Nothing Will Ever Be The Same
Our time in Africa is not an "experience." It's not a "mission trip." If it were set up to be an "experience," then I would have canceled the airplane tickets. If it were a "mission trip," then I might have shot myself... I don't have much toleration for either term... "Experience" would mean just that -- a one-time deal, a chance at "experiencing" something not within the realm of my life. "Mission trip" -- an over-used, flacid, flat, weak, passive, conventional Christian term used to fluff up a Christian resume... Sorry, I have no room for them in my vocabulary, especially when I see my friends covered with dirt and grime, covered with small children, covered with strength which can only come from Jesus, covered in power which falls down when the Holy Spirit comes. "Experience" and "mission trip" don't work and won't work when the Spirit comes.
So, I'm surrounded by Spirit-filled and Spirit-led friends who have easily been absorbed into Africa. Some of them will leave tomorrow. I don't want them to go, and they don't want to leave. They'll get on a plane and return to America, and I'm praying they will enter homelife the same way they entered Africa: without any preconceived notions, and with the confirmation of God's leading from His Word. They've changed... all of us have changed. We are fierce, passionate, and unwilling to compromise anymore for the conventions of comfortable American-branded Christianity. We are followers of Jesus, we are filled with the Spirit, we are empowered by The Word, and we see and seek God.
I'm fairly certain I might sound pretentious, self-righteous, spiritually-bloated... If so, deal with it. I'm living in the truth of Acts 1:8 -- "when the Spirit comes, He will come with power; then you'll be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the world..." The Spirit has come upon me and upon my friends, and He has come with power, and we are His witnesses at the literal, not just figurative, end of the world. I'm so glad.
We have wrestled with God and prevailed... (I hope we continue to relentlessly wrestle with Him.) When that happens, we're maimed and we get a new name. We also get to see God face-to-face, ask Him who He really is, and walk into the unknown in joy. Pretentious? No way. Self-righteous? Hardly. Spiritually-bloated? You've got to be kidding. We are simply in the shadow of a bloody, rough-sawn cross and in the doorway of an empty tomb. We believe the words of Jesus and we're ready to not just die, but LIVE for them and for Him...
It's really real. God is stinkin' unbelievable.
He has sent us out so that we can be sent back "in." "In" to the weak, dead, vapid, lifeless realm of packaged American Christianity, where Jesus has been homogenized, pasturized, freeze-dried, packaged, and emasculated... I'm fairly certain "in" will mean we will be met with rejection, intolerance, confusion, fear, silence. I don't know how any of us will handle those responses, and I don't know how any of us will re-enter the world of cellphones, TV's, cars, drive-thru windows, cheap gas, throw-away-food, but we must return... We will leave chunks of our hearts, our souls in Africa, and I'm thankful to return incomplete, unfinished, undone. We have no answers; we only know that we're tired of living how we lived before we lived in Africa this summer.
We will return. . .