“It’s going to take a lot to take me away from you…”
So if you’re reading this you probably just saw the news that I recently posted on Facebook about me moving to Uganda, AND you probably have just as many questions as I still do. Being one who doesn’t divulge very much publicly on social channels, sharing all that I’m about to share doesn’t come so easy, but I do find it necessary.
Back in August, I experienced a lay off with close to 200 of my fellow coworkers. It was sudden, and for many absolutely devastating! I’ll never forget watching that subtle wave of shock gradually progress through the office as we each found out from one another, via whispers and telephone calls. It was like a well-scripted scene from The Office, where you awkwardly hope Michael Scott will eventually jump out and scream, “PSYCHE!!” Well you can guess that didn’t happen, and honestly it just didn’t seem real. However, I had been without a job before and I knew the promise of God’s provision, so I knew in that very moment, that even then, this wouldn’t be a bad thing. But what I didn’t know, is that God was intending to use this ridiculous moment of uncertainty to open one of the biggest doors of my life.
At the very beginning of the year, I felt so frustrated with God. I felt like He kept taking things away from me, mainly in the form of relationships. So many, if not all of my best friends had either moved away, gone off to school, gotten married, or had babies, and it all appeared to happen within a few months time. I felt so alone and so forgotten. I just couldn’t understand why God was drying up every good place in my life. Over time, I began to feel passionless. I felt useless, and I was desperately seeking meaning and purpose. Because of this, I began to struggle with the idea of leaving my volunteer role at church where I had served in youth ministry for the past 3 years. I knew I couldn’t continue to motion my way through the fog of it anymore, so I chose to step away so that I could focus on myself. I felt selfish, and I was so disappointed in myself. In my mind, I was letting a lot of people down, particularly the students in my small group.
After leaving my volunteer role at the church, I felt like it would be a great time for me to work on my own stuff. I felt like I had given so much of myself to others and received so little in return (tangibly). I was definitely struggling with resentment towards others, but significantly more towards God and myself. So I figured I would begin to work on my home so that I could sell it, get out of debt, and buy a new house—unaware this was really at the Holy Spirit’s leading.
During the months following, I began to isolate myself so much. If you’re friends with me you probably even encountered one of my non-committal responses to your invitations to do something. But God began to reveal his hand as I tried to keep communication with my friend Pete, who was currently living in Uganda.
Pete is one of those friends that you truly pray and ask God for—a lot of my best friends are. But as we all know, each friendship is different. Pete and I identified with one another through our similar seasons of life. He was there to offer constant words of encouragement and wisdom at some of my weakest points. But more importantly, He sincerely follows Jesus, and the presence of God seems to follow him wherever he goes (or the other way around). I just know that I’ve always told myself that Pete is someone that I would follow anywhere (apparently even to Africa), because I know that wherever he’s going, the Holy Spirit is leading him there. Little did I know how these words would soon come to haunt me.
Pete had been living in Uganda for just about a full year. He was touching base to let me know when he would be back in the States to visit. He had actually moved to Uganda right around the week that I began my job, and irony has it that he was returning right around the week that I was getting laid off, almost a year to the day.
Also, two months after him leaving, in November of last year, he and I were messaging back and forth. He mentioned that he felt like I should be praying about coming to Uganda and getting involved there with Freedom Church. He gave me an out by saying, “…or maybe it’s just the coffee talking”. I immediately dismissed it as the coffee and I don’t recall ever mentioning it to God—until SEVERAL months later.
…FOR THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO LOVE HIM
Looking back over the last year, God literally dropped an explosion of blessing in Pete’s life. Pete went to Africa on a wing and a prayer not even knowing what God had for him there. Within two months of being there he met a young woman that he eventually married four months later –IN AFRICA! God has been blessing them both so much in their service and leadership there at the church in Uganda, and that’s only a glimpse of it. But part of that blessing is them being approached with the opportunity to launch the Freedom Church Kampala Leadership Academy.
So when Pete told me that he was coming to visit I knew the conversation of me going to Uganda was one that was waiting to be had. He had already dropped a few hints before so it was only a matter of time before it would resurface. But this time, God had already removed every excuse in the book that I could’ve used. I was already about to sell my home, I was unemployed, and I was no longer comfortable or satisfied in the areas of friendships, relationships, church, or work. My whole world had been disrupted in some shape or form, and now all that God needed was for me to change my heart and simply say—yes.
BUT AFRICA LORD? WHY AFRICA?!
I have never had any desire to go to Africa. In fact it’s the very last place on earth that I would ever want to go! But now, it appeared to me as the only place that it made sense to go. I had no excuses and absolutely nothing to keep me here. In fact God had already changed my heart. And in the time that I chose not to change it costs me dearly—far more than the cost of change itself.
So GOD, you win! I wave my white flag, and I’ll go to Uganda. I have no real clear understanding as to why you would have me go, but I know that I’ve never walked through a door as wide open as this. And I know that on the other side of obedience is always blessing.
I have to remind myself that some times you just have to trust and stop asking questions. And for those of you who know me, you know I ask A LOT OF QUESTIONS!
So to answer some of your main questions, I’ll be leaving for Uganda in November where I’ll be attending Freedom Church Kampala’s Leadership Academy. The academy runs through July of 2018. Its core purpose is to train, inspire, challenge and release the potential of young leaders in the church. Classes are two days a week and on the days that we don’t have class, we’ll be actively volunteering at nearby street schools working with the kids there, and volunteering our time at the church as well. Some of you have asked if I plan to return afterwards and I do intend to return, but ultimately I’ve chosen to leave that up to God.
I’m oddly excited. I’ve never been off of the east coast or taken an adventure so radical. I’m really going to miss my family so much, and it pains my heart to even imagine life without them being so close by, but I know that God always offers more. Plus, His word says…
…anyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. (Mark 10:29,30)
So rather than think about how much I will miss them, I look forward to God’s promise and His direction, and I choose to hold onto to His word of blessing. Because it’s in His word that I will always stand secure.
If you’d like to help or support me in this major next step and crazy life changing experience, please feel free to give as God leads you. You can do so by simply clicking the donate button up top. In order for all of this to take place I will have to pay for tuition, housing, and travel expenses, which I am currently paying on my own. Also if you were even able to read this far, thank you for allowing me to share my story with you, I hope my faith to follow Jesus can and will continue to encourage you. If you’d like to keep up with my travels and see where all of this takes me, I’ll be posting and updating on a regular basis here and on my other social channels. Thanks again, and please stay tuned for all that’s to come!