“Is it safe?”
That’s one of the first questions most people ask me when I go on mission trips. And my usual response is, “Yes.” But lately, it’s a question that irks me the wrong way.
For the past six years, the Machava Center in Mozambique has been a huge part of my life. I was just 19 years old when I first stepped , and honestly I haven't left since. Each year I went, there was a new challenge every time, especially the past couple times I've gone. And each time, I felt and witnessed God in new ways that I hadn't experienced before. Prior to my trip this past summer, people came up and asked me, "Why do you keep going back to Mozambique?", "Are you going to live there soon?", and, my all-time favorite, "Isn't that where you were robbed ... is it safe?"
Living a missional life, whether you’re in the states or overseas, doesn't always look easy or safe. It requires a huge amount of time, sacrifice, and commitment. You invest everything you have in the ministry that God sets before. Following Jesus comes with a price. And although it’s a risk that we need to take, it’s a risk worth taking for the sake of His Kingdom.
We can’t predict what will happen to us. We can’t always trust to have an emergency plan whenever obstacles come our way. Because when we’re called to follow Jesus, we give ourselves to Him. All of it. We give up control of our own lives, and allow Him to take the reins and guide us in the direction He needs us to go. For most people, including myself at times, it’s a terrifying thought to relinquish all control, not knowing what the consequences are. How will I know if that’s where I’m supposed to be? Am I going to be safe? We start saying things like “I believe that God will protect us, BUT I still want to do this” or “God use me when I go to [insert country’s name], BUT I still be the same person here” to justify how we want to live our life. When we limit ourselves to only reaching out to the places we feel or think is safe, we limit God’s power to work in our lives and in the lives of those we come across. We consolidate Him into this box we created of who we think God is and what we think He is capable of.
This is what I continue to remind myself on a daily basis:
God is good, and He is worth it.
I can say that because of the trials I’ve gone through in my life … I can say that wholeheartedly knowing that there were times where I was in danger … Because this summer, I witnessed God’s sovereignty and felt His unconditional love pour over me. If the stories in the Bible don’t convince us that we serve an amazing God who is sovereign over EVERYTHING, than we’re missing the point; we then choose to live a life in fear of the unknown rather than praying to God asking Him how we can be better servants for His Kingdom.
The book of Acts has really challenged the way I’ve been living my life the past few years, specifically this past year of growth. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that as I am dealing with a lot of issues and questions in my life that my church is going through this series. To live a life knowing that there will be hardships as we draw near; to be a light in a world filled with darkness; to act in the same manner as the disciples showed us; and all that and more, knowing the repercussions that lie ahead (beating, robbery, death) — it’s faith that enables us to persevere through the troubles we face on a daily basis.
Reading about Paul’s ministry is such a great testimony. And what he wrote in his letter to the Church of Philippi is so true:
“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Philippians 3:8–9, NIV)
Is He worth the risk?
|We gave over 60 beanies to the children, older kids, tias & tios, and even a couple of the vovos |
who live at and near the center.
|Some of the bravest brothers I've ever met. More shocks to them.|
|Zekka's laugh can easily bring a smile to your face.|
|My brother Feliciano preaching up a storm at Som Do Ceu.|
Definitely a man of God.
|Olinda & Katia: These girls stole our hearts.|
|Pascoal was always good at making you laugh.|
|I've never heard or seen true examples of people following God's will than these two: |
Jesse & Raquel
|Praying with the kids at the school|
|Isabel & Cacilda: Women who help out the missionaries in the center and take care of the children.|
|A family that never gave up hope when times were hard. God definitely has his hand over them.|
(Eric, Cecilia, Jessezinho, Gigizinho, Felisberto)
|Our last night with the kids ended in a water balloon/bucket/cup-throwing fight.|