The Road to Africa
When I was eleven years old my father felt God calling him to be a missionary in Africa. As a child I moved around a lot, but mostly in the same area. I’d mostly grown up with the same group of friends from the same neighborhood. So we moved to North Carolina where he could attend South Eastern Theological Seminary and enter their missions program. He planned to study at the school for two years and upon completion would serve as a missionary in Kenya for three. For the next two years my family would give up a lot so my father could follow God’s call.
When I moved to Seminary I had to adjust to not knowing anyone. I had to come to the realization that these weren’t the kids I’d grown up with and make new friends. The apartment we moved into was a one thousand square foot apartment. It was a fairly decent sized apartment, but the trouble was that there was eight of us. The apartment had three bedrooms which meant that my parents would have a room, my two brothers and I would share a room, and my three sisters would share a room. The house we had lived in before had been much larger and I had only needed to share my room with one of my brothers. In consequence I had to learn to give up some of my privacy and be more considerate of my space.
At the end of two years, weeks before we were scheduled to go to go to Africa we received a call. The Lottie Moon Offering, an offering that supports foreign missions, had been down that year and there wasn’t going to be enough money to send our family to Africa any more. For a long time I questioned God why he had stopped us from going to Africa. We had given up so much to come to the Seminary and it turned out we wouldn’t even be going. We had given up our big house in Richmond, we moved away from all of our friends and family, my Father gave up his good job and with it a lot of life’s comforts I had previously taken for granted. I found myself questioning God’s plan for my life
After wrestling with my doubts for a long time I came to a startling conclusion. Maybe God hadn’t brought me to Seminary to go to Africa, but instead to grow closer to Him and my family. Living in such close proximity to each other, my family had spent a lot of time together and we learned an appreciation for each other that I believe we would not have had elsewhere. We also learned to trust in God for life’s necessities. While we lived in Seminary there were various food pantries that we would go to get food. There were many times when our family would need food for the week and someone would bring us food telling us that they had felt God calling them to do so. Maybe I wasn’t meant to go to Africa, but that didn’t mean God didn’t have a plan for me.
So, this I believe, I believe God has a purpose for every trial that happens in our lives. I believe that even when the going is hard and there doesn’t seem to be any reasons that God has a plan. We may never know the reasons for everything that happens in life, but I’m comforted knowing that God is in control.
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