Good Friday morning …
It's getting close! Time is ticking away! Arrangements and plans and preparations are gradually being put in place! Funding is going smoothly! Excitement is building! TEAM TANZANIA 2018 is getting it together! Another fabulous life-changing, faith-enhancing, really-get-to-know-oneself journey is in the wings. The fifteen-member team, comprised of teens, young adults, college students, adults and even a few seniors ... is getting ready, some for the first time, to experience Africa.
I recall my first visit to Africa twenty years ago. It brought me quickly to my knees. I was out of my element … out of my comfort zone … overwhelmed and enamored at the same time. I lost my reference points and my sense of control. Time seemed to crawl … and in that strange, unfamiliar calm … I was bewildered by the intensity of my emotions and the depth of meaning in my experiences.
First-time visits to rural Africa have that effect on people. Such journeys are almost always uncomfortable … physically and emotionally. They provide full emersion into a world completely different from our own. They startle and amaze and perplex. They momentarily confuse your allegiances … challenging your heart to want the comforts of home while wanting to experience more of the stark primitiveness of the African culture … both at the same time.
For most of us … our sense of reality and security is based entirely upon the things in our lives that are routine, comfortable and familiar. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with these things …they can distract us from the need to have our reality and security come from God. Africa forces us to think and depend more upon God ... to seek our security, our comfort, our contentment in Him, rather than in things. It forces the issue!
Those who journey to Africa are far away from home … and totally removed from the distractions of work, school and the busyness of Western culture. They are disconnected from the demands and hectic pace of life … freed from e-mails, voice mails, facebook and instagram and the immediacy that accompanies these modern technologies. In this strange new world … God seems more accessible … yet, I suspect, it’s really the other way around: In going to Africa ... we have become more accessible to God!
In addition, seeing the beauty of God’s creation in the African environment allows us to see how big God really is and how small we are.
Each day in Africa we carve out time for prayer and devotions. It’s a time when we, as a team, are able to “peel back the onion” as some of the emotional impact of the trip begins to wash over us. It’s a simple fact that every participant feels a bit overwhelmed … and perhaps a bit helpless … in trying to figure out how to connect the experiences of the trip with everyday life back home. It is always a challenging time … but also, I believe, a time when new doors are opened within us for God to step through.
Each time I return from a trip to Africa … the question most often asked is: “How was your trip?” … followed by “What did you do?” … and then “How did the team do?” As always … these questions are impossible to answer. Only time will tell. But this I know … whenever we return from Africa there is always a handful of youth and adults wandering around their homes with eyes as big as dinner plates and wondering: “What did I just do?”
As the excitement builds for those participating in this year’s trip … please keep us in your prayers (Dave, Nancy, Rachel, Laura, Fred, Molly, Tara, Parker, Mehgan, Ryan, Chris, Jacob, Jessa, Jennifer ... and me). Those prayers are much appreciated and much needed.
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation …” [Isaiah 52:7]
Have a great weekend in the Lord …