As I drove away from Knoxville on May 15th to meet with the rest of the staff for training, I had this expectant feeling welling up inside me. Just a week before that, I was finishing a 21-hour semester at school and ready to be away from the library for the summer. Now, a month into Journey, I have settled into life in East Africa with our first community visit under my belt. Through it all, I’ve been continuously reminded of this one thing: what an honor it is to be here with these people.
No matter how many times I come to East Africa, I am always humbled by what God teaches me, this year being no exception. In the short amount of time we’ve been here, I’ve learned that leadership does not mean you have all the answers or that you will never be broken, and that you can make plans but God may choose to change them at any moment. I’ve been reminded of the holiness that can be found in stargazing on top of the bus, singing prayers, and experiencing community in orange tents. And I have seen what a thankful heart and a joyful spirit can do to a day.
These moments often go unnoticed by my busy mind, but God has been faithful to show me the art of slowing down. There have been times throughout the past month that I have found myself stepping back to watch the moment as it passes and I believe it to be a gift from the Father. What I noticed is how sacred each moment can be if we are attuned to what the Spirit is doing, and that there is always an opportunity to come closer to Jesus. Because of this new awareness, I’ve been seeing the Spirit move in ways I didn’t know were possible both in myself and in those around me. I am seeing the Father in both the wildly chaotic and the seemingly unimportant.
What I have loved most about this gift is watching it play out in the lives of others. There have been so many days that I have said to myself, “It is such a gift to get a front row seat to what God is doing in these interns’ lives.” I do not take it lightly that I’ve been given this opportunity to walk with this years Journey team. It is an honor to have earned the chance to shepherd others and pour out your cup into theirs. It is hard and requires sacrifice but it is worth it - not because you get glory and praise but because God does. And that is the greatest honor: to give everything of yourself for others to see Jesus more clearly.
And that is why my prayer for these interns has been Ephesians 3: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
My prayer is that these eyes of mine would stay open to the Spirits working and that I would never take for granted this honor I’ve been given. And that these interns, our staff, our brothers and sisters here, and myself would come to know Jesus a little more having walked down these East African roads together singing Ni Wewe Bwana (It is You Lord).
-Emily Heyduck | Journey 2017 Summer Staff