The Devil Is Afraid

Before I told anyone the I was going to Africa I knew I was in for a fight. I was terrified to tell the people that I love most in this world-the people that have known me my whole life. I am beyond thankful for the extraordinary friends and mentors that the Lord has put in my life to give me support in this journey. But I have grieved over the reaction my family had to this profound chapter in my life.

Without a doubt I know that my family loves me. They want me to always be safe and they want what’s best for me. But I also know that they have a hard time seeing outside of what they know. Everyone does.

I anticipated a fight, however, I did not see this battle coming.

On August 1st, I found out I was accepted for this internship with Show Mercy. I was working at Day Camp and waited about two seconds before telling my co-workers and day camp kids this news. I was so excited, I couldn’t contain myself. But even in my excitement, I waited two weeks before telling my mom. I was terrified for how she would respond as I spoke the words. When I finally told her there was crying and yelling and we didn’t speak for about a week after, which is uncommon for us. She was scared for me, and still is. When my dad and grandparents found out, things only got worse.

After seeing all their reactions, I got angry. I got angry that they didn’t understand that this was a true desire of my heart. I was furious that they thought I would go to live in a developing country just to spite them. I didn’t like that they thought I was turning my back on my future teaching career. I found myself wishing they would just be proud of me.

In my short time on earth I have learned how crafty the devil is. I’ve seen it in my own life. He makes soul-sucking things look shiny and good when they’ll actually take you farther from God. I’ve fallen for tricks only to realize in hind sight what was really happening. Satan weaves webs of lies. When describing the devil, Jesus says, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) Unfortunately, the devil works in the lives of the people around us to confuse us and set us off track.

Satan is doing everything he can to increase fear in the people that care about me, in order that they see those things more clearly than anything else. The devil is trying so hard to stand in my way. He knows my biggest downfalls, my fear of disappointing my family, and he’s using that to try to keep me from going in the name of love. He is sneaky and crafty and everyday is a war against his temptation to lead us away from our creator.

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s sunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:3

This battle started to weigh on me, but after a while it also started to make sense. I have now begun to learn the truth of just how afraid the devil is of our God.

The devil doesn’t want me to go to Africa. The constant fights and roadblocks have made that very clear. The devil is afraid of what I’ll do for GOD while I’m in Uganda. He trembles at the thought of me loving in the name of Jesus, being a light and hope in people’s darkness.

In James 2:19, he writes of the importance of deeds out of our faith in the Lord, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudders.” Even the devil trembles at the name of the Lord.

I know the Christians in my life believe missions are a great thing, but the devil is setting fears in our minds that make us forget the call we have received from Jesus to love others and the promises that God has made to us that he will never leave us.

With Jesus, the devil has no authority in my life. In the book of Luke, Jesus sends out 72 of his followers. He tells them to go into the cities, living off of the support of the people there, staying in their homes, healing their people. He directed them to say “Woe to you!” to the people that did not welcome them. Luke 10 reads “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’ “(verses 17-20)

Today things are improving with my mother’s emotional support of my decision to go to Uganda, and I am ecstatic! I couldn’t be happier that we’re finally talking about it and she is helping me prepare. But while still here in America, the biggest sadness I see, is the hearts of many people I love that are not in a place where they can understand why it is imperative that I go. There are tiny details that cause people to feel concerned and unsupportive, but these things are so small compared to the glory that God will reveal in me while in Uganda. The devil is afraid of the glory of God and he will not win, these desperate African people will be loved in His name.

My heart wrenching battle weighs on me everyday; people are so negative to me and they tell me all the ways I will fail. The devil is real, and I see him trying to squish his way into my life. When I get into arguments with members of my family, when people tell me they are unsupportive all I can do is look to my heavenly Father to be my source of strength:

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered in a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

1 Peter 5:8-10, ESV

“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Revelation 2:10, NIV

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Vaccinated and Thankful

Two days ago I visited Botsford International Travel Clinic and received all the necessary vaccinations and prescriptions for my travel to and stay in Uganda. While I was there I had such a good time talking to the doctor and nurse (who are eager to see pictures upon my return.) I left with bandaids covering shots for Meningitis and Typhoid in one arm, Yellow Fever and the first round of Hepatitis A in the other, and prescriptions for Malaria and travelers diarrhea medication.

It’s incredibly astounding to me that I live in a country where I can make an appointment, walk in to a medical center and receive all these vaccinations and drugs to protect myself from the diseases of this world. And beyond that-walk out only paying a small co-pay. The medical attention I receive in this country is something I have always taken for granted, and that will continue to become more clear to me as I go to live in a land where the native people struggle to find clean water, let alone precautionary medicine.

For many reasons, I have had people choose to not support me in my decision to spend three months in Africa this winter and most of those reasons have been related to their concern for my health and well being while overseas. I would like to address concerns that have been brought to my attention by several of you, namely- Ebola.

Ebola is a very deadly disease that was first discovered in 1976. This disease is very infectious but not extremely contagious.1 Ebola is not an airborne illness, such as the flu, but is transmitted by direct contact with fluids from an infected person. In 2014, cases of Ebola have been found in Guinea, Liberia, Mali (1 case, originating from Guinea), Nigeria, Senegal (originating from Guinea as well), Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States.

