I need Africa.

Exactly one year ago I was standing on Ethiopian soil.  I was surrounded by people whose language I could not understand and whose lives were dramatically different than my own.  I was sharing my life with a team of people and there was rarely a moment alone.  I was being confronted every single day with my own pride, selfishness and greed.  And it was the best experience of my life.

I found myself profoundly touched by the people of Ethiopia.  I began to understand God’s vastness and greatness and that He cannot be contained within borders of countries, He transcends our cultural differences and He is the common bond that we all have.

I saw people worshiping Him with their whole hearts when their circumstances seemed impossible.  We met a little girl who was able to worship Him after her father had been killed and as her mother continued to deteriorate from AIDS.  I watched women who were former prostitutes worship the God who redeems them every single day.  I saw them lift their hands and praise the One who created them, the One who is with them when no one else seems to be, the One who cares infinitely more for them that any one of us possible could.  I saw them affirm the goodness of our God in their poverty.  I saw joy in them.  I saw peace in them.

I saw Him in them.

God showed me a lot of things within myself during my time in Africa.  Things that I need to repent of and trust the Holy Spirit to work out in me.  God showed me a lot of things about Himself during my time in Africa.  Things that result in a greater love for Him and a deeper understanding of who He is.

We all have our “Africa”.  God uses experiences and moments to challenge us, to grow us, to strengthen our faith, to humble us.  Some of them are “Africa” moments.  They’re huge, life-changing and often overwhelming moments.  But not every moment is Africa.  Not every lesson is wrapped up in an earth-shattering experience.

I’m not in Africa this year.  I’m on American soil where life can be comfortable and “easy”.  But I need Africa.

Why do I need Africa?  Because I need to be reminded that my God is still God in the dark moments.  I need to be reminded that God is IN those dark moments, that He does not abandon us.  I need to be reminded that there are broken hearts and lives all over the world that He desires to heal and redeem.  I need to be reminded of how broken I am, how selfish and unthankful I can be, and how desperately I need Jesus.  I need to be reminded to be generous and to love and care for the widow and the orphan.  I need to be reminded that if I love Him, I will love others.  To love Him is to love others.

I need to remember the big lessons, the “Africa” lessons, and live them out in the everyday moments.

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