Fifteen single mothers from the Soweto region of the Johannesburg Church of Christ (South Africa) recently enjoyed a well-deserved break from parental duties to connect with each other and to recharge spiritually. They spent two nights at a conference venue in Walkerville and had a full program that included physical exercise, dancing, Bible lessons, and their own Sunday service with a guest speaker.

Raising children on your own is not easy, and the task becomes all the more difficult when you battle economic and social challenges, without the help of the children’s fathers, as these women do.

For that reason, the sisters were determined to encourage one another, said organizer Princess Makhubalo. “As a group, we have children between the ages of five and 23. Some of the challenges we face are having to be the heads of our families, not receiving any financial support from absent fathers and to protect our children in a crime-ridden society.”

Yet, these women do not feel sorry for themselves, as the theme of their retreat — “Set Apart by God” — indicated. “It’s not by mistake that we are single moms. God has confidence in us,” Princess said.

Sharing their experiences helped them to see that they are not alone. They see God’s miracles in their lives.

“It was good to be there and to hear everyone else’s story,” said Rosie Krom, one of the participants. “Sometimes you feel sorry for yourself, but when you hear about the challenges that other sisters are facing, you realize you have nothing to complain about. In my family, I was the only one among my siblings to divorce. I was scared to be alone, but I’ve seen that the change in circumstances was the best thing for me. I ended up becoming a disciple, being the first in my family to send my daughter to university, and I have a car. God is not limited. He’s my husband and [is] taking such good care of me.”

Another sister, Maggie Paande, is a grandmother of two from Potchefstroom, 120 km (about 74 miles) from Johannesburg. She enjoyed the company of the other sisters and the lessons she learned over the weekend. “Raising a boy is not child’s play. I depend on God and see him as the father of my kids. After I became a disciple, I apologized to my son for the way I had lived. He could see the changes in me and now he always says, ‘Thank you for the way you’ve raised me.'”

Maggie summed up the weekend like this: “I loved the message that we are women of God. We all have different lifestyles and need the Bible to show us the kind of life we need to live.”

The mothers had so much fun, Princess said, that they are already planning several more outings in 2019.