An Update from Africa
Nicole Hardin, Cross-Cultural Service Major
This week’s blogpost is the latest prayer update from one of our BJU Cross-Cultural Service interns in Africa.
We are in our final week here. The time has flown! For the first four weeks, we met four times a week with a language tutor for three hours a day. This last month, we have been focusing less on the everyday lingo and more on biblical terminology. Our first day, we began by reading a prayer in Arabic. This was our first time reading full sentences! I definitely felt like a child learning how to read, but it was an amazing moment when I actually knew the sounds that matched the characters! I didn’t know what I was reading, but I was reading!
We continue to build our relationships with the new friends we’ve made. Since the only basis of knowledge they have about religion is from the Quran, they seek to find similarities between the Bible and the Quran. But as we expressed the great exchange Christ has made for us, they have seen Christ is different! Rather than trying to get to God by our own good, the One who knew no sin was made sin, that we might become the righteousness of God through Him (2 Cor. 5:21). All the friends we’ve been able to share this beautiful truth with have commented that this is good! We are praying they would desire to know the truth and that they would taste and see the Lord’s goodness!
As I come to the final week of this internship, I’m reflecting on the many ways my perspectives have been challenged and changed in the best way possible!
Prior to this trip, I found myself finding my worth in my own works. I thought that my value was based on my performance – what I could accomplish. But God has been so gracious to show me that, just as I could not earn my salvation, I cannot earn my sanctification. It is all by the power of the Holy Spirit that works in me. If there is anything good that is seen in me or accomplished through this vessel, it is in spite of me. I am weak, but the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me. This causes me to live in freedom from the expectations that restrain.
Another new perspective God has graciously given is an understanding of life in another country. One of the main reasons I chose this internship was that veteran missionaries are opening their lives up for us to see how they live in a different context. No doubt the culture is different here, but the same thing God requires of me here, God requires of me anywhere – to love Him with all that I am and love others as I love myself. Loving others may look different here than in the States; for instance, it may look like sitting at a coffee shop with one person for six hours just talking about normal day life. We wouldn’t do that on a regular basis in the States, but this is how people in this culture build trust and belonging. But, taking care of myself, doing laundry, meeting with friends – this is all a part of everyday life. This perspective has shown me the necessary task of being faithful wherever I am in doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God. The servants here have learned to live out the truth in everyday life, and I seek to do the same.
Lastly, I want to share what I’ve learned about discipleship. The goal of making disciples is not to build buildings with large auditoriums for large numbers of people to gather. The goal of discipleship is that others would be able to take what they have heard and “commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). This takes time, trust, commitment, and enduring patience to invest and pour into others as you live life beside them for the long-term. Life is not always exotic and thrilling. Sometimes life is messy and hard, but having a constant trust in the Lord and enjoying the small gifts our faithful God gives breeds a life of thanksgiving. Faithful obedience to love those around you and commit to the Lord’s will is more rewarding. People need to hear the Word God has given, so they may believe and be reconciled to God. The missionaries here are trusting in the Holy Spirit’s power to work through the Word of God to create spirit-led change in those around them.
This is just a glimpse of the new perspectives I am bringing back that have changed the way I approach everyday life. I am so grateful for all your support and prayers along the way!
I leave you with this beautiful promise:
1 Peter 1:22-23
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.