I’ve been thinking about blogging about this incident for a few weeks now, but I haven’t been able to truly process it fully (to be frank, I still haven’t). There is are more layers to this story, but for the sake of your time I’ll try to give a little summary. Please bear with me as this blog might be a little bit scattered and probably long. *Also, feel free to share this blog with people, but please don’t tag me in it on Facebook. This is a highly sensitive post and could be controversial and problematic with my students. So, again, feel free to share it, but please make sure it stays off of my Facebook for the sake of the gospel.
A few weeks ago, Rachel and I went on campus to try to meet new students. We had a pretty good day practicing our Wolof and French and meeting students who were waiting to find our their grades from the summer’s exams. As we were leaving campus, this male student came up to us and acted like he knew us. I thought that he looked familiar and was a friend’s, Oumy’s, boyfriend. So I started talking with him. Not even 45-seconds into the conversation I realized that he was not Oumy’s boyfriend.
This student starts talking to us about why we’re in Senegal. We tell him that we’re working with Campus Pour Christ (by the way, that’s the name for Campus Cru. for Christ in Senegal). And he tells us that he’s seen a bunch of Americans here over the summer and during the past two years. That was actually the most encouraging part of our conversation. He had seen previous missionaries on the campus and our summer project team from earlier this summer. I thought maybe he had been exposed to the gospel. After that “intro” to conversation it went sour.
He began to talk to us about “beach girls” in America. For the sake of my supporters who might be reading this, know he wasn’t trying to say beach. He was talking about prostitutes in the United States but referring to them in a duragatory way. And once I figured out what he was talking about I quickly said their situation was sad. He asked why and I responded with, “Because they don’t know the extent of God’s love for them and that they don’t have to live like that.” He started to talk about prostitution in a glorifying way. My heart started to break/become enraged. One of my hopes and dreams is to help get women who are in bondage to prostitution off the streets and walking with the Lord.
He then brought up the depth of poverty here. Now, I have seen the poverty gap here. We went over this one. Right, God? This student told us that there was nothing wrong with selling sex and selling one’s own body. He continued to tell Rachel and I how he has to prostitute himself in order to have food. The simple question he posed, “Have you eaten your breakfast today?” made me sick to my stomach realizing the amount of food we have in our kitchen could feed this man for a year. He has to give the only thing he has to live. He described this “necessary evil” as something that was good. He claimed, “Since God is the creator of good and bad, whose fault is it when we choose bad? God’s. And if God created evil, is evil even bad?”
This broken man was trying to justify the wrong that had been done to him by ignoring the fact that evil even exists.
I think that moment, for several reasons, was my breaking point. I came home and walked into Michelle’s, Paige’s and Katie’s apartment and just cried. I was frustrated that the guy didn’t understand that God is good and in Him is no darkness. I was frustrated that he crossed a social boundary by talking about that stuff with women, especially because he brought that up in front of sweet, innocent, pure, little Rachel. But most of all, I was angry that he showed me a part of African life that I had been choosing not to see. That conversation opened my eyes to the depth of the hurt that exists here. Sometimes I’m so very disillusioned by the mask that my students wear so well. Sure, life is hard here, but they’re making it. They don’t even think they need God, so why am I here? In this converstation I saw it especially. The lies, the mutilation, the death, and destruction… Satan’s rule and reign is so strong here. Where was my God?
I wrote later in my journal:
“Lord Jesus, how overwhelmed and defeated do I feel in this battle? I cannot see past these battles in front of me to see Your faithfulness and Your heart to redeem these people. I am stuck in combat without the slightest hint that the war has already been won… I am wanting to see the gospel go forth and for people to come to know you, but that isn’t happening. Lord, do you even care for these people?”
To which He replied,
“I have conquered sin through my Son’s death and resurrection. I have already won the war, and even though you don’t feel like it, I’m fighting your battles for you. My timing is perfect, and my ways are not your ways. My love for that man is great, much greater than you can imagine. I do love these people way more than you do. My word never returns void even though you might not see how it permeates the human heart. I am faithful to the least of these and have a redemption plan for all the nations. Do you trust me?”
I am learning that my questions really are a perfect representation of my view of God. What do I believe about His character? Me asking if He loves the Senegalese is basically saying, “Hey God, I don’t trust that Your character is always the same with everyone, and Your word might not be true about your love for every single person.” He loves them more than I can imagine. Everytime I am asking God “why?” on their behalf, He reminds me that although I do love them very much, they are not mine. My Senegalese student’s are His. Do I trust Him with them? Do I trust Him to open the eyes of Miriama, Oumy, DiaDia, Isatou, and Awa’s hearts? Or do I think I am more able?
I’m growing more and more while being here, but it isn’t pain free. There are things I’ve seen, things I’ve experienced and things I’ve heard that grieve the heart of God. I’m learning more and more that when I asked to be His hands and feet, I was given His eyes, ears, and heart.
I am so thankful for this experience to be able to mirror Jesus to 60,000 college students. I’ve been able to see the depth of hurt, pain and evil here. But what I know from experience is way more powerful than any darkness. God is Lord over all. He is author of creation. He is King of kings. He is bigger than our trials.
I am here to testify that my God is good and does good. The God of the universe is orchestrating and weaving events in our daily life for our good. I am here to “have a big, high, right view of God and [have] my life testify to it and my lips proclaim it.”- Ryan Kucera. I am here to show a sick, fallen world the Healer and Redeemer. I am here to tell people that the only thing we have to give to God is our lives and that is where we find true life. I count it as joy to be able to serve Christ in this way, knowing that though there might be heartache, God is worth every, single ounce of it.