this summer, I’ll be spending a month in East Africa with Adventures in Missions on the World Race Exposure trip. through this brief series, I’ll be explaining the crazy circumstances that took me from being dead set against missions to ridiculously excited to go to Africa, over the course of one month. you can catch up with the first part here.
Despite my stubborn declaration that I am never ever going to Africa, the next day I can’t get the thought out of my head. Sarah sends me a link to the trip information, which I click despite the fact that I don’t need to know anything about the trip, because I’m not going. Might as well see what it’s about, even though there’s no point.
I can’t shake the feeling that God is up to something.
It’s a rather uncomfortable feeling, especially when God is up to something that you are dead set against.
The next night, Sarah ends up in my room and keeps giving me this you’re-going-to-Africa-but-don’t-know-it-yet look. It’s a very smug look. I tell her that fine, here’s the deal: I’ll go on this trip if God makes it blatantly obvious that I need to be involved in missions. We’re talking lighting-bolt-strikes-a-tree obvious here. I’m pretty confident that it’s not going to happen, because stuff like that doesn’t happen to me.
Famous last words.
Two nights later, the Traveling Team shows up at Cru. This four-person team is traveling around the country, speaking to college campuses about the Biblical basis for missions, God’s heart for the world, and why college students should get involved with missions work.
The whole talk was what my friends and I like to fondly call a Jesus slap: a truth zapped straight to your heart with all the subtlety and comfort of a smack upside the head.
As soon as the Cru meeting ends, Sarah and I make eye contact. This time, she gives me a you’re-going-to-Africa-and-now-I-think-you-know-it look. I’m pretty sure I gave her a look that translated to “HMMPH”. I walked down to where she was standing, and by this point she was laughing out loud. “Well.” I said, “I think I’m gonna go talk to Jesus about Africa.”
After making a quick pit stop to purchase a copy of Operation World from the Traveling Team crew, I headed over to the University Center meditation room, where the Lord continued to slap me in the face with some painful truths.
You see, I’ve grown up in the church. Sometimes the basic facts of Christianity have been repeated and heard so many times that they become rote. The concepts of being sent to the ends of the earth and making disciples of all nations and being salt and light are hardly new concepts to me . But they’re always been abstract in my mind. The ‘nations’ and the ‘world’ existed in a little, separate bubble. I’m here, they’re there.
Except God began to reveal His heart for the world to me, and it hit me. The world is not an abstract thing. The nations are not just names and places. No, this is a whole big world full of people. Full of people that are just like me, people that are broken and hurting and in need of healing and love. Every single person that exists, that ever has existed, ever will exist – He loves them all so, so much.
Do you realize how amazing that is? How ridiculous, mind-blowing, crazy? Do you realize how BIG our God is? Every one – each and every one of us – He loves us all individually, personally, passionately. He wants to see every single person know who He is. He wants to know them and love them and bring them into His family.
And if He wants to use me to help do that – how can I say no?
Well, in a turn of events that is shocking to absolutely no one who knows me, I am a stubborn person.
Even though that Tuesday night God began to change my heart towards the nations, towards missions, I still fought. I fought so hard. I still didn’t want to go to Africa. I knew that if I went on this trip, it would change my perspective and change my life – and I wasn’t really sure I wanted that. I didn’t want to give up my comfortable life, give up my plans. I didn’t want to care so much about the world, because caring about the world hurts. But I continued to tell the Lord that if was what He really wanted, if this was really His plan, I would go to Africa.
He continued to tell me to go to Africa.
Throughout the week, I read, as I usually do, Oswald Chamber’s daily devotions in My Utmost for His Highest. These devotions have a rather uncanny knack of being relevant to my life, and this week was no exception. The devotions for this particular week were on preparing for missions through daily life, going through spiritual confusion, and surrendering your will to God. Subtle, Jesus.
My favorite, though, was the devotion for September 14, titled “Arguments or Obedience?”, which contained this lovely little sentence: “If there is something in your life upon which God has put His pressure, then obey Him in that matter.”
So, let’s recap:
Saturday, Sarah suggest a month-long mission trip to East Africa. I refuse to go to Africa.
Sunday, I tell God that I’ll go on the trip if He makes it obvious that I need to.
Tuesday, a group of speakers show up at my student ministry and proceed to discuss God’s call to the world. I still refuse to go to Africa.
Thursday, my devotion tells me to shut up and obey the Lord. I – surprise – still refuse to go to Africa.
The next Sunday, the Traveling Team is doing another presentation on the history of college students in missions. In the middle of their presentation, they read us this quote from J. Hudson Taylor:
“It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China [or the world]. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.”
With that, I metaphorically threw my hands in the air in surrender. There’s no point fighting something when it’s God’s plan, because He is seriously never. going. to. let. it. go.
Later that night, I speak out loud something that I knew was true since Sarah first brought up the trip: I’m going to Africa.
read the next part here.