When I was young, I often dreamt of being in an African village. Then I would wake up and discover it was only a distant reality. Last week, when I awoke from my dreams, it was to the shadow of a cow grazing outside my tent and the sight of my own breath in the frigid mountain air of a rural, East African community. It had been nearly three years since I last awoke to this reality, and while the breathtaking landscape, cold nights, and star-filled skies remained unchanged, the rest of the community had not.
As I stepped onto the "Outdoor Africa" campground on Thursday, I felt like I was meeting a close friend face-to-face for the first time in years. One of those friendships where you can pick up exactly where you left off. At first it seems like nothing has changed, but then after talking for a while, you begin to realize just how much has happened in your lives since you last saw each other. And while in ways it feels like you are meeting a new person, you begin to realize that by getting to know this "newness", you are entering into an even deeper relationship than before.
On Friday, we had the privilege of sitting in the back of a classroom as Rejoice Project leaders taught children how God has uniquely created them with a purpose. Halfway through the lesson, I realized that I had literally been there when the foundation of that classroom was being laid three years ago. I had seen the dedication of parents and teachers as they began to build this classroom by hand, and now I was seeing the continued dedication of these men and women of God as they poured out truth into the next generation.
I am amazed at what God has done in the people of this community. He has taken them far since the last time I saw them, but what I love about them is their desire for Him to take them even farther. While they radiate gratitude for what God has already done in and through them, they are Full of Hunger for more. As I sat in one young lady's home and asked how we could pray for her, she responded with: (1) more of God's presence and peace (2) to continue to move forward and not stay the same, and (3) for her father's salvation. Her request was not for God to help her overcome obstacles in her life, but her request reflected her desire to be more overcome by God's hand in her life, and for others to experience the same. The same is true for all who serve alongside of her.
Now thousands of kids in several schools are being reached with the truth of the Gospel every week through Rejoice Project, local churches are being united in one goal, and leaders are beginning to cast vision for intentionally investing in high school age students. The purpose of our trip was to encourage and support these local leaders in their ministries. And while I believe God was faithful to use us to spur them on in what He has already begun in them, He also used them to inspire me to dive deeper into my relationship with God, His people, and His Word.
Spring Intern 2016