I just recently traveled to Nigeria for a mission trip and I felt the need to blog some of my thoughts about the trip. We were sent as a group of 12 missionaries to go to Africa to preach the message of Jesus’ love but we returned as the ones who were preached to. The old quote is very applicable in this situation, “when you serve, you are the one actually being served. I would have to say that those words always strike me as strange because somehow in the midst of reaching out to someone in need the Holy Spirit works, so that you will be convicted of your weak relationship with God. I want you to imagine going to a place where children walk around with no clothing, the common man does not own a pair of shoes, and people everywhere are struggling to put food on their table. You would think that these people would be sad,depressed,unhappy but the reality is they always have smiles on their face. I couldn’t help but ask myself why are these people always smiling what gives them this joy? The more I searched the quickly I found, the answer was their intimate relationship with Christ. As St Augustine said, Our hearts are restless until we find rest in Thee”. The people long for God in a way there that is unimaginable. Although many people had very limited knowledge of Christ, and a lot of their understanding was faulty, they spoke to God as if He was right in front of them. What also struck me was how people were so receptive and hungry to hear the message of Christ’s love. All eyes were pierced, and all ears were attentive to every word which was spoken. Their deep longing to learn about Coptic Orthodox Christianity as well,was astonishing. I was blessed to have the privilege to hold a question and answer session with some of the men of the church, and many questions were regarding the liturgy and the symbolism of various services in the church. Many asked about Holy Communion and its importance. It was amazing to see their desire to learn more about Christ. One situation from my trip to Africa in 2007 still rings in my ears. I was visiting a lady in her home who had about 8 children. Her husband had recently passed away and she had very minimal resources to support herself. When we entered into the house the woman was smiling and very welcoming. She was thanking us for coming to visit her and she said,”She was receiving a great blessing from God today”. When I asked her how she was so joyful even though she is having difficulty supporting herself, she simply answered me saying, “You probably think I am very poor right? However look around you I have the sun shining Gods love on me, I have the beauty of nature surrounding me reminding me that Jesus has the whole world held in the palm of His hands. Everyday God provides me with food although it might seem little but my whole family is satisfied. So, although you think I am poor I am the richest woman on this planet because I have Jesus’s love everyday”. I will never forget that day for the rest of my life. This woman taught me what it means to have faith and have a relationship with God in the midst of struggles. What I challenge everyone who reads this do is ask yourself,when was the last time you thanked God for the bad? When was the last time you just sat and praised God for all the blessings that He has provided you with? You know the shower head that you use every morning? Imagine having to walk to the nearest bur-hole (which sometimes in a half mile away) in order to get water to bathe with. I feel that sometimes I take everything for granted, although I am rich materialistically, I often times am poor spiritually. I pray that all of us would take a second today to just say, thank you Jesus for your unfailing love.
As the deer pants for the water brooks,So pants my soul for You, O God. Psalm 42:1