The new year typically brings a feeling of anticipation and renewal to the hearts and minds of most people. The team at Goshen International is no different. 2015 marks the beginning of the 15th year of our service in and love for South Africa. In that time, we have watched the Lord move in the lives of many people and establish us as a place of refuge for those we reach.
15 years ago, I was sitting in a church conference when my dad stopped in the middle of his message to say these words: “I’m sending my daughter to South Africa.” Those who know me well know that those words did not settle easily on my heart. However, after yielding to the voice of the Lord speaking through him, I planned my trip and charted my course, and a few months later I landed in Cape Town, South Africa. After some awesome moments in ministry while traveling with Sigi and David Oblander, my heart settled in a little village near Plettenberg Bay.
I was invited by a local woman to come help her for a year to feed and minister to abandoned children in Kurland Village. While doing that, I did what I always do—I looked for needs to be filled. After my now infamous conversation with the youth who were insecure about their futures, I decided to start the Kurland Learning Center. That decision not only altered the course of my life, but also the lives of the many children we have reached through the years.
From that faithful step so many years ago, we have taught and mentored a number of students through the Learning Center. In that time, more than 400 students have been a part of the academic program. More than half of those qualified to attend the college preparatory high school where we send students to build a foundation for university. Essentially all of the students successfully graduated from high school, and about 30% of those have gone on to a university, college, or skill school. The remainder went straight into the work force. We have worked with each student from the time they started with us in elementary school throughout their educational career, whether that ended at the secondary or tertiary level.
We have also been blessed to reach hundreds of other children through teen churches and home cells, after-school programs, and other community enrichment activities. We have built, supported, and influenced people while training community members, teaching abstinence and Christ-like character, and affecting the overall quality of education in the area.
We are humbled by the success we have seen, and as we start the new year we look to the Lord for new ways to provide more and better opportunities for these children. We are hoping to remodel the Learning Center as many things have become worn or dated after 15 years. We want to recruit new staff members and volunteers to further the mission. We are increasing our efforts to raise awareness and funding for our own permanent school, Goshen Preparatory Academy, to greater serve the students of South Africa. In all of these endeavors, we need the prayers and support of our partners.
As always, we thank you for walking with us and supporting us through this journey. We love you and hope that we can walk together for yet another 15 years.