When I was in hotel school they used to drill the phrase “exceed the guest’s expectations” into us all the time. It was never enough to do what the guest asked; we were pushed to always go “above and beyond” the call of duty. As a believer I have found that this lesson also applies in how we live our lives because let’s be honest, doing the bare minimum of what Christ has asked us to do, only really benefits, well no one. Over the past 9 years I have met many extraordinary believers who have done what I’d say is going above and beyond but is really just obeying God and loving and serving people. Two such people are my wonderful friends, mentors and managers – the Harrell’s and I would love to introduce you to them.
I chose the Harrell’s as people who inspire me in South Africa because they really and truly are and it’s kind of crazy because they are not South African. Megan and Richard started their missionary journey many years before they ever even left America but God didn’t open a door until 2012. They moved to Lesotho to work in the mountains, with Richard flying people in and out of the area. 90% of his flights were medically related and many people dying on his flights. He became heavily burdened to share the message of Christ with them but opportunities to do so were few. He then realised that reaching an older person is harder as their minds and hearts are already made up but intervening and sharing Christ with younger people had the potential to change not only their lives but the lives of the community.
So an idea formed and the Harrell’s kicked into action. Taking their 4 boys (yes 4!) onto a rocky field in the middle of Lesotho and kicking a ball around. One boy came and then more and then Saturdays and their house was filled with young boys to mentor and help fulfil their potential. What started as a Saturday soccer club soon turned into a club of 350 young boys. They knew that this was a God thing. So they dreamed up a place for all these boys to come hang out, do homework and be mentored but again God asked them to wait and showed them a different place instead.
Fast track to a meeting with Trevor Downham and then a move to Genesis and the beautiful South Coast. Here was a youth centre for them to work in. since they started working at Genesis Youth I have seen many things that have inspired me to try making a difference in my own community. Too many people tend to just talk the talk but these people walk it as well. With their heart for children and young adults they work every day to see each person they meet come to find and fulfil their God given potential. To intervene in young people’s lives so that they can make great choices that will affect their future and their community for the better.
Richard works as the Operational Manger for the youth centre (which mind you is a really hard job) but also instructs a Crossfit gym, tends to all his employees and makes sure each of us works to be who God created us to be and Megan does a lot of media and writing work for Genesis. They came into a situation and instead of trying to figure it out first, they just plugged straight into the work. But although there is no way to describe the work they do, I can only say that they make a difference. Francis Chan is quoted as saying that sometimes we need to go until God tells us to stop. This perfectly describes this couple for me. I asked them what they hope to achieve whilst here and their answer displays their heart for people and their love for God.
“As missionaries our hope and dream is to empower local people to do the work that we are doing, because we believe they can do it so much better than we can. Also that what we have done here will continue even after we have left.”
Yes there is a lot wrong with South Africa but there is also a lot that is right about it and sometimes it’s the very people who want to see it succeed that inspire us the most. People like the Harrell’s who go above and beyond.