Nigeria is only a few countries away from Uganda, but according to the World Health Organization, after the 20 cases there were contained, as of October 20th, Nigeria is free from Ebola transmission2. In August, the Democratic Republic of Congo reported to the World Health Organization a small outbreak of Ebola, resulting in less than 50 deaths. This outbreak is unrelated to the outbreak in West Africa and is located in a part of the country farthest from Uganda’s borders, and according to NBC News, the Congo has announced the end of their outbreak after only 3 months.3

According to the Center for Disease Control, there have been 0 reported cases of Ebola in Uganda in 2014. The biggest reason for this is that Uganda is located approximately 4,000 miles from the region where the main Ebola outbreak is located right now. This is approximately the same distance from Juneau, Alaska to Orlando, Florida. I think it is also important to mention that people do not move around in Africa quite like they do in America. A great amount of traveling occurs on foot or by motorcycle (called bodas) and Uganda is separated from West Africa by several mountain ranges, the Congo Basin and countless rivers. Traveling by plane, thousands of miles for vacations or trips is not a common occurrence for people in these countries that cannot even afford food.

I recently spoke with a family friend that spent 10 weeks in Uganda over the summer, right when this Ebola epidemic became the biggest subject line of every news story. She told me, when she was there, Ebola was something that was talked about but not worried over. As far as other dangers and safety precautions go, her biggest piece of advice to me was to just be smart. Just like I wouldn’t walk down any city street here, by myself at night, I shouldn’t do it there either. Just like I wouldn’t get into a cab with a drunk driver here, I wouldn’t get on a boda in Uganda being operated by someone under the influence. She encouraged me to wear helmet on a boda, just like I would on a motorcycle in the states. These are all decisions I feel comfortable making while in Uganda.

I greatly appreciate the care and concern everyone has for my safety and health but I would like to state that any time we follow the Lord, we accept the inherent risks of the particular assignment He has given us, keeping in mind that He is fully capable of protecting us and providing for us in any circumstance. This experience will require that I rely upon the Lord more than I ever have in my life and I am so looking forward to growing closer to Him because of that.

Even if you do not wish to donate to me financially, please be praying for me. This is not something I can do without the encouragement and support of the people around me. Where I am going is perhaps not as safe as the suburban streets where I grew up, and definitely not what we, as Americans, would consider comfortable, but Uganda is where the Lord is calling me to go. There was once a famous missionary from England named William Carey, who spent more than half his life in India. In 1792 he wrote to his supporters saying, “I will descend into the pit, if you will hold tightly to the ropes.” So please, be praying for my health, safety, and ministry.

So, in this holiday season I am indeed highly vaccinated-one step closer to making this dream a reality. But I am also highly thankful. I have spent the whole month of school teaching my students about gratitude (my school’s moral focus of the month), and on this Thanksgiving I have gratitude that I live in a country where I can receive remarkable healthcare so easily, which allows me to go into the world to do the Lord’s work. I am thankful that there is a God who loves me enough to send His son to die for me and he now watches over me and protects my every step.

The Lord watches over you- the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm-he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121:5-8

1 “Ebola Fast Facts.” CNN. Cable News Network, 25 Nov. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.           <http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/11/health/ebola-fast-facts/&gt;.

2 “Nigeria Is Now Free of Ebola Virus Transmission.” WHO. World Health Organization, 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
<http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/ebola/20-october-2014/en/&gt;.

3 Fox, Maggie. “A Tale of Two Outbreaks: Why Congo Conquered Ebola.” NBC News. N.p., 24 Nov. 2014. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.
<http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ebola-virus-outbreak/tale-two-outbreaks-why-congo-conquered-ebola-n253911&gt;.

Obedient Heart

I’ve done things in my life that I knew were wrong. I’ve done things that seemed like they could be right, then turned out to be very wrong. I’ve disappointed myself and those around me. I’ve hurt others. I’ve messed up and done my best to grow after the pain subsides. But now I’m doing what I know is right; I’m being obedient. Let me tell you something, it is so hard to do what you know is right when you’re being told you’re wrong…

So, I’m going to Uganda. I’m going for three months and I’m going to love children and other people that need love. I have dreamed of doing something like this my whole life. I see it as the perfect time, right after my college graduation. I’ve got some space, I want to it use to give myself. I’m beyond excited to go but there are many people that are less than thrilled. When I told my family, I received a response worse than one I could have anticipated. There was hurt on both sides. I was left feeling lost, alone, and confused. So let me ask you: What do you do when you are doing what you think is right but others don’t agree? What do you do when your biggest supporters are against you?

Romans 8:31 says “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

No part of me wishes to upset my family or hurt them or disappoint them. But, I cannot let their fears hold me back from this journey that is so extremely important. No human was put on this earth to bring honor and power to themselves but instead to bring glory to God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I wish my family could see that I am not content staying in one place, worrying about nothing more than my future career and finances. I worry about those who go days without food, those who are taken from their homes around the world to be slaves for others, children who do not attend school because their job is to walk miles each day to retrieve water dirtier than the water in our toilets. I want to serve those who have nothing. I do not believe I am putting myself in great danger for this cause by going to Uganda, however, if I was, I wish they could all see my heart. I wish they could hear Jesus whispering into my heart how right this is. I wish they could feel how strongly I know this is what I am supposed to be doing.

“Loving your obedient heart” – a short message I received recently from a dear friend. It made me stop and think, and clearly, write my first blog post.

Since I announced I was leaving for this trip I’ve had people tell me how “brave” I am. But it’s not that at all, I am being obedient. I have obedience that comes from a lifelong love for and trust in the maker of heaven and earth. In the book of Matthew, Jesus charges his disciples with what we call today The Great Commission:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 18-20

Jesus tells us to go. Go into all nations. He does not say go to just the countries you think are safest, or the ones with electricity, good health care, or Starbucks. He does not say go where the people are just like you. He does not tell us to stay where we feel comfortable, but to go. Go into all the nations. And He assures us, where we go, He goes. I’d like to think I’m being obedient rather than stubborn, defiant, naive or disrespectful and I pray that one day my family will understand why working for God’s kingdom is the most worthy thing a Christian can do, whether it’s in America, Afghanistan or Uganda.