I need to be careful when listening to Bethel Music while washing dishes. I start crying for no apparent reason.
Earlier in the day Melissa and I had received an email from a spiritual mother, Rita. Rita was our previous director when we were working at Treasures of Africa Children’s Home. She knew that we had just returned to life and ministry here in Moshi and wanted to welcome us back and give us her best for our new ministry. It was a very sweet letter and got me reminiscing back to to 2009 when she first approached me about coming on staff at TOA. I remember telling her and the orphanage director at the time that there was nowhere else in the world that I would rather work than at Treasures of Africa.
As I stood at the sink soon that afternoon, I had the last five years running through my head all at once. I could be anywhere in the world right then and yet my God-ordained spot was in Moshi, in Shanty Town, in our friends’ home, at the sink, washing dishes. Only the Lord knows how such a path is directed; the partnership with Him as we walk the journey. I am no longer on staff at Treasures of Africa. The kids are doing great and so loved and taken care of by the staff there, but I’m no longer one such person. When Rita and the board offered me that position, I had every aspiration, hope and, dare I say, assurance that I would ‘run an orphanage’ under TOA’s heading. And yet I now stand in a new ministry, also involved in Kilimanjaro. We love the kids at TOA and will still be involved in there lives to some degree, but I’m not on staff anymore. Not coming in for devotions in the morning, not staying till the kids come from school to kick the ball around.
Furthermore, Melissa, Promise and I just came out of a 20 month season of living in California. For much of that time I was on staff at a church on the central coast. My main job was overseeing the early stages of a church re-start in Morro Bay. As we were there the Lord was deepening my passion for discipleship and had placed me in an area where the gospel is desperately needed. I loved the opportunities to teach the word, lead worship and connect with other pastors and ministers in the area. When they began looking for a pastor, they made sure I knew that I could step into that role if I felt inclined. The church building is already there, financial backing from the mother church, an area where the gospel is needed, get to head up and pastor a church plant. To people that are passionate about ministry, this was a nearly perfect situation. And yet, I turned it down.
What was once my dream job is now in the rear view mirror and what could have been a new dream job wasn’t even taken up. And here I am washing dishes while listening to worship music, somewhat asking myself how I got here. I have a million reasons not to be where I am today and yet here I stand.
On Father’s Day in 2007, God called me to care for orphans and live out my ministry in Africa. Nobody else heard His voice beckoning that day. It was just me. He was calling me. And that calling has proven to be stronger than any other circumstance, situation or trouble that I have encountered. Since that day almost seven years ago, I’ve finished college, lived in several cities, been on four continents, lived on two of them, gotten engaged, gotten married, had a baby and a million other things. And yet I’m standing as a minister of the Gospel in Africa and it’s only by God’s grace, His providence and the calling that He gave me.
I walked away from the sink and approached Melissa in the living room. She could tell that I was emotional and I shared with her what was on my heart and we lifted up a prayer of thanksgiving to God.
There are days where I think to myself “Why am I here?” There are days that I’m profoundly frustrated with life and how certain things have played out. There are days that I want to take my ball and go home, not home to Shanty Town, home to California. There are days that I don’t want to minister to my family, days that are just too hard, days that I wonder if this is all worth it and if I’m actually making a difference. And yet here we are.
God’s calling is bigger than the ministries that I’m involved in, it’s stronger than any life situations that would oppose it, and it’s clearer than any other life choice could ever be. The calling of God is more beautiful, more meaningful, more difficult and more satisfying than any other option that can be presented in one’s life.
Here I am. Not because someone offered us a ministry position, not by happenstance, but by divine ordination and the strong calling of God on our life.
Praise the Lord, oh my soul, praise the Lord.