I have come to realize that traveling to a distant land sounds much more romantic than it actually is. The process of traveling from one continent to another is cumbersome. It involves sleep deprivation, uncomfortable positions, and a great deal of patience. Generally, airports look the same no matter where you fly. What makes the journey, for me at least, worthwhile is not the land that you step on; it’s the people you meet. I am not trying to critique the airline industry or marginalize tourism. Rather, I’d like to touch upon the true beauty of mission, which is to build bridges of understanding so that we may love largely.
I have heard more than once that there is no evidence for God. I find this interesting because the very act of telling a Christian that there is no evidence for God and engaging in a spiritual discussion is ironic. God reveals himself through people because we are built to be in relationship with others. Empirical evidence exists, but to me the inherent urge we have to be in community is much stronger and compelling. I believe that life is about relationships, we can talk about evolution, or the flood but I find the latter overwhelmingly more interesting. One of my absolute favorite verses is 1 John 4:8 “For those that do not love do not know God, for God is love.” This past fall semester, I understood this verse in a more complete way when I was studying the trinity. God is three in one; the Father the Spirit, and the Son. The Spirit dwells within us the Son beside us, and the Father above us. These three bodies are in perfect relationship with one another, demonstrating pure, true, and unconditional love. This is how God IS love and does not just know how to love. The trinity is also explains why Jesus dying on the cross was so important. God was sacrificing His one an only Son, yes, but He was also sacrificing Himself. As Romans 5:8 says, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” No other religious text tells this message of love through sacrifice. The gospel is completely unique. It addresses the human condition of sin, and confronts it with perfect love.
In the context of mission, on a fundamental level, I have traveled here to love because He loved me first. I haven’t come to feel like I’ve made a difference so that I can inflate my ego, but rather to simply love the Mamelodi community though service and genuine relationship. If I can authentically connect with just one student, this mission is a success. God has placed this country and this mission on my heart. The prospect of teaching a whole class for the first time in a country that is so different from the United States is daunting. I desperately want to do a good job. In the midst of this anxiety, I hold fast to the truth that I am loved no matter what I do and that “I am able to do all things through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). ” Overshadowing my worry is the eagerness in my heart to see how God will use this time. In a whirlwind of events, I have arrived.