Raw sewage assaults her senses as Julie Yngsdal steps over discarded items on small pathways that lead to 10-x-10 rooms located in dark corners of alleyways. She enters one of the rooms and is greeted by smiling faces.
Julie is here to encourage, share the gospel and provide aid to nine mothers and 26 children. Many of the women are widows and are Muslim refugees. Yngsdal met the women through an English as a Second Language class she teaches at an Islamic school.
Julie and her husband, David, are IMB missionaries in South Africa and minister among refugee communities.
“As we have made home visits, ‘heartbreaking’ cannot even begin to describe what we have encountered,” Julie said. “We don’t know how they survive.”
The plight of the nine mothers and their 26 children is dire. As the world reels from the advance of COVID-19, refugees in South Africa have become even more vulnerable. The refugees come from a number of African countries. They live in poverty, are ignored, forgotten, and are given last priority—if any at all—to medical care.
South Africa, like many countries around the world, is now under a national lockdown to contain the spread of the virus. This means refugees are no longer able to work and provide for their families. For the nine widows Julie visits, the inability to work is crippling. They are the sole breadwinners in their families.
The Yngsdals ask for prayer for these communities who are struggling for survival.
Julie uses funds donated by Southern Baptists to provide aid to the widows and their children. The funds are used for school expenses, food and rent.
“Through the limited help we can offer, we are allowed access to share with them the unlimited love of a God who sent His one and only Son to die for them and give hope through His unlimited forgiveness that is available to them,” Julie said.
Because of COVID-19, the Yngsdals have shifted from in-person visits to virtual visits via social media platforms. The Yngsdals are meeting with several groups of men and women digitally.
One of the groups they are digitally discipling and counseling includes a group of new Christians. The Christians, like so many others in the nation and around the world, are frightened. The Yngsdals share truth and comfort taken from Scripture.
“We can only drop to our knees and petition our heavenly Father, pleading His mercy on them and their children and families during these uncertain times,” Julie said. “We pray that God will reveal Himself in a great way to them and that through His protection, His glory will be seen in their situation.”
After the lockdown ends, in addition to the nine women they are already supporting, the Yngsdals plan to provide care packages of supplies and food for families to help them recover.
Join the Yngsdals in praying for refugee communities in South Africa. Pray the Lord would provide comfort and courage during this time. Pray the Lord would provide for and protect the group of refugee widows and their children during this time of crisis. Pray the Lord will halt the spread of the virus, both in South Africa, and around the world.