Last Wednesday Lois and I had the privilege of witnessing a very special event – a graduation. This was no ordinary graduation however, the students in question have spent the past two and a half years as apprentices at Ebenezer Agricultural Training Centre, which is a training centre, social enterprise and working farm just south of the Matopos National Park.
During their time at the farm, the apprentices (aged 18-23) have received many hours of taught input across a wide array of subjects. Ranging from crop rotation to chicken rearing, water management to Christian discipleship, these young people have been invested in, cared for and loved by what has become an extension of their own families. Family members and community leaders came to the graduation ceremony and applauded the ways in which their emerging generation had been equipped with new skills, new expectations of what their lives might hold and, most of all, a new sense of self-worth, joy and hope that they have found as followers of Jesus.
(Family members celebrating with one of the graduates)
The team at Ebenezer have done an excellent job of ensuring that their apprentices are cared for in every way – physically, emotionally and spiritually – with the fruit of their labours already being seen in the apprentices of previous years. Some have found work, some have established their own enterprises and some have stayed on to join the staff team and pass on their experiences to new apprentices. The testimonies of those graduating was that their time at Ebenezer had changed them, and that the course of their lives have been enduringly changed for the better.
(First year apprentices performing a drama for their fellow students)
It was truly a joy and an inspiration to see those apprentices graduate and to celebrate a job well done. The challenge is starting anew for Ebenezer though; to date, there has been twenty to thirty apprentices at the farm at any one time, later this month there are sixty new apprentices due to start their training…
With love and blessings,
> Thank God for the life-changing work of Ebenezer;
> Thank God for the hard work and dedication of the students and staff team that has brought the apprentices to graduation;
> Pray for those graduating as they move onto the new challenges and opportunities of working life;
> Pray for the new apprentices arriving this month, that they will find new faith, community, and purpose whilst at Ebenezer;
> Pray for those new apprentices facing family pressure to immediately find paid employment (particularly in South Africa) rather than enrol at Ebenezer.