As a child, my response to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was not your typical childhood response. At the age where many children responded “an astronaut” or “a singer”, my response was “I want to be a missionary to Africa.” It’s a definite call that I have known about for most of my life. At the age of 22 years, the dream was yet unfulfilled, though I had a stirring in my spirit that something was about to change. At the beginning of 2014, I began to fast and pray for the Lord’s will in my life and for Him to open the right doors in His time. In February 2014, I had a divine appointment with a doctor that went on trips to Africa. He told me about an upcoming trip. After prayer, fasting, and a lot of confirmation, the Lord made it clear that it was time. He brought together a team of nine people, one of which was Meagan Stott, a long-time friend of mine who is also called to Africa. Meagan and I had always joked that we would go together. God has quite the sense of humor! Within a few months of finding out about the trip, we were on a plane headed to Rwanda, Africa.
I will never forget stepping off of the plane. Up until that point, I knew that God had a place in the puzzle for me, but I had never found where I fit. It was there, on the other side of the world, with people that I had never met, that I knew I belonged. The first day on the ground, we went to minister at a private school, close to the place where we would stay. We walked to the school, and before we even made it to the opening gate, a school full of little children ran to meet us with open arms. Throughout the day, we ministered to these beautiful children…and they ministered to us. I have never seen Jesus as clearly as I did that day.
Following this, we went into several other villages, all of which were stricken with poverty. We went to one in particular with the intent of ministering to the children inside of a tiny one-room school, which consisted only of a small chalkboard and benches. The plan was to give bread, a few cookies, a small bag with rice and beans, and a beverage to each child…but soon we ran into a problem. Word must have spread in the village that we were coming, because when we made it to the school, there was what appeared to be an entire village outside. There men, women, and children, and I would venture to say that all of them were hungry.
As we gave bread to the children inside the school, my heart broke for those on the outside, and I began to pray the only thing I knew to pray…that Jesus would multiply the bread. It is amazing how much easier it is to have faith when God is all that you have to rely on. True to His character, He answered my prayer. In the chaos of delivering the bread, one of our interpreters said “You have to remember, some of them have never had bread before”. As I went outside, I saw so much sickness and poverty. I saw people that had no hope, and I realized that people are hungry, physically and spiritually. Once the bread was distributed, I knew I could not leave without offering them the Living Bread, Jesus Christ. After I presented the Gospel, one lady came forward and accepted Christ. My prayer is that the hope that now lives in her will reach the remainder of this village.
In addition to bringing the Gospel and physical food to villages, we also were blessed to be able to connect with the precious children in the orphanage founded by The Church of God of Prophecy. One of the highlights of the trip was spending time with these children. Despite coming from difficult circumstances, they are happy. They sing and dance. They have family and companionship with one another and with the caretakers. They are taught in the Word of God and many of them, if not all, have accepted Christ as Lord of their life. During our stay we had the honor attending a baptismal service where several older children and one person from our team were baptized.
Though it is wonderful, the call of God is not without difficulty. Many times, He bids us come to Him on the water, where there are wind and waves and we have to make a choice to trust Him, to step out of the boat with our eyes fixed on Him. I found that when I do this, I never have to fear, for even when I lose my focus and begin to drown, His loving hand reaches to me. It was in one of these difficult, stormy places on the trip that the Lord bid me come Him. Originally, my plan was to attend graduate school for psychology, and use the knowledge overseas but the previous semester He began to deal with my heart about teaching English. When I heard the call, I, like Peter, asked the Lord to confirm it to me if the voice I heard was His. In one of the villages that I ministered, I found myself surrounded by children, and
behind the children were adults—all of which were staring at me with big brown eyes. A major language barrier left me at a loss concerning what to do next and the situation grew increasingly awkward. Without thinking, I picked up a flower on the ground, held it up and said “flower.” After that I heard a host of voices with this beautiful African accent repeat “flower!” The process continued for a while before I realized that I was teaching them English, and that this was absolutely the confirmation that I needed.
The most difficult part of the trip was the goodbye. Though I had only known these people a short time, I knew that the children in the orphanage, the caretakers, the sweet village children, our interpreters, were my family, and leaving them behind was unthinkable. Nevertheless, I knew that for everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the heaven. This was my time to leave. So with a heavy heart, I boarded the plane. In this season, I count it a privilege to be able to tell others about all of the things that the Lord began in Rwanda. About 50 souls gave their hearts to the Lord and lifelong friendships were made. A core Scripture verse that the Lord gave me concerning the trip was Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” I knew when I left that this was only the beginning and it gives me great excitement to know that we are all a part of His masterpiece. It gives me even greater excitement that I can watch this plan unfold through the window of a little classroom, equipped with a small chalkboard and wooden benches, and surrounded by children watching me with big brown eyes!