Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Journey He Marked for My Weary Feet

Trying to put into words the most radical, moving, awe inspiring, lesson and blessing of my most recent journey to Zimbabwe...... is so difficult.

If you are a Christian, and one who truly studies the scriptures, then you know the new testament is full of testimony and instruction to spread the gospel throughout the whole world. Everyone needs the gospel..... if we believe it is the truth...then we should be radically intent on making sure that strangers to Jesus get a chance to meet His spirit, personally. Keeping this in mind, my initial interest in traveling to Africa to serve orphans, was with the hope that I could introduce Christ in their lives. I quickly learned that Zimbabwe has many Christians, and not only that but these specific teenagers who I have been serving, know Him well. Very well.

As recently as the days before this past trip, I was questioning God. Why was He sending me back? They already know and love other than offering them my simple love, words of encouragement, and treating them to some special moments....what really was the point? Yes, I asked this. I did. And I was feeling doubt.... but I still went. I went because I love them and I wanted to see them. I wanted to rejoice and celebrate the truck that was purchased for Fatima. I wanted to be available and the kids are full of truly deep and meaningful questions. But in the back of my mind and in the depth of my heart.....I wondered if this would be the last time. I wondered if there was any real point or benefit to THEM for me to come there. I knew there would be plenty benefit for me.

I didn't realize while I was in Zim that the kids were tracking my every move. I didn't realize I was being inspected and evaluated. (This white woman keeps coming to see us....why?). I didn't realize that I would speak words they would memorize. And I didn't realize that my hugs were worth more than gold.

....until they told me.

They had a farewell party for me on my last evening. And on my last morning, they circled around me in prayer, anointed me with oil, and spoke the sweetest words of gratitude to me. One of my dear friends on this trip couldn't come to my farewell morning because he was crying. I guess he couldn't bear to say goodbye. i know the feeling.....and so i sobbed in front of them.

I cannot really bring myself to type out the things they said to me. I'm not feeling proud, I'm feeling deeply blessed just to be able to see the fruit. I can really only tell you the 2 things in general that they have learned from me, by meeting Christ in my spirit.

Christ used me to teach them....
1. true brotherly love that breaks down racial and cultural barriers
2. go out and share the love of Christ with others

They thought only Jesus would love them. Now they know that a human being who is absorbed in the love of Christ can love well. The Bible doesn't teach love as a method of tolerance. The Bible teaches love as a method to living. The children see this now. And the bible teaches to care for orphans and widows....but it doesn't teach that it should stop there. These orphans know that they are not just to sit back, relax, and wait for everyone to come and love them....but that they have feet. They can walk. They can love. They can spread the gospel.

I had been caught up on "the gospel". I was thinking that the message of the gospel was to teach about the story of Jesus. I was failing to realize that sharing the gospel is more than sharing the story, but most importantly sharing the "message of Christ." That message...... love. These wonderful kids knew the message of love but hadn't seen it put into action outside of Fatima. Now they have. They saw a white woman from Nashville, Tennessee put love into action. And now they want to go out and put love into action too.

My last morning in Zim was so hard. I sobbed uncontrollably, more than once. Words were spoken to me that I truly felt I didn't deserve. We said our goodbyes inside of the house, again outside on the lawn, and again at the airport. Every one of them accompanied me to the airport. Everyone of them walked in and watched me check my baggage. I would later find out that everyone of them stood outside for another hour, said prayers, and watched my airplane disappear into the clouds.

The pain in my heart for missing them is excruciating. But I praise Jesus for the journey he marked for my weary feet.

I love you Lord.

p.s. about the photo. i took numeous photos of interesting trees in Zim. i'll post more soon.


Pete A. said...

Hi Melissa,

This time our computer worked and did bring up the comment screen. Hooray!

Wonderful blog. My main comment is this: when we see anyone in need -whether orphans in Zim; or the poor in our home town; or the sick; or our enemies; or those in our own families - and when we help them - we ARE helping Jesus. He says so. (Matthew 25:40.)

You did it. He's blessed you already, and he isn't finished yet.

Sarah said...

This is beautiful. I wish I could go to Zimbabwe now or somewhere else God might call me to go. I need to remember Pete's words. There are people in need everywhere, either financially, emotionally, or spiritually. I can love them right here in my own neighborhood. Jesus, help me to love more!