Sewing seeds of hope

People living in the crowded Cape Town townships face staggering challenges when it comes to poverty, unemployment, violence, and a host of other issues, but SIM’s Sarah Hopkins has found a way to help transform lives through her compassionate and diverse ministry.

Sarah is an Integrative Arts Psychotherapist and runs regular groups for adults and teenagers, combining emotional support with practical training and studying the Bible.

Sarah is using her sewing and therapy skills to help people living with trauma in the Cape Town townships

Following the end of a short-term mission placement in South Africa, Sarah joined SIM UK in January to continue her successful ministry. Her journey to South Africa began after she graduated from university with a degree in costume-making. She then spent 10 years in England teaching and running sewing classes and gaining a Masters in Integrative Arts Psychotherapy to fulfil her long-held dream of living and working in Africa.

“I enjoy being able help people holistically emotionally, practically and spiritually so when I came to a stage where I felt there was nothing keeping me in England, I prayed and pursued options of approaching organisations to work in Africa, where I believed I could best use my gifts and skills,” she says.

Sarah is bringing the hope of the gospel to underprivileged families in South Africa

“I’d always imagined being in a rural place and never expected to end up in South Africa, so it was a surprise when I was offered Cape Town, but I had a peace about it because I realised it would be a good place to use my therapy skills and three years on, I’m still here!”

As part of her ministry, Sarah befriends people living in the Cape Town townships, where she combines her creative skills with her therapy training to help people recover from the traumas they experience.

“I teach practical and life skills to help them develop as people and to help them find their identity in Christ through bible studies,” she explains.

Sarah runs weekly groups, including a sewing class for women from the townships, which she started from scratch three years ago, beginning with teaching the basics, including how to use a sewing machine and cut out fabric, until today, the women are proficient seamstresses producing wonderful garments, from dresses and hoodies, to bags and hats.

Making hoodies…
…and making hats
Three years after the sewing group began, the women are now proficient seamstresses

As well as teaching them to sew, Sarah uses her therapy skills to also help them emotionally: “The sewing classes are a safe place where the women can support each other and honestly share how they feel, which they really appreciate.”

One of Sarah’s goals for 2023 is to help start a business so the women can sell the things they make: “I want the women to earn an income for themselves and also to find more meaning and purpose in their lives making and producing things.”

Sarah also runs women’s counselling skills course and weekends away that are centred around the themes of self-worth and identity in Christ.

Praise God that on their last retreat, attended by 22 women from difficult backgrounds, one woman committed her life to Christ!

Another aspect of Sarah’s ministry is building relationships with underprivileged teenagers. Estimates suggest that up to 80% of children living in the Cape Town townships area will have experienced some sort of trauma in their lives and all from a very young age, so Sarah’s approach is to take them into God’s creation and trek around Table Mountain once a month.

Building relationships with youngsters during a trek up Table Mountain

“After a while, we stop and have a little snack,” she says, “then I do a therapeutic session with them on the mountain and then a Bible story before we walk back.”

Sarah also supports colleagues in another Christian organisations to train and equip them in their work with homeless people. And as she looks forward to expanding her ministry, there’s no doubt Sarah will continue to use her therapy and creative skills to serve the needs of others by bringing comfort, hope and healing to the people she ministers to.

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Give thanks Sarah is building relationships and can share the hope she has in Christ with the families she comes alongside.
  • That the hearts of those she serves will be healed as Sarah points them to Christ.
  • That Sarah will continue to use her sewing and therapy skills for God’s glory.

This was posted on 17 May 2023 in Compassionate ministries and Ministry stories.
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