African football mission for Norfolk's Ruth
A young Norfolk Christian woman, who has dedicated the last two years of her life to helping street children in South Africa, is now set to join an inspiring project which is bringing hope to hundreds of children by harnessing the passion of football fans who attend World Cup tournaments.
Ruth Barker from Wymondham will be working for an organisation called Lionsraw, which currently works in England, South Africa, the USA and Brazil. Lionsraw is a charitable trust founded by Christian football fan Jon Burns who runs a Vineyard Church in Middlesbrough. The aim of Lionsraw is to channel the enthusiasm of football fans into helping others as well as enjoying the game.
Ruth has previously worked with street kids and volunteers in South Africa for Scripture Union and Soul Survivor. She explains how she got involved with Lionsraw, "I believe it is God’s hand that brought them and myself together. My passion is for the street kids and it was through them and the people I work with that I ended up attending a street kids World Cup football match around March this year. We had gone to support a couple of our street kids who were in the South African team and I was introduced to Jon and his team. Although I knew God could and might do something special through this group I didn’t think much of it when we said hi and then Jon mentioned they would be back during the World Cup.
"During the World Cup I visited one of the Lionsraw building projects and attended a meeting where Jon revealed that Lionsraw was looking to set up in Durban. It was a very exciting moment and I was desperate to be part of it. Before I knew it my phone was ringing and I was being offered a tea and a chat by Jon the next day. I met with Jon and it was so exciting to be offered a chance to be a part of setting up the Durban office and working for Lionsraw. God is amazing!"
Ruth will be the develoment manager in Lionsraw's Durban office. Her duties will include general admin work, making sure funding is recorded and distributed, assisting in the setting up of the Hope Soccer Academy - which will use football to bring hope and life skills education to thousands of children in the region, in partnership with Ambassadors in Sport - and arranging travel and being tour guide for visitors to the projects. Ruth also plans to continue to volunteer her time to the street children on saturday mornings.
Lionsraw recently recruited a team of people to head to South Africa for the World Cup this year. During the World Cup, Jon and the team took on four building projects and seven football academies for local deprived children. They worked in a rural area called The Valley of 1000 Hills with a very high HIV/AIDS rate and lacking basic amenities.
The partnership with the USA is helping them develop their vision to take 1,000 football fans from England to the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. They will not only watch football but also do good in the poorest and most needy communities of Brazil.
Can you help Ruth?
Ruth plans to return to Durban at the end of October ready to start her new job on 1st November. She would like people to pray for her as she takes on this new role. She said, "I love the work that I do in South Africa and I believe that there are many people to help, spread the word of God to and teach. Prayer has been vital in my journey so far and will be vital in what I go on to do next, so your prayers are grately appreciated."
Lionsraw will pay Ruth part of her salary but she also needs to raise some monthly support herself. She is appealing for monthly donations or one-off gifts. If you are able to help, please contact Ruth on email@example.com or 07775718756
Click here to read about Ruth's first mission to South Africa
Click here to read about Ruth's return visit
Pictured above: Ruth with one of the children she works with in Durban.