I recently read a quote by Anthony Bourdain that said, “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts. It even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you, it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully you leave something good behind.”
These words have never felt so true to me. Recently, myself, as well as my ambitious and vigorous team returned back to the States from visiting Enat CarePoint in Hawassa, Ethiopia with Children’s HopeChest. Our team has been partnered with HopeChest for a little over five years now and we have visited our CarePoint six times. I’ve been privileged to have attended two of these visits and wait expectantly for when I get to return.
Both times (in 2016 and 2018) that I have traveled to our CarePoint I saw the Lord do incredible things through the kids in the program, the CarePoint staff, our team, and in the surrounding community. However, as I returned home from this previous visit I have felt the Lord working in ways that I’ve never experienced before. During our visit, God began to instill in me the concept of abiding in Him and in the Spirit. As the days went by during our journey, it became very evident that this was a common theme the Lord had placed on several of our team members. We started studying together what it looks like to consistently abide in the Father and how our job as followers of Christ is complete simplicity- love God and love others.
I think it’s really easy for us Americans to Americanize God. We live in this mindset that we owe God our heart, time, and money when in reality that’s not how He looks at us at all. God desires us. He wants those things not because we owe it to Him but because He wants us to be in a constant state of living with Him and abiding in His presence. We tend to believe that following Jesus is going to church regularly and not doing “bad things.” We’ve lost the ability to be in tune with the Spirit of God. We get up, go to school/work, come home to take care of our families, go to bed, all to get up in the morning and do it all over again. In the meantime, Satan uses our busyness to drift us away from being actively present with God and what He wants for us. I know I am completely guilty of this.
During this visit to Enat CarePoint, however, God woke me up to this reality. I felt so much conviction because I realized that I so often overcomplicate my relationship with Him, and I think so many Christians find themselves in that same rut. While we were in Ethiopia, there was a time when we were talking about how in the gospel of Matthew, verse 14, Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” We were talking about that concept and it was such a profound moment for me because that very verse was taking place right before our eyes as we were showing our CarePoint children the love of Christ.
I was watching this genuine love soak in my soul as the days went by, asking myself if this is how I naturally respond to Christ’s love for me. It hurt when I told myself that I didn’t.
I think what God wanted to reveal to our team during our visit to Enat is to hold on to his presence. We are the ones that move. God never moves away from us. Coming back home has been nothing less than hard. It’s hard because what you experience in that environment is something that just can’t be explained. It has to be experienced. You come back feeling completely transformed from experiencing Jesus in such a strong reality.
I think that fire can die out so easily because we only presently allow our emotions towards Jesus to be empowered instead of letting him continually transform our lives. We need a life transformation, a mind shift.
I think this CarePoint visit inspired a shift in my heart and the hearts of those on my team — the willingness to go wherever God tells you to go, but also remembering to live kingdom-minded instead of earth-minded. Whether it be across town or across the ocean, I’ve been convicted to be willing to BE wherever He calls me. I’ve decided all I want in this life is to chase God and love His people. Everything else is a blur and I feel completely optimistic of God’s plan for me and my desire is for every believer to feel the same. Loving God is so simple and I don’t want to overcomplicate it anymore. My team and I feel so privileged to get to partner with HopeChest and have been so blessed by our friends we’ve made in Ethiopia over the years and by seeing the blessings in the lives in the Enat community. Thank you HopeChest for providing opportunities to these lives throughout the world that seem so fragile and for giving us the opportunity to be a part of their lives now and for the years to come.