International Missions: To Kenya
As part of our ongoing international missions blog series, I though I would post a journal entry which I wrote on my way to Kenya back in 2010. God blessed that trip in unexpected ways, and began relationships that continue to this day. Some thoughts from a justified sinner on his way from Bellingham to Bomet
“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” - Mark 10:42-45
As one who has never consistently journaled before, it seems like a good idea to start this with God’s words rather than my words. I have started many times to journal my thoughts and feelings and prayers, but after a few entries, I ask myself “who am I writing this for?” and “wouldn’t my time be better spent doing something else, like praying, reading my bible, or eating humous?”. But I have felt a certain “tugging” at me in the weeks leading up to this trip to write about my experiences. I am still not sure who I am writing this for (for God?, for myself?, for some unknown audience who will one day read these words alongside those of Anne Frank?) But I am committed this time, and I have armed myself with the world’s most expensive journal .... the MacBookPro.
So where do I begin? I guess back at God’s word (see above). This verse was written in the bible that was recently given to me by World Medical Mission, who is the agency sending me to Kenya for 3 weeks to the Tenwek mission hospital in Bomet, Kenya. Currently I am sitting in the LA airport, where I just arrived from Seattle, and am now waiting for my 15 hour 50 minute flight from LA to Dubai. I will spend the night in Dubai, then fly to Nairobi. I will then spend a night in Nairobi, then be driven (about 3 hours?) to Bomet where the hospital is located. And then I will see what God has in store for me over the following weeks.
I love the verse above from Mark. It is one of my favorite verses in the bible. The relationship between social justice and evangelism is one that has fascinated me for months now. Obviously God passionately loves both, but big questions have been percolating in my mind, like “what does God intend the relationship between the two to be?”, “is it wrong to use social justice as a springboard for evangelism”, “how can we do both of these well?”. I don’t claim to have answers to these questions, but perhaps with time and prayer, God will open my eyes more to His wonderful plan.
I suppose I should spend some time exploring my motivations, and my expectations for going on this trip (since it is just getting started). I figured out on my drive to the airport that this is my 10th trip to Africa (although 2 of these were when I was a baby, but I am still counting them). It is my 7th mission trip. And I am constantly asking myself, “why do I keep making these trips?”. I am always concerned that my motives are more selfish that Christ-centered, and that the cost of the trip is so much, that wouldn’t it be better to just send them a check to feed starving people? So here is a list of possible motivations for me to take another mission trip to Africa:
- I like to travel, especially to exotic places.
- I like to see the look on someone’s face when I tell them I am going to Africa to care for sick people.
- I like racking up frequent flyer miles.
- I like studying foreign languages.
- I like bringing home little African “treasures” to give to my wife, kids and friends.
- I like the idea that I have in some small way grown into a man like my dad, who travelled all over the middle east.
- I like to buy travel-sized electronic gadgets (like the computer I am typing this on), justifying it by saying that I REALLY need this for my next trip.
- I am a wretched sinner, who God pursued, then saved through the blood of His Son on the cross, and as a result of my love for Him, I want to pour out my life in His service.
Pretty horrible, right? I wish I could say that reason number 8 is the only reason I make these trips, but I feel that I should be confessional with you (whoever you are), and tell you that although I desire for that to be my sole motivation ... it is not. I am a horrible person, thank God that it is not about me.
I pray that God will forgive me for my selfish motivations, and will take my life and make it His, all for Him and for His glory. I do want this more than anything, to have the faith and the selflessness I believe Christ has called us to. I make these trips because I do feel that God has called me to serve in Africa. When I stand back and look at what He has given me to do this, it astounds me. He has given me a profession that is useful for service, the money and physical ability to make these trips, a job that allows me the time to do this, a desire to travel, and above all, a wife who is willing to send me. All praise be to God!