I a cup of tea each and a bread roll and we sat on the curb and spent time together. I will never forget the look of longing that she would give her son, knowing that she loved him with every ounce of her being but not able to be the mother that she needed to be. 
Smithy my dear friend I PROMISE that I will NEVER forget you and I will mourn the fact that you are no longer in my life. Your life was not in vein. Your story will change the lives of thousands. 
I PROMISE that I will tell your story. I will let them know of your life. 
 
Good bye my friend. 

Not the right kind of orphan? Rural vs Urban.

Those who know me well know that it is virtually impossible to offend me. You can call me names, talk bad about me behind my back or even to my face for that matter, and I will not be offended. It might hurt my heart but I will not hold a grudge. I’m like the proverbial duck’s back when the water hits it. Its just how I’ve learnt to deal with life. But there is one thing that does offend me. One thing that makes me rise up and fight. One thing that I can not tolerate.
When someone diminishes, trivializes, makes light of the plight of the one’s to which God has called me an anger stirs in the very core of who I am. Most of the time I manage to control this anger. Most of the time I bite my tongue and give it to God and ask Him to deal with it. But today I’m going to share. I’m going to be open, frank and to the point about this issue that I’m dealing with. I ask that you all hear my heart. I am not accusing, I’m not holding a grudge, I’m not pointing fingers. I’m just going to share my heart.

9 years ago Mart and I packed our 8 suit cases and moved to South Africa. Our heart was to minister to children and families who were infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. He bought us the 1000 Hills in KZN and we decided to call it home. We had a number of people, churches and family commit to help us in the venture. It was amazing to have the support of people, people loving us and praying for us and financially supporting us. With out them we would not have made it 9 years and counting in this place.
Over the years financial support has dwindled, like I stated in my post below. There have been various reasons for this. Some have simply not been able to afford to keep supporting, some have had other financial commitments come to light that have caused them to stop funding our work. Some were supporting the ministry some were supporting us as a family. Every time supporters have pulled out we have felt the impact in a profound way. Our funders have literally been a life line for us here in the work that we have been doing.  And we have been so thankful for each of them and the support that they have been to us and the ministry.

Although when someone pulls out of funding us it hurts, we totally understand and we know that God will pick up where they have had to move on. We are not offended because we know that God loves us and He wants His ministry to continue and He will provide.
The thing however that really hurts me and makes that anger rise up is when people use the excuse “you are not working with orphans any more so we can not fund you”

It makes me angry because it is not true. I DO work with orphans. Every trip to the Shelter, every time I walk Point Road praying for the street children, every time I rush a street child to hospital and sit by his hospital bed, every time I go scouring the streets for a young girl who went out to “work” and hasn’t come been seen for 4 days. I am working with orphans. My street children are orphans of the most desperate kind. Just because they are not the wide eyed, innocent, distended bellied, fly covered children that we all love to sponsor and support, doesn’t mean that they are not in desperate need.
People love to sponsor the rural African child. We NEVER had any problem finding sponsors and support for our little guys who live in the valley. Man I love those little ones. They are beautiful, innocent, in need of cuddles and I always want to bring at least 10 home with me every time we go to the valley.

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I mean look at these babies. Who wouldn’t want to love them? I look at these girls and my heart melts. And I’m sure that as you are reading this a part of you wants to pick them up and love them and give them only good things. Each of these girls have lost their mothers. NO child show grow up with out the love of a mother, not one. BUT these girls have been taken in by their amazing Grandmothers. These Gogo’s adore their grandbabies. Will do what it takes to care for them. To feed them. To educated them. These girls will not starve. They will never be alone. They will always have the support of the adults around them because that is how it works in the Rural communities. Extended family is strong and those little ones who loose their parents will be taken care of by those around them. It is amazing and we have learnt alot from spending time with these people in their communities.
I’m not saying that these families do not need help, they really really do. I’m just helping people to understand the difference between the Rural kiddies that we work with and the Urban children who I minister to.

