Wow – what a few weeks it’s been. Four days ago, I woke up in the atrium of the Atlanta airport after a few hours of sleeping on concrete. Five days ago, I woke up in Koforidua – a city in Ghana, Africa. My trip back to the United States was about… 36 hours long. But during all that time on planes, in taxicabs, and underneath rows of chairs, I had time to reflect on my experience of mission. During the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing different aspects of my trip, and what God showed me 6,000 miles from home.
So let’s start at the beginning: why did I go on a mission trip in the first place? About six months ago, God started stirring something in my heart. It was the spirit of Revelation 21:5 – “Behold, I make all things new.” God began to show me that He wanted something new from me, and after a while I was ready to listen. Maybe it’s just me, but I believe there is real virtue in hard physical work, and I felt God calling me to follow in the footsteps of my patron Joseph and spend some time serving the Church physically.
At the same time that I felt the call to service, a desire grew in my heart to go on mission. I didn’t know exactly where, but it seemed to me that South America or Africa would be good places to start. Thanks to the gift of wonderful parents, I had experienced working in situations of poverty and little development before, and wasn’t worried about any potential ‘culture shock.’ But that stage – being ready without any real plan – was where it stopped for a few months. I felt God’s call and told him “Hey, You make it happen and I’ll do it.”
The Lord, as he does many times, soon gave me a chance to put my money where my prayer was. I got a text message out of the blue from an old friend letting me know that a mission trip to Africa was in the works. God called me out, and I knew I had to say yes. So I fundraised, got immunized, prayed up, and stepped onto a plane for Africa.
Even before I left, God showed me something about His love for me. When we ask for new and exciting challenges from God – when we give Him permission to move our lives in new ways – he’ll do it. To some of us, that’s scary; to others, it’s exciting. For me, it was a little of both.
Next time: Plane rides longer than the LoTR trilogy, praying in taxicabs, and adjusting to Africa.
May God make your life new.