In my early 20’s I had the unique opportunity to travel to West Africa for 7 months.
Those 7 months were some of the best and hardest moments I have ever experienced in Ministry.
I embraced absolute abandonment to the Call when I bought a one way ticket to Africa, not knowing if I would ever return.
The passion and freedom I felt in obeying Jesus by going has been unmatched my whole life.
I never felt so confident and full of faith as I stepped out into the most unknown, unseen, and unexpected opposition.
So many people didn’t understand, and even more felt it was immature and reckless. Yet in my heart, all I could see, was being faithful to Jesus. Obeying Him was everything.
Upon arriving in Africa I eagerly embraced all the sacrifices and changes. ‘Whatever it took’ was my motto and driving passion.
It only took a few weeks though, for reality to sit in and sickness to interrupt my reckless obedience.
I remember, like it was yesterday. It was Christmas morning and I was in an African church about to speak. Weak from dehydration and vomiting, I stepped up to the pulpit and instantly fell over. I’m not even sure how I ended back up in my flat. (African apartment)
For the next few weeks I spent night and day secluded in my room not sure if I would live or die. I remember feeling immense loneliness and complete failure.
Had God really brought me all the way to Africa to let me die, alone?
Had He called me across oceans and out of my own comfortable ministry and culture to vomit day and night in what they called a toilet?
Electricity was scarce and most days I spent alone in darkness. It truly was some of the most difficult days of my life. The valley of the shadow, took on new meaning in these moments.
Had God called me to come all this way, give up so much and not even give me the opportunity to preach the gospel before I died of sickness? My sickness felt like such a waste!
Was this really God’s plan?
The questions that came to me in these dark moments were overwhelming. I questioned everything. I even questioned if I had some how missed Hearing God in going and accidentally ended up somewhere in the world He never called me?
Where had I missed Him?
Through some Missionary friends I eventually received medicines from the states and miraculously was able to hold a few down.
Obviously, I didn’t die. ‘Or did I?’
Those few weeks, broke my body, my spirit, and my pride.
Actually it was just what I needed.
Paul said, “For when I am weak, then I am made strong.” God didn’t need my strength. He desired my brokenness.
Not only did He desire my brokenness, He desired to meet me in my loneliness.
One thing I learned about battling loneliness is that when God doesn’t send a person it’s because He is gifting you with something better, HIMSELF!
During those weeks I was sick, Jesus became my everything.
HE became my strength.
HE became my hope.
HE became my companion.
HE became my desire.
HE became my reason to wake up.
Jesus broke me, to remake me whole.
I’ll never forget when I was well enough to return to the church I was working with. I told the African ladies that had been checking on me that I was coming to Service. Their first question wasn’t, “How do you feel?” or “Are you excited to finally get to work?” No, they asked me, “When was I going home?”
I was shocked!
I asked them why did they think I was going home?
They said, “We thought you were gonna die. But since you lived, don’t you want to go home now?”
My response shocked them, but not more than how their response gripped me.
I told them, “No, I was just getting started! Since God let me live, He must really want me here!”
They then turned to me and said, “We know we can trust you now. We have seen you suffer and not run. God truly has sent you. We want to hear your message.”
How often do we run from suffering, loneliness, and difficulties because it’s just too hard?
What if the battle you face today is the platform for ministry tomorrow?
What if your struggle isn’t for you to ‘Survive’ but to ‘Authenticate’ your faith to others?
How does God want to gift you with Himself in your struggle today?