Why go to Africa? Why go to Africa as a missionary? What are you hoping to find there? These questions, and others, are heard more than any others, especially when one is fundraising. The questions are legitimate: people want to know why they should give you money. Others may give you money just because they love you, but they still have questions whose answers they cannot comprehend.
So, as I come to the end of my YWAM outreach to Uganda, I am asking myself those same questions. Why go? After all, what can one person do? Can I feed all the starving people? Can I provide medical help for the sick? Can I house the homeless? Can I educate the illiterate? What can I, one very financially strapped, older woman (with health issues) do for the nation of Africa?
I can ask the Lord to break my heart for these people as his is broken, so my eyes can see what he sees. That is what I did. He was faithful to answer that prayer, and I am now overwhelmed with the need for the Lord’s compassionate hand in this beautiful, yet suppressed, land.
Before I left the UK to head to Africa, many of my leaders warned me that it would be hard for me because I have such compassion for people. I could see they were worried about me. But one wise man, who originally struggled with the same problem gave me sound advice. He said, “You cannot help all the people in the nation: deal with the ones God puts in your path today.” Wonderful advice that answers the question, “What can one man do?”
One man or woman can learn a little sign language in order to converse with a teenage girl and bring a smile to her face, and encouragement in her heart. One woman can find a sponsor for that girl, whose name is Winnie. One woman can teach a roomful of teenage campers how to share their testimonies in order that they can inspire others in the same way. One woman can give her testimony to a hundred or more men in prison to remind them that the Lord wants a relationship with them. That God sees them – not their sins – when they turn to Him. One woman can strap on a face mask and enter a TB ward to pray for the critically ill patients, including one man, Moses, who had not had food in a week. One woman can give all she has (which happened to be a bag of peanuts) to him with profound prayers for his relief. One woman can inspire a group of women to go into the nursery ward of the hospital and teach the teenage mothers how to care for their newborn babies because the mothers themselves are still babies and have no skills. One woman can be wracked with torment because she sees the unsanitary and unhygienic living conditions, as well as the lack of a balanced diet in the nation that causes so many debilitating illnesses that are killing off the population. One woman can take that vision to the base leaders and share her vision of community education and the need to extend that to the surrounding villages – and help them brainstorm new methods of education. One woman can encourage long-term staff members in order to renew and help propel them into their calling to reach into the Congo to share Jesus with the lost souls there. One woman can help deliver a sewing machine to a widow in a remote village so she can sew items that can be sold to buy food for her and her handicapped son. One woman can go to a South Sudanese refugee camp and share Jesus with hundreds of people at one time, and share her story of redemption, and how the Lord knows each and every one of them personally and is longing for them to come to him so he can give them comfort in their time of need. One woman can find Bibles in their language to be dispersed to them so they can know God even better. One woman can pray for the reunion of one missionary man with his wife and ten month old son (whom he had not yet even met). Pray for the US to finalize his Visa for which he had been waiting for over a year. One woman can hold and feed, and love abandoned babies all night long while praying for their future. One woman can help to bless the permanent staff that cares for these babies in order to encourage them in their fight to save them. One woman can pray for God’s vision for this children’s home to continue strongly in preparing the mind, body and souls of these blessed little ones. One woman can go door to door with an interpreter, meeting the people in a remote village, sharing her testimony and introducing them to Jesus. One woman can teach them the importance of keeping their marriage vows, and the importance of raising children in the Lord. One woman can help train parents in how to bring up their children with respect and love, rather than with anger and the cane of frustration. One woman can stay for a time in a remote village and see first-hand how the Lord is stretching out his hand over the community because of the faith of a handful of his servants. One woman can take that vision back home to find sponsors for the village children so they can be educated along with their families, and in turn the whole community. One woman can pray diligently for a peaceful election in a nation constantly torn apart by violence and war. One woman can take the message of the needs of her fellow workers for Christ, working in Uganda, back to the West, where the people pay more for a meal at a fast food restaurant than a family of six pays for a month of utility bills. One woman can help provide funds to help a widow start a business that will be just enough to pay for a meager amount of food, and then continue to provide support for her training in a skill that will eventually help her to be sustained and be able to send her sons on to finish their education.
What can one woman do as a missionary in Africa? One woman can obey her Lord and go. One woman can step out of her very clean and completely organized life and into a dirty and chaotic land where the Lord is working wonders that she otherwise would never experience and could otherwise never be a part of. One woman can love the people the Lord put in her path today. And through those people a nation can be changed. That is why I went to Africa.