Just like that our trip has come and gone. We loved coming home to friends and family! There really is no place like home!
Our trip was amazing and something that we love to talk about. Jace and I have been asked multiple times how our trip has been, and honestly it is hard to answer. How do you fit all the emotions of seeing trauma and hurting beyond belief, but also the emotions of seeing God’s presence in a camp of darkness into a short couple word answer? My main answer has been, “It was sad and hard but also good.”
Going into this trip was a big step of faith for both Jace and I. At the beginning of our trip I knew I would have anxiety, and I knew what could trigger my anxiety. Knowing this, I prepared some things ahead of time to help me deal with that anxiety. Things like my favorite show, a heating pad from home, and some things I knew I needed to avoid, such as caffeine, sleep deprivation, and rooms with no windows. As soon as I got to the island all of these things were not in reach. My favorite show isn’t offered in Europe, my luggage was lost so no heating pad, and my first room I was staying in had no windows. I ordered a decaf coffee but of course they didn’t understand and I ended up with caffeine. That first day there was so hard for me, but God knew it was coming. God was not surprised. Our first day there I was sitting in my room with no windows, thousands of miles away from home feeling pretty distraught and isolated. I felt God saying,
Yes all those things are gone BUT here I am. I am enough.
Wow God, reality check. You are enough. And this was a huge theme throughout our trip. God was with me the whole time and because of that I was not constricted to any place or routine. He was with me defeating anxiety and fear so I could serve Him.
One night outside of the single women’s section, I heard a bold voice of a Congolese women singing “You raise me up”. It gave me goosebumps and then made my eyes tear up. God you really do raise me up so I can do this. So I can walk on stormy seas for your names sake. Working in camp was not safe and it was not comfortable but God was with me paving the path before me. Not paving it to be safe and not paving it to be of comfort, but paving it the way He wanted it to go.
A really good representation of our trip was a moment I had in prayer. There was a lady who was silently sobbing outside the family compound while on the phone. I asked one of the other ladies what was going on, and she said she had just gotten word that a family member had died back in Syria. My stomach dropped, but what could I do? I grabbed a blanket and walked over and laid the blanket on her, tucking it behind her. I said a little prayer in my head…All I can do is put a blanket on her God, how is this enough? He whispered to me, it’s not enough but it’s a start. Jace and I really believed that a lot of the service we did on this trip was putting an example to Jesus’ love for them. We’re building bridges between their culture and ours, bridges that lead to the gospel being shared. For a lot of these people, the existence of a God is not a new belief, they are deep rooted in their beliefs. Having mainly Christians in camp shows them the love of a Savior, that EVEN in the brokenness, you are loved.
In first Corinthians it talks about enduring for love. We would be mistreated, threatened, and ran out by a riots but we showed up the next day determined to serve and love. Jesus was mocked and beaten yet he still died on the cross for the very ones who nailed Him there, you and me.
A question we have also been asked is: Where did we see God in camp?
We saw God in the way we didn’t have to understand someones language to love them. God gave us opportunities to love in other ways.
I saw God in the comfort he provides for the refugees through His volunteers. Whether it was a smile, a joke to spur laughter, holding a kid’s hand, rocking a baby to sleep, or building a tent for a family to sleep in.
We saw God bringing the nations together in one place to share the gospel. There are over 40 different nationalities in camp.
We saw God in the challenging conversations with Muslims discussing how Jesus was not just a prophet but the Son of God.
We saw God as the light in camp. A place where you wouldn’t think to see smiles or laughter, there still is.
We saw God in the hope that we have as believers. To see that much suffering and desperation shows that our ONE hope in this life is Christ.
Conditions in camp are horrible and there were times during this trip I had a hard time stomaching some of the things I witnessed, but at the same time I didn’t want that feeling to go away. That feeling softened my heart to the refugees and drove me to want justice for these people. There were times I questioned God and had to rely on the truths of his Word. Specifically Habakkuk 1:5, “Look at the nations and watch- be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” This crisis is far from over, and God’s work with the refugees is far from over as well. There is victory found in this tragedy and Jace and I are so thankful we got to serve the refugees who are close to God’s heart.
Jace and I enjoy many ministry areas but God has really softened our heart and opened our eyes to the refugee crisis. I believe the church needs to have a biblical and active response to this crisis. It is not going away, and those willing to serve and love are needed. Don’t let your heart become hard to injustice in the world and don’t overlook the work the Lord is doing throughout this crisis. We strongly encourage you to get involved. Whether that is donating money to the right organization or going out and being the hands and feet of Jesus. If God has softened your heart to the refugee crisis, Jace and I would love to grab coffee and chat!
We can’t thank our home community enough for of the support, both financially and more importantly the support through prayer. I swear every time I would start to feel discouraged, fearful, or worn down I would receive a message of encouragement from someone at home. Also thank you for all of the congratulations on our engagement! I can’t think of a better time to say yes to a life of serving Jace and coming together to serve others than on a mission trip! We are so blessed! We love you all!
For those of you who would like to give to a cause who is on the front lines of the crisis. Preemptive Love is a great organization helping the refugees.