Monday, July 21, 2014

on becoming the student

There's this feeling I cannot shake since returning from Kenya. The feeling that life here has to be different based on all that I have seen and experienced this summer. That understanding that there is a time and a season for everything under the sun. That knowledge that God does not orchestrate big life events without a specific purpose in mind. And so with all my might I'm leaning in, pressing hard into Him and asking Him to help me know how to not waste these experiences. 

Fear is something that paralyzes. It can draw us in and make us slaves to the lies of the enemy. We can mask it by saying that we are concerned about something or just really trying to think about all aspects of a decision before saying yes or no, but the fact is that fear is fear. We have to call it like we see it and know the truth of God's word well enough to be able to stand on it when we are bombarded by lies from every other direction. And that discipline is hard. To walk in truth when we have believed lies for so long is incredibly difficult. 

Elissa and our wonderful friend, Samuel, who works at Camp Chemi Chemi.

James, the groundsman at Camp Chemi Chemi, and his beautiful daughter. 

All that I knew of Africa before I traveled there was rooted in the media, various blogs I follow, and books I have read. None of what I knew of Africa was from firsthand experience, because I did not have the opportunity to meet the beautiful people who dwell within a country just brimming with hope in the midst of immense pain and need. 

Jennifer and I were talking one night in our tent about the way we each responded when we got the call to come to Kenya four days before the trip. We both had similar reactions-shock and bewilderment, and then just a complete sense of calm and joy at the prospect of such a wonderful opportunity. You see, friends, life with God is an adventure. So going to Kenya (and Uganda for that matter, since I had several months to prepare) was not some huge sacrifice. God orchestrated every little detail and made a way because He knew about the whole journey before the beginning of time. In fact, His word says that He planned these good works for me in order that I should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

So how does a teacher become the student, you ask? By listening. By not talking and feeling like everything I have to say is the right way to do it. By asking the Lord to reveal areas of my heart where I have not allowed Him to come in and take over. And while it is hard, it is so worth it. 

During our time in Kenya, we spent a weekend with some of the most precious children. These children live at Strong Tower Children's Home in Naivasha, Kenya. They are under the care of a most wonderful couple named Paul and Martha, who have literally taken thirty children off of the streets and given them a home. They have a place to live that is safe and full of grace. These children now go to school and are no longer addicted to glue or petrol. And they have been given opportunities they never would have been afforded without one couple's "yes" to God. 

Meet Charles, a leader among his brothers and sisters at Strong Tower, and a young man pursuing an education.

Children's love of the Rainbow Loom, much like a smile, is universal.

The enemy wants us to believe that we've got it good here in America. And trust me, friends, we do. We have much to be thankful for, and there are so many things we take for granted. But the enemy also wants us to think that our way is the best way. He wants us to believe that we 

Friends, the power of our "yes" cannot be underestimated. When we say one "yes" to Him, doors are opened and routes are created within our lives that we could never have imagined for ourselves. Lives, families, and communities are transformed. Because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And the truth sets people free. Freed people free others. And the cycle continues. Why wouldn't you want to be a part of that? What is holding you back from the "yes" that you need to say to God? 

When we stop pretending like we know everything and that we are self-sufficient, we find that our spiritual poverty may closely match the material poverty we have come to pity. But in Christ, we are made strong and rich, because the blood of Jesus transforms lives and changes us in ways we could never change ourselves. So let's do a little more leaning in and listening before speaking. We may find we have more to learn than we thought.

“I have learned that I will not change the world, Jesus will do that. I can however, change the world for one person. I can change the world for fourteen little girls and for four hundred schoolchildren and for a sick and dying grandmother and for a malnourished, neglected, abused five-year old. And if one persons sees the love of Christ in me, it is worth every minute. In fact, it is worth spending my life for.” 
― Katie J. DavisKisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption

*All images from this post are from team members' shared photos.

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