God Broke My Heart

Yesterday I was asked to speak at a church event on the subject of what breaks my heart. This idea is a project the Ward young adult’s group is just starting at their monthly worship nights. And they wanted to bring me and my heart on.

So, what breaks my heart?

Well, a lot of things.

Cancer. Bullying. Suicide. Abuse. Materialism. Natural Disasters. Human Trafficking. Animal Extinction. Starvation. Death from Preventable Diseases. Orphans. Addiction.

We could all name a multitude of things that we hate to see in the world, things that greatly disturb us.

But right now my heart has a specific pull in it.

I’ve lived in a land much different than my own and exposed myself to a whole new kind of heartbreak. The kind of heartbreak that gets you up off your butt and forces you to DO something.

At this worship night, I spoke about my heart for Uganda. There are so many things about this country that make my heart soar. When I was there I would feel like I was flying, delighted in the ways God chose to use me for increasing His kingdom, but there are things about Uganda that bring me sadness too.

Uganda has a spirit of poverty over it. Anyone that comes from the west won’t be able to leave Kampala without experiencing it. People there live in houses the size of our bedrooms, with dirt, jigger infested floors. Many people can’t afford the cost of transportation to medical clinics; I’ve heard of women WALKING to the hospital while in labor. In Uganda, I’ve had many people in the village tell me money is their biggest concern, and that breaks my heart.

Because of the widespread poverty, education is a challenge. Parents struggle to afford school fees and many children do not attend. These children end up working or roaming around. People know education is the solution to their economic problems, but without hope of it, a vicious cycle of poverty through generations continues, and that breaks my heart.

As a culture based on intellectualism and reason, we have a hard time imagining the existence of actual witchcraft, but in Africa as a whole, witchcraft is very prevalent and very real. People live believing there are curses on them and their families, and there’s nothing they can do about it. It breaks my heart that these people don’t know the authority they have from Christ. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you have the power to heal and cast out demons just like Jesus did. In a place where even pastors haven’t received bible training, someone needs to tell these people about the power they can carry.

What breaks my heart is that people think they need money or school fees or a better job, they think they need the help of a witch doctor, but in reality, what they need is Jesus.

And this isn’t just a problem in Uganda. Worldwide people put their hope and faith into things that will never satisfy or solve their problems. They’re called idols. And they separate us from God.

I love what this young adults group is doing because not only are they recognizing what breaks their heart in the world (and by extension what breaks God’s heart) but they are empowering each other to DO something about it.
God broke my heart for Uganda, and I’m so glad that He did because in that act, He revealed my purpose.

So I ask you, has God broken your heart for a place, a people group, an organization?
What injustices weigh on your soul?

Keep that in mind. Don’t let it turn to anger or discouragement. Turn it into PASSION.

Now, what does God want you to DO about what breaks your heart?

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” -Anne Frank

In the Wake of Uganda.

The journey transitioning back home has been…interesting. It hasn’t been bad but coming back to America also hasn’t been my favorite thing ever. There’s the simple adjustments like remembering which side of the street to drive on and when I’m supposed to flush the toilet (all the time, apparently). But there’s also the difficult transitions like feeling terribly guilty when I have to drop hundreds of dollars on rent or fixing my computer, when I mistakenly thought the poverty I had seen in Uganda would instantly change the way I spent my money in America.

In the two weeks I have been back, God has already began teaching me so much. Throughout my life, I have learned first hand that I can have all the plans I want but God is ultimately in control. Nothing can stop His will for my life (Isaiah 14:27). I am currently in a season of waiting on the Lord. As I wait for God to reveal to me my steps in the upcoming months, I mostly sit at home, in my apartment, in Ann Arbor.

Before going to Uganda, I began the process of applying to be a substitute teacher. When I came home, all that was left to do was apply for my permit in order to begin work. Weeks after arriving in America, I am still waiting for the permit to arrive. We are into May with only several weeks left in the school year, with still no permit in sight. I have made phone calls and sent emails and made every effort to get this ball rolling but now there’s nothing to do but wait on this government system. At this point it’s looking like it might not happen.

