One Journey- -Two Years

IMG_0253

God is eternal. He has no time, no beginning, and no ending. He has lived all of our yesterdays and all of our tomorrows. His story is better than the finest book crafted by the finest author. This is what happens when God is the author— all of His glory and redemptive power on full display. How can I know that God has lived all of my days? Well because what was two years in my life, was just a blink in Eternity.

I don’t even know where to begin. I guess it started two years ago when I heard God calling me to Kenya. I answered his call. I didn’t share the gospel. I didn’t talk about God. I formed relationships.

It was then that I met Elizabeth and her brother Charles. After some warming up, they welcomed me in their home in the Kibera slums. Though just a few cardboard boxes stitched together, it was their home and they were proud of every inch of it. My first Sunday back, I saw Elizabeth again, the tall, lanky, shy teenage girl. She briefly smiled and waved and continued to go on her way. Her brother, on the other hand, being polar opposites, greeted me excitedly when he saw me, recalling our last meeting together. Charles proudly shared that he and his sister now lived at Sadili, and his mom had a job working at the pool. It was as if two years had not passed between our last meeting.

I wanted badly for the same with Elizabeth, but I knew I couldn’t rush it. I knew she’d have to open to me again, to trust me again, to believe in me again. Well after a few brief interactions, the spark was ignited. She opened up like a gift on Christmas morning. Then, just like that, I was standing after dinner talking about the gospel to a group of about 8 girls and 2 boys. Enamored, they clung to my every word, asking questions, and then it was Elizabeth, shy Elizabeth that said “tomorrow, we will meet again.” Yes, tomorrow we can meet again, I thought, it’s just too few tomorrows. But God has no limits.

 IMG_0249

Married to Jesus

Sitting at dinner with the girls, we jokingly said who was dating whom, and which girl had a crush on which guy. They kind of talk that makes girls giggle and blush. Then, one of them asked me about my boyfriend. And I said that I didn’t have one. Elizabeth’s brother, Charles, who had migrated over to the table at this point, asked pretty seriously, “well why not?” After thinking for a minute, I knew I had two options: I could continue the lighthearted joking conversation or I could speak the truth and share the good news of Jesus Christ. I chose the latter.

“Well, God hasn’t chosen anyone for me yet, so I’m married to Jesus until he gives me a husband,” I began, “And he’s the best husband because he’s good and kind.”  Elizabeth beamed, “I like that…I like that a lot”

At this point, I noticed that I had garnered quite the gathering, and I was standing up. This outside eating area, built on a garbage site, with all reused and recycled material had become my pulpit and these kids my congregation. They asked me about dating, and church, and relationships. Two Muslims girls sat listening electrified. At one point I was interrupted, and they all said what were you saying about Jesus. When they departed, a few of the kids asked if we could talk more tomorrow. And I smiled and said yes.
Then, I recalled all the people who questioned me about this trip. “What are you going to do?” “So is this a mission trip?” You’re going to teach tennis where?” Why are you going all the way to Africa?”
My response now. Tennis is the means. God is the end. My life is a mission trip.

 

Advertisement

Hope in the sand

Last week, I was vacationing with my family in the Caribbean, and my sister and I were frolicking on the beach, taking pictures, swimming, jumping in and out of the waves, and running along the sand. It was one of those moments of pure bliss. Then my sister began to write in the sand. She wrote “Life is beautiful.” Then took a cool picture and posted it on Instagram. Following suit, I wrote “Love” in the sand and quickly captured the picture.

Then, without much thought I began to write “Hope” in the sand next to our other words. As I was writing, a man walked by and made a comment as I was writing the word. I didn’t actually hear what he said; I just smiled and kept writing “Hope” in the sand. A few minutes later, as I was just about to snap a few pictures of my word, the same man came by again.

Image

This time he stopped and said, “Oh, so that’s what you were writing, ‘Hope’. Can you tell me about that?”

I stood there dazed for a minute, was this man seriously asking me to explain hope? After processing his question, I began to explain hope to him, “Really, it’s simple; hope is everything. Without hope, we don’t have a reason to get up in the morning.”

He looked at me puzzled for a second, and then responded, “Where do you get your hope from?”

It was at that moment that I knew without a doubt the only answer to his question.

“God.”

We talked for another 15 minutes about God, Jesus, salvation and eternity. He asked questions about my faith, and as I answered them, I felt more and more empowered, and I knew that it wasn’t me speaking but God through me. While we were talking his young daughter nearly stepped on my sand drawing, and he stopped her saying, “No sweetie, don’t step there that’s very important. In fact, it’s everything.”

A few seconds later, I looked down and noticed the little girl writing “hope” next to my drawing. Her father smiled with tears in his eyes.

When we finished our conversation, I walked back to my lounge chair. A few minutes later the man reappeared. He apologized for bothering me again, but the words he spoke were so sincere and real as if God himself were speaking them. “You know how everything happens for a reason. I know why I came on this vacation. Not to eat good food, swim in the beach, shop, or hang out. There was a reason I was on this beach feeding these fish at this moment. That reason was to come across the “hope” in the sand. You have changed my life. Now I have a reason to keep going and keep living.”

That encounter changed my life as much as his. A reminder that even something as simple as writing in the sand can change someone’s life, and really hope is all there is. Hope for eternity, hope for a better world, hope for peace, hope for love, hope for change, hope for people, hope in God, hope for tomorrow.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13