Countdown – 4 months from today

Finishing…  One of the biggest things I remember learning from my 3 years in the Philippines was that I needed to finish well.  So as our countdown continues, that is what we are focusing on.  Finishing well.  In all aspects of our South African lives.  

Seed of Hope has a brand new CEO!

Her name is Kierra Ward and she started working for Seed of Hope as an administrator and event planner in 2013.  She soon advanced to Programs Manager, as she proved herself incredibly capable and dedicated to the organisation. She has grown in that position and helped to bring depth and quality to every single one of our programs.  Then this year, she applied for the CEO job and was selected over several other capable candidates. She just seemed ready for the next level of leadership.

Kierra (left) with SOH co-founder, Heather Liebenberg.

Kierra (left) with SOH co-founder, Heather Liebenberg.

The transition has been really smooth.  I have been so impressed at my husband’s ability to empower and encourage those he mentors.  And I can see that in his working relationship with Kierra.  She now sits in the CEO desk and Carl sits at the table – available to share wisdom and guidance as she takes over the reins for Seed of Hope.

His main role now is in getting the purchase of the property completed.  Derek Liebenberg, the founder of Seed of Hope,  had a dream that one day the entire property – a former Bible college – would be available for ministry.  It has been occupied by illegal residents for 20 years.  At the beginning of this year, there were 19 families “squatting” on the property.  Carl worked with Robert Dlamini, one of Seed of Hope’s Board members, and began working with the squatters to reach agreements with them to relocate them.  Many people said it couldn’t be done, and many attempts by others in the past had failed. But today, we are down to only 4 families.  The others have moved out willingly and with help by Seed of Hope.  Carl has been integral in this process.

He also has negotiated a complicated real estate deal with both the Church of the Nazarene (previous owners) and with the traditional Zulu council and our Zulu chief.  This coming Monday the Chief and his council will be at Seed of Hope for a ceremonial meal that is a Zulu tradition when someone becomes the new owners of a property.  The chief has said he views Seed of Hope as a “partner” in the community, and he is very happy that we are taking over the property to expand our work.

Sometimes we wonder about the timing of this property transfer.  We have tried on multiple occasions in the past to purchase the property on which Seed of Hope sits, but it was always unsuccessful for a variety of reasons.  And then suddenly the owners were willing to sell, and we reached a deal at the beginning of April – just 12 months before we are to leave.

All of this growth and transition comes in a year of economic recession for many countries of the world.  A year where we have had to tighten our belts in many program areas and trust that God “has a plan.”  This is God’s timing and we are choosing to trust that He has all the resources we will need.

God is providing in other ways for Seed of Hope.  Some of our staff have moved into new roles – which is consistent with Seed of Hope’s vision – to equip leaders. Many of our team are now leading their programs and doing a great job!  Thola Sithebe has moved into a new role as Child and Youth Development Team Leader.  She is coordinating all of the children and youth programs, and it is exciting to watch her lead her team!

There are also new programs happening – career prep for grade 12’s and parenting courses for families, for example, that are building people’s capacity and opportunities.


That is what we feel about where Seed of Hope is and the hands we are leaving it in.  We’re so incredibly grateful for this.  Carl often used to say “this feels like I am looking for a groom for my daughter” during the search for a CEO. That is how close SOH is to our hearts.  Like a daughter.  And to feel peace with where we are leaving her is a huge blessing!!

There will be challenges for sure, but what’s exciting for us is that Carl will continue to be uniquely involved with Seed of Hope.  In his new role as director of Hopeshares, he will continue to be a resource for the new Seed of Hope CEO.  So while our family will be returning to Canada, our mission goes on.  Thanks for all your support through this process – please stick with us and keep Seed of Hope in your prayers!


14 Responses to Countdown – 4 months from today
  1. Melody Babin Reply

    WOW……..I have no words…..this is amazing news. Great work!

    • Michelle Reply

      Thanks for your encouragement, Melody!

  2. Rachel Reply

    Oh I just love you guys. Continually inspiring!
    Thanks for the updates xxx

    • Michelle Reply

      Thanks Rachel! We love you too!! And certainly can’t wait to see you when we are in your neck of the woods… I will send you an email soon about that! Hugs!!

  3. Ruth Reply

    I love how beautifully the Lord has provided. So sweet! Believing He will continue to transition your family well.

    • Michelle Reply

      Thanks Ruthie! Tomorrow is my kids’ last day of South African school. Bittersweet…. but God is providing so well in this transition, so we do take heart! ;-) Even when there are small painful partings.

  4. Luana Reply

    It’s beautiful to read the details and the outcomes of things you and we have been praying about for a very long time! We’re on a countdown on this side of the ocean as well! Looking forward so much to the days when we will be able to travel five minutes for visits!

    • Michelle Reply

      The kids are all VERY excited at the prospect of being able to ride their bikes to Nan and Grandad’s house! Exciting times to come!!

  5. Kathy Reply

    We too are thankful you are coming home and so very thankful for what God has accomplished through you and Carl (his faithful servants) to complete your time there… Although it will continue here I know, but you have helped those people on a journey and invested in their lives for the kingdom. Bravo to you five, we can’t wait to hear about it all in the many visits we look forward to. Enjoy your journey home

    • Michelle Reply

      Thank you, Kathy, for your constant support, prayers and friendship! You are a true blessing!

  6. Scott Cowan Reply

    Michelle, what a great update. We love reading your blog posts and updates and Shauna and I have shared from afar in your hurts and celebrations. What an incredible time for the Seed of Hope and for your family. You have done well and are finishing well. The many fruits of your decade of service are showing in incredible ways. We look forward to the the next phase of the work God has call your family to. Enjoy the last few months. I am sure they will be busy!

    • Michelle Reply

      Hi Scott. Thanks so much for keeping up with us through our blog! It really is an incredible time for Seed of Hope. We feel honoured that God allowed us to work and live in this beautiful place for almost 10 years. Honoured to work with amazing people on both sides of the ocean! We also look forward to what God has for us in Canada! And yes, our last 4 months are packed full! But thankfully, some of that is Christmas fun! Thanks for your commitment to us and to Seed of Hope!

  7. Audrey and Frank Reply

    Truly an inspiration as you unfold the great progress
    made at Seed of Hope.Its with much interest in the community and the GIVING of yourselves that this has been achieved.
    I have admired your sacrifice and in spite of being so busy ,giving quality time to your family.Thank you for your example and great testimony in Jesus.The Lord goes ahead of you preparing your next step in faith .xxxx

    • Michelle Reply

      Thanks Audrey! We will most definitely miss your gift of encouragement!!

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