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Well spent days in Africa

The road less traveled took me to the sewage-lined streets of Diepsloot, South Africa. There I learned that loving is the new black, and that a lion lives in the heart of every brave person. Rats ran the same streets the bare-foot children did, and disease was rampant, occupying the body of virtually everyone we met. But, come to find out, these people had nothing but grace and big welcome smiles to offer us strangers. It was there, among the hungry-for-love Africans, that I found more joy than ever before.

Nearly 280,000 people live within the 1.5 to 2 mile radius we ministered in. Of these 280,000, my group of 10 planted 301 seeds, sharing the Gospel with 301 people. The angels rejoiced as a whopping 153 of them committed their lives to Jesus.

Our hand’s became the Lord’s hands as a crippled woman walked and a blind woman saw again. Our whispers became shouts as we prayed not just for all, but for each.

I sat in the dirt with countless women, each one sharing in the same struggles. Not just one or two, but all of them lived in shacks the size of a garden shed or smaller. The shacks were built from wood, scrap metal and cardboard, pieced together like a puzzle. Electricity was a mighty scarce thing. Instead, open fires took the place of stoves, and there was no such thing as a hot shower. Dishes and laundry were done in buckets with water so cold it literally stung your fingers. This is what these people called home. This is how they lived survived.

But the women, oh the strong women of Africa. There was nothing more humbling than being seated at the feet of a woman bearing the hardships one bears in Diepsloot. Holding her hand and trusting that maybe for a second she felt all the hope she’d been robbed of. Sitting together, soaked in sweat-mixed tears, audibly crying out to the Lord. And as we cried, scripture says He bent down, leaning in to hear us. I write with Precious and Privilege and Agnus in mind. Nancy, Chio, Jo Ann, Gladys, Winnie, each one paving the way to greatness.

Africa is the swing of a hand caught by another, much smaller than yours. A baby in one arm, a child on the back, one on your shoulders, two pulling on your shirt, a few on your legs — you just never knew what kind of a balancing act you were walking into.

Here’s the thing – I’ve never been gifted with kids. So here I am, swamped with an innumerable amount of children, stiffly patting them on the back, trying my hardest to show them the love they are just so deprived of. Their noses dripped and their open sores were only growing. Most had ringworm, if not something worse. In that moment my heart softened as I thought of God’s love for us. Each of us, dirty and tarnished, are beyond loved by the Lord. And although we’re all “infected” by our own kind of ringworm, He still yearns for us, quick to pick us up with His grace.

I can’t express the state my heart was in. It was truly broken in a way that taught me my heart had never actually experienced heart break. But in the same hours, I sincerely fell in love too many times to count. I went with the intentions to change the hearts of the Africans, when in reality, I was the one that left with a heart change.

“It’s hard to reconcile the challenges they face, with the joy I see in them. The images spilling out of my television showed only misery, and I was fooled. I bought into the lie that circumstances define happiness in places that despair should thrive. I find adults dancing and singing. Children playing soccer with a ball of tied trash. Relationships and faith provide joy. My new reality… my joy should have no regard for my circumstances. I want what I have learned to trickle down from my head into my heart. I no longer want to need the ‘next thing’ to have joy. Africa does need our efforts and partnership, but for me, I need Africa more than Africa needs me.

So here I am, back at home, but I’m not so sure that home is a place that’ll ever be the same again.

 

 

 

 

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Prayer Request

I have a prayer request if you guys could just take a few minutes to lift this issue up. 

I’ve known for quite sometime that God wants me to be a missionary at some point. I’ve felt especially drawn to countries outside of our own. (USA) For several years now I’ve been really interested in serving somewhere else besides the town I live in now. To start out, I’d like to begin in America and get familiar with being a missionary. 

I live with my grandparents who inspire me daily, as they are strong Christians. They’re really awesome people. My grandma especially, is concerned when it comes to me going on a mission trip. She worries about my safety, and the idea of me being away from home. This is completely understandable, any parent worries over these things. She stresses a little more than others, and as of now, she isn’t okay with me going on a trip. 

I’d like to go on this trip to not only serve others, and my awesome God, but to grow in my relationship with Christ. I think this would be a great opportunity. My two friends and I are looking into JPUSA, (Jesus People USA), to go to Chicago and serve for a week. God willing, I’d absolutely love for us to go. I ask that you guys will pray God gets us where He wants us, when He wants us there. I ask that you’ll pray God changes the heart of my grandma and comforts her with the idea of us going. Please pray for the other parent’s state of mind as well, that they will be in agreement with us going too. We’d like all of our families to be at peace with this idea and support us as we take this opportunity to serve. 

