We’re back home and have much to think about as we adjust to yet another culture; one which we’ve known the longest, but becomes perpetually stranger the more we ‘set sail’. I read something today that helped me understand what it is we ‘do’ on these crazy trips we go on and maybe it will help you understand a bit more as to why maybe you support us in the various ways that you do.
I’ve been reading through Paul’s letters in the Bible and have reached the Book of Philemon. Can’t say I’ve ever read this hidden, one chapter, 25 verse letter. Today was a good day for it. Paul’s intention is primarily to persuade Philemon to view a previous slave of his as a brother, but what I grabbed from this was the following from verse 7:
Your love has given me rest, joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
Paul writes in verse 20:
I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.
Refresh…so what does this mean? I looked up refresh/refreshed in my concordance and found that it is the greek word, anapauo, meaning “to rest”. Paul looked to Philemon as a source of refreshment and rest and after reading this, I found some validation in how we believe we are used throughout the world: strengthen, encourage and provide rest for those who are weary.
It is our opinion that showing up in a village for a week to introduce a new faith or alternative way of doing anything is a joke and anyone who says they can accomplish that would have to show me their miracle working. In a week you can build a house, dig a well, provide cataract surgeries, anything practical and certainly bless a people group, but if you want a people to know the love that they so desire, a week doesn’t cut it for the long term. So we came for a week to ‘refresh’ those who have sacrificed much to love much and have spent years impacting the lives of their friends, the Serahuli people.
We prayed, we did dishes, we met their friends and their adoptive family, we gathered water from the well, we played with and taught their children, we reminded them of who they are, we reminded them of whom is in them, we reminded them of the great love, abundant grace and out of this world authority that their Father has placed in them. By the grace of God, with our much wiser and experienced friends, we held up the weary arms of these lovers of life, people and God.
I’m tearing up thinking of the lack of words I have to express how incredible these individuals are; picking up their whole lives and moving to foreign soil because they believe in the fullness of life for all mankind and specifically the least of these in The Gambia. Its humbling.
We were discussing with one of our hosts his desire to live in Greenland at some point in his life. We shared an interest in that frozen island and he agreed that maybe in 20 years, we could all meet up there; that is if he feels his purpose is finished in Sabi. Who does that? I know we read of these great men and women who’ve lived amongst lepers and remote tribes and I think that if we hear too much, we have a false sense of thinking that its a common thing and we lose the impact of their stories. What our new friend’s are doing is one of these most selfless acts I have encountered and that reality will occupy my heart for years to come.
We felt like we had nothing to give these people. They had years of experiences in the village that had shaped their hearts and minds beautifully for faith, for the environment, for health, for community and relationships. What did we have to bring, besides some Starbucks VIA and a backpack full of M&Ms? I wanted to sit at their feet for hours and just hang on their wisdom. I looked up to these young families before we even shook hands.
At the end of oneself is the beauty of the Lord. With nothing of ourselves to bring, we gave what only He could give through us: the green pastures and still waters that restore the soul. Peace, grace and rest for the beautiful sons and daughters of the Living God.
I’m feeling quite teary eyed again as I feel the gratitude in my heart over our time in Sabi; to live amongst such heroes and peak in to their world. To be sent over 6,000 miles for such a duty as washing the feet of true heroes; an honor and life changing experience. We will never be the same.