This past weekend, young leaders from all six communities Journey visited this summer came to the Invest House in the city for a Rejoice Project Youth Retreat. This whole summer has been full of new, wonderful and hard experiences, but this was one of the sweetest. Even though we have only known them for almost two months, it was like seeing old friends again. They had so readily opened their homes and served us so graciously when we were in their own communities, and as someone who likes to physically serve, even if it’s clearing dishes, or bringing someone chai, it was like welcoming them into my own home.
For some odd reason, I so often think that people my own age from different countries are so different—from how they learn to what they learn to when they learn it, but that’s simply not true. Obviously there are a lot of cultural differences, but Saturday afternoon when we split up guys and girls to talk about a teaching we had that morning, I learned how mistaken I was. I learned that while I’m learning how to trust God with all my tomorrows, so are a lot of other girls my age around the world. While I’m feeling inadequate in my faith, girls who have much more pressure put on them also feel the same way, but are pushing upward and onward to further the Kingdom of God. The joy of the Lord is their strength, and it’s contagious; and it’s not just the girls either, it’s the guys, and their leaders too.
It’s also been so special to watch my community here. To see them jump right in and serve was incredible. I watched them love on these people and build them up and encourage them in truth, after we have all learned how to do that for each other this summer. It came so easy to them. Saturday morning I led our devotion, and the discussion went a very different direction than I had anticipated, but it was so encouraging to hear Americans and Africans asking each other hard questions about leadership, faith, and the church. We talked it out together—realizing the devil has no new tricks—and we can walk through these seasons together as the body of Christ.
Jesus used this weekend to teach me (again) that He is steady. He is true, and He is the same here as He is in America. I got the opportunity to hear a few of the youth leaders’ stories, and in case you couldn't guess, life in the African bush is not easy, but Christ in these people is so clear and evident. They don't hesitate to proclaim His love and goodness in every situation. Why is it that it’s so easy to take life for granted in 21st century America? I don't have an answer for that, but God is the giver of all good gifts, and He has blessed me with this experience, that I now have so many sweet memories from.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” [James 1:17]
I will be honest and say it was one of the hardest things I have ever done to say goodbye to all these dear brothers and sisters when they left at the end of the weekend, and my heart aches to see them again someday, whether on this earth or when we reunite in heaven. If it’s the only thing I remember: God is good, and this was the best way to end this Journey.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” [2 Timothy 4:6-7]
-Abby Vencil | Journey 2016 Intern