Called to Love Africa

Last month, God took away our best babysitters.

Not that I hold it against Him, because they went to spend a year in Africa where they are serving the people of Namibia in a hundred different ways.

And while I miss their joyful presence in my life -- and the lives of my children -- I am quite honestly thrilled they jumped at this opportunity. (I'm also a little jealous. But as Alton Brown says, that's another show.) Nicole and Josh are very dear to us. Nicole has been watching our kids since Connor was an infant. And if you've been reading my blog for many moons, you might even remember when they got married. Nicole and Josh are some of the brightest, most passionate, sincere, loving people I've ever met. I'm beyond excited to see what they do in Africa -- and what Africa does to them.

To that end, I'd like to invite you to follow Nicole's blog, Called to Love Africa. Nicole is a fabulous communicator -- honest and witty. Even before they left for Africa, she was writing stuff like this (from her post American Values):
It will be a culture shock to leave the excess of America for the simplicity and lacking in Namibia. But I imagine it will be a far greater challenge to return. In fact, Josh has banned me from touching our storage unit for the first month that we come back, for fear I'll give everything away.

To me, material possessions, status, money, power, achievement, people-pleasing... these are all things that distract me from God. I want to know Him with all of my being; with every breath I take, I want to glorify Him.

Instead, I find myself worried with having enough, or getting what I deserve (another post for another day), or what someone thinks of me. I am being brutally honest here, people. That is not glorifying to God.
Here's a snippet from one of my all-time favorites, You're Gonna Miss This.
Sometimes I feel like all I hear is people rushing to the next thing. They can't wait until the weekend, a vacation, until they find the right person to marry, until they have kids, until they graduate or retire or have more money or lose 10 lbs or the kids aren't in diapers or they buy a bigger house....

Until they go to Africa....

We are letting life pass us by. Well, at least I have been.

Not to be morbid, but what if we die today? In some cultures, that concern is a reality. Maybe our relative safety has spoiled us to the point we are ungrateful and always wanting more. What if Jesus comes back in 10 minutes? Will he be pleased with the priorities I have, reflected in how I spend my time?
If you don't mind your toes bruised, go read the whole thing.

Then follow Nicole and Josh on their journey this year by subscribing to their blog. And if you are so inclined, join their work by praying for them. A pastor from Congo delivered God's message at our church today, and he forcefully reminded us that in the story where Joshua fought the Amalekites, most people didn't know Moses was on the mountaintop praying, and they certainly didn't know Aaron and Hur were holding up Moses' hands in prayer. But each person in that narrative was necessary. Each was used by God to play a small role in a bigger story.

The same is true with us.


In a similar vein, if you haven't already heard, there's a fabulous group of bloggers in India this week, willingly exposing themselves to some of the worst poverty in the world so you and I can see it through their eyes. (And hopefully, do something about it.)

I was reminded this last week that, as believers, we dare not distance ourselves from the poor. It's uncomfortable, it's disturbing, it can be frustrating. But if we close our eyes when Jesus says, "Look -- here I am," we risk imploding from self-absorption and selfishness, and we spit on the grace we've received.

I know thems strong words, but God has burned this conviction into my soul the past few years. I do not want to settle into the entitlements of luxury.

Life is too short. And we can make a difference.

Just ask Nicole and Josh.

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