I can't even say I went on a local missions trip before then.
Sure, I gave items to those in need and spear headed projects for the youth at my church to help those in need ... but not an actual missions trip. I thought about it, I even looked into it, but I never actually did until 2007.
In 2007 I found myself being surrounded by Africa in one way or another. I would watch a movie, it was filmed in Africa. Open a magazine, pictures of Africa. Have a conversation it would end up on, you got it, Africa. After this occurred a couple dozen times, I finally decided to ask God what in the world was going on and why Africa was always the subject at hand?
In my spirit I heard Him say, "Go."
The first thing I did was envision myself in a straw hut in a remote village in the middle of the jungle fighting off lions, or even worse monkeys (to be explained further at a later time) while trying to be a missionary.
About a week or so later I found out that a local church was going to Kenya on a missions trip. I checked out the information and decided I wouldn't be able to go because they were leaving in 6 weeks. Furthermore, the deadline for all preparations to be completed for the trip was a couple weeks away. Nope. Not happening. So, I turned my attention to other matters in life.
About a week after that, I was visiting some former co-workers and struck up a conversation with one of the volunteers. We eventually started talking about Africa (of course) and she mentioned she had a great experience going on a missions trip with ... the church I had just written off because they would be leaving, in about 5 weeks at this point.
I wasn't quite sure what to do with that information, maybe next year? I did some prayer procrastinating (you know when you pray and you believe you have an answer but you keep praying anyway), and then I finally decided to contact the church and they said I was welcome to come...WHAAAT!!?? And this was after registration had been closed.
Now, it was a mad dash to make preparations. Secure donations, get immunizations, get time off from work for two weeks, buy necessary items, etc., etc., etc..
Everything went smoothly much to my surprise.
A month later I was on a plane headed to Kenya.
The very first day we were there, the very first stop we made to an orphanage, changed my life.
When we arrived the children were in school. We visited their living quarters and their chapel.
They gathered the children together to meet us and ask questions. The group decided to take turns answering questions. When it was my turn, a girl, which looked to be about 14 asked me this question:
"If you all are missionaries, why do you look like us?"
I had no clue how to respond to her.
Did she just basically ask me, if we were missionaries why were we black??!
Yes, she most certainly did.
Friends, I cannot begin to explain to you how much of an idiot I looked like and felt like while trying to explain to her our ancestors were from Africa but ended up on a different continent, where we now reside, through the Middle Passage (yeah I did - don't judge me)! I knew I did not adequately answer her question. I looked to others in the group for additional help. They all had question marks on their faces as well. Now that I think about it, probably because they couldn't believe I went the Middle Passage route. Sigh.
Her question haunted me for the rest of the trip and occasionally it haunts me today.
Since that question was posed, I have been on a journey of finding out my personal position on social justice issues, helping the poor, homeless, disenfranchised, widowed, orphaned, exploited, etc., ... and what can be done to address these issues. And what exactly does the word of God say about social justice?
For the next few posts I want to explore that. Journey down the road that has shaped who I am today.
The trip, that question, was a kairos moment for me. I somewhat knew it then, I definitely know it now.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
Just Around The Corner,