I immediately start feeling financial pressure. I have a job at day camp beginning June 15, but without any income until then I wonder, how much will I have to dip into my savings for rent, food, gas? I know finding money will only be a concern for me for a little while longer, and it helps that the place I have just come from reminds me that I am blessed beyond measure. I have no reason to complain. But beyond money, without a place to go for work, I wondered what will I DO all day? Now, I sit at home, praying, reading, and Netflix-ing. It occurred to me how much I grew to love my simple lifestyle in the village, yet how much I am struggling with my current simple lifestyle in America. Is it because I’m usually alone during the day or is it because my current situation is not what’s “expected” of me? I had been counting on substitute teaching, in order to live off the money but also as a way of feeling fulfilled and successful.

God stopped me in my tracks and now He’s using this time to teach me about humility.

As a recent college graduate, I feel the pressure to be immediately working a respectable job, or at least pursuing a career in my chosen field. Yet God has put me in a place where teaching is not currently an option. Once again, I learn I am not in control, and after seeing how God wrote my story while I was in Africa, I honestly don’t want to be.

God is teaching me the importance of being humble as He opens up doors for me work odd jobs to get some money flowing, to sell things I don’t need in order to obtain some cash, and to take a really bizarre gig in order to pay for gas for a trip He wants me to go on. By now, I expected to be teaching in real classrooms yet I’m babysitting and emceeing a wedding for people I don’t know.

These are not at all the things I thought I would do as a college graduate, but these odd jobs remind me I am not a better person because of my college degree. I think before, while I was working on my degree, I had a tendency to feel entitled. Like I DESERVE a good job because of the effort I put into school. But I do not deserve anything. I was born a sinner, who is now saved by grace. Anything given to me in this life is a blessing because of God’s never-ending love.

“God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8

I am not too good to take a job that is “beneath me” because serving, in any capacity, is not beneath anyone. In America, unemployment is looked down upon, often judged as laziness. As usual, my biggest fears come from what others think of me, however, I am choosing to not fear people looking down upon me because I am not currently what culture considers “successful.” Now that I am home, I feel pressure to have a spectacular answer to that question everyone’s asking, “So, now what are you doing?” But I rest in the truth that God does nothing on accident and He has me right where He wants me.

I work to break myself of entitlement because nothing I have accomplished is because of me. I cannot boast in myself because every success in my life is because of the spirit of God I carry inside me. Every strength, every hope, every piece of wisdom, comes from the Holy Spirit. Everything good that is in me is God. I try my best to not glorify myself because on my own I am a bag of brokenness and flaws but Jesus in me is beauty and completeness. In my own strength, my accomplishments are in vain and as easily torn down as a house of cards, but work done through the Holy Spirit for the kingdom of God are sealed in Him, unable to be taken away, as they point to my true identity.

“….Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Colossians 1:27

I don’t ever want to be in the place where I’m boasting in myself, but boasting in Jesus-what He does in and through me.

When I itch to be out of my apartment, working and accomplishing what this world considers to be success, God says, “remain humble.”

I am proud that I have a degree. I worked hard for it, and trust me I would not have that diploma had it not been for the strength of God pulling me through, but I am still just a person, no better than anyone else. When God fills us with His Holy Spirit, He equips us with all we will ever need for this journey. And having a college degree certainly doesn’t make you or me more beloved or more useful in the eyes of God the Father.

In Africa, nearly everyday I would feel humbled by God’s choice to use me in my brokenness to bring about glory for His kingdom. I did nothing, NOTHING to deserve to even be a pawn in His master plan. But He is so generous. He desires for me to come along side of Him and for us to work TOGETHER to bring love to this world.

My humility is remembering that I am a deeply broken person, yet I am made holy in the eyes of God because of the blood of Jesus.

This time at home, without a job, has really allowed me to spend time with God and grow in my faith at the same rate that I was in Uganda. And it has been such a blessing. Before coming back, one of my biggest fears was that I would return to America and feel spiritually dry because my environment here is much less spirit-filled than where I lived in Uganda. The Lord has blessed me by allowing me an abundance of time to spend with Him. So much time in fact, I’m having to keep myself accountable to using the time wisely. Slowly I am certainly consuming every Friends episode available to me through Netflix, but I am also balancing my time with studying the bible, praying, worshipping and listening to God. In my special time with Him, God continues to speak to me as He did in Uganda, letting me know that He has not forgotten me even though I am back home.

So God continues to be good (always) and He continues to show himself in my life in America. Exciting things are ahead as I try my best to stay in tune with what God is saying and what He is willing.