God sent me back to Africa this year. Very unexpectedly. Having gone as recently as last year, with an adoption underway, with all the craziness that has been life, I didn’t think God would send me back. But He did. And as I promised God, I faithfully went.
I’m not sure what expectations I packed in my suitcases. I do know that I was intimidated by our itinerary. I knew going in that some of the places we were supposed to visit were going to be more emotionally wearing. Just knowing the context of those places, some of the stories, made my heart break. What would happen when I actually held hands with the children that lived that reality every day? But one-by-one we visited each site, sharing God’s love with the children we met. We visited very dark places and found God’s amazing presence. We visited very beautiful places and found God dwelling there too.
God again exceeded my expectations. This trip was definitely much more difficult than the first trip, but it was also difficult in different ways. What I saw, the children that I met, the stories that I heard…it is all captured in the idea “Beauty from Ashes.” Even in the situations that seemed the most dire, God continued to prove Himself faithful. Even when it didn’t seem like He could possibly be aware of a situation, He was there. The miracles that our team saw and was a part of are all to the glory of God.
I met a man literally saved from death to serve the fatherless, and who has worked tirelessly to provide for the many children under his care. This man hugged me as if I were a long-lost relative. If Jesus had a cousin who was walking the earth today, I would be 99.9999% sure it was Pastor Isaac.
I visited a place so near to hell on earth that it makes my skin crawl, but in that place experienced a worship service that rivals any I have ever attended.
I saw God use members of our team to advocate for a young boy, whose infected foot had turned gangrene. Then, I saw our God provide funds for the boy to get the medical attention he needed (including a surgery to save his foot from the infection).
I met several men and women who voluntarily gave up a “normal” life to direct orphanages for “their” children, who lost friends because of it, but moved on because of Christ’s call on their lives.
I heard hymns sung with such passion that I finally understood the meaning to the words, beyond those written on the pages.
I heard a message by an orphaned 14 year-old young ma, which excited my faith in ways that I haven’t experienced in a long time.
I was encouraged by a young man who was so very sick, but remembered my name and asked for me.
I met a young woman whose favorite verse in the Bible is Psalm 27:10 because it is her life, but who still radiates the joy of the Lord.
So I’m out of Africa again. Changed, again. Broken, again. Humbled, again. Challenged, again.
I wish I could put Africa in a bottle and bring it back to the Church in the U.S. There’s no way that you experience all that we experienced and return to lukewarm, mediocre faith. You don’t want to come back to the U.S. unchanged. You experience pure religion, and once you have that you want nothing less. You can’t look into the eyes of the fatherless and not see Jesus. I saw a lot of Jesus over the past two weeks.
And now I am seeking God desperately as I hope to understand all that He showed me in the last two weeks. What do you do with the brokenness of God other than to bring it to Him? One thing that this trip confirmed for me is God’s faithfulness. He is good and loving. And we choose to forget the fatherless, but I am confident of this: He never will.