Preparing for Tanzania

It’s my first time travelling overseas…  Actually, it’s my first time travelling out of the country period. I’m going to Africa – Tanzania, to be specific. I have so many things that I’m looking forward to, so many things that I am more than just a little excited about. Ok… so maybe I’m ecstatic! I can’t wait to live in and experience another culture for nearly three weeks, to see and meet the people, to listen with fascination to hundreds of voices speaking Swahili. I can’t wait to walk into that airport beside my mom and my sister two days from now at four o’ clock in the morning, accompanied by boxes filled with Vacation Bible School supplies sufficient for a week’s worth of activities with the missionaries’ kids in Tanzania. I can’t wait to walk around Tanzania’s capitol, Dar es Salaam, with camera poised and ready to capture breathtaking moments, one by one. I can’t wait to see how the Lord will work in my heart while I’m there, the things that He will teach me that I might never have learned had I not made the venture…

And of course I have always known that such an endeavor, whether a short-term mission trip or a long-term commitment, always involves sacrifice. But surely the desire to spread the Gospel to the lost overcomes any self-centered desires and makes all self-sacrifice seem small, right? I mean, the whole point of a missions trip is to serve others, to give to others, to focus leading others to Christ, right? Where does that leave room for any selfishness?

Up until now, I don’t think I ever considered the sacrifices that I might have to make if I were to pursue any sort of involvement in missions, regardless of how small or great they may be. Suddenly, when I have the opportunity to take the truth of the Gospel to little ones in another country, I am seeing just how selfish I really am… and lazy. Until about two weeks ago, I was viewing this trip to Tanzania as something that I could personally could gain from. I saw this as an opportunity to finally experience all those things described earlier. Recently, however, I have been thankful that the Lord is faithful to bring my attention back into focus on the needs of others rather than on my own often selfish desires…

Philippians 2:3-5, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…”

The whole reason that I am even going to bring the Gospel to kids, to regard their lives as more important than my own. The Lord was gracious to bring my attention to this verse as I was reading through Philippians, and I realized that my intentions ought to be focused on the hearts and souls of the children that I have the opportunity to teach. God did not sovereignly and graciously drop this opportunity into my lap so that I could become focused on all my hopes and expectations and aspirations. Yet, that is all that I had done until two or three weeks ago. And the result has been a continual concern for my own interests. I refused to be inconvenienced as we gathered, prepared, and packed supplies for the VBS. I did not cheerfully give of my time and energy, but only did as much as I absolutely had to. It never even occurred to me to go the extra mile to help my mom, who was bearing the greatest load in planning the trip combined with all of the responsibilities regarding family and church. What happened to all that selflessness I thought I’d have while preparing to proclaim the Gospel to lost and searching hearts?

God is so gracious to me! Seeing me in my hopeless pride and self-centeredness, He kindly convicted me of my sin and reminded me how to sacrifice of myself. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests. So far, that’s all that I had been looking forward to in this trip – pursuing my own interests. But also for the interests of others. This is what my primary concern should be – to recognize and fill the needs and interests of others. My first interest ought to be how I can give of myself for others’ sake, namely the sakes of the children that I am going to serve. With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourself. Who is really most important in my mind? Is it myself? Then I am proud. But this is not the example that Christ as set for me. Have this attitude in yourselves which also in Christ Jesus. My Savior has set the ultimate example of sacrifice for me to follow. He did not just fly overseas to bring life, like I was so proud to do. He breached the divide between heaven and earth, God and man, spirit and flesh, holiness and sinfulness, so that we might be reconciled to God. This is the example that I ought to be passionately seeking to emulate, even before I meet this precious little ones that I have the blessed opportunity to minister to!

The battle against selfishness is not even near over. It really has only just begun. And it will probably only get worse when I finally reach my destination where many conveniences that I am accustomed to will disappear and even luxuries like sleep will be hard to get. And it will probably continue even after I’ve returned home. Still, I am intensely grateful to my Father for revealing my pride to me before I nearly let an incredible opportunity to serve others slip through my fingers. I am looking forward to anything and everything that He will teach me during those three weeks in Tanzania, even if they may be difficult lessons to learn. If He has already been working so mightily, I know that He will not fail to accomplish even greater things while we serve the missionaries in Tanzania!

Finally, I could not end a post about a missions trip without humbly asking you all to pray for us as we go. Please pray that the Lord will keep my mom and sister and I safe as we travel to, in, and around Tanzania. Pray that He will provide strength, endurance, joy, and diligence as we seek to serve the missionaries there. Pray that the Lord will guide all that we say and do, that we might be able to present the Gospel clearly with every opportunity we get. Pray that the hearts and minds of the kids will be ready to receive the truth of God’s Word, and that the Word of the Lord will not return void. Pray that our hearts and minds will be eager and willing to learn whatever the Lord has to teach us while we are overseas. And please pray fervently that our great God will receive the glory and honor in all that is accomplished during the next three weeks. THANK YOU!

Philippians 1:15-18, “Some to be sure are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ from selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether or in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes and I will rejoice…”

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Comments
4 Responses to “Preparing for Tanzania”
  1. lady says:

    Praying for you and the team kid! ❤

  2. Godspeed ~ God’s Blessings ~

  3. Roz Wyton says:

    Great post. I’m sorry we didn’t talk more about your trip to Tanzania those few days we were at your house. Would love to have talked more about your thinking feelings and expectations on what you are hoping to to see God accomplish through this trip.

    Hope you have an absolutely wonderful trip. Love you so much Nana

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  4. J says:

    I pray that God uses this mission not just for pushing out his Word, but to give you an even greater grasp that you can rely on God fully. His plan is unfolding exactly as He intends it to, and I pray that any challenges you come across out there will not feed frustration but a peaceful knowledge that God is working all things together for the your/our good.

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