“6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
The country of Rwanda. A place that may be unfamiliar to you but buckle up your seat belts because my hope this week is to take you on a journey with me through the beautiful hills of Rwanda. I’ve been so excited to share the life changing experiences I’ve had the privilege of being apart of the last couple of years. I pray this week can be a huge blessing to you and moves your heart closer to the Lord and others. I honestly don’t know where to start so I guess we’ll start at the beginning because I’m sure you may be wondering how does this guy from little ole South Carolina know anything about a country in Africa??? Well, it’s kind of a crazy story so buckle up, next stop….RWANDA!!!!
I was 22 years old and felt like I had no reason to be serving overseas in the mission field of Rwanda. It was a crucial time in my life, where I had spent most of my recent years before 22 thinking that hanging out in bars and at parties, and being real close to my liquid buddy, I thought that was as good as life could get. Then Jesus happened and I found out quickly that I had it all wrong. After many different God moments where I could see Jesus bigger and brighter than ever before, I didn’t know what to do but coming from someone who had a lot of “fun” and always found myself empty and broken afterwards. I soon realized with Jesus, and His loving presence in my life, that emptiness was filled! For the first time I felt like I was seeing life clearly. It wasn’t but a few months after those big Jesus moments that I began wrestling with the “call” to ministry or whatever you want to call it. All I knew was that God wanted me to work for Him but I had no idea what that looked like.
I was currently attending college to become an Elementary school teacher because one thing I learned through the years was that I love hanging with kids, probably because I’m a big kid myself. I had grown up in church and around a lot of Christian influences but I was totally clueless on what to do with this new found love in my life. I just wanted to share this with you before I step foot in Rwanda because I don’t want you in anyway to think of me when you read these messages. I had a past, I did some pretty not good things, I had plenty questions and doubt but all I knew for sure was that I had Jesus and with Him, and thankfully He’s all I needed. My life began to look totally different with Jesus by my side, it’s hard to explain but weird and awesome stuff always seems to happen when He’s involved. I had no part in the change or anything that happened til this day, it’s all Jesus. I wouldn’t be writing these messages to you today or any other day without Him so when you read this week, my hope is you don’t see anything about me or what I did but you only see Jesus and what He’s capable of doing in anyone’s life. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done or anything, Jesus and His powerful love can make Gold out of any piece of dirt.
So I was clueless, I was fired up about Jesus but so clueless. Then God decided to open a door. I was visiting my cousins church for her daughters baby dedication and after the service, they casually asked if I would want to go with them to Rwanda. I was jaw dropped and thought, “WHAT?? Who could say no?” My cousin Paige and her husband RC had been on mission trips there a few times and they were setting up a team to go back. This was 2017 and all that stuff I mentioned above about where my heart was, them asking was thrown right into the mix. Crazy how God worked that together. I had barely been out of my home state of South Carolina much less out of the country. Now I’m going to fly across the world, to serve people I don’t know, in a culture I have never been apart of? Even after years growing up in church, I had so many questions of doubt. “What good could I possibly do there? I don’t have any skills or gifts? I don’t know that much about my faith even, except for Jesus and the couple of months I had spent with Him. And why would God want to use me? A nasty, no good, sinner who in no way deserves to be around a mission trip, especially after my all the wrong I had done?”
I had so many questions and not a lot of answers. I’m not going to lie to you, I was terrified. I wrestled with a lot of fear about flying across the world. Like I said, before I step foot in Rwanda sharing with you all the awesome stories of what God has done there, I want you to know where my heart was. Of course sharing all the super fun and cool stories from my time in Rwanda would be great and all. But, I feel like giving you all the good isn’t good enough. Before you hear about all that’s happened on these trips, I want you to know that my heart was in a tough place and coming out of an even worse place. My hope with this is to just display to you even more how this whole week, both trips spent there, God was the One in control, He was the one who made it happen. I was messed up and still am messed up but the only good thing about me then and now is Jesus!!! And what’s so exciting is Jesus can do anything with anybody!!!!
