Monday, June 4, 2012

Finding My Life in Africa

I was standing in the middle of the Mathare Valley slums in Nairobi, Kenya looking around and seeing for the first time the view of the world that the people have in the slums, compared to my worldview.  I realized that I wanted to share in their worldview and that this would help me always care for the poor, needy and oppressed around me.  God created everyone around the world in His image and I knew that every person in this overpopulated slum was just as important to God as I was.  I knew that I had to show God that I cared about each and every one of them, the same way that He cared about me – not just while I was in Africa, but every day for the rest of my life.
I was amazed at what had led me to this point – that I was across the world serving in Africa, and I know that one of the reasons that I was there was because I had read the book, The Hole in Our Gospel.
I was given this book a few months before our decision to take our family to Africa (including our two boys, ages 11 and 8 at the time).  I knew God was calling us to Gabon and Kenya to put action to our financial support of different ministries that we had been involved with for years.   I wanted to go, but also deal with a lot of anxiety and fear of flying, and could not handle the thought of all the flights that this trip would include.  With the help of a lot of prayer support and several books (including Hole in Our Gospel, In A Pit with a Lion On a Snowy Day and the devotional Jesus Calling), I was able to make the trip.
“Being a follower of Jesus Christ requires much more than just having a personal relationship and transforming relationship with God.  It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world” – Richard Stearns

This is one of the quotes that stuck in my head as I determined that I could get to Africa.  It was a life-changing time for me (and our whole family) and my faith grew so much as I got to know people in Africa and see things from their view.  My heart is forever transformed and I no longer have the fear of traveling around the world when God calls me.  The thing that I fear most of all now, is that I would miss God’s calling on my life and not go to the places in the world where He wants me to go.
One more quote from the book that I think is important for us all to think about and consider is this -  “This overwhelmed me, and tears started to flow.  Forgive me, Lord, forgive me. I didn’t know.  But I did know. I knew about poverty and suffering in the world. I was aware that children die daily from starvation and lack of clean water.  I also knew about AIDS and the orphans it leaves behind, but I kept these things outside of my insulating bubble and looked the other way.”   – Richard Stearns.

When you read books or articles or hear about missions trips, do you ever feel this way?  I do, and it is what finally led me on the journey of a lifetime last summer.  I encourage you to read this book and hope that it will lead you in some way towards taking care of others around the world.  Christ calls us to this and it is part of our life when we enter into a true relationship with Jesus.  Many verses in the bible speak to this  – here are a few of my favorites:
“Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God” Micah 6:8
“Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan & plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:17
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  James 1:22-27
I encourage all of you to read Richard Stearn’s book, The Hole In Our Gospel. There is also a great daily journal that goes along with it.

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