It all started in 2005. As a police detective in the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit, Audrey’s husband, Ruan was addressing a public meeting of social workers. After the meeting, a social worker approached Audrey. She was desperately looking for a safe house for a baby boy. Severe abuse and neglect meant that the baby needed to find another home immediately.
Audrey readily agreed to take the little child in. She didn’t know it then, but this was to be the start of what would later become known as ‘Malachi’s Place of Safety.’
The little boy stayed with Audrey’s family for a year, and he profoundly changed their lives. When the time came for the baby to be returned to his parents, Audrey thought her heart would break.
But the social worker returned, and this time, she asked Audrey to look after a set of twins. The two infants were only meant to be there for a while, but they ended up living in the family’s home until they were five.
Malachi’s Place of Safety has now been home to more than eighty children. Sometimes they just stay for a few days; other times they are fostered there for years.
Audrey gets called on to care for little ones in many situations, and in varying states of health. The youngest baby she has been given was one day old. Audrey might be given a baby straight from the hospital, as soon as it can leave the incubator.
With these babies coming from such diverse circumstances, Audrey never knows what she might be called on to deal with. One of the most frightening circumstances for her has been two babies with apnea – they would stop breathing intermittently because of immature brainstems. After the first one gave them a severe scare, they realized that they needed to have apnea monitors, and so the sound of a ticking monitor is quite standard in the house. They thought the first baby had died when they found her blue when she stopped breathing. The baby is now a year old and looks like any healthy, happy baby girl. No one would look at her and imagine that she had nearly died on several occasions.
On any given day, Audrey wakes up at 5.30am and begins her morning routine of breakfast and bottles for the children. Then she’s dropping the older children off at preschool, staying at home with the little ones, fetching the older children, and preparing lunch. After that there are mountains of clothes and dishes to wash, and dinner to prepare. In addition to this, Audrey frequently spends hours on end waiting with children in government clinics and at court to hear judgement on their cases. After most of the children are finally tucked up in bed, there’s often at least one child who needs ongoing care. Audrey will often snatch only a few hours of sleep in the night and wake up at 5.30 the next morning to do it all over again.
It is Audrey’s faith that sustains her in her life of service. Her faith in Jesus Christ and her testimony of His restored gospel help Audrey to serve with the great love that she does. There is a special place in heaven for people who make sacrifices to serve, especially when the service they give is helping those who cannot help themselves.
Excerpted by Thalia Holmes