I’ll be honest too, after all the doubt and fear I wrestled with, I almost didn’t go to Rwanda. I made so many excuses but God continued to work things in ways only He can which practically pushed me on the plane. I got there, the fear and doubt didn’t stop, it just became worse. I wanted to offer everything I had to these people especially after seeing the need they had. I just didn’t know where to start, what to do or say, I was clueless. These questions I had, these questions are questions I still face daily. They are questions we all face at some point or another. I have to tell you though, the only answer I’ve found in these questions is simple, JESUS!!!!
We can question our abilities all day long and rightfully so because there’s a reason that Jesus went through all He did to save us. Simply because of our need as humans for a Savior! Jesus saved my life from an old life I spent years chasing harder and harder. An old life that I still wrestle with daily to leave where it belongs, in the past. When we hit the ground of Rwanda, I learned quickly that it’s not about me or what I have to give. It’s all about Jesus and with Him being all you have to give, well that’s all you need and that’s all anyone else could ever need! I may not have been studied on the Bible, I definitely couldn’t give the most elegant prayer, but I had Jesus and I continued to learn day by day there that Jesus is enough. I was scared to think, “what do I have to give God, how can you use me out of all people?” What’s so cool is through our fear and doubtful questions, God has already went before us and fought the battles we are terrified to encounter. God had already made amazing things happen before I ever got on the plane, He just needed me to keep walking in His will, just show up and watch Him show out. So many lessons were learned so quickly there and the time since my two trips to Rwanda. One thing continues to stand out and that’s who God is!!! I could tell you all about me, my fears and doubts and how they change daily but one thing never changes and that’s God’s love and faithfulness in our lives!
God and who He is changes everything for us! He shows us that it’s not about me and you, it’s all about Him! I got to Rwanda, and remember that heart for children I mentioned earlier. Guess who I spent most of my time with??? CHILDREN!!! It was a place I didn’t even know I was truly comfortable in until I got there and got around these kids, dancing, singing, playing ball and just acting like a big dummy. All things I was pretty good at. Like seriously God?!?! It blows my mind how He works things together like that! I had never prayed in front of a group of people before, I was terrified of it because I didn’t feel like I knew enough or had experience with it. The first time I was called on to pray, which they actually called someone else, I was so nervous about them calling me I just started praying! Words flowed out of me, at the time I didn’t know what to make of it but once again, thank you God!!! So many little, simple moments where I had so many fears and doubt, God worked and He made a whole lot of something out of my nothing. I guess the main thing I want you to know is that you probably won’t know what serving God will look like for you. It’s different for everybody. I thought for awhile I could only serve God on big mission trips like this or in some type of speaking/teaching setting in the church. The truth is that God will place you somewhere you are completely out of your comfort zone, in a place where you have no choice but to lean on Him in every way. And through the pain, struggle and questions, you learn who God is! You learn how despite your past or who you are, God can use you and so amazing things with you right where you’re at in the simplest of ways. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the mission field of Rwanda or at your regular daily job, at the grocery store shopping for groceries, wherever you are it doesn’t matter. God’s range is unlimited and it doesn’t have to be some type of church setting to serve Him and serve others. What God can do and who He is never changes so even if your circumstance or situation doesn’t seem like the type of place for mission work, God is still the same today, yesterday and tomorrow! He can and will use you if you lay down your questions just long enough to be available to Him!!! It’s amazing to watch God work and on these trips it was the first time I had ever seen God at this magnitude.
I really can’t wait to share more about Rwanda and my time there but I’m excited to tell you now that these type of God stories aren’t just meant for the foreign mission field, they are meant for you, right where you’re at, sitting there as a child of God!!! So now you know where my heart was. It wasn’t exactly a huge spiritual revelation where God picked me up and placed me in Rwanda. There was a battle but God has already won and always wins any battles or questions we may have! These messages are a testament to who God is and what He is capable of!!! That’s it!!! I am beyond thankful for these moments in Rwanda but I’m even more thankful to get this opportunity to tell you all God has done and continues to do there and everywhere! My prayer is that we all make ourselves more available to God’s work in our lives, that we look to who He is instead of what we got, because not only will your life be changed but every life you touch will be changed too when God’s hand is in it! Let’s take the limits off and stop trying to figure out what serving God should look like or what we think it should look like. Just live available and trust in who God is, He’ll show you what it looks like! He has no limits, He can do anything with anyone!!! Just watch