We’re back from an awesome time in Uganda.
It was a dream come true on many accounts: I visited a continent that has been on my heart for years, I preached in another nation, and I was able to be the “arms of Jesus” to those with AIDS. While I am drained (and a bit sick), the trip was well wroth it – we definitely will be back.
God used my wife (Emily) and I in amazing ways: embracing the sick, loving on children, prophesying over strangers, worshiping with brothers and sisters, testifying to the greatness of God, praying for people, and the like. Equally, God also used others to impact us. It’s these lessons that I want to write about (over a few posts); because honestly, it’s these lessons that made our trip to Uganda so memorable. My wife and I went to serve others, and instead we came out being served by others. Overall, our lessons from Uganda were humbling, stretching, confusing, joyous, and needed.
Lesson 1 :: A Love for Africa … and the Nations.
It has always been my dream (since high school) to one day move to Africa and do missions. In high school, I wanted to serve in The Peace Corps. After becoming a Christian, I just wanted to serve Jesus in whatever mission field I was led to. In 2000, while attending One Day (Passion) in Tennessee, the Lord spoke to me and said I would be going to Africa. YES! Finally, I was on my way – or so I thought. Later that summer, my best friend Pete headed off for Kenya. I was sure I was next.
I met Emily soon after, and as we were dating, I would constantly remind her that God was sending me (us) to Africa one day. Though this wasn’t her desire, she would go wherever God called us. So, 2001 came and went, as did 2002, 2003, 2004 … In 2008, my sister-in-law and family went over to Mali, Africa for missions (their blog here). I was (again) jealous, cause I wanted to go to Africa too. In 2009, my wife and I were offered a spot at a Rwandan school (run by friends), but as we prayed about it, God said “No”. I was bummed, but confident that one day my family and I would be headed for Africa.
In the late summer of 2009, while participating in a GPS event (called HOPE), I received two dreams from the Lord: He was calling my wife and I to attend GPS Uganda. He had told me that our way would be fully paid for (which it was). Eagerly, of course, we accepted His call and planned for our trip in November.
Which brings us to the present day.
After about 9 years of waiting, I finally went to Africa. I was certain that when I got off of the plane that I would have one of those “AH-HA” moments, knowing that I was “finally home”. But, as God has a strong sense of humor, that didn’t happen. Not once. Maybe it was my lack of sleep (jet lag), or maybe I just wasn’t listening correctly, I thought. Or, maybe I was hearing correctly and I just didn’t understand what was being said, I also thought.
God gently confirmed my fear: I would never live (permanently) in Africa.
I have a God-given love for Africa, the people, and the issues – no doubt. What I learned though, was that my God-given love didn’t necessarily mean that God was calling me to live there. Visit, yes. Live, no. Pray for it, love it, fight for it; yes. Take up permanent residence; no. What I really felt the Lord was saying is this: I have given you a love for Africa for a reason, but I want you in other places too. I want you to start loving the nations, and be content with where I place you.
Sure, it wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear, but then again, it was. God has something bigger in store for my family and I – bigger than the continent of Africa. I am deeply humbled and excited to experience it all.
Even if it takes another 9 years to begin.