I have been home for 8 days. The jet lag has subsided and I find myself falling back into my normal routine. Even though I’ve recovered my familiar schedule I do not feel I am the same person. I’ve changed.
Several days before leaving for Kenya I began to pray, Lord, change me. I did not have a specific change in mind. I just felt the need to express my willingness to receive whatever direction my Father wanted to give. Praying that prayer created excitement, and honestly, a little anxiety. I don’t really know why it made me anxious. My Father is good and has never harmed me. I guess it was the thought of being out of control. What, if anything, would He ask of me? Below are 3 things I learned in Kenya.
The first nudge for change came 6 days into my trip. It was when I met Danshire and Dorcas Njoroge. God used this beautiful couple to challenge me in a unique way. They shared story after story of God meeting their needs, blessing their ministry and giving success to their efforts of bringing hope and healing to wounded teenage girls. As I sat and listened to them, God challenged me with some simple words. Cary, you have skill. They have faith. I have reflected on these words seeking to understand more clearly what God was impressing upon me.
I have skill. As I have prayed and thought about these 3 words I must say I agree with Him. God has given me talent and skills. I recognize these blessings and continue to do my part in developing them. I know He uses me when I preach and teach His word, when I lead others, when I make disciples for Christ. I know if anything good comes from me, it is because of Him; but I think these words also speak to how safe I play it. I take calculated risks and move with measured outcomes in mind. I am more strategy than faith. The result, I have the rewards of skill. Things like an intentional calendar filled with meetings, manageable deadlines, and steady routine. People like me surround me; therefore, there is an element of comfortable predictability each day. My life oozes safe and stable…the rewards of skill. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want my life to be characterized by chaos or pushed around by fear and uncertainty, but if my goal is to have a safe and stable life it doesn’t leave much room for the adventures of faith God may call me to. I can’t be satisfied with the rewards of skill. Through Danshire and Dorcas God showed me the blessings of living by faith instead of just strategy. I can’t create faith moments. I can walk into them when God leads me there. I will trust instead of just strategizing. I will aim for blessings of faith instead of just the blessings of skill.
Another nudge I received from the Lord came in a most unusual way. For the two weeks I was in Kenya, I watched no TV. I couldn’t believe how that one circumstance removed a steady flow of clutter from my mind. Without the noise of television, temptations subsided, worry was starved, and distractions were removed. In the absence of news media and Hollywood’s entertainment, I read a book. It was not a faith-based book. It was the true story about a couple that risked everything to rescue Jews in Warsaw, Poland during the Nazi occupation of World War II. I was moved by their passion to help the most vulnerable of their time and God whispered, “What risk will you take to save the dying in your world?” Then it dawned on me. My desire for the lost can be maintained if I will strive to reduce the clutter in my mind. To me, this meant I needed to adopt the habit of watching less TV and free my mind from life-sucking noise of television.
No one can go to the continent of Africa and ignore all the needs of humanity one sees. Our most basic conveniences like food, safe shelter and clean water are their primary concerns. Put on top of that the worries of employment, healthcare, transportation and child-care and the average American is approaching a nervous breakdown. It is their normal. On top of those layers of human need is stacked the spiritual darkness that permeates much of their population. The spiritual and physical needs are just overwhelming. No amount of money could possibly meet all the demands, but it does not keep one from thinking What can I do to help?
One of the rewards of skill God has blessed my family with is that most months we have more money than we need. I know that is a strange thing to say, but I think it happens to many people. Each month we give to the Lord, live within our means, pay our bills and meet our needs. Often, after all that happens, we still have money left over. When this happens I save it. Then I begin to pray, “Lord what do you want me to do with this money?” When I leave my bubble and meet people who are serving the Lord, He directs me. Cherry and I are currently praying about how to financially help some of God’s servants in Kenya.
Lord willing, I will be returning to Kenya (or some place on the continent of Africa). God is opening doors for the Gospel and disciple making. You want to go?