What I am finding is that because we have had to put the Rural side of ministry on hold for a period, people now think that we are no longer working with orphans and children who are infected/affected by HIV/AIDS. This is not true.
I feel that the orphans that I am working with, loving on and ministering to are not the “right kind”of orphans for people to support. They are not cute. They are not cuddly. They will sooner pick your pocket than give you a hug. But they are orphans just the same. I have NEVER in my life known a group of people who are more in need of support.
These children are sharp edged, all bones, skin and shoulder blades. With glue crazed eyes and sore covered skin. They are dirty and hungry and unloved. They are forgotten and ignored. They are guilty of crime and drug addiction. They lie and they steal. They are infected with STD’s and HIV/AIDS.  They do not trust and can not be trusted. But they are orphans all the same. They are DESPERATE to be loved but when that loves comes they can not give or receive it. They do not know what it is like to trust an adult.
The adults in their lives hurt them. They use them. Them rape them. They control them with drugs and money. The use them to deliver drugs to clients. They use them as sex slaves to make a great profit that the child never sees.
These children have no place to call home. They spend their nights hiding in darkened doorways, sleeping in abandoned lots under cars so that the police and other predators do not find them. They are the prey of the horrors that come out to play at night.
They get picked up by men who make them promises of a better life. They are held against their will and raped over and over. NO ONE is on their side. NO ONE supports them. NO ONE stands in the gap for them. Until God sends a willing heart to fight in their corner. Until someone answers the call and will sit by their bedside in hospital. Until someone will find out when their birthday is and bake them a cake and throw a spontaneous birthday party for them, the first and probably the last that they will ever have.
These children will never be the “right kind” of orphan for people to put on their fridges at home. Never be the “right kind” of orphan for Sunday schools to sponsor. But they are orphans all the same.
They deserve love. They deserve unconditional support. They deserve to be safe. They deserve a life where they do not have to sell their bodies for a couple of slices of bread. They deserve a life where they don’t have to hide from the bad guys, where they have loving arms out stretched for them to run to when ever they are afraid. They deserve to have some one tell them that they are beautiful and amazing. They deserve to have some one tell them that they have a Father who they can trust, who loves them and who wants to be close to them. How this Father will not sell them to the highest bidder. How this Father will break the drug addictions. How this Father wants only good things for them.

MY orphans deserve ALL of this. In fact MY orphans deserve even more than this. These are MY kind of orphans. And I will do what it takes to stand up for them, to speak for them and to help them. Even if I do not have the support from others I KNOW that I have the support of my Father, their Father. And our Father owns the cattle on a Thousand Hills. And even though MY orphans might not live in the Thousand Hills, they are orphans all the same. And they deserve better. Thats all.

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She was only 13. Ronelle’s story.

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I have a friend called Ronelle. She is 26 years old and she lives in a homeless shelter in Durban.
When Ronelle was 12 years old her mother passed away and Ronelle was placed into care. She was there for almost a year before she be-friended an older girl, this girl became like an older sister to her and they were very close. They were always together and Ronelle really looked up to this girl.
One evening Ronelle and her friend went for a walk. They stopped at a tavern and her friend disappeared with a man, leaving Ronelle alone for a while. When she returned she told Ronelle how they needed to go to the girls grandmother’s house and pick up some clothes. When they reached the house there was no grandmother and in her place there were 3 men. The men gave Ronelle’s friend some money and the girl left Ronelle with the men and disappeared.

SHE WAS 13!

For 3 days Ronelle was held against her will and raped over and over. As she sat and described this experience to me she goes to another place, a place deep inside of her. it is like she is going through it all over again.
She can smell the alcohol on the men’s breath, she can hear the foul names that they called her, she can feel their rough hands on her body. I can see the pain in her eyes as she is speaking words that she has never spoken to anyone before.
On the 3rd day she was left alone with just one of the men. He drank so much that he passed out and she managed to escape. Wearing just a t-shirt and underwear she ran the 10km back to the orphanage and told the nuns that ran the place what had happened to her (they had not reported her missing!).
The Nuns rushed her to hospital where she spent the next few hours being prodded and poked. Every test possible was done on her and everything came back negative.

SHE WAS 13.

She had no family and the Nuns said that she had bought it all on herself. She was totally alone.

nearly 5 months went by and she started to have pains in her tummy, she describes it as someone trying to pull her insides out. She started to bleed and the smell was very bad, so she went to one of the Sisters and they told her that it was just her period and that it would go away soon.
A couple more weeks passed and the pain got worse although the bleeding stopped. One day while using the bathroom she felt that there was something very wrong. She took a mirror and looked at herself. To her horror she saw that there was a tiny hand attached to a tiny arm coming out of her. She was rushed to hospital where her dead unborn baby boy was taken out of her.

