(photo by the wonderful Autumn Thomason of Wild and Lovely Photography)
I had the privilege of getting to share a piece of my story at RUMC a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to share it again here:
I felt the Lord first calling me to Kenya my freshman year of college.
Now, a little of background here…
I had never been out of the country.
I had never been on a “mission trip.”
I was currently taking Italian as my foreign language.
AND I was pretty sure that I didn’t “journal” enough to be qualified for international missions.
I remember calling my mom as I was walking to class in Athens and saying, “Hey mom, I just feel like the Lord is calling me to go to Kenya.” She handled it pretty well. She didn’t say anything at the moment and then she called the next morning to make sure I wasn’t going to make any rash decisions that would ruin my life (a.k.a. dropping out of college in my first semester).
That was the beginning.
I didn’t even begin to see the reality of my first trip for another year and half, and since then I have seen more than I could have ever hoped or imagined.
I have survived longer plane flights than I ever thought possible.
I have taken a LOT of malaria pills.
I have danced with the Maasai.
I have watched the sun rise over the Mara river and been less than twenty feet from a lion.
I have been called “mzungu” which means white person in Swahili more time than I could even count.
I have realized that you don’t even know what a “pothole” is until you’ve been to Kenya.
But more than that…
I have met many people, both Kenyan and American, that I feel blessed to call my brothers and sisters.
I have seen God provide in ways I couldn’t believe.
I have seen hearts softened that I thought would never change.
I have seen joy in people others would just see as “poor.”
I have seen overwhelming generosity from those who seem as though they have nothing to give.
I have seen children rescued from abuse and danger.
I have seen the drunk and the thief redeemed.
I have seen beauty in some of the ugliest places and redemption from some of the ugliest stories.
I have seen friends from the US and from Kenya join hands and worship together, the closest thing I think I’ll experience of heaven until I get there.
I have seen lives changed, love shared.
I have seen the power of the gospel.
All this, as one of the founders of Divine Providence says, because I said “yes.”
I would like to say that I have said yes immediately every time God has asked me to do something, but that would be a lie. It’s hard to say “yes” sometimes in a world that says “You don’t have time,” “That should go into your retirement,” “You need the latest and greatest,” “You need to be successful,” or in my case “You’re a single, white 23-year-old going to live where?!”
But if there is anything that God has been trying to teach me lately it has been that sometimes I have to give up what I see as good to receive His best.
And Jesus is His best, and Jesus is always enough.
I have seen people who truly believe this, who really trust in Him, do amazing things in His name.
Some of them are pastors overseas, who against all financial and cultural odds have made overwhelming impacts in their community.
But some of them are from this congregation. They have sat in these same pews. Listened to the same sermons. Clapped to the same songs.
All they did was say “yes” to God.
Last year, some of you said “yes” to the project God is building at Divine Providence. Through your generosity, a classroom has been built and was just dedicated this November where pastors will have a chance to come to learn and grow in knowledge and in truth and go out and serve their communities.
But there is still so much to be done.
I could give you a list of all of the needs, all of the things that need to be bought and built, but ultimately this camp and this dream is not about classrooms, tents, and supplies. It is about kingdom building.
And all you have to do to be apart of it is “just say yes.”
To learn more about Divine Providence and how to give visit their website here.