Stanley has a special place in my heart, because he attended the Discipleship Training School that I led earlier this year. He comes from a child headed household and his story is quite heartbreaking, but God is so good, isn't He?! This might get a little long, but, trust me, you are going to want to keep reading.
I asked Stanley to tell me in his words the story of his family life and what it was like growing up in a child headed household. I felt like I was reading a book as I read his heart on paper.
"I lost my mother when I was 6 months old. I never knew her but I wish I had. I was raised by my aunt in a village called Marite. I stayed with her for 5 years. My father would come and visit me there. I didn't even know that I had brothers.
Then, in 1990 I moved to another village called Masoyi where I met my brothers for the first time. We spoke different languages so that was difficult at first. My father took another wife but my stepmom did not like me. I was getting one meal a day. My father didn't support me, with clothes, food, school fees, etc. He didn't do anything for my brothers, but my grandmother was the mercy one who cared for us. She paid our school fees, and bought us food and clothes with the hope that my brothers and I would get a good education and have a good life.
My father would spend more than 3 months at a time in Johannesburg without coming home. He would send money, but we never saw the use of the money at home, because we weren't getting food. Our stepmom was buying food and hiding it in her bedroom. So when she wasn't around, we would go in and take the food and whatever we found useful. She would tell my father and he would beat us when he came home. We would sleep on the floor with one blanket. Life wasn't easy, but we got used to it and faced what we had.
In 2002, my father died and our stepmom ran away. We tried to call her, but she never answered her phone. We never saw her again. So we became a child headed household. Life became even harder. My grandmother could only support us R100 a month (equivalent of $10) to pay for food, clothes, and electricity."
How did you come to know Jesus?
"My aunt encouraged us to speak with a social worker. We met an organization called Masoyi Home Based Care which brought us lots of hope. They provided us with food parcels, school uniforms, and school fees. It was also in my heart to help people because of how I grew up. I started to get involved with the youth program. I had a passion to work with youth and a great time. I worked there for 4 years as a volunteer. Every Thursday, I met with a man to talk about Jesus. I realized there was a Father who loves me so much. And I gave my life to Jesus.
I saw God provide for me in so many ways, but I still didn't really understand what it meant to be a Christian. I struggled with my spiritual life for 3 years. Then I told my friend that I wanted to go to a missionary school."
Why did you want to do the training school and how has God impacted you through it?
"I met some of the staff from Ten Thousand Homes and in 2008, they invited me to attend the Discipleship Training School. I prayed about it and felt like God said I should do it. They said there was space available, so in January I came.
I had a big change in my life that I can't explain. I am not the same Stanley that I used to be. I am so glad that I did the school. I don't live the same life that I used to live. I have a new home where there are people who really care about me. Not just by words, but also with their actions. I am really enjoying what I am doing. If they said I could do the school a second time, I would! I have gotten to know God more."
Since the training school finished at the end of May this year, Stanley has become a valuable part of our staff and we are so glad to have him among us!
By Jen Price