Andre lives in Lavender Hill, and he, his fiancé, and his son have become great friends with the Yebo Life team. It's hard to believe that we met them at the Restoring Hands soup kitchen nearly three years ago!
Andre has gone from a life of multiple arrests, unemployment, and drug use, to one of providing for his family, having big dreams for the future, and no longer attending the soup kitchen for food—instead, he comes to say hi to everyone and to even help out with the crafts.
We’ve seen such a big transformation in his life over the last few years, that we had to take a moment to recognize how God is moving amongst the people of Lavender Hill through ministries like Restoring Hands. We took the opportunity to sit down with Andre and reflect on our walk together over the past three years.
Here is some of that conversation (translated from Afrikaans):
How did we first meet?
I remember meeting Tony (Yebo Life) and Beth (YWAM) about three years ago. The people at the soup kitchen were very broken back then. There was a lot of hopelessness and lack of self-worth. Pastor Edwin and Angie were able to establish stricter rules when Yebo Life and YWAM started getting involved. This helped limit the fighting and disrespect that came from the people’s broken state.
How has Yebo Life impacted you and the community?
A Word from the Bible and advice has been given to people at the soup kitchen every week. People have appreciated this, and everyone has grown in respect and love for Pastor and for the team that works with Restoring Hands.
About a year ago, things got much calmer. There has been a significant change in the atmosphere. At other soup kitchens, people haven’t changed as much or as quickly. The atmospheres at those places have stayed much the same.
Andre says in his native language, “Dit is mooi om te sien.” [It’s a beautiful thing to see.]
It sounds like people now have more respect for themselves as well?
Yes. And the demeanor of the gangsters that attend the soup kitchen has changed. They are much calmer, more approachable, and respectful towards outsiders and volunteers.
Looking back, how have things changed in your personal life?
The biggest difference in my life was a relationship with Jesus. I struggled with drugs, was always frustrated, and our the home environment was always tense and full of frustration. I can now work and earn an income for my family. Previously, I had hardly ever worked and this caused a lot of tension for my family, as they were hungry all of the time.
The people I’ve met along the way (since meeting the Lord), made a difference and supported me through the change and journey. The words people use in their conversations make a big difference. Yebo Life has always been very motivating and encouraging to everyone, not pushing people down or condemning people.
Through the Restoring Hands "Let’s Fix It" initiative, Yebo Life and Grace Christian Church were able to partner with Edwin and Angie in building Andre and his family a new home.
How is the new place?
We are loving it. There are no more water leaks! Rain is no longer a problem for us, and we no longer have to run for buckets to place under the leaks when it rains in the winter. We don’t have to move pillows or beds in the middle of the night and can get a full night's sleep now. It’s made a big difference in our lives. Even months later, the kids are still excited about their new home.
Is there anything you want to share about Yebo Life?
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Yebo Life leads people to a certain point, and then people have to be willing to pull their own weight. I’ve been helped in such a manner and now I can move forward, better and stronger than before.
I’m also in a place now where I can help others that are struggling. I tell people, “There is a place where you can go, and there are people there willing to help you.” It just requires them to soften their hearts and say, "yes."
The weekly craft program makes a substantial difference for the children and parents. It helps better prepare the kids for school in terms of skills. Those art supplies are things that could not have been afforded by the parents. I often see the kids running towards the craft ministry—and often an hour before it starts!
Is there anything you want to share about Restoring Hands?
Getting a piece of the Word and prayer at the soup kitchen every time has been more impactful for the people than getting a piece of bread—even though food is important.
The fact that Yebo Life stays with a ministry partner for a long time and invest in relationships has not gone unnoticed. It is appreciated and meant a lot for the people of Lavender Hill. We were used to outsiders only staying for a week or two, and there would be no point in opening up to outsiders because of that.
I’m amazed at the volunteers' commitment and love for people—like Beth. I saw her one day, in the pouring-down Cape Town rain, walking down the streets [of Lavender Hill] to visit families and to see how they’re doing and pray for them.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
In the past, I was stuck in a cycle. Week in and week out, with bad routines and unhealthy habits. I no longer do those same things. I’ve noticed a change in myself, in my home, and in my children.
Andre spoke about numerous other ways God has moved in his life, such as the restoration of his relationship with his parents. From being told to never put his feet in his parents house ever again, to about a year ago, his mom inviting him and his son to their house for a weekend. His parents have recognized the real change in his life, and the trust that was broken has been fully restored.
Andre is a shining example of God’s grace and of the transformative power of the Gospel! He is a walking testimony for the people in his community. Thank you, Andre, for sharing your story with us!