So there’s this YouTube video that I love. Here’s the video. Watch it before you read any further.
Did you watch it? No? Go back and watch it.
Okay, now that that’s done we can advance onto more serious talk. I just love that video for various reasons. One: the kid is so stinkin’ adorable. If I ever have children, I hope our everyday conversations are like that. Two: This video is ridiculously catchy. I bet you’ll find yourself quoting this video. “Wow, daddy! Wow!” Three: what a sweet, patient and trusting relationship this kid and father have. I really just love the patience the father displays and the trust the kid has in his father to protect him from the claw!
So, I didn’t just post this blog to show you that video (although that would be okay in my book!). I just wanted to update you from the last blog that was maybe, slightly depressing and not so encouraging. Sorry about that. I’m human. Go figure.
This past week some of our parents were able to visit us in Dakar. Whitney, Michelle, and Paige’s parents came all the way from America to see what our lives look like here and what God is doing. We hosted a small party for some of our friends to come over and meet our moms. Fifteen girls came! It was ridiculous how great of a turnout we had.
Our moms were able to share their stories of how and when they gave their lives to Jesus, what trusting God with their daughters means and how their daughters being away has strengthened their walk with the Lord. It was super encouraging to hear how each mom had made a decision to receive Jesus, give God their lives and follow Him.
We then played a game where each Senegalese girl took a piece of paper that was either green, red, blue, or white. We had corresponding questions with each color. Although we didn’t really plan the conversation to be about us, many people got the questions, “What has one of the American girls taught you?” or “Tell the moms something about one of the Americans.” I think we were thinking people would answer, “This one time we went shopping and [blank] happened. It was so funny!” or “They taught us how to make pizza and muffins.” But that is not at all how these women answered the questions.
Several of our girls said things like, “Your daughters have taught us how to know God and taught us about Jesus.” Others said things like, “Your daughters have taught us how to love.” And one in particular stood out to me, “Your daughters teach us that Jesus died for our sins and made a sacrifice for us. Your daughters left family, parties, and other things to come here to tell us about Jesus. They made a sacrifice too.”
These past few weeks I’ve been feeling so terribly dry. We have been praying, laboring, and hoping to see people come to a saving faith in Jesus and there hasn’t been any fruit that we could see. My discouragement levels were at an all time high and I had just been wanting to escape from this mission God gave me. All of that was true of me until yesterday.
Yesterday, I was sweetly reminded that our labor is not in vain.
Although I may never see DiaDia, Awa, Fatou, Koudu, Aissatou, or Oumy come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, our work is not in vain. People are hearing the good news of Jesus for the first time. The glory of God is being proclaimed to the nations. And some girls really are beginning to understand. My eyes do not have to be the judge of whether or not God is working. Sometimes I’m fully convinced that if I don’t see God moving, then He isn’t. That’s not true. It’s great to see God working and to be reminded of that, but my heart can’t rest in what I see. It needs to rest in the truths of God and in Him alone.
There’s a popular quote, “If I only see one person come to know Christ in all of my years of ministry, it will all be worth it.” I hate that dumb quote. To me that quote inadvertantly implies two questions: What if I spend all of my days serving Him and I don’t lead anyone to Christ? Was it worth it?
Serving God isn’t for me. It’s for His glory and honor. It is true that people coming to know Him through faith in Jesus brings Him glory and honor. Lives transformed because of what the Spirit does brings God and immense amount of glory. But my work for God is always worth it because He is worth it, not because of the results that I see.
It took me being discouraged from what I haven’t been seeing to appreciate the small steps I did see yesterday. And the work I saw God doing in the hearts of our girls yesterday reminded me that faith is not dependent on what I see. God is good and wants these women to know Him. God sent us here to proclaim the gospel and to shepherd the lost to Him. God has a purpose for our lives here even if I don’t see it. Giving up holidays with family, comfort in the U.S., my hair straightener (trust me, that’s been a hard one!), and wonderfully brewed Starbucks for a year to serve God isn’t a sacrifice. It’s an honor.
I’m still amazed at the patience God has with me. I am taught the same lessons over and over again. They are always like onions in that once you get through one layer there is another. I love that God sweetly teaches me to trust Him and gives me a glimpse of what He’s doing. I’m thankful for His patience and love and the fact that He leads us if we let Him. Sometimes you follow and serve and don’t see anything. But the times that He does give you a glimpse of His plan as a reminder of His faithfulness it just leaves you saying, “Wow God, Wow.”