My name is Becky Young, President of the Mabopane Foundation, formed in 2003 to provide shelter, food, clothing and education to children in South Africa. My interest in these children was birthed at a church youth meeting during a talk given by Pastor Reuben Mamatsinya from Mabopane, South Africa. My heart was stirred as I listened to his stories of growing up as a “street child” in Mabopane and later returning to pastor and care for other street children who are growing up in circumstances similar to his own.
Only months before, my life had seemed empty and without purpose, and I was riddled with insecurities. I had a wonderful husband and two beautiful children; but I had wrapped up my whole life in them and failed to walk with God and give Him a place of prominence in my life. One day when I was feeling particularly helpless, I found myself on my knees with my Bible open to Psalm 63 and read these words: “Oh God, you are my God in a dry and weary land, where there is no water. I hunger and thirst for you.” As I cried out to Him, I could sense His presence beginning to fill up the emptiness I had been experiencing.
And then I met Pastor Mamatsinya. After we met, I couldn’t get the children of Mabopane out of my mind. Over the next six months, I found myself waking up at 4:00 a.m. each day thinking about these beautiful children whom Pastor Mamatsinya had described and longing to hold them, feed them, and love them. Neither my husband nor my children felt called to go to South Africa but were supportive of my going if that was God’s plan for me. God orchestrated several events to confirm that this was His plan for me including a Sunday School lesson entitled “Will you go if God calls?” and an unexpected introduction to the Director of Missions, Roy Smith, who was organizing a trip to Mabopane, South Africa three months later. I felt certain that God intended for me to go on this trip, but I did not know how I would pay for it.
Going to South Africa was a BOLD move for someone who had previously been afraid to travel even short distances without the presence of my husband or children. But God continued to build my faith and give me the courage to go knowing that this was His plan for me. The children and the people there captured my heart. I grew up poor, but never had I seen such poverty. On my return trip home, I asked the Lord, “What am I to do? This is so big.” His response was simple. “Feed My Sheep.”
Our ministry began with informal yard sales to raise money for the children of Mabopane. The yard sales became more and more popular as participants realized that 100% of the proceeds were directed to the children of Mabopane. In 2003, we established the Mabopane Foundation to continue our efforts on a more formal basis. Our vision is to provide food, education, and permanent housing in a structured family environment for orphaned and vulnerable children. God’s provision has been amazing.
On one occasion I received a check for $10,000 from a cotton farmer; and, within 4 weeks $23,000 had been raised to purchase land on which to build Ya Bana Village. Through the efforts of our volunteers and financial donors here in the United States, South Africa, and in Mabopane, we are building a community together. My church family held a fundraising event during my first trip to Mabopane and reimbursed me for all my travel expenses. And now, through the generosity of my good friend Jean, I receive fresh strawberries each season and sell homemade strawberry pies to cover my cost of my semi-annual trips to Mabopane. The Ya Bana project stands as a testimony that God has a plan and way for all to know his love and experience abundant, purposeful living.
“...And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:17-18