Hey guys it’s FINALLY here!!!! RWANDA WEEK is officially under way!!! I’m jacked up to share tons of stories, experiences and lessons learned from my time in Rwanda but figured it would be best to start you off with a little background on myself and why these trips really changed my life and my heart in so many ways. I had shared this post awhile back telling you some of the background but wanted to dig a little deeper with you on it so when you read these you don’t think more of me but only the One who made it all happen!!!! Jesus!!!!
I’ll be honest, I never in a million years thought that I would be going across the world for anything, especially not for Jesus! It blows my mind to think back and see what happens and the extent people end up going when Jesus comes into their lives. I could tell you I had it all planned out and always wanted to be a missionary but I’d be lying to you. It’s just Jesus and transforming love! When Jesus is in it, people do some weird stuff, people do things they never thought possible, people do things that change their life forever and others lives along with them! I could write to you all day about Rwanda, tell you all the stories and experiences I had there but I’d be so wrong to leave out the only reason I was there, and that’s Jesus!!!!
I was in a crucial place in my life when my cousin Paige, and her husband RC asked me to go on this trip. I was coming off a few months of seeing Jesus for the first real time in my life and I was completely taken back and honestly confused on what to do about this fire He had set in my soul. I was coming out of a life where I thought hanging out at bars and parties on the weekends was as good as life gets. I thought I was living and my liquid buddy was helping me “live” even more but then I would always end up in a similar place, empty, broken, and lost. Then through a series of wild events Jesus opened my eyes to see Him in the fullness of who He is!!! Things began to change rapidly for me and it was weird. I no longer wanted to go anywhere near my old favorite weekend spots, I started reading my Bible more, like seriously, from where I was in life this was super weird but once again, it’s Jesus!!!!
I had grown up in church all my life, I thought I had a pretty good idea what a “Christian” looked like but Jesus was showing me life like I had never seen it before. Let’s just say I was clueless to what that looked like and what I was doing in this newfound relationship. Which, honestly I’m still pretty clueless but learning and experiencing Christ in new ways everyday, the process of growing in Christ makes this process of life, living for Christ a little easier to live.
So I’m 22, no clue what I’m doing, going through a crazy time where God was opening up my eyes to Him and the purpose He had for me. Beyond the call to ministry, He showed me my purpose in Him is the same of all of our purpose as Christ followers, serving Him by serving others. I had no clue what that looked like and just when I began becoming hungrier and hungrier to experience more of Him and to serve others, He opened up a door in my life. My cousin Paige and her husband Cory, had been going on mission trips to Rwanda in recent years and this year they were going back to serve the people and kids there again. I went to church with them one Sunday to see their little Baker Bea get dedicated. After church they asked me if I wanted to go to Rwanda with them. I literally just heard the message Pastor Joel brought that Sunday, hearing apart of his testimony that hit home with me, and cried the majority of the service. By the way, I used to never cry because that wasn’t “manly” but since Christ came into my life, I am definitely a lot more emotional. I mean how can you not cry when you sit there so undeserving, a past filled with so much bad and then Christ is there loving you, giving you true LIFE for the first time, the Son of God, so holy, perfect and awesome loving me out of all people?!?! I’m not trying to make a case for my crying but yeah, it’s a pretty awesome case anyways!
They asked me to go to Rwanda with them, and coming off the past few months and that service being hit so deeply by the love of Christ. I wanted to hug and kiss them for giving me this opportunity!! I was so hype!!! So my answer to them is obviously yes right? Not so fast! The couple of months following this awesome door being opened, I began to listen to the wrong voices. I heard Satan’s lies, and it made me question everything. “Am I really prepared to fly across the world to serve in the mission field in Rwanda? How do I even serve? What do I have that I can serve those people with? What can I do that can bring any kind of blessing or impact to the people there?” I was scared. Plain out terrified. I mean I have barely been out the state of South Carolina so going to Africa, AFRICA!!! That’s way out of my league right?
I began to worry and doubt and play with the thoughts of not going because I was scared. When people asked if I was going I was more wishy washy than a washing machine that washes shooting stars. I don’t think that’s really a thing but you get my point. I even began making the excuse that since the trip was in the middle of the school year, I would miss classes and I can’t be missing classes. In all my years of being in school, I have NEVER, came close to saying anything like that.
I had a good bit longer to decide but just listen to how crazy God works. I was sitting at my house, my phone rang. I looked to see who it was, saw the area code being from where my cousin was from so I immediately started freaking out. At the time I didn’t have her number because I had a new phone so I started thinking, “oh my gosh! She’s calling me to see if I’m going, I don’t know what to tell her because I still don’t know if I’m going!” I was losing my mind so on the way to work that day I remembered hearing people say, “pray about it.” Like I mentioned, at this point in my walk with the Lord I was clueless so I figured, “well, yeah, I’ll pray about it because if my cousin is calling then I need a decision ASAP!” I literally just said, “okay Lord I don’t know what you want me to do, do you want me to go to Rwanda on this trip or do you want me to stay back so I don’t miss school (yeah right)? I just need an answer Lord PLEASE!!!”
So then I proceed to hit shuffle on my Christian playlist that I had on my phone thinking maybe He’ll answer with a song. And guess what?!? This song is the song that came on! i heard the lyrics;
“God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Halleluiahs be multiplied”
Yep! I was going to Africa!!! How much clearer could He make it than this! Multiplied!!! He wanted me to go multiply the awesome Halleluiahs He’d brought to my life across the world!!! It’s so crazy how wild but simple God is in His responses to us! I don’t know if I would recommend trying this route but if it feels right, then see how He wants you to share His light!
My fear was gone, I didn’t know how or why but witnessing God work in this way, I just heard, “multiply”, His mission was set for me and I still didn’t have a clue how to serve in the mission field or what I was getting myself into but it was happening because God said so! I hurried, grabbed my phone to call back my cousin so I could tell her the exciting news. I called the number that had called me earlier, to hear the voice of a robot pick up, it was a telemarketer that called me?!?! What?!?!
Just a weird and wild story of how God pushes us out of our comfort zone, through all the fear and lies, into a place of total dependence on Him. And what’s so cool about depending on Him and asking Him what we should do, He ALWAYS answers! In that moment I still didn’t even know if liked the answer but soon after that, when I went on the trip spent two weeks serving in Rwanda. I realized I don’t have to know what’s ahead, I just need to trust that whatever it is, God has set it up for my good and the good of His Kingdom! That’s all that matters! I didn’t know how to serve or what I had to offer and learned throughout that trip that once again, it’s not about what I got but what God can do and will do. I learned that God has made me, designed me, and specifically prepared me through experiences to serve wherever He calls me. In this case, it was being the crazy white boy who loved to dance. That’s something I’m good at and in those moments of serving over there God used that to multiply His Halleluiahs!!!
It stills blows my mind to this day how God works and God intervenes in our life and time of need, how He teaches us to let go and just go! He shows us through the moments of walking out of our comfort zone into the unknown that He is God, He has us, and He is soooo GOOD!!! Those two weeks changed my life completely in so many ways, the next year going on another trip there and getting the chance to ask Sarah to be my wife surrounded by the cheering voices of my Rwandan family, and to think if left up to me and my fear, I wouldn’t have gone! If left up to me I wouldn’t have experienced any of that!
I hear this song now and so many emotions rise up. Literally, driving down the road with my fiance, Sarah the other day this song comes on, all the memories of hanging out with those Rwand