It’s almost 1 am and I can’t sleep.
I’m excited – because tomorrow I’m heading back to Africa.
I can’t wait to see faces of friends I haven’t seen in far too long. Friends whose lives have become linked together because of a heart for God and for children. Friends from a country, though seemingly insignificant, is beautiful – showing that to God, there is no insignificance. Friends from around the country who pick up after years with no real contact – united by the love we have for each other and the people of Swaziland. I love getting to share the country I love with people I love and to introduce my American friends to my African friends.
But that’s not why I’m excited and can’t sleep.
I’m excited because God has never failed to teach me more about himself and myself in Africa.
My friend Mathokza once told me, “God doesn’t call you to Africa to change Africa, He calls you to Africa to change you in Africa.” And it’s true.
I’ve learned so much about God’s heart for all of his children and our responsibility. That we have brothers and sisters all over the world that we are to treat as just that – our brothers and sisters. And I’ve learned more about just how to follow Christ from my time in Swaziland.
In Africa, I learned how to be a dad. I learned from an amazing family from San Diego (and other awesome families on the trip) what it means to disciple your children. Not just to teach them what Jesus said, but to show them. And even more, to bring them alongside as you follow Jesus. I saw the type of young men and women this produces. I will always love that family for that.
In Africa, I’ve learned that it’s not us and them. That there is no “them.” It’s all “us.” We are all loved by God and all fall short. We struggle with our problems of pride and hypocrisy in uniquely American and African ways – but it’s the same struggle. We love to ask how a church is surrounded by so much hurt and need, yet does nothing while that church could ask the same of us. So we love and support each other. I learned humility and a pastor friend of mine prayed for us for God to encourage us. “We” aren’t the saviors – “they” aren’t the ones needing saving. There’s only one savior, and we stand as brothers in need of Him.
In Africa, I learned to pray – with urgency and expectancy. And I’ve seen God respond. I’ve seen him move governments to allow children to gather, I’ve seen him stretch food to feed more than we thought possible. I’ve learned dependence on him because there was no other thing to depend on – and I’ve seen him be faithful. Without this lesson, I would not be on the church planting adventure we starting today.
So I can’t wait. To see friends. To see flourishing gardens where two years ago we first dug some small trenches (and subsequently had to re-dig them, because we had done it incorrectly). To see new people fall in love with Swaziland. To see the blessing the Project Canaan has become.
But most of all, to see what God has in store.