Facing the Challenges
Wendy Slabbert and her husband, Jan, moved to Wellington 20 years ago to plant a non-racial, interdenominational church in a poor area downtown. “The town was quite divided, and we felt a strong calling to help bridge the gap between its different inhabitants.” They found a venue next to Pick ‘n Pay, and the ratio of the first congregation was 1/3 black, 1/3 brown and 1/3 white. Of those, they also attracted people from different countries. As Wendy explains, “we always had a heart for all the nations.”
That’s why the family went on their first missions outreach to Cairo in Egypt with their three young children. They’ve been on numerous other mission trips through the years, culminating in a year of church planting in Taiwan in 2010. “Our daughter was in Grade 11, our son in Grade 9 and our youngest daughter was 10 years old. People said we were mad to take our children with us and disrupt their lives, but we never make any big life decisions without making sure it’s the will of God. We prayed about this for a whole year, and our children could decide if they wanted to join us or not. It was a life-changing experience for all of us, and it impacted the children’s lives in a profound and lasting way. None of us regrets it for a second.”
We Shall Overcome
Wendy started the Sunflower Project to minister to women in the community who give so much of themselves to those with even less than them. These women volunteer at Ma’s vir Wellington, an organisation that provides meals for children in the area who don’t get enough to eat at home.
“Often, these ladies have untold heartache and challenges themselves, but they just have to bury it deep inside their hearts as they stay busy with serving others,” Wendy explains. “I just want to give them the opportunity to share their stories while putting their emotions into something creative. We do different projects, but it’s not so much about the end products (which are beautiful by the way) as it is about the journey itself.”
Wendy shows them how to do a specific craft- or needle work project in an attempt to deal with those hidden, sometimes even forgotten, emotions. Wendy stresses the fact that she’s constantly learning from these strong women who often had to endure much suffering. She wants to make it clear that she is only the facilitator and never attempts to preach to or counsel them.
“I prefer just to listen and let them do the talking. I’ve learnt through the years that there are treasures in everyone if you are just willing to find it. I want to serve these women and honour them for the pillars of strength that they are in their communities. I want to help them realise their purpose and especially their worth.”
At the End of the Day
Both Wendy and her husband are constantly seeking instruction from the Lord as to what their next step should be and where He wants to use them. They are open, willing and obedient. Wendy sums it up, “That’s the most important thing, He will show you how and where He wants to use you and where you can make a difference. You just have to keep tuned in!”
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