Serving in South Africa, By Chuck Armstrong (New York, NY)

My wife and I have been attending Redeemer for as long as we’ve been in New York (a little over four years) thanks to the recommendation of my dad. Since our first visit, we’ve instantly felt a part of a community, making this gigantic city feel a bit smaller. After becoming members, we began leading a Community Group on the Upper West Side and got plugged into serving at All Angels through Hope For New York.

This year, I was ordained as a Deacon and my wife has gotten more involved with Hope For New York. All of those experiences have led to the most impactful trip of my life, visiting Lily of the Valley¬†children’s orphanage in South Africa through Redeemer’s Short Term Missions trips.

Volunteering at the orphanage, I was immediately transported to a completely different area of the world than I’ve ever seen. It was quickly apparent to me that the worries I have are nothing compared to those of the children and staff at¬†Lily of the Valley. It was eye-opening to witness the unadulterated happiness of children — most of whom are HIV+ — and working alongside adults who have given up everything to dedicate their lives to God and the orphanage.

It was eye-opening to witness the unadulterated happiness of children -- most of whom are HIV+ -- and working alongside adults who have given up everything to dedicate their lives to God and the orphanage.

Additionally, being on the trip with my wife and 11 other Christian volunteers created a whole new community that hadn’t yet existed. God used a short-term trip to bring 13 people together into tight-knit community who now all have a common heart for Lily and South Africa.

The experience has also allowed me to share stories with my co-workers and friends who aren’t believers but can appreciate what is happening in South Africa. Whether they admit it’s God or not, there is no arguing that something is stirring in South Africa and it’s good!

I was not that excited about the trip. My wife went last year and she wanted to go again, and after much discussion and prayer, I agreed to join her. I didn’t expect to be impacted much and definitely did not think the trip would stir inside me weeks after it was finished. Fortunately, God proved me wrong. I’m now looking forward to my next chance to visit South Africa with my wife and trying to figure out how God can keep us involved with Lily even when we’re thousands of miles away.

There is so much to share about South Africa and what Redeemerites and fellow brothers and sisters are doing, but the most important thing is that God is there and he is working non-stop.

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