My interest was birthed at a church youth meeting in 1997 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 were growing up in circumstances similar to his own.
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 and longing to hold, feed, and love them. Neither my husband nor my children felt called to go to South Africa but were supportive 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 in just three months. I felt certain 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. During my return trip, I asked the Lord, “What am I to do? This is so big.” His response was simple. “Feed My Sheep.”
In the early years it was a privilege working with the shelters, knowing and loving all the wonderful children and volunteers. But through it all, my heart ached and longed for the children to experience family life in a real home. As time went by, I was shown a 10 acre piece of property with an old dilapidated farmhouse that was beautiful and spacious. Under the shade of a tree, I could literally see children playing on green grass with daisies everywhere! I knew without a doubt this was where God wanted the home to be! God raised the funds, through miraculous events, to purchase this land without me ever asking; by receiving a check for $10,000 from a cotton farmer. Within 4 weeks an additional $23,000 had been given to purchase land on which to build Ya Bana Village.
Our ministry began with informal yard sales to raise money for the children of Mabopane. The yard sales became 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 formal basis. Our mission is to provide funding for Christ-centered care and hope to orphaned and vulnerable children. God’s provision has been amazing.
The mission house located at 3913 US Hwy 64W, Apex NC 27523 was provided by a friend. He wanted the Foundation to use the house as a fund raising location to help the children in Mabopane. The yard sales grew to four days a month and within a few years God orchestrated the purchase of the Mission House by a ministry partner who leases the house to the Foundation for just $1 a year.
Through the efforts of our volunteers and financial donors here in the United States and Mabopane, South Africa, we are building a community. My church family held a fundraising event during my first trip to Mabopane and reimbursed 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.
God has done amazing and miraculous things over the past 20 years. You would be touched by how God answered prayers and met the needs of these children in the most unexpected ways. A new season is upon us, God clearly has spectacular plans to grow Ya Bana through the Foundation and the Mission House Expansion Project. Please keep an open heart and open mind in how you may fit into this puzzle as we begin only something God can finish!
Ephesians 3:17-18 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.
My name is Becky Young, some years ago, at the age of 38, my life seemed empty and without purpose; I was riddled with insecurities. I had a wonderful husband and two beautiful children but I had wrapped my whole life around 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.