Ten things I learned
The exciting yet challenging task of serving abroad while serving in Wild for the Nations has gifted me with an entire collection of lessons that I am really excited to share with you. Traveling to different nations, having been exposed to regions of the globe that I had no idea were in so much need of the gospel, and having documented the stories of dozens of servants of God in the nations, I gathered the 10 things that I learned in this journey. I pray they inspire you, challenge you and bless you.
- 1. I learned to depend on God. This one was a basic, but a HUGE one.
I realized that I knew a lot about God intellectually, but the game changed abruptly when I had to really depend on Him. Considering Him in things that I had never done before - because it never occurred to me. Examples you ask? Navigation in places that I had never been before without google maps and depending literally on His voice to get to the places we needed. Help with grocery shopping in nations where I didn't speak the language, or, my favorite, pray for pieces of equipment to be invisible in certain security checkpoints where they could have been confiscated and our projects completely derailed.
- 2. I learned to love God's dreams above my personal plans.
Seems easy - but it wasn't. I had this idea that if what I desired - wouldn't happen at the time I thought was the best, then all was lost. Learning to walk with God and in His timing has been beautiful but hard. Surrendering dreams and picking up what Hi loves, is the best thing that has ever happened to me, but also one of the hardest lessons to learn.
- 3. I learned to enjoy what God was doing in each place despite my fatigue or disability.
Again, to the untrained eye this may be obvious but keeping your eyes open for what God is doing in a place; and being ready to celebrate gets hard after 18 hours of traveling, and with an extreme case of jet lag. Yet, over and over I was aware that it was my honor to do so.
- 4. I learned to enjoy God's grace over my life and his hand over me.
I had to get rid of the mindset that the result of my work depended only on my effort. Giving space for God's grace to fill the gaps that I was unable to complete taught me a lot about his Grace over my performance.
- 5. I learned to value how much I have been blessed and to walk with open hands.
I don't think I realized how many things I took for granted. From commodities in my home to things that I felt entitled to certain clothes or the freedom to pursue Jesus. Being in contact with people who did not enjoy that and still lived a fully joyful life, wrecked me. I got to understand that I don't own anything. I am just a steward.
- 6. I learned to travel light.
This was so difficult. I know you may go for the metaphor but even the practical sense was so difficult. Carrying 60 pounds of equipment for every project required that I would carry the least of my belongings. Leaving behind what I thought I would need, was truly a sacrifice. In the beginning, I rather would have had the extra weight than leaving it behind. Really quickly after several airport stops, I realized I had to learn to travel light.
- 7. I learned to trust God even when everything seemed impossible and to let myself be surprised by Him.
Yes, I've known and served God since my childhood, and yet I still thought there were certain things too difficult for God to handle. I confess saying that out loud is embarrassing but I am committed to you to be honest. Seeing God do what I thought would never happen on my behalf and on behalf of His church in the nations, put me on my knees constantly.
- 8. I learned to recognize what move God's heart and how that made me change my prayers.
I had to wrestle here. Having grown up in church, I thought I knew what was important to God. But once I set my foot on the mission field, I realized what I knew was little and in some circumstances nothing. The Lord would constantly surprise me, crushing my preconceptions. I would hear my prayers change the more I would pay attention to God's heartbeat.
- 9. I learned the importance of planning.
The difference between expecting the worst and living in fear instead of planning with my heart filled with faith, was a complete college course about stewardship. Learning to honor God by maximizing every penny, thing, or opportunity that God placed in our hands; made me so aware, how much freedom there is when I let God show me how to do stuff.
- 10. I learned to move under God's leadership and about the importance of the support of those who love you.
For sure, all the above is important, but above all; I know how it makes a world of difference walking depending on God's voice in every step we take. Before serving in Wild for the Nations I may have thought about this statement as a mystical fact. But the more I dare to be a part of what He invites me to do in the nations, the more I realize how practical it is. For real! From hearing (and obeying) His prompting about sharing His word with a stranger in an airport to hear His voice directing us which way we should go to avoid an incident, that we had no idea was protecting our lives. And, get ready! - this is directly connected with having a strong group of people praying for you and supporting you. How? No idea but it was, and every day I am amazed about it!
I can't wait to see you and others be a part of what Wild for the Nations is doing in the nations! Not ready to travel? No worries there are a lot of things we do while on the ground and believe me they are as exciting and important as you can imagine. Praying God moves you to take steps of faith and join us!