Are ya’ll ready for this? I’m about to get neck deep in vulnerability.
On Friday morning, I’ll be boarding an airplane bound for Uganda. This trip is the most tangible answer to prayer I’ve ever experienced in my 25 years of life. I asked expectantly, God answered. But it didn’t happen over night. It took six years.
I’ve known about this trip for six months now, but I haven’t shared because I simply haven’t had the words. Sometimes the things that are terribly close to our hearts are profoundly difficult to verbalize. So, I’m going to do something bold (it feels bold to me, anyway) and let my prayers do the talking.
Below you will find eight entries from various prayer journals that I wrote in consistently during the years when God gripped my heart for the fatherless, and specifically, for Africa.
September 17, 2008 / 11:27 pm
“In continuing to pray through my ‘Trust God’ list, tonight I will pray for ‘Romania.’ I don’t know if that means Romania specifically. Maybe more of the idea behind it. I want to work with orphans. I just want to love on them. I want to give them love that no one else gives them. I want to show them the love that you have shown me. Oh, sweet children. I love them even now. I don’t know when or where I will meet them, but I trust that you will lead me there. My heart is overflowing with love for them tonight, and only You know how far away they truly are. Please guide me to these children. Open up doors for me that I never could have opened myself. I trust You.”
October 6, 2008 / 7:42 pm
“I spent this past weekend in Charleston for Katie and Landon’s wedding and also to visit friends from Project. My favorite part of the weekend was Saturday night. All of the 2303 girls put on our new long sleeve t-shirts and drove out to Folly Beach. The sand was cold on my toes, the breeze was blowing off the ocean, and the stars were so beautiful! Rachel Ann was telling me how amazing the stars were when she went to Africa – I can’t imagine! God, can I ask You for something? Someday, will you please open a door and make a way for me to see the stars in Africa?”
October 17, 2008 / 2:15 am
“Since I deleted my Facebook a few months ago, I’ve found a new way of keeping up with people. I follow their blogs. The interesting thing is, for the most part, I don’t even know these people.
Today I stumbled on the blog of a girl named Katie Davis. It was so engaging that I read her whole blog from start to finish – over a year of pretty frequent blogging. So much for my homework. From what I gathered, Katie is a 19-year-old girl from Tennessee who headed to Africa fresh out of high school. She lived there for about a year, teaching kindergarten at an orphanage and even taking in 10 beautiful African children to call her own.
The past few days, or even weeks, I’ve been pretty down and out. It’s just been this whole miserable self-loathing thing. I was going to write about it last night, but of course I got too lazy and selfish. I planned on griping about my foul, nasty mood and had thought of a list in my mind of ‘things that would make me happy.’ Here was my list:
1. Be skinny
2. Feel pretty
3. Have nice clothes
4. Make good grades
5. Have a boyfriend
Seriously? How much of a self-centered, self-righteous, sinful, American teenager am I? Reading Katie’s blog today helped to put things in perspective for me. Those things would not make me happy. I take that back. Maybe they would make me FEEL happy, but they would NOT give me real, true joy.
Katie’s life is much different than mine. Katie lives in Africa and teaches kindergarten to sweet, precious children. Katie gets to know You in a way that I will probably never know You in America. Katie gets to sit under the African sky and look up at the stars. And most importantly, Katie gets to love children who have no one else to love them. Who am I kidding? My list would not and could not bring me joy. Katie’s life brings me joy. Katie is living my dream.
God, I don’t know how and I don’t know where and I don’t know when, but I believe that one day you will lead me to the fatherless. I can’t wait to scoop them up and hold them in my arms and love them the best way I know how. The way that You love me. Unconditionally and without reason. Thank You for saving me and adopting me into Your family so that I am no longer an orphan.”
October 25, 2008 / 11:05 pm
“God, I cannot stop thinking about Africa. It’s consuming my thoughts. It’s interesting because when I used to hear or talk about missions I would just think, ‘Eh, maybe one day…’ and brush it off. Now, I can’t imagine my life without these children that I’ve never even met. From an attempt to look up African orphanages on the internet, I have seen one thing very clearly. I am not going to be able to do this by my own means. I am solely dependent on You.
I feel that at this point in my life you are saying to me, ‘Wait.’ I would pack up and fly off to Africa tomorrow, if I could. But You are not sending me to Africa tomorrow. Tomorrow I will be in Raleigh, North Carolina. Tomorrow I will be a student at NC State University. Tomorrow I won’t be frustrated about where I am. Tomorrow I will be content in Your will, trust in Your perfect timing, and rest in Your plan.
‘This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.’ – Habakkuk 2:3″
November 9, 2008 / 12:00 am
“There are 143 MILLION orphans in the world. 100 percent of them have been abandoned or abused. My heart beats for orphans. How will I get to them?
‘Rescue the perishing; don’t hesitate to step in and help. If you say, ‘Hey, that’s none of my buisness,’ will that get you off the hook? Someone is watching you closely, you know – someone not impressed with weak excuses.’ – Proverbs 24:12 (The Message)”
April 9, 2009 / 11:01 am
“… and God, if You want me to provide a family for orphans – I will! If you want me to adopt them into my family – I will. If you want me to go to Africa (or anywhere else) and take care of them – I will. You just have to show me how.
‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here I am. Send me!’ – Isaiah 6:8″
May 25, 2009 / 11:39 pm
“I don’t even know how old I was when my parents divorced. Eleven? Thirteen? Really, I don’t know. And in fact I don’t even remember much about it. But I do remember thinking that something about me was not quite good enough. Why wasn’t I worth sticking around for? How many times have I asked myself this? How many precious orphans in the world are asking themselves the same question RIGHT now? But I know something that they don’t.
The love of a heavenly father. A father who says to them and says to me, ‘You are worth it. You are worth it, so much so, that I sent my son to die so that I could spend all of eternity with you. I love you so much that Christ would have died even if you were the only child the whole world.’ Father, Your perfect love covers over all of the imperfections of an earthly father. But how will they know? Oh, God. Please let me tell them. Please let me hold them and rock them and love them and tell them how You love them. Please Jesus, don’t let me waste my life another day.
‘With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it… What do we lack?’ – A.W. Tozer”
February 7, 2010 / 4:38 pm
“Lord Jesus, You know that more than anything in the world, I want to go to Africa. At church yesterday, JD said he knew that some of the women should say, ‘Maybe I should go and start an orphanage for children to be adopted by loving, Christian families.’ I knew he was talking directly to me. There is nothing I want more in life than to love these sweet children and tell them of the everlasting love of a perfect Heavenly Father. You said, ‘Ask and I’ll give the nations to you.’ That is the cry of my heart. I am begging You to let me go. Please, please, please. I want to arrange my life’s mission around Your eternal mission, but I just feel helpless. I don’t know how to get there on my own.”
Six years later, I’m on my way! I hope this sampling of excerpts from my most heartfelt and private place encourages you to listen to God’s call on your life, to pray big prayers, and to wait patiently when your heart’s deepest desires feel unattainable. I will share more about the events that led to this (HUGE!) answered prayer when I return to America, and of course, a million and one pictures. Catch you all at the end of July!