She sits across from me, quiet, speaking one-word sentences only when I ask her questions. She’s young and pregnant…and scared to death. I smile and talk candidly, hoping to show her I’m here for her, there’s no judgment, that I just want to love her.
After a few weeks, she’s pouring out her troubles, barely leaving room for my response beyond nodding that I am hearing her, seeing her.
Months later, we laugh and joke around and hug. The young lady before me isn’t the same person she was. She’s grown, and while her circumstances only got harder, she learned to deal with them better. And with God’s guidance, I got to play a role in where she is now.
For years I’ve dreamed of Africa. I watch documentaries, read books, seek out information, and pray constantly. I’ve loved Africa for a long time…from afar. In more recent years, I’ve entertained the idea of a mission trip, of leaving this American life behind for a while to help others.
Recently, a close friend sent me a text: “I’m going to Africa!”
My first thought was, “It’s not fair.” Yes, because I’m mature and grown up like that. I told her I was jealous, which was the truth (I’m coveting your trip, but hey, at least I’m honest about it!). But I also crossed my arms and huffed and puffed to God about the real unfairness of it because HE KNOWS I want to go to Africa.
Then I went to a meeting with the pregnancy center where I volunteer, and God reminded me yet again of where I belong. Right here, right now, walking alongside young women who need nothing more than to be loved on.
I am so often like a baby who, in the game of peek-a-boo, forgets her father’s face will reappear in half a second and is then surprised and delighted all over again. Case in point from my blog:
“Yesterday, while in a meeting with [the pregnancy center], in prayer I heard/felt the words, ‘Your mission field is here.’ I didn’t immediately know if the words were from me, caught up in the moment, or from God, giving me direction. I’m just open to listening and taking steps in the directions I think I’m supposed to. Putting out action and knowing I’ll be directed accordingly.” -October 14, 2011
And from my journal more recently:
“Wonderful meeting and training with [the pregnancy center] today. I feel like God is telling me my mission field is here, like helping these young women is my calling.” -February 14, 2013
Oh Angela, how many times do I have to tell you before you get it? At least once more.
Africa is far away and exotic, and the pregnancy center is a mere four blocks away and all not exotic. And yet, it is filled with the same that Africa has to offer: people. Does it matter that their pain is different? Does it matter that I don’t need a passport to work in this mission field? It does not.
I think too often we get caught up in all that appears more exciting elsewhere and forget that the mission field isn’t about that at all. Walking with those in need, reaching out our hands to help and love, isn’t about having a great story to tell later or being able to add exotic locales to our resumes. Serving is about loving people wherever they are, wherever we are. And I am thankful every day that my difficult past serves a purpose in today’s beautiful mission field laid out before me.
“He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'” -Luke 10:2 (NIV)
Angela Giles Klocke is a writer and photographer living in the mountains of Colorado. She blogs at:http://angelagilesklocke.com/
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