Posted: December 6, 2016 by Sarah Windham
Coming home doesn’t seem like it should be hard. But when you see up close the beauty of God’s creation, His grace and mercy, His provision and His people doing “the work” really, really well, it feels sacred and my heart aches to return.
Anyone who asks me about our experiences in Swaziland usually gets this:
“So good…our best trip yet!”
What I’ve Seen
This is my generic answer for now because I am honestly not sure yet what I need to share. Occasionally, someone will get my over-detailed response and wish they had an appointment to get them out of the conversation because the work Heart for Africa is doing in Swaziland is exceptional and such a joy to share. I have seen it grow from a dream 5 years ago to a city on a hill. I’ve seen children rescued from the worst imaginable circumstances who are now fully loved and nourished physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They have been and will continue to be restored in the name of Jesus. In turn, they will restore others.
I’ve seen a thriving Artisan business that makes absolutely beautiful pieces. This Artisan business gives hundreds of employees the opportunity and the ability to care for themselves and the other 13 or so individuals living in their homestead. Their work is exceptional and also allows more children to be seen and brought home to Project Canaan.
I’ve seen food distributed to communities and churches serving meals regularly, mostly to the elderly, and orphaned and vulnerable children. I’ve seen eggs – did you know how incredibly good eggs are for you?? – and milk and soon I pray to see water coming down the mountain, an answered prayer and a fulfilled promise of God’s provision.
I could go on, but I know this is the point when my sweet audience begins to regret asking that innocent question, “How was your trip?” Sorry friends…I’m working on it, but I have never been great at giving a brief response. Thanks to my husband, Luke, I am now more aware of my rambling and tend to put the brakes on quicker, but I’m always happy to share if you want more information!
Focus On This
So rather than telling you about my personal experience, I want to focus on my voice – and yours. I teach music, and have been intentional with my junior high students this year about the power of their attitude and their “voice.” While searching for inspirational quotes about this topic, I stumbled upon this one:
“Be a voice, not an echo.”
I cannot get it out of my head. And I think God intended this one for me. To remind me what He wants my voice to sound like, and stop trying to determine what I want. My voice has changed a LOT in my lifetime, and I am so glad He uses our brokenness and mistakes along the way to give us a new perspective.
Growing up, I always had a plan and a picture in mind of what life would be. Don’t we all? But one lesson I have learned, and will continue to learn, is it’s not up to me. If I had complete control, I would mess it up (have messed it up), and I would miss out on an opportunity that God has for me. He can always find someone else. Zoom out for a second and be willing to say, “I don’t know and I am ok with that”. We are not called by our SAVIOR to have all the answers, all the plans. We are called to love, to listen, to seek wisdom and truth, and step forward in faith.
Most people at The Village know me as one of two people: the girl who sings, or Nate’s sister. Both titles I am proud of and grateful for, but can I tell you that until a year ago I didn’t think my “voice” had much to offer? I loved singing, and that is why I wanted to be involved. It was selfish and self-serving. It made me uncomfortable to receive encouragement, especially from people I didn’t know because I wasn’t really doing anything…I was copying and hoping it communicated the way I had interpreted it. Please don’t misunderstand. This was not always my feeling, and I have always loved the experience and emotion worship brings. But I was an echo.
Whether is was self-conscious or intentional, I wasn’t using the voice God had given ME. I was stifling it. Yet he used my insecurity to draw me close, build my confidence and let me see this year especially that I have something to offer. This is what I long for and this is what I saw in Swaziland. So many amazing voices saying yes to God’s calling on their life. Some voices carrying really far while others gently living their truths, each one coming together to make a beautiful and powerful song.
We Need Your Voice
We NEED all the voices. All the gifts. All the faith to say yes and recognize what God has given us. We NEED to stop echoing what we think we should be so we can be the voice He created us to be. If we all “sang” the same melody, no one would listen to Pandora. I pray we can each be more sensitive to the voice God has in store for us and fully experience the blessings and provision that come when we say yes.
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him…May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:16-19