Check out some thoughts from 127 Alumni, Emily Wise.
I still can’t believe I went to Africa this summer. I love 127 Worldwide and the four pillars of their ministry – Go, Speak, Invest, Empower. But to be honest, the “Go” part has always been a little scary for me. I don’t like to fly. I’ve never felt a specific calling to do overseas missions. I’m not especially talented or feel I have some amazing gifts to share with the world. I’m not overly adventurous or someone who likes to try new things. Yet I found myself on an 18-hour plane ride headed to Kenya. I do love missions and desired to serve. I saw the Lord present this opportunity to go and wanted to be obedient. Yet all of these reasons I “didn’t belong” on a mission trip were plaguing me as I prepared to go. I have a feeling that I may not be alone in these fears. Maybe you have thought about going on a trip but worry about some of the same things I worried about. I want to tell you a little bit about my trip and how God completely changed my perspective.
You don’t have to be called to a specific area before you go. Being called to a specific ministry is a real thing. I have friends who have been called into full-time missions and have a heart for specific regions. However, I’ve been tempted in the past to say, “I’m not called to missions so I don’t have to go anywhere.” But I was using that excuse more out of fear than anything else. I never felt the Lord telling me specifically to go to Kenya. I did see Him arrange the plans in my life to make me available to go. I just had to be obedient and do it. The reality is, all believers are called to go and spread the Gospel. That may be in your neighborhood or it may be across the ocean. But don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from going. When our team arrived in Nairobi we met up with 127’s partners who have a ministry serving the youth in the slums of Nairobi and an orphanage/school in rural Kenya. The partners are native Kenyans who have a heart for the people in their country and desire to serve and share the Gospel. I realized they have the same calling on their life that I do. Its what every Christian has. I didn’t need a special calling for the people of Kenya. God has called me to love all people and all nations just as He does. We just have to be willing and obedient to go.
You don’t have to be super-talented. Over and over in Scripture we see that God uses the weak and the ordinary. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 it says: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Our team consisted of a mom with young kids, a soon to be grandma, a teacher and a college student. Our team leader is a homeschool mom of four boys. My point is, you don’t have to have a theology degree or be in full-time ministry. It’s not about what we can do but how Christ can be exalted through us. The people we came in contact with were not expecting us to exegete Leviticus – although if that’s what your gift is, go for it! The people we encountered were looking for encouragement, prayer, and someone to listen to their story and make them feel like they mattered. We spent most of our time in a slum in Nairobi called Kibera. Many of these families were living in some of the worst poverty imaginable. They did not care what kind of gifts or talents we had. They just wanted to know that we cared about them. I remember my team leader telling me that we needed to ask ourselves how Jesus would relate to the people there. He would come to their level, touch them, listen, care, and ultimately show them that He is the only way to salvation. It doesn’t take a host of talents to do that. If we are Christians then that’s how we are commanded to live our lives everyday, no matter where we are. Its as simple as that.
You don’t have to go with the plan to fix every problem. Being in the slums in Nairobi and then spending a few days at an orphanage meant seeing a lot of needs. People need food, jobs, education, places to live, parents to love them…the list goes on and on. I quickly learned that going on a mission trip does not mean becoming a mini savior. I physically can’t and thankfully, because of what Christ has done, I don’t have to try to be. Peter Abungu is the founder of the Swahiba Youth Networks in Nairobi. They work everyday in the slums spreading the Gospel and helping youth with education, job training, etc. One day I was feeling really overwhelmed with the poverty I was seeing there. When there are so many issues it is hard to know where to start when it comes to helping. How can you possibly care for everyone? Peter reminded me that even Jesus did not physically heal everyone He came in contact with. But He offered something greater to all – the gift of salvation. The effects of sin in the world are great, but just as Jesus did, we can offer an ultimate healing by proclaiming the truth of salvation in Christ. We can’t do it all but God can choose to do whatever He pleases through us. Ephesians 3:20 says that He is able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or think. If we are faithful in the small, day-to-day things, God can use that for great things.
My desire is that anyone reading this would consider going. Yes, there are some sacrifices involved. You may have to leave your family or your job for a couple of weeks. You may have to eat some food you’re not used to and brush your teeth with bottled water (actually, the food was really good and my teeth never felt cleaner!). But seeing the heart of God in a very real way is so worth any small sacrifice. More than anything, I came away from my trip with a better understanding of who God is.
Over and over the Bible tells us that God loves justice and mercy. Isaiah 1:17 says: “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” This is the heart of God and these are not suggestions. As believers we are to care about justice and plead on behalf of those who do not have the power to do so themselves. This doesn’t require a special talent. This doesn’t require a special talent. It requires simple obedience. God doesn’t complicate it and neither should we. He simply commands that those who love him obey him.
Matthew 28:19-20: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.