The Bragas and Marcolinos are perfect examples of people living out the Gospel. Four years ago, I had the opportunity to spend my summer with them. Not only was it an amazing experience, but it also opened my eyes to the daily struggles for these missionaries. Not knowing when money comes in. Threats from the community. Robberies. Exhaustion. I even experienced some struggles on my end, and I was there for 10 weeks! At the end of the trip, one of the main things I learned was how real spiritual warfare is.
And as we're closing in on our trip, it's becoming more real to us how real and powerful spiritual warfare can be. Lies. Deceit. Inadequacy. Fear. It hasn't been the easiest road for us. But we're faithful that God has us here for a reason, and that reason is more than enough to return back to Mozambique.
Paul talks in Acts how "we must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). Over the course of our journey, we've experienced many, many struggles in planning for this trip. Issues with logistics, not having things go as planned, and even personal attacks. Obviously the enemy doesn't like what we're doing, so he's doing his best to distract us from God's mission. By instilling deceitful thoughts, he tries to rob God's joy from us. No one said following Jesus was safe (ask Mr. Beaver).
Yesterday, however, after talking to the missionaries for just a couple of minutes, it made me realize that entering the Kingdom of God is doable for anyone. It requires faith, prayer, and support from your community. I was reminded of my time with them four years ago ... seeing the fruits of their labor, investing into their community, hearing stories of God's faithfulness. I remember specifically at the end of their day, I would sit around with them, eat some pao, and enjoy conversations with one another. Despite of their circumstances, they were still able to find joy in what they do. Because they were doing God's work.
To see and hear that once again on Skype was enough for me to know that this where God has us.
A year ago from today, I wrote a note in my journal for Brian to read during church service. "I want to go on a mission trip." I don't remember what triggered that thought; apparently it was important enough to distract my husband from listening to the sermon. But it was the first time in a long time we've felt the urge to go somewhere and serve others. And now a year later, here we are continuing to follow God in every step of the way. Yes there are bumps, battles, and bruises. But there are joys as well. Following Jesus comes with a price. And He's worth it.
Seven more days.