Monday, August 11, 2014

Oh Congo...

A few weeks ago I got to return to Congo to accompany a dear friend visiting her children she is in process of adopting. Due to the governmental halt on adoptions, she cannot bring them home, but wanted to meet the children she has been the parent of for a year now. I was honored to go alongside.
Heading to DR Congo this trip was completely different than the last. The last time I boarded that long flight I was filled with the nerves, excitement, fear and uncertainty of what was to come as we met our two treasures there. I spent 4 weeks in a convent turned hotel, staying put as much as possible while paperwork cleared, passports were printed, and we awaited the much coveted exit letter to leave the country.  The few times we did leave the convent, we were met with opposition in public, in one situation that only God orchestrated protection in because it went violent very quickly all around us. I had small hungry boys outside the 2 inch rolled down crack in my window making gestures of slicing my neck and reaching their small hands through the cracks trying to get in. Our driver was yelled at, hustled, and arrested and a stranger got in the driver seat of our car.  It is only through God's grace we made it out of there unscathed.
The month before this most recent trip to Congo a battle was raging in my mind. Fear vs. Trust in God's sovereignty, my mind trying to find the line between wisdom and recklessness, trying to figure out the vague boundary between not letting safety be an idol and using the wisdom God has given me. 
As we arrived in DRC that June 28 evening God gave me such a peace to be back in a country so sacred to our family. My fear was gone and my heart was flooded with love for a people and place so deeply interwoven into our home.  The next morning we woke up early to attend church with a friend. We wound down unpaved roads, through slum areas where people rode on bikes carrying chickens, motorcycles 3 men full, mothers walking their bundled up babies in the 78 degree weather.

Life in Congo is awe-inspiring. I saw a mother on the side of the road with her 4 children, younger than mine, trying to sell clothes and food to make an income for that day, men carrying 30-40 soda bottles on their head in hopes to sell, little girls carrying bundles of sticks tied around their head in fabric. I saw girls around the age of 5, 6, 7 on the streets alone caring for their younger siblings.  We made our way to the church and the sermon was on Ruth. Through our translator, I was moved to tears through the rich interpretation of Ruth's story.  Here was a pastor speaking to 150 Congolese people about leaving a life of safety, security and potentially trading that in for clinging to Jesus. Over 70% of people in Congo earn an average of 2-4$ a day. This pastor challenged these people not to turn away from Jesus because they are afraid he will ask them to give up something, but instead, to run to Jesus and cling to him no matter the costs. If it costs your job, your family, your financial security. Run to Jesus. Cling to Jesus the way Ruth clung to Naomi. He said sometimes this will mean we need to leave our familiar and venture out to the unfamiliar, serve the least of these, maybe even go to another country to take the good news of Christ.  Orpah made the safe choice, to leave Naomi and return to hopefully find a husband or prosperity without the 'burden' of her mother in law. However Ruth took a risk. He preached:
 Sometimes God calls us to do the uncomfortable, something that doesn't make sense, God pushes us out of our norm, out of our culture, and asks us to follow. Giving up control to our lives doesn't mean we lose freedom, we are set free. This takes humility, God raises up the humble. Ruth didn't ask questions or give conditions to her following. She merely said "Where you go, I will go, where you stay I will stay. Your people shall be my people and your God my God. Where you day I will die. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you." What a declaration of reckless faith. 
God used a Congolese pastor in the near slums of Kinshasa to remind me of how he has called me to live, how he called us to adopt, how he gives me far more than I ever "gave up" for him. The following week was a roller coaster of emotions in my heart, reflecting on meeting our kids almost 2 years ago now in this beautiful, tragic country of strength and struggle, hope and devastation. God blessed me in ways I cannot explain in words on a page of this trip. He poured healing and purpose into my heart, He laid out for me another step in my journey of what he has called me to in this amazing country. He put a new chapter in the story of our family and I am completely humbled he would use someone so small, messed up, selfish, and insignificant as me. I am also reminded of the beauty in the adventure of following God. If you would have told me how our story would have ended up 3.5 years ago when I filled out that application to adopt I would have laughed and thought, not me. 
God also allowed me in those 10 short days to enjoy a country in a way I couldn't when I was there before. Not only did I get to witness a new mom meeting on and loving on her two Congolese children and watch the bond of unconditional love begin, but I got a fresh look at my own story, a new heart for a country I had only 'wanted to get out of' the last time I was there. 

My challenge to you is to put your yes on the table. Put your "anything" out there for God to use. Pray to him, "God I will do anything you ask!" And see what he does when you surrender your everything. He will change how you spend your life, your money, your time. Holding our stuff close only keeps us trapped in the life of the predictable, the mundane. Live recklessly like Ruth, trust he is real and live like it. He sees us and he made us and he put you in the story he is writing for you. I guarantee he will move, he will call us out, he will use us, we will live in the freedom we were intended for. We, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:18-21
Thank you Jesus for giving me a small part in your huge story. May I steward it well,

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