SHE WAS 13!

I can not imagine going through even half of what this amazing woman has been through.
Today I look at this woman and I am honored to call her “friend”. I am amazed at who she has become in spite of this horrific journey.

She is strong and intelligent, funny (SO funny), compassionate and loving. She is feisty and savy. She is an amazing mother and a loyal friend.

This girl who has been broken by man over and over is now in the process of being healed by God.
In the 3 years that I have known Ronelle is have seen an incredible restoration in her. I know that God has great plans for this woman.

He has given her beauty for ashes. He has proclaimed liberty over her captive soul. He is healing her broken heart.
To be a part of this woman’s life is so humbling for me. And I know that He has placed her in my life to teach me the many valuable lessons that my stubborn heart needs to learn.

She truly is one of His BELOVED people and she is my friend.

If you would like to support the work that I do with these broken but beloved people please feel free to click on the PayPal button at the top of the page and donate. We really do appreciate every support that is given.

New Life in the Shelter ( July 2012)

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Sunday afternoon I went on my weekly trip to the Homeless Shelter. Upon arrival Mary was on her way out to the hospital to go and give birth to her 5th baby. The hospital is just up the road and she wanted to walk in order to speed up the process, so I stayed at the Shelter and told her to call me and let me know how it goes. I wanted to go with her but she had her husband and only one person is able to go in with her so I let him go with her. At this point her contractions were 13 minutes apart.

About 30 minutes later Mary returned to the Shelter saying that her husband didnt take her to the hospital but made her stand begging at the traffic lights to get rent money. She had R100, paid her R60 rent and had the R40 change in her hand, as she is there going through a contraction her waters broke right there on the stairs. I told her go get her bag from your room and I will go get the car I will take her to hospital myself. I get the car and pull it up infront of the shelter. I dont see Mary anywhere so I run upstairs to find her.

What I found was Ronelle and Chantelle pinning Mary’s husband to the wall and Mary on the floor, water everywhere screaming “IT’S COMING”. I have no clue what is going on all I know is I am not going to let this baby be born in a crack den. I grab Mary up off the floor and with the help of one of the guys we manage to get her to the car. Ronelle comes running behind with Mary’s bag. When in the car the story unravels…….. Marys husband is a cocaine addict, he had pounced on Mary to get the R40 off her so that he can go get rocks. She wouldn’t let go of the money so he BIT her!!!! Yep you heard me right……. in the middle of her contractions and water breaking every where he bit his wife’s hand to make her give up the cash!!!
Drug addiction is an ugly evil creature that makes its host do the most insane things.

We get to the hospital and have to make our way to the 8th floor. Mary can hardly stand and is screaming “the baby is coming” at the top of her lungs. When we finally make it into the labor ward the Sisters there totally ignore Mary for the first 10 mins, she is screaming and wanting to push, they are telling her to stop making so much noise and don’t push cause they have to do her paper work!!! As I’m typing this its making me laugh. At the time I was NOT laughing, in fact I got so angry that I fully kicked off. 
You see the problem is here in South Africa Class discrimination is rife. The second the Sisters found out that Mary was homeless they started to treat her like trash. Ronelle is fluent in Zulu and I have enough Zulu to understand the gist of a conversation, the head Sister shouted down the passage to the office, “this one is from the shelter, no rush she can just wait.” She then turned to Mary and started to treat her like an animal. Rough handling her and shouting at her, barking orders. It was horrific. I couldn’t just sit there and so I kinda got in her face and had a bit of a go.
Mary is a good woman, she loves her family and does what it takes to care for them and these women were hounding her and barking at her like a pack of wild dogs.
After I stepped in things changed. They rushed her to a birthing room and 8 minutes later baby Maria came into the world.

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She is literally the most perfectly beautiful baby that I have ever seen. This photo doesn’t do her adorableness justice. She is amazing.
Mary was kept in hospital due to her BP and sugar levels being all over the place. She was discharged yesterday and when she arrived back to her room in the shelter she discovered that her husband had taken all of the baby’s things and sold them! I am so sad for Mary, I had bought her some lovely new clothes and a big pack of Pampers for Maria and he had sold them for rocks. Some friends had donated some clothes and they have gone too. She now has nothing for her new born baby other than the 2 outfits that she had taken to the hospital with her. She deserves better than this. I am so angry and so heart broken for her and baby Maria.