Nikki Sears learned on a mission trip that loving is simple. Read her story:
I had the privilege of participating in a mission trip to South Africa with Women of Strength through Amor Ministries this summer. I had never been on a mission trip outside of the US, nor had I ever been to Africa. During the months leading up to the trip, I spent a lot of time in prayer. I prayed for many things.
I asked God to protect us on our journey – no crashes please! I prayed for good health – I seem to always get sick during some portion of a long trip. Please Lord, let there be something on my plate that I can eat – I'm not a super picky eater, but we are talking about Africa! If it's not too much trouble, could you please make sure my roommates are friendly?
The most important thing I prayed for was this: please, let me stay in the moment, help me to be completely present, make sure that I comprehend why you are sending me to this place. I was concerned that I would get consumed by the daily tasks of the trip or distracted by what was happening at home while I was away. I had no idea what God was going to reveal to me, but I certainly did not want to miss it!
During the trip, there were so many "moments" and because God answers prayer, I was completely present for them. One moment in particular occurred during an outreach day at a children's center called Ikageng. This beautiful organization provides support and services to children in Soweto who have been orphaned by AIDS or who are living with HIV. There, I met a precocious 10 year old girl named Zenihle.
Women of Strength offers a VBS-like day at Ikageng which includes crafts, lunch, games, songs, stories and a whole lot of Jesus. I met Zenihle as soon as I stepped off of the bus. She and her brothers were waiting in a large group as the ladies of Women of Strength were getting organized. I grabbed a handful of craft kits and a group of children, including Zenihle, and we sat down to make necklaces out of string and Froot Loops.
The children were filled with excitement and questions. "What is your name? Did you bring toys? What do I do with this string filled with Froot Loops?"
Before I knew it, we were deeply involved in a highly competitive game of Duck, Duck, Goose. Zenihle was by my side the whole time.
Lunchtime rolled around and Zenihle brought her brothers to sit and eat with me. We talked about their school, their favorite subjects, favorite foods (Pizza – believe it or not), and all the things kids like to talk about. They insisted that I learn some Zulu words while I was with them, and they tried their hardest to teach me. We laughed and joked and had a great time together.
After lunch, more crafts were made and the day ended with singing and stories about Jesus. Before Zenihle left for the day, she came running up to me and gave me a huge hug. She said, "You are hearting me." I misunderstood due to her accent and thought she said I was hurting her.
She laughed and said, "No, you are hearting me," and pointed to my chest. I thought for a minute and said, "Oh, hearting! You mean love?" She smiled so big and said, "Yes! You are loving me and I am loving you!"
If you have ever been gobsmacked, you know exactly how I felt at that "moment." I had no words. I hugged her back and said, "Yes! I am loving you!" We said goodbye and she was gone in a flash. I remember thinking, "Wow. Did that actually just happen?"
On the bus ride back to the farm where we were staying, I couldn't help replaying the day. It made me smile then, and I am still smiling about it today.
John 13:34-35 says, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Sharing God's love is not a hard thing to do. It's not complicated. It doesn't involve any special equipment or lengthy training. All you have to do is....be you. Spend time with people. Listen to people tell their stories. Tell your own life stories. Be kind. Smile. God will do the rest!
If you would like information about living a more mission-minded life, please join Triestch
Women in Christ on Tuesday, September 27 at 6:30 pm.
Gayla Congdon, founder of Amor Ministries and Women of Strength, will be speaking about her experiences building hope and spreading God's love in some of the most impoverished places in the world. Denise Robinson and I will share about our personal experiences in South Africa with Women of Strength as well.
There are many mission opportunities to share God's love on the TMUMC campus as well as all over the DFW area. Please look for sign up information at tmumc.org/missions.