Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Heart that Breaks

I have been going through Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break by Kelly Minter.  I bought the study with intentions of doing it this past spring with my church but in normal fashion, I over-committed myself and made the decision to not attend.  Little did I know that after a month in Africa, Nehemiah and I would have a lot in common.

The summary of Nehemiah is simple: it is a story of what God can do with a compassionate heart that understands that the Lord wants to redeem His people.  Nehemiah and I both have a heart for His people.

Nehemiah is rebuilding his people who have no hope.  We all need to rebuild.  It is a messy process, restoration takes time.  But it is worth every second to have a heart that the Lord can use to change the world.

It has almost been a month since I left my heart in another country.  As much as I wish I could forget the people I met while in Ethiopia and Uganda, I can't.  I selfishly want to live my life wiith the way it was before I left.  I returned changed.  I no longer want to live as an entitled American.  I want to work for the sole purpose of paying off my student loans to return to a country that captured my heart.  My heart is burdened with those who need the Gospel.

The Lord gave me a tender heart to see His people come to him through His Son.  I didn't ask to be changed.  I did not know that going there would mean that my heart would never feel the same.  I didn't know how radically I would want to change the way I have lived my life for 24 years.

I have trouble getting through each day without tears.  The weirdest things set me off but I think the reminder of the month I was gone is a blessing.  I don't ever want to forget how I felt walking back into the U.S.  The emptiness, the anger, and the bitterness have left a stain on my life and serve as a reminder of how blessed I am and what I need to do with that.

  At times, I want to sell all I own and walk away from the comfortable life I have been living.  I am Stateside (for now) but I have come to realize that "sometimes the most accomplished people are not the ones with the most ability but with the most breakable hearts (Kelly Minter)."

Nehemiah 9:31, Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them, For You are a gracious and compassionate God.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Saw What I Saw

'How was your trip?' is a dreaded question.  Its not that I don't want to tell you about it because I do.  I want you to listen as I share each miracle I saw, tell each orphan's story and explain how I have been changed.
I want to tell you about the brokenness, the poverty, the hurt, the pain.  I want to tell you that I saw joy, hope and faith.
I just don't know how to put into words what I have experienced and what I am experiencing back in the States.  I don't know how to tell you what I feel because I am not sure of what I am feeling.  A month in Africa changes a person.
Instead of focusing on the job search, I find myself worrying about Patience and if she went to bed hungry or is Nati's cut on his foot healed.  I feel empty when I walk into Target and guilt over the Apple products I own.  I find myself tearing up when brushing my teeth with tap water or opening up the fridge that is stocked full of food.
The faces of the children I met have stained my thoughts.  It was easy to forget about the orphans when I hadn't met them.  Now that I have face with the idea, it has changed me.  Isaiah 61 has been deeply implanted into my life.
I don't typically listen to Sara Groves but my trip leader recommend this song to our team.  She wrote the song after she returned from a trip to Rwanda.  It captures exactly what I'm feeling as vague as the lyrics seem.

"I saw what I saw and I can't forget it.
I heard what I heard and I can't go back
I know what I know and I can't deny it
Something on the road, cut me to the soul
Your pain has changed me
Your dream inspires
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me what I'm made of
and what I know of love."

The Lord is in the process of redeeming the world from pain and heartache.  I am new on the scene.  He has been present all along.  I have to trust in that fact.

Your Kingdom come, Your will be done. On earth, as it is in Heaven.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

In Faith

Flying 8,300 miles from home is hard for the heart. Flying from America to a country that is full of poverty? Breaks your heart into 1,000 little pieces. Everything that seemed to matter in the states seems irrelevant there.

 I have seen Ethiopian and Ugandan villages fight for dirty, disease-ridden water, young kids struggle with incurable diseases, mothers hide their babies from fear of  local witch doctors using their child as a sacrifices to theirs gods.  The world is lost.

I had the opportunity to stay in Ethiopia for another month.  As I entertained the idea, the Lord made it very clear to me that I would be acting out of fear because if I stayed in Ethiopia, I wouldn't have to think about that I have yet to find a job.  I wouldn't have to face the rejection of the job search.  I wouldn't have to worry about finances and paying back my student loans.  I could serve and love the fatherless.  My comfort zone became Ethiopia.  When I saw the broken, hungry and poor, I knew what to do, I knew my place in the villages.   I fully trusted the Lord to provide for the villages and saw His hand in all we did.

It took more faith for me to board the plane and head back to the States than it would have been to stay in Africa.  I am returning to situations that are unknown and unfamiliar. I have no plan for my next step.  Selfishly I wanted to stay, the Lord made it clear that Ethiopia is not my promised land.  This trip has prepared me for something greater (and truly only the Lord knows).  I hope to be back one day but with saying that, the Lord can competely change my heart.

My heart is for the unreached.  The power and urgency of the Gospel is deeply woven into my heart.  At times over the past month I became desperate about getting the power of His Word across.  I need to learn how to transfer that passion to a place that lives in excess.