A "yes" can change your life...
For me, my “yes” started just over two years ago when I submitted my application to be a part of the 2017 team traveling to Kenya.
At the time, embarking on something like this could not have been a thought further from my mind. I was a stay-at-home mom to three young girls, we were a host family for Safe Families for Children, my husband’s job took much of his time week to week, and I had never been away from my girls for more than a few days at a time.
Not to mention, this was Africa! Up until that point, I had never thought about leaving the comforts of my home and traveling clear across the world. There were so many unknowns… and yet in the midst of it all, there was also an overwhelming sense of peace.I had an unexplainable feeling that this wasn’t just about Africa, but rather a chance to walk in obedience – to trust and know that if this is what God truly had for me, that saying ‘no’ was not an option. The doors would open or close according to His perfect plan.
And so, with some trepidation, I submitted my application, completed my interview, and waited.
The answer was ‘yes’ and so began the months of training and preparation with my team. The time leading up to that trip was difficult. I was being stretched and pulled out of my comfort zone in so many different ways and we hadn’t even left home! But, even in the middle of my shortcomings, God was shaping my heart and preparing me for an experience that would forever change me and would deepen my love not only for Him but for the people of Africa.I soaked up every ounce of that first trip and can remember with vivid detail the specific moments that stuck in my brain and heart:
- Seeing the smiling faces of the children cared for by Empowering Lives International, their joy un-matchless to anything I had ever seen before.
- Sitting in a mud hut overlooking acres of cabbages with a woman whose life had been marked with years of being caught up in illegal brewing, just trying to provide for her family, but yet whose eyes were now filled with the hope and love for Jesus and a desire to share that same hope with anyone who would listen.
- Holding a sleeping baby, his frail body ravaged by malnourishment and disease, finding refuge, love and medical care by the staff of Living Room Ministries, his future resting in the hand’s of Jesus.
- Spending time with a beautiful girl named Linda, who sat in a wheelchair, the evidence of her injuries hidden under a thin sheet draped over her legs. She was quiet and shy, her smile infectious, and she had a sweetness about her that captured the hearts of our entire team.
As we boarded the plan to return home, it felt bittersweet. I longed to hold my family in my arms, and yet I felt like I was leaving a piece of my heart in Africa. The months that followed were so difficult, and I questioned what the purpose of it all was.
“God, you stirred my heart in unexplainable ways and I know that I am not the same person I was before I arrived in Africa. There has to be something more, right?”
It was in those months that I remember hearing the phrase, “I will connect the dots.” It didn’t mean much at the time, but little did I know I was entering into a new season in my walk with the Lord.
In November 2017, six months after my return from Kenya, I was contacted and asked to consider joining Hillside’s Serve team. Once again, I found myself pondering an unexpected opportunity, one that would naturally “disrupt” the normal patterns of my typical day. I loved being a stay-at-home-mom, we were still hosting kiddos through the Safe Families for Children program, and the thought of committing my time elsewhere on a consistent basis didn’t make sense – and quite honestly it felt overwhelming!I committed to praying about it for a month, and during that month, I made a mental list of all the reasons I could say ‘yes’ and the perfectly good reasons I could say ‘no.’ I quickly realized that my reasonings to turn down the offer came from a selfish heart. I loved my schedule; I loved the time I had at home; I loved the ability to control my agenda and get the things done that I felt were important.
Don’t get me wrong: being at home with my girls was my most important job and such a beautiful gift, but I hadn’t realized how comfortable I had become in my role. It was as if I was in cruise control mode and life was passing by. The thought popped into my mind again – maybe this wasn’t necessarily about the opportunity that sat in front of me, but rather about obedience and learning to walk by faith and not by sight, being willing to trust that His path is always better than my path or my plan.So, once more I said ‘yes’ and once more that phrase, “I will connect the dots” came to my mind. In the months that followed, I found myself yet again out of my comfort zone. I felt unqualified, unexperienced, ill equipped, and overwhelmed. But, God had me right where I needed to be. He was stretching me, molding me, pruning me, and through it all, He was getting the glory. It was His light that was shining forth from me and it was His power that was being perfected in my weaknesses.
Over time, my role evolved into where I serve today as Global Serve Coordinator for Hillside. It felt almost ironic and a little humorous. Never in a hundred years did I think that same quiet, rather reserved girl, who had every intention of saying ‘no’ to Africa would now be sitting in a place of serving those who are prayerfully considering saying ‘yes’ to Kenya, India or Mexico. But God knew – and only He could have orchestrated it all.This past January, I was invited to return to Kenya to celebrate the dedication of the Living Room’s new care center in Eldoret. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and couldn’t wait to be reunited with those who felt like life-long friends.
As we walked to the entrance of Living Room, we were greeted by many beautiful and familiar faces, their song of welcome falling upon my heart, tears instantly filling my eyes.It was in that moment that I spotted her. Standing right in the middle was Linda, with the same sweet smile and shy gaze that had captivated my heart two years earlier – but with no wheelchair in sight. Was I dreaming? I was certain my heart would burst out of my chest. As they welcomed us through the front gates and we began to make our way into the hospice, my eyes were locked on Linda as she playfully ran ahead of the group.
The days ahead of us were busy and filled with so many beautiful moments as we toured and prayed over the new facility. I couldn’t get the picture of Linda standing there out of my thoughts; my mind was spinning with joy.
A few days later, a fellow member of our team, Rose Martin, and I found ourselves in the quietness of the garden, surrounded by the guests of Kimbilio Hospice in Kipkaren. We came prepared with lotions, oils and a playlist full of worship music, ready to offer arm and leg massages. We were certain most of these guests had never experienced a massage, and although I was inexperienced, and probably very unqualified, I was ready to give it my best.
I quickly spotted the small frame of a lady laying on a mattress in the middle of the garden. Her breathing was very labored and her sunken eyes told me that she was probably very sick. My hands moved up and down her frail arms and she asked me not to stop.Moments later I glanced up and saw Linda making her way towards me. She sat down, looked up at me and just smiled. She watched intently as I moved my hands up and down. I wondered if she wanted a turn, so I asked if she wanted me to rub her arms as well. She shyly shook her head and ever so slowly pointed to her legs. Her legs were marked by the scars of her injuries and the surgeries that had allowed her to regain the ability to walk again. The fact that she wanted me to massage her legs – those same legs that were once covered by a sheet and bound to a wheelchair – took my breath away.
This was a divine appointment.The presence of Jesus was so palpable in that moment and once again, “I will connect the dots,” floated into my mind. I cautiously placed my hands on her legs, certain that any sort of pressure would cause her pain, and yet she sat there with the biggest smile on her face and said, “no pain, no pain.” It is a memory that I will never forget and one that only He could have orchestrated.
I am again reminded that He is the author of each of our stories; that every single part or every single dot has its purpose, even the dots that are filled with brokenness. Through it all, He will continue to connect the dots of each our lives. We may never see the entire picture and we may never be able to make sense of it all this side of heaven, but one day we will be absolutely blown away by a complete picture of His perfect love, His kindness, and His grace for each one of us.
When we choose to say ‘yes’ in obedience and surrender to His plans, we don’t know what might be hanging in the balance; but I can assure you that you will have the opportunity to experience Jesus like never before.
By Daphne Riedel
Global Serve Coordinator
Be a Part of the 2020 Africa Team!
If you have completed Rooted, served our church and local cities, and are ready to take that next step of faith in serving across the world, then join our 2020 Africa team!
Our next Africa Interest Meeting is on Sunday, October 27 at 12:45 p.m. in Room 114. Come have your questions answered and see what your "YES" might look like in this next season of serving!LEARN MORE