“The first time I went back to South Africa as a Christian, I saw my country through new eyes,” says Schaun Colin, founder of Oceans of Mercy. “What struck me most was the plight of the AIDS orphans. A friend took me to a home for 12 orphans and I told my wife, ‘This is our calling, this is what we’re supposed to do.'”
Colin hasn’t always been so sure of his purpose. In 1990, he came to America from South Africa to play professional rugby. His first day in Aspen, he met his future wife, Becky. They moved back to South Africa together, then in 1993, came back to the United States so Colin could play on the national rugby team. But while rugby was going well and they had two lovely kids, the rest of Colin’s life wasn’t so great.
“Becky and I were struggling in our marriage and I was drinking a lot and just not living right,” Colin says. “I was desperate for change.” That change occurred in the most unlikely setting—at a club fundraiser. As is often the case in the rugby scene, alcohol was flowing freely. “These two guys approached us,” Colin says. “At first we talked rugby and then one of them, Damon, asked me to go to church with him.” Schaun and Becky were curious, so they met Damon and his wife at church the next day. Over the next three weeks, their curiosity developed into fascination, and then into conviction. “God gradually awakened my heart until I knew that Jesus was what I’d been searching for,” Colin says. Coming to know God changed everything. “We went from introspective to outwardly focused, and our faith became a foundation for loving each other and raising our kids,” Colin says. “Instead of drifting through life, we had a purpose.”
That purpose crystallized into a dream for an orphanage to care for children whose parents died of AIDS. In 2005, Colin met Mama Gladys. “Mama Gladys had 11 orphans living with her in the South African township of Motherwell and was feeding many more, while working full time,” Colin says. In 2005, Colin moved Mama Gladys and the 11 children to the first Oceans of Mercy Village on a five-acre farm in Port Elizabeth. Since then, five more kids have moved to the village and Oceans of Mercy now supports two other homes, one in Alexandria housing 53 orphans and another taking care of 62 orphans in East London township. Colin hopes to expand the ministry to include child sponsorship for the orphans.
“We’re the rich of the rich,” Colin says. “With that wealth comes a responsibility to give. The sooner we view the world as God does, without borders, we’ll be appalled at what people in this world go without. God provides more than enough resources for everyone. We’ve got to do a better job of sharing.”
Learn more about Oceans of Mercy at OceansofMercy.com.