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“My name is Bochadnidzdhal,” he told me.
I shook my head and stared.
“You can just call me Boo,” he said laughing.
I was meeting Boo to hear his story about how the Life Skills class at Light Providers had changed his life. I could tell by Boo’s fidgety body language and his shy smile that he was ready to finally get this story out in the open.
To allow Boo to tell every detail of his story, and not have to worry about a language barrier, we had a translator from Zulu to English. Don’t be fooled, this helped me process the story better too!
The Fall to Hopelessness
Boo talked pretty openly about the negative aspects in his life before the Life Skills class. He spoke about his lack of knowledge, terrible friend influence and his struggle with alcohol. Perhaps it was my experience in social work, but I knew there was something else he was keeping back.
Finally, we got the story Boo was keeping back. When Boo was 23, he began working at the local post office where he was stationed in the distribution center. One day, he was accused of stealing money out of some of the letters. Boo was arrested and spent several nights in jail.
While he was released from jail and no charges were held against him, he no longer had a job. Boo began a pretty quick fall to feeling hopeless about life.
I understood why he would lose hope after that experience. Life for most in kwaNyuswa isn’t so much about living but more about survival. Not everyone here is presented with an opportunity to have employment. When Boo watched his job slip through his fingers, he watched his future go with it, or so he thought.
Boo’s friend, Siyanda, who is the executive director here at Light Providers, took notice. He saw how Boo’s life had taken a nosedive for the worse, so he invited Boo to attend the Life Skills class.
The program began a transformation in his heart and soul, and, for the first time in Boo’s life, he began a relationship with God. This changed the way he saw the world not only in a spiritual sense, but in practical sense.
Out of this relationship with God, he began to develop a vision for his life and build up character that could follow this vision.
“In this world there are tons of things that can be a hindrance to your life,” Boo told me. “You have poor friends and they are going to pull you in a negative direction. You sleep around and you are going to increase your chance for HIV. All of these things hinder the life you’re supposed to live.”
When Boo spoke these words to me, the premise behind the Life Skills program hit me like a ton of bricks.
Being Raised from the Dead
From the outside looking in, Life Skills teaches people basic skills that will better themselves. It produces skills in working a computer, interviewing and other useful life skills. But now that I have seen the inside of the program, I see so much more.
Life Skills isn’t about teaching people how to live differently. It’s about showing people how they can come alive.
Much of the focus on the AIDS epidemic seems to focus on all the individuals who have died, but concentrating solely on this doesn’t tell the whole story.
I can see the uncalculated effect on all the people who are still living, but whose lives have been taken away. The AIDS pandemic in South Africa wiped out an entire generation. And with that, a lot of hope and opportunity was lost too.
Children are growing up and entering society with no guidance and are left to figure out life on their own. No one has ever told them about having a vision, let alone a purpose, in life. They have been too busy trying to figure out how to survive from one day to the next.
But the Life Skills program creates life in others by connecting them to the true source of life – walking individuals through developing a relationship with Christ. Out of this relationship flows a purpose that is above mere survival – even above having a job.
Program participants begin to realize that God wired them with certain hopes and dreams on purpose. When they begin to live a life out of these hopes and dreams, they truly come alive!
My mind started flashing back through all the people I have met that had been through the Life Skills class and it all fell into place. I’ve met a variety of people from musicians, businessmen, secretaries, to people here on staff, and they all had one thing in common:
They have come alive.
The brokenness in kwaNyuswa that has been felt by HIV/AIDS is extremely devastating. It has left a community walking around lifeless. Offering people a job won’t allow them to rise above this brokenness.
However, showing people the purpose they have been designed for can. The value of truly being alive will never be able to be calculated on a paycheck.
As Boo continued through his story, I could see the joy and appreciation in his face. Whenever someone truly comes alive everything in their life changes and you can’t help but take notice.
When people ask Boo about his life, he just points them to Light Providers and tells them, “You can develop a relationship with God that changes your life.”
The Life Skills formula is pretty simple: Show people their purpose, with character to pursue it. You create life.
- Pray for individuals in kwaNyuswa, and in your own local communities, to find their own purpose and vision in life. Do you know a youth who you can be conscious about helping them help create a vision for their life?
- Pray and seek out the visions and dreams that God has placed in your own heart. Are you following them? If not, take one small step of action towards living out your purpose – buy a book, do some research, ask someone questions, etc.
- Consider supporting Loving South Africa financially. Your financial contributions help their partner organizations, like Light Providers, with all their day-to-day needs!
About the Author: Tyler is a summer intern with World Next Door for 2012. He is currently studying Social Work at IUPUI. He has a hope to see social justice take place in this world through the transforming love of Christ. He loves working out, playing sports, and sometimes thinks he is still going to be a professional athlete. He also listens to Taylor Swift more than he cares to admit.