A couple of days ago, It finally dawned on me that everyone else is not thinking about what I am thinking about. This thought settled on me while my brain was churning on support raising numbers, because honestly, that is mostly what I have been breathing the past 10 weeks since we launched into our full time support raising campaign. So picture me, sitting with the computer, IPad, IPhone all around me, shooting out emails, texts, phone calls (sometimes all at once) as I attempt to invite people onto our team.
As we have made our way through this process, there were definitely times where I felt like I was on my own…not a good place to be and totally a lie. (I have four kids after all and we have been staying with people for about three months) But, what I mean to address is that our prayer the entire time has been for the Lord to go ahead of us and soften hearts for the message that we would bring. The reality is, this will continue to be our prayer everyday as we, as a family, figure out, dig in, and learn how to navigate the Tanzanian culture and the hearts of our neighbors and community that we are going to reach. You see, without Christ at the absolute center of our daily interactions, this does not even matter. We would just be going to Dar es Salaam on a safari or to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. But with Christ, it becomes more urgent. As a Christian, a disciple of Christ, I believe that there is a critical message that needs to be shared. So as I sit here, reading, researching, praying, contemplating HOW to share this redemptive message with people I have not met, but already care so much for, I simply rejoice that I get to.
The message is simple, the depth is complex. When I met Jesus, I took Him at face value. I was kinda disgusted with how I was doing life. I was really good at hurting people’s feelings and often said whatever came to mind. I simply did not care and figured if I hurt someone, I could dispose of the relationship and get another the next day. But then Jesus walks into my life and I said yes to who He is, believing that He really did give up His life for muddy me. I was pretty filthy, as the rot of who I had become was caked on from the many years of thinking about none other than me. I didn’t even realize I had a problem.
Dr. Wells, a professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary shared a thought that goes like this: “Sin is a Christian experience. You know relatively little about sin when you come to the gospel. It’s in the life that follows belief in the gospel where you really come to understand it, in ways that you probably didn’t when you first heard the gospel.” Where I am today with Christ is soooooooo different than where I was when I first was found fifteen years ago. It started as a dim light skimming past parts of me and my life, unveiling things slowly so that all the nooks and crannies could be cleaned out, and new ideas could take shape from the rubble of my past transgressions. I would go the bible and read, be challenged, have aha moments, and then digest scripture that I whole-heartedly wondered if it could really be true. The Bible shares in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, “But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord-who is the Spirit-makes us more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (emphasis mine)
I guess I share this because as we prepare to go, I am reminded of my life before Christ. The images that pop up and stories that I remember, provide the fuel for why we are going in the first place. The complacent me needs this reminder because honestly, when the Lord asks me to do something new, scary, and against the cultural grain, I tend to be like everyone else and want to purchase tickets to “not-Nineveh.” (check out the awesome story of Jonah if you are wondering about Nineveh) But, then His word gently reminds me of Romans 10:14-15 “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?” Each time we presented to a potential partner, this scripture was used to emphasize being sent, but recently it has been rubbing up against my heart in regard to the the people that we are going to. We all have the opportunity each day to make a mark on someone’s life. What will your mark leave the impression of?