South African mission

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Opp’s Natasha Archie is shown with two children from South Africa. Archie just returned from a three-month mission.

Nearly every college student is required to complete an internship of sorts prior to graduation, but Opp’s Natasha Archie has completed one of a different kind.

Archie just returned from a 3-month “mission” to Cape Town, South Africa, where she honed her knowledge and skills in social work.

Archie joined forces with the Warehouse, a Christian organization that works with local churches in rich and poor areas by helping them implement sound and effective practical acts, and encouraging renewed attitudes in their communities.

“As a social work major, we are to participate in a practicum, putting into use the skills and knowledge that we have been learning to better understand how to become the best social worker possible,” the 2006 Opp High School graduate said.

Archie worked in a “township” poverty-stricken where gangs, drugs, abuse and rape wer rampant.

“I worked with two specific individuals who were currently or previously addicted to methamphetamine, abused, raped and neglected,” she said. “These two families had no purpose in life whatsoever.”

Archie said her mission was to help her clients eliminate lies and get to the roots of some of their struggles “in order to help them out of the pit they were living in.”

“These girls have never had someone just sit and listen to them talk,” she said. “They have never had any consistency in their lives. They have never seen what a healthy relationship looks like. They have never had the luxury of being loved and told that they are beautiful just the way they are.”

Archie said in Maneberg, females are seen as objects, and they are expected to do whatever they are told. She said that even their parents show them no love or compassion.

“I had a wonderful opportunity of taking the best help of all along with me to offer to these girls – the love of Jesus Christ,” she said. “I had the incredible opportunity not only to minister to these individuals that I worked with on a weekly basis, but also to provide them with some foundational principles and tools that they could take on themselves to apply and grow to become successful women.”

Archie said that “through the seeds” planted into these individuals, they were “transformed.”

“These girls were 20 years old and could not read or write, had no money for food, so they had to beg for every bit they get or sell some possession of their own, sometimes their own bodies, just for food,” she said. “They had never seen anything different or outside of their own community, so they believed that life was this way everywhere.”

Archie said she showed them that none of their misconceptions were true.

“After working with them for about two and a half months solid, I was able to see fruit in their lives that has never been true before,” she said. “I saw God do miraculous things in their lives. I saw responsibility for themselves take place. I saw anger management, but most of all, I saw joy and happiness in their eyes for the first time. They laughed. They smiled, and they said ‘no’ to drugs for the first time in seven to eight years. They were clean, and are becoming healthier. They have now purpose.

“I was able to plug them into the library and a couple more smaller organizations that they could help volunteer,” she said. “This gave them a reason to wake up in the mornings. It helped develop characteristics that would be beneficial in the future as far as job opportunities.”

Archie said she is grateful for the opportunity God gave her to go to South Africa.

“My prayer is that many others will see the gifts that God has given them and step out to someone who is in need,” she said. “God will lead us to places and things that we have no idea why or how we can be used, but ‘where God guides, he provides.”

Archie will graduate May 21, with a bachelor of social work from Union University in Jackson, Tenn. She plans to be the assistant director at a summer camp until the end of July. Then she is pursuing a job with Youth Villages in Jackson, Miss.