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Jesse’s Testimony

Before I share Jesse’s story, I want everyone to know how thankful I am that he shared this with all of us, and I pray that this touches someone’s heart. He wrote this:

 

My name is Jesse, I am seventeen years old from Kentucky and I want to share with you what our awesome, and outstandingly gracious God has done in my life. In other words I am going to share my story or testimony.

            To start off I was raised in a Christian home. I was a church kid from the day I was born. My parents would read me Bible stories when I was growing up, they would always take me to church and stuff like that. I am very thankful and blessed that God placed me in the home and family that He did. One day, when I was seven years old I claimed to have made a profession of faith. Basically I walked an aisle and prayed a prayer that meant nothing to me. I only did it because my brother did weeks before, I wanted to be like him. So I said I was saved, but I knew I was not. I lied. No change had taken my place, I knew all about a Savior who died for me but I didn’t believe it.

            Taking all that into account, I started middle school years later. This is where I started “growing up” or “changing” and it was for the worst my friends. In sixth grade I started to smoke cigarettes, cigars and stuff. I had to shoplift them from a gas station close to my house since I was underage and wasn’t permitted to buy them legally. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, I really thought I was something, but I was nothing apart from Jesus Christ. Time went on, so did my life. I began smoking weed, drinking alcohol, and doing pills. I thought this would make me happy, and feel cool among my peers. I would seriously brag about it to my friends at school. I smoked, drank, stole, and did pills throughout middle school.

            My eighth grade year is when I began to get out of the drugs. I started going to church with intentions to pay attention, and learn for the very first time in my life. I had always gone because that is what I have always done. I started reading my Bible and hanging out with my youth group a lot more. All this was goof, but I still knew I was not saved. I would go with my church to church camp almost every year. Every year when the invitation was given I always got this feeling, I knew that I was not saved, I knew I needed to be redeemed by Jesus Christ. But instead of surrendering my life to Christ and asking Him to save me, I would ‘rededicate” my life to Him. Yet there was nothing to rededicate to Him in the first place, I wasn’t saved and surely not living for Him and His kingdom. I just did that to try and assure myself that I was saved because I walked an aisle when I was younger, this wasn’t the case in reality.

            My freshman year in high school is when God really started working in my life, without me noticing. I started to play soccer, and I fell in love with the sport. Some friends and I would always go up to the soccer field and play around, and kick a bit. One was a Christian by the way.  After we were finished playing soccer we would go hangout at McDonalds and talk for hours. Every single time, no matter what Jesus was always brought into the conversations. My Christian friend always brought Him up. She would ask “If Jesus came back today, would you go to heaven?” Or, “If you died right now, would you go to Heaven or Hell?” My reply of course was  “Heaven, I am a Christian!” but that was a bold face lie. I always felt like I should change that, but I never did.

            In the summer of my freshman year, I went on a mission trip to Georgia. It was awesome, I was so happy. But something was still missing, that was Jesus in my life. One night our youth group was sitting outside in a circle just talking laughing and all that good stuff. Then someone asked, “What if Jesus came back right now? Wouldn’t that be crazy?” I got that feeling again, I started debating myself. Then said enough is enough, so I went inside and talked to my youth leader. Jesus Christ saved me on July 20, 2011. It was great, fantastic, just wonderful.  I finally found the joy that I couldn’t find in the drugs. I could only find it in Jesus. He is peace. Jesus is pure happiness. I am so undeserving of His love, I sin everyday yet He still loves me. I have never been the same since, He changed my life and I fell in love with everything that Jesus is.

            So I don’t know what you are facing in life today. Maybe you are like me, said you were a Christian but you know deep down in your heart that you aren’t, if you die you would go to Hell. Maybe you struggle with self worth, you don’t think you are good enough. You think that you don’t deserve life, you could possibly contemplate suicide. Jesus Christ, lived a perfect life. He sacrificed Himself and rose from the grave so you could have salvation. Those of you who think suicidal thoughts, Jesus died so you could live. Reach out for Jesus. He is always there. Or maybe you live in a broken home. Your father isn’t there, well you have a heavenly Father who will never abandon you and will love you unconditionally.

Thank you for reading, all the glory to God.