She felt called to South Africa to serve young women and children in need, but she didn’t know where to start fundraising. Years later, she’s visited countries across the world serving more individuals than she ever thought possible.
Running a thriving business can be as exhausting as it is lucrative. It’s a truth that Barbara Lynch, owner of Action Cleaning Services, knows firsthand. From cleaning executive business offices to putting a mirror finish on home windows, Barbara and her cleaning service does it all with professional care and courtesy. However, it’s the mostly unseen part of her service that actually brings the most pride to Barbara. Through Action Cleaning Service, Barbara returns much of her business proceeds to the community through involvement with local charities and through donations to other charities. And this giving goes to the core of what makes Barbara who she is as a person and as a business woman.
Barbara’s warm and caring heart is much too big to be contained in one city. Her kind and giving soul has to be free to serve many, many causes that extend beyond the boundaries of St. Augustine and America. Through the non-profit organization of Act 4 the Nations, Barbara has been given such an opportunity. “It’s all about feeding children’s programs, orphanages,human trafficking rescue, and restoring hope to the exploited,” Barbara explains. Act 4 the Nations organization is a mostly women-driven missionary endeavor that sends its missionaries around the world to places like China, Nepal, South Africa, Cambodia, Thailand, and Honduras.
Being in such an organization causes Barbara to spend a lot of time out of the country. Act 4 the Nations’ missionaries are responsible for paying for their own travel and necessities for trips abroad. These expenses range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. “I didn’t know how in the world I was going to be able to pay for my first trip. But I heard God’s voice saying that he wanted me to go. So I knew that if He wanted me to go, He would provide.” Just as her faith yielded her to believe, through donations from friends and family, Barbara secured the funds for her first missionary trip with Act 4 the Nations. Every trip since then has been sponsored in the same fashion.
While embarking on these missionary trips around the world, Barbara and the other women see and experience situations that most American citizens cannot fathom. Going to places where open sewage runs down dirt roads, while shoe-less children play nearby, and hearing the painful cries of starving babies and the helpless wailing of their distraught mothers, are just a few of the things that Barbara experiences often on her journeys. “We only go where we are invited. We never know what we’re walking into. Every trip is different,” she says.
One experience that Barbara shares takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa. “In Johannesburg there are these squatter camps that have about two-hundred and fifty thousand people,” she states. “They are small, densely populated pieces of land that the government gives to people who are fleeing from persecution in other parts of Africa. The government digs wells to give the people water. The people live in small shacks, and I tell you, those people are so thankful for what they have. They take so much pride in their homes!”
While visiting these squatter camps, Barbara and Act 4 the Nations minister to the people through biblical teaching and by other efforts including providing food and clothing. But witnessing such gratitude in such dire circumstances gives Barbara a wise perspective on her own life. Stretching out her hands toward the things in her home, she says, “That’s how I know that none of this matters. None of this really matters! Life is about so much more than just having nice things. It’s people that really matter.”
Another missionary trip in a different country allows Barbara to see the horrible aftermath of human trafficking. Young girls, often ages fifteen or younger, are forced into prostitution, where they become indebted to their captors for food and lodging for years until they pay a nearly insurmountable amount for their freedom. It’s a debt that many of the young girls and women never earn enough to pay. However, with Act 4 the Nations she was able to make a real difference in the lives of some of these women. “We helped prostitutes that we got off the streets and taught them how to make jewelry to support themselves,” she says. By selling their fashion jewelry, the women find a safe way to earn money to support themselves and to escape a life of destruction.
Barbara goes on to describe her experience with some special orphanages in Africa. “We go to these places called Baby Safe Houses. On the outside wall of each house is a slot, which resembles a large deposit box at a bank. Women who cannot or will not keep their babies for any reason place their babies in the box and close the door. Once the door is closed, the mother cannot open it again. On the other side of the wall in the baby safe house, workers take the babies and clean them and feed them. The babies are all tested for H.I.V. and AIDS.” From there the babies are cared for in the orphanage. These abandoned children are given a chance at life that they may not have received outside the walls of the orphanage.
Barbara’s involvement with Act 4 the Nations gives her a very uncommon lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle that a friend of her’s compares to that of a famous theatrical hero. Lynch explains her friend’s comparison, amidst laughter, “He says that I’m like James Bond! I said, not really, but if that helps you understand what I do, then go with it!” Like the jet-setting man of mystery and espionage also known as Agent 007, Barbara Lynch travels the world saving lives and giving hope. But unlike Bond, who resorts to flashy, colorful, gadgets and state-of-the-arts weaponry, this kind woman’s arsenal is totally comprised of love, compassion, kindness, and faith.
Photography by Rob Futrell