Keeping in stride.

As we do with all the time our Journey team is in Nairobi, we have enjoyed a few great days of rest, digging into Scripture, and quality time with one another. Yesterday we visited a nearby park to enjoy the outdoors - playing a game of ultimate frisbee, hiking nature trails, and even trekking into a cave. It was an adventurous day! Tomorrow our Journey team will depart for our third 410 Bridge community. Here we will be interacting with a whole new community, new children, and new Rejoice team leaders. Join us in praying that God would use us in whatever capacity he may have for us. As a team we are focusing in being satisfied and content in Jesus alone. Whether it be sitting in silence with a child, digging water pipe trenches, or instructing young adults in the importance of raising up a new, Godly generation of leaders, we all know that God has us right where he needs us. We are looking forward to sharing those stories with you in the coming days. IMG_4108

Each year we enjoy the company of many volunteers. Honestly, without them we would not be able to do what God has called us to do. Sheeva Olyaie is one of those volunteers. A former intern, Sheeva is what I would describe as a faithful gatekeeper to our community. Diligently and prayerfully, Sheeva selflessly serves our community and offers bits of wisdom such as these. I pray that she is as much of an encouragement to you as she is to us. Enjoy!

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This summer, my role with Choose to Invest puts me behind the scenes a lot, supporting and serving the staff as they shepherd and guide Journey 2013. Let me tell you, this role has brought me an incredible amount of joy! Day in and day out, I watch these amazing men and women pray over, consider, encourage, serve, and speak truth into the lives of the interns that God has brought to Journey this year. Their whole hearts are invested into the ministry that God has called them to this season, and I have been so blessed to serve them as they continuously serve and disciple these amazing interns! As you pray for the students of J2013, remember to lift up these staff members too!

Working as support staff for Journey and helping move the group as a whole forward throughout their days, my role in the discipleship of the interns has been pretty limited. Yesterday, however, I had the opportunity to lead the interns through a devotion, and I wanted to share some of the truth that came from that. The devotion that we read through began like this:

“You are my beloved child. I chose you before the foundation of the world, to walk with Me along paths designed uniquely for you. Concentrate on keeping in step with Me, instead of trying to anticipate My plans for you.”

In following this thought, that God has an intentional plan designed uniquely for each of us and that our purpose is to remain focused on Him, we walked through Ephesians 1, Proverbs 16, and Jeremiah 29.  Diving into scripture with the interns was such a blessing, hearing them break down the meaning of the Truth in front of them and directly apply it to their lives! This devotion was particularly wonderful to me, as the interns sat in Jeremiah 29 for the good part of 45 minutes.

Let me give you a little bit of setting: God has taken the Jewish people out of Jerusalem, exiling them for 70 years as a result of their sin in previous chapters. At the end of the seventy years, God has promised the people of Judah that they will be restored and that He will fulfill His promises to them concerning the land. In this passage, Jeremiah has written a letter to the exiles from Jerusalem that are now living in and being ruled by Babylon.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalme to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:4-7)

Here’s the take-away: The Jewish people were away from home, sitting in a place where God had taken them. A place they might not have necessarily chosen for themselves. They weren’t receiving the promise of HOME for another 70 years. But God doesn’t tell them to just sit in it, expecting what’s promised to them down the road. He tells His people to live NOW, to start acting in obedience, and to find their welfare in the place where God has taken them.

This hit our interns in an amazing way! God has called them to live in Africa for the summer, with the promise that in July they will be returning to their homes. A lot of them have questions about what the next semester of school looks like, about what’s been happening with friends and family, about what obedience will look like after encountering God in such a radical way over the summer. Yet God has called them to be present here. Yes, the future is ahead of them. They WILL be returning home, but right now they are clinging to the truth that their absence at home is JUST as important as their presence in East Africa. They are choosing to focus on the daily path that God has set before them, trusting that His promises of home are real and are coming. They are choosing to keep in step with God in the present, releasing their anticipation of the future in favor of the deep, present, intentional relationship that Christ is pursuing of them right here.