Transformed by Truth; therefore joyfully misunderstood

A great blog post from one of the Journey '09 students. We love this girl and her heart to run passionately after God, no matter what He is asking of her...
Sunday, July 5, 2009 at 11:30pm
Transformed by Truth therefore joyfully Misunderstood. My 18 day trip to Kenya was summed up in that one statement when the interns had a competition to make an epitaph for our internship experience on our final day together (my group won!). This is much more than a catch phrase that we have all begun to use to remind us about the good times on the trip; it has become a challenge to live our life in this new light. It all started during training. Our two group leaders, Nathanael and Kristin Avery from Atlanta, took the group of 14 that they had recruited from 8 different states to Camp Highland in North Georgia. We learned that we would be focusing the heart of the journey on Romans 12, learning to use our spiritual gifts, not conform to the patterns of this world, and follow God with abandon. We camped out the first night and were required to dress as we would in Kenya. Nate and Kristin role played three different kinds of missions workers and that’s when I realized I was going to be really pushed on the trip. They demonstrated that going to simply put some time into building a classroom or leaving some clothes and soccer balls wasn’t going to change anything. In fact, when the “second missionaries” came and asked for goods in return for their help (so that they weren’t just giving a handout), as an intern community decision, we gave them the soccer balls and chairs that the “first missionaries” had left as a gift. We learned from the “third missionaries” about being culturally respectable, asking the community what they need instead of assuming the needs, and working along side one another building true relationships. I admit that I am 100% guilty of assuming that I know what others need. This was like a jolt realization and a huge blessing later. We spent a week in a village and I talked to the community and they told us their needs; I even observed them myself! When I had a final chance to shop before meeting my Compassion children, (which was an awesome experience to say the least!) I could shop for things that would really help them. Yes, I did have soccer balls for them, BUT, I realized that I had been cold at night and I had a sleeping bag and sweats. As I would be walking through the village, I would be carrying children and some of them would have bookbags, but none of those were in good shape. I realized that my kids needed blankets and bags, not toy cars or play dough. When I met with the Compassion children’s chaperones, they told me the needs and it felt beyond incredible that much of the necessities they were missing I could tell them was taken care of from my shopping trip and it was all because of the first two days of my internship! Throughout the rest of the week at Camp Highland we were pushed to the edge in physical obstacles where we did high ropes courses and team challenges on low ropes, mentally with speakers each morning and night, and spiritually as Kristin continually asked us, “Where’s the truth in that?” I’d say that this was the hardest thing for me personally as I have learned to rest in my Preacher’s kid knowledge and not really dive into the Word as much as I know I should. This was emphasized throughout the whole trip to me. In fact, my very first day in Kenya was a Sunday and the preacher referenced 1 Peter 3:15. “And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” I know that I can explain my hope in Jesus from my personal experiences, but what if someone was to debate me on creation, time, homosexuality, spending money, or spiritual warfare? I can give them my opinion, but is that opinion grounded in the truth? It is now, I can tell you that much. Another key quote I learned helped change the fact that I tend to be a people pleaser: Being a Christian means you’re willing to be misunderstood because you understand what’s at stake, salvation. This quick catch phrase rocked my world and I can honestly say it was like someone flipped a switch in my brain. Why should I care what anyone thinks of me when I know what I am doing is God’s work? On that last day that we made the epitaphs, one girl in my group used Mark 13:13 to support our phrase. “And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” We will be misunderstood. We will be hated. We will have people tell us that we can’t do things that we know God has called us to do. It doesn’t change the fact that we are called to do it and we should do it with pure joy!! Transformed by Truth; therefore Joyfully Misunderstood. That is what I got out of my trip to Africa. Yes, there are plenty of stories and pictures of me playing with kids, plucking turkeys, digging a classroom, meeting my compassion children, and our safari and I would love to show those to you and tell you about the actual tangible experience, but if I only get this chance to share anything with you, that epitaph, that “summary statement of commemoration” for my internship is it! Finally I just want to say thank you so much for all your support and prayers! This was the most amazing life changing trip and it was more than I could ever have dreamed it would be! I could not have gone without God working through many of you! Thanks!