“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, NIV).
As I sang during a college missions’ conference, “Yes, Lord, yes…to your will and to your way…yes, Lord, yes, I will answer and obey,” I knew the mighty voice of God called my name, Brooke, to go and serve him wherever his Spirit led. Within six months, this eager, young woman boarded a plane for Mauritius, Africa. I journeyed with a darling girl from Nebraska who just graduated from high school. From our perspective, we were flying to a mere dot on the map in the Indian Ocean. “Why there, Lord?” we asked. “Many do not know my name,” Jesus replied to our hearts, “and I send you.”
Seventeen years ago now, a poor college girl, the first-born, addressed her single mother and shared that God would raise $4,500 for her travel to a spec in the ocean on the other side of the world to tell children about Jesus. Imagine a mother’s reaction! Laughter. Shock. Fear. I am sure my mother experienced all of those emotions, but she nevertheless supported me in that step of obedience to the Lord. God touched the hearts of many supporters, and the finances arrived for the venture. The other young lady and I trained in St. Louis, MO, with Child Evangelism Fellowship. By the time the plane landed in Africa, two exhausted students, having fancied a full day in Paris, embarked on their first experience of sharing the gospel in a new land.
If you have ever traveled on a mission trip, you know that feeling of the first step off the airplane. Immediately, the sounds, the smells, the sights overwhelm you. Soon, the tastes would challenge you, too. You push through the discomfort. Home is very far away, and you are quite attune to that fact! Adrenalin pumps through your veins. You experience a nervous excitement. Keenly aware, you know the Lord is near. Oh, He is always that close to you! This time, though, you are so dependent upon him that you draw closer to God.
Showered with hugs and presents, and each clutching the gorgeous local flower, the girl and I joined the family for a car ride across the island to their home….our home…for the summer. With windows rolled down, we squeeze into the tiny car. For the first time, we realize we brought too many things in our suitcases…things we thought we must not leave. Well-coached to down-size, we considered one giant suitcase each as very minimal. How naive! God quickly changed our mind-sets. God still worked through our short-comings. Lavished with items from America, we knew those things would be of greater use in Mauritius.
Upon traveling by car, the wind and the dirt blew, and tasseled, and dirtied our freshly brushed hair and newly washed faces. With gorgeous volcanic mountains along the clear, blue waters which rolled onto the sandy shore, the beauty of God’s incredible design on that island took my breath. Mauritius served Europe as Hawaii served North America…as an exotic island get-away…with resorts designed exclusively for the rich and famous.Just as I thought I would burst from all the beauty, the smell of the fishery in the city and the unbelievable smog from the harbor ships and vehicle fumes, took my breath in a different way! Too many buses, cars, mopeds and people crammed into small spaces. Trash lined the streets. Tin huts erected for homes. People bargained for lower prices in the markets. Children played outside wearing only a filthy shirt, a cloth diaper, or no clothes at all. Did the wealthy fly to this place, and partake of the “good life” while they ignored the extreme poverty all around them? According to the father driving the car, they sure did! “Only the love of Christ compels one to genuinely care, and impact lives eternally,” the family stated.
As we rode in the vehicle, the culture continued to shock us. The way the natives drove their vehicles, passing in the grass, passing in the lane of on-coming traffic, blowing the horn constantly, and swerving back into the correct lane just before impact, nearly stopped my heart! Were there no traffic laws on this island? Where were the police? What type of social norms existed in this society? And why was that skinny cow in the middle of the street, anyway?Finally, the other girl (now a friend, wife, mother of three, and attorney) and I arrived at our destination. That summer, God revealed to us more about himself. We cried out to him for everything! Through Good News Clubs in churches, in homes, and even in little tin shacks, many children accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Joyously in mid-July, I stood in front of a crowd of children in one of those tin shacks, holes cut for windows, thin fabrics for curtains, shifting slightly in the breeze, and received a “Happy Birthday” song in French Creole. I gasped with gratefulness that God allowed such a special moment for me…and for the children. Some even recorded my birthday as their “spiritual birthday,” the day they asked forgiveness for their sins from the One True Living God, Jesus Christ.
Most definitely, that summer proved to be one of the most exciting experiences of my life! God did “more than I could ask or imagine” during those months. God changed my heart for the world. He opened my eyes to the needs of others in greater ways. He cultivated a heart of compassion and deep gratitude within me. He revealed more of my own sinful nature and my selfishness. And he graciously used me to spread the gospel in Africa!
Have you been “on mission?” Has he called your name to go wherever he leads? Have you sensed that prompting from God? You may say, “Yes, Lord, yes…to your will and to your way!” You might respond, “I will trust you and obey! With my spirit, I’ll agree, and my answer will be, yes, Lord, yes!” Perhaps you will not be the one who travels; but the one, who sends, the one, like my mother, who gives, stays and prays. In whatever the Lord desires for you, do you trust him and are you taking steps to obey? You could be the one, though, God uses to share the gospel in Africa….or Asia, or South America, Australia, Europe, or right here in North America. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Luke 10:2).
Click here for the link to SOS Children’s Villages: Sponsor a Child in Rose Hill, Mauritius. I worked with these Christian families who take wonderful care of orphans in Mauritius. Have you considered sponsoring a child?