i’m (not) going to change the world. [east africa update]

let’s talk about Africa for a second.

because there are some thoughts that have been bouncing around inside my brain, and I need to force them out of my fingertips and onto the screen in order for them to make sense to me.

in case you didn’t know – and you probably do – I am going to East Africa. just to make sure we’re all on the same page: in just a few short months, I’m going on a month-long missions trip to either Rwanda or Uganda.

good? now let’s talk about going on missions trips.

When I tell someone that I’m going to Africa for a month, their reaction is fairly predictable: that’s awesome! that’s going to be such a good experience! it’s great that you’re going to help people/make a difference/change the world!

yes. it is pretty awesome. yes. it is going to be a good experience.

no. I am not going to change the world.

I hope and pray that by the grace of God (and that alone is the only way this could ever happen) that my presence in Africa will help people, that it might make a difference in at least one life, for one day, for one moment.

but that’s just God working through my fragile and broken jar of clay. That’s not me.

and – also – that’s not why I’m going to Africa.

when you say you’re going on a mission trip or doing volunteer work, there’s this expectation that you’re setting out to do! and help! and change! and make better! that you’re going because you have a desire to see the world become a better place and you have a passion for teaching English or loving on kids or building wells or whatever it is.

People go to Africa because they want to help, and love, and spread the Gospel.

That’s not why I’m going to Africa.

and don’t get me wrong – I do want to help and love and spread the Gospel. those things are pretty much listed on the second page of the how-to-be-a-Christian manual (that doesn’t actually exist but you know what it would say). and who doesn’t want to see the world become a better place?

I’m going to Africa because the Lord asked me to go to Africa.

it seems selfish to say this, in a way. that my main interest in this mission trip is not doing good or helping people. I’m going because I believe that God is going to use this trip to teach me, and I want to learn.

I’m going because I’m being sent. and by being sent, what I mean is Jesus was basically like “yo, get your butt on this mission trip and go to Africa, and I’m going to keep making it obvious that you need to go until you say yes.”

(that’s a paraphrase.)

and I’m saying this to myself more than to you. because when you’re telling people about your mission trip to Africa and you’re hearing “wow! you’re going to do such good things! you’re going to help people! you’re going to make a difference!” you start thinking yeah, maybe I am.

no, I’m not.

because if good things happen – if people are helped – if a difference is made – it is not me. it’s God.

and sometimes I need to feed myself a slice of humble pie, and remind myself how things really are, and that sentence above is that delectable dessert.

I’m praying that God would use my time in Africa to let His glory be known. Praying that He will use me, that He will give me words and actions and ways to share His goodness and love on His people. and I’m praying that whatever He’s going to teach me – whatever lesson He’s preparing for me – that my eyes and my ears and my heart would be open to it. that I would receive it and listen. that I would take it to heart and let it change me.

because let’s be for real – if I were in charge of the world-changing, we’d all be in trouble.

 

and now, to the update…

my 50% fundraising deadline is April 17th. and I’ve met that deadline. that’s right: I am now 50% funded. (50.8%, to be exact).

I can’t tell you how incredibly overwhelmed and humbled and grateful I am for all your generosity and support. I was worried that I wasn’t going to make this deadline, but: my God is a God who provides. and teaches lessons about trust on the way.

I still have another $2,000 to raise. I’m going to keep praying, keep trusting, and keep posting links to my support page whenever possible.

(subtlety is my strength. obviously.)

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