“YOU’RE GOING TO SOUTH SUDAN WITH A BABY?!?!” my coworker asked me. “AREN’T YOU SCARED???”
“Of course I am,” I thought as I sat across the table from her, 28 weeks pregnant with my first child. “I’m terrified.” Another coworker, also a sister in the Lord, must have seen my fear and quickly responded, “They have babies in South Sudan.” She will never know how much her words meant to me. In the midst of my fear, she gently reminded me that people do go in – and out – of South Sudan, alive.
Family, friends, and people we had never met vehemently protested. I don’t blame them, in my heart I did the same. Why would we take such a fragile young life to a nation filled with so much war and disease, while legit doctors and hospitals are almost non-existent? And yet, Jesus called us to lay down our lives for the sake of the Gospel. So what felt like death to me at the time, was really just Jesus calling me deeper into his love. Deeper into what I myself, had been praying so vigilantly for since I had first fallen in love the Lord in college.
I prayed that my children would see the power of God in ways that just don’t happen in developed nations. I prayed that God would use me to bring the Gospel to people who had never heard – and who had no one else to tell them. But just as he always does, God delivered.
As we prepared to go, I prayed that God would provide a doctor in whatever village or town we ended up living in. So God provided an American, legit doctor for our team. I prayed that we would be able to Skype with our family, as they were heart-broken about us leaving. Upon arrival in our village, we discovered that we could Skype! I prayed that God would protect us from snakes and scorpions every single HOUR for two years. And although I killed at least 1 scorpion every night for the first 3 months, we never got stung. Although there was thick spiritual warfare regarding snakes surrounding our house – and my heart – none of them ever harmed us.
We spent the first 6 months with someone in our family sick ALL THE TIME. A year later, when the team doctor left South Sudan permanently, I prayed that God would protect us – and especially our 2 yr old – from sickness. And you know what? He didn’t get sick once, until another doctor came, 5 months later. Only God could have done this. The same God who split the Red Sea.
He’s the same God who has protected my 2nd child being stung by a scorpion (ON TWO SEPARATE OCCASIONS!) while he was playing with them – including one that ran under his foot!. He’s the same God who heard my cries for another family with young children to come and serve alongside us – they are coming in two months!!. He’s the same God who has captured my little boy’s heart so that all he can think about is heaven. The same God who spoke and created the world, did all this. And he’s my King.
Let me just make one thing clear – I am no spiritual giant, of any sort. God has just put us in a place where we have no other choice but to trust him. And honestly, that’s the best place to be.
We have now been here in South Sudan for 4 ½ years (including a 1 ½ year furlough). Am I still terrified? Sometimes, yes. When I stop and think about the possibilities, probably. But the longer we are there, the more testimonies I have of God’s power to protect us, his faithfulness to provide and that he is writing a bigger story with our lives. A story that only God could write.
Three years ago, after much frustration about who to pour into, I prayed that God would bring me the person he wanted me to disciple. Two weeks later a young girl came to my door and asked her to teach me about God. Basically an orphan, she had no one else to ask. Her mother was severely mentally ill, her father had abandoned them, and her grandfather was known for casting spells on people who opposed him, had tried to kill her mother. “Many people have died because they opposed him,” we were told. As it turns out, we were already employing her grandfather’s brother and nephew. We marvel at the ways God is working, that he has given us such an ‘in’ with this family, and are praying God saves them and breaks down walls in the village through this family.
So as I think about the King who calmed the storm as his followers were terrified, who raised a little girl to life so her father’s heart would be healed, who drove out demons, walked on water and conquered death, I am reminded that he hasn’t changed and that he loves me. And I choose to trust him. Some days more than others, some days not at all. But he is still faithful. It’s who he is.