There aren’t many times I’m short on you. 🙂 A time that I am”…my initial reaction when the question, “So, how was Africa?” comes my way. My mind immediately goes nine different directions, then each of those has at least seven stories I could share. Where do I even begin?! (ICYMI: here’s my initial post upon my return.)
So, after a few weeks of processing and a chance to get my American feet back under me, I’ve boiled down what deserves to be 10,000 stories to my one go to. Here we go”…
As I said in this post (if you haven’t, read this post for context first), I taught three classes each day. My 13-18 year old girls were my jam. Most people balk when I tell them I work with middle school kids at K-West”…it’s not people’s typical first choice of age group. The Lord has wired me to embrace and love this age and life stage. It was so neat to see that affirmed in me in an entirely different culture.
That being said, we had A LOT of fun, and we laughed real hard. So many sweet memories. (This link is a trimmed down version of one of the groups mocking me and my laugh…they thought it was the funniest thing ever!) IMG_3759_2
The funny thing about these girls is that they were no different than American girls. Just like here, there’s the too cool for school crew, the super competitive group, the divas who want no part in active things, the super obedient as well as the troublemakers. You name the personality type, I had them. They were also incredibly inquisitive. They asked good questions. (Most of the kids, especially the older ones, spoke pretty good English, but I also had a translator.)
One day it was like one of my groups had one of those t-shirt cannons filled and just started firing away. “What happens when babies die? If God’s all-powerful, why does He not just kill Satan? Is there suffering in America?” Wow.
I got to help them navigate these for a bit. What a blessing! When I told them there was suffering in America, they didn’t believe me. America to them is people who can afford to come across the ocean to visit and befriend them. We were able to talk about suffering being everywhere because of man’s choice to sin and disobey God. We were able to establish a foundational truth of the Gospel. Man is sinful. All men.
We transitioned from serious into laughing and playing games, but I couldn’t shake their questions. That night, my biggest takeaway from the trip hit me like a ton of bricks. Kids are kids and people are people. The questions these African orphans asked were the same questions I get asked every week at camp. People’s needs are the same.
- We need to know we are loved.
- We need to know somebody believes in us.
- We need help navigating truth.
And this is what I get to do every day of my life. Yes, specifically at camp, but it’s even bigger than that. As believers, we get to do this every single day. Whether it’s with our waitress, a coffee barista, a seat buddy on public transit, a family member, a sorority sister, a co-worker or an African orphan, it doesn’t matter. We get to show people love; we get to encourage and believe in them; we get to be truth bearers. I’ll even go a step farther”…we get to and it should be exciting, but as believers we’re also called to.
It doesn’t matter if it’s packaged like an African orphan who has nothing or an American who has everything, the core need of everyone is the same: the hope of the gospel of Jesus. We have the power of life at our fingertips through our love, our encouragement/investment and our sharing of truth. We live in a world that desperately needs Jesus, and I get to be a part of bringing hope. THAT gets me fired up!!!!
It almost took me going to Africa to be reminded of this and to be reinvigorated for my daily life in America. The whole trip I kept asking myself what my takeaway was going to be. I was determined to not just go to Africa. I prayed and hoped I would never be the same. Not just because my heart had been stirred for orphans, but because my heart had been stirred for Jesus. The need in Africa is great. There are more than a million orphans in Zambia alone. If you have even a slight interest in going, go. The Lord will rock your world.
But don’t miss what my biggest takeaway was from going all the way to Africa. The Gospel, the true Gospel of Jesus > everything. EVERYTHING. Every single day, I get to love, encourage and point people to the truth of Jesus. In America. But I have to choose to surrender daily. To fight my selfishness. Now that’s a fight worth fighting!!!!
An attempt at explaining Africa in a nutshell,
Processer of Africa