I first heard about LIV at momentum 2015 while Tich and Joan smith (founders of LIV) were speaking about the village. What an amazing place I remember thinking. Something I loved but never dared imagine could get involved with! But the more I heard the more I felt an unrest about the thought of not having something to do with this project. What I had originally dismissed as something too big for little me, God was calling me to. Applications for LIV4Change commenced and I trusted that God would make a way for me to go to South Africa that January and by his grace on the 5th of Jan 2016, just a couple months after I had first heard about the village, I was off, ready to start a journey of a lifetime!
First impressions: wow. I had never been in a place like it!! Children I’d never met boldly approaching me, interacting with me, sometimes attempting to climb on me. I quickly realised that everyone here on this precious village was a friend. Clusters of homes standing together. People of all ages, backgrounds, races living in unity together. I was thrown into a fully functioning, loving, encouraging, caring, uplifting, Father, Son and Holy Spirt loving community. A village on a hill so abundant in the presence of God, it was like living and breathing in a holy bubble of love, joy and peace! And that was just the starting point!
As well as living in an amazing place I got to take part of an amazing gap year program! LIV4Change is a six month program focusing on discipleship, identity, internship and serving. The time is split into three months of general volunteering in multiple departments as a team, followed by three months of a chosen internship, of which I chose to work alongside the school art teacher, teach individual piano lessons and help out in the children’s church (Promise Land) department with the artistic side of things. During volunteering I learnt so much about true unity, teamwork, handling and resolving conflicts in a godly way, experienced such character building along with my housemates and learnt so much of the village, it’s ins and outs, the way things run, the vision behind everything. Whereas internship was a whole other ballgame. I was suddenly detached from my new family, no longer working alongside them everyday, and was thrown into facing each day by myself, doing my own thing, learning to be okay with being in my own headspace, growing into a new found confidence and maturity, realising that it’s through Christ in me that I do all things, finding out that although it’s great to have friends to lean on, I can stand on my own two feet and do what God has called, designed and specifically created me to do. It was during this time of growing in my identity that I found out what the next steps of my life God was leading me into. In addition to this spiritually growing lifestyle, I grew massively from the regular teachings we received as apart of the program. Powerful teachings on topics such as identity, bible, vision and culture of honour. Also weekly bootcamps are put on.
LIV4Change is everything that I wanted in a gap year and more. The people I lived with changed me untold amounts and have become friend for life no doubt! The teachings brought countless revelations and such clarity. The leaders helped detangle my way of thinking and were encouraging loving and supportive. I can’t begin to express all that I’ve learnt in the space of six months, it has changed the course of my life, an experience that won’t only be an experience I remember for the rest of my life, but a foundation on witch the rest of my life is built on. “Your ceiling will become your floor”
Undoubtably one of the most treasured things about my time at LIV was my time with the kids. Weather that was sitting and drawing with them on the veranda, pushing the little ones on the swing, chasing the cheeky ones up and down the stairs, having a great talk with one of the teenagers or all the in between, I experienced the love of God in such a real way when with them, I found such a love bubbling up inside me for them. A love I know is from God that has flowed from him into my heart because of these amazing children. LIVs famous phrase is “rescue a child, restore a life, raise a leader and release a star” and I really did see those four “r”s happening in the lives of these kids even in the short time I was there. Not only that but I’ve noticed how God has taken me through those four “r”s. How he has rescued me from my fear, raised me in the light of who he is and who I am, restored my confidence and released back home to England ready to walk in all the new plans that he has in store for me.
By Tamasin Warnock