I recently caught up with Lehlabile “Hlabi” Molele. I asked her a few questions about her time on Buyela one of Youth for Christ South Africa’s (YfCSA) year-of-your-life teams. Hlabi (pictured below) was a part of Buyela in 2011 and 2012. She is currently studying Graphic Design and Art Direction.
Blessing [B]: What made you want to be a part of a YfCSA year of your life team?
Hlabi [H]: Initially, I was looking for a Christian gap year programme because I wasn’t sure where or what I wanted to study after I finished school. Then a friend of mine kept telling me about the gap year programmes from Youth for Christ South Africa (YfCSA).
Being a regular Youth Weeker (what people who attend Youth Week camp are called) I decided to look into it and there I fell in love :). I learned that this specific programme would give me an opportunity to dance, to travel and impact young people’s lives all in the name of Jesus.
Mark 16:15 would be (as it should be) my everyday life. Everything I love, all in one, all the time. Can someone say, “excitement dot com!” (This is how bubbly Hlabi talks when she’s excited)
[B]: Why YfC and not any other gap year programme?
[H]: Other gap year programmes were also quite interesting. I gave a few of them a second and maybe a 4th, 5th and 6th look but YfCSA just felt right. As much as I was excited about it, the excitement only really came after I’d already applied. And, I was not disappointed.
[B]: Describe your experience?
[H]: 2011, my first year with team Buyela was by far the best year of my life! The first three months were training, where we learned dances, skits and songs. We practised and exercised (a lot).
We had devotions and different lectures that equipped us for the journey ahead and those three months for me personally were amazing. I felt like I was on a honeymoon with God the entire time.
2012 was notably harder but I still had picnics with God and laughed and experienced Him in a whole new way. And that was only the beginning. The Toyota Quantum (team bus) became my home.
I was part of a team of fourteen. From different places, availing ourselves to be ‘used by God’ by reaching young people. I learned to form relationships with the people around me and became a part of so many families. Matthew 10:29-30 really came to life I saw and experienced miracles.
I saw people turning their lives around and young people coming to God with tangible hunger for Him. To summarize my experience, I’d say, “despite all the difficulties and hard times, I went on an adventure with God and fell in love with thirteen strangers.”
[B]: Did your experience meet your expectations?
[H]: The experience surpassed my expectations (keeping in mind I wasn’t really sure what exactly to expect). I expected 2011 to be an adventure and I expected 2012 to be a trying year. And they were both exactly that and a bit more.
[B]: What was most unexpected part of your journey?
[H]: The most unexpected part of my journey was in February 2012 when my four-year-old nephew passed away. It was a very personal time in my life and it affected me much more that I could ever have anticipated.
I realised that when you choose to give a year of your life like that, you’re giving every part of your life. The people around you, who you call “family”, really do become family.
You learn to become completely transparent because there aren’t many other options. But it’s also in that time that God worked in me; it was like I was under a study light.
The heat was intense but it was a good light and a good heat because God was studying me. He was at work in me and He was showing me all the muck that would’ve stayed hidden if I hadn’t gone under the heat like that.
[B]: On a scale of 1 – 10, how would you recommend anyone volunteer on a year of your life experience with YfCSA?
[H]: On a scale of 1-10 I’d say seven billion. Firstly, because seven is my favourite number, secondly, because I don’t want to choose anything under ten. Thirdly because it is the truth! Volunteering with YfCSA was by far one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I learnt more in roughly two years than what most people seem to learn in twenty.
[B]: Please share anything else about your journey that you would want the world to know
[H]: On the road you meet many people; you experience different cultures. You find yourself in situations where you have to adapt and fast.
YfCSA’s motto is, “Geared to the times, anchored to the rock” and on team you learn how to gear to how different people do life while remaining anchored to the word of God. You learn how to be relevant with an anchor.
There are times where it becomes really difficult and you just want to quit and go home. There are also times when it’s so amazing you want to keep going for the rest of your life and leave everything else behind.
But in it all you learn how to live the word of God, you learn persistence and perseverance, you learn how to be content in any situation you may find yourself in plenty or little.
You learn humility, patience and how to put others before yourself and if you’re anything like me, you learn responsibility. And if you are anyone at all, you learn that life is about living and living is about Christ-you can quote me on that
Note: Applications for YfC year of your life programmes for 2015 are now open. Some options: