southafrica

Reminiscing A Wandering Heart: The Boy in South Africa

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My time in South Africa was something that I have yet to completely process…it’s something that is always on my mind and something that I am ever grateful to have had the opportunity. But it was only the beginning. So as the days go by and the time passes I find it useful to write out my experiences and the emotions I felt and since I was not on this journey alone, but I invited many to walk along side me I thought I would start a series of post reminiscing my heart and the memories of South Africa. This experience was rather life changing and my hope in sharing it with you is simply give you a glimpse of the work God did in my life with the hope that you can recognize the work He is doing in your own life.

In South Africa there was a little boy the age 7. He was like any other 7 year old boy, rambunctious and fearless, yet he captured my heart like no one ever had. He had a smile that won my heart the second I saw it. He was as most people call, my one. The one who was always sitting on my lap; the one who I was always holding; the one who I clung to as we said goodbye.

Our time together while he attended the VBS/camp we hosted in South Africa is something I’ll cherish forever. There was one memory I have when the group was playing on the field, kids running all over playing dodgeball, soccer, and picking flowers. I was sitting with a group near the bags and the kids were playing and climbing on us, the the boy climbed inside the bags and started to zip himself up, so playing along I grabbed the bag and told him he was coming home with me back to the states; he literally fit inside our bag. It was that moment that I really struck me and made me think…I really love this little boy. He laughed and had the hugest smile on his face it filled my heart with overwhelming joy.

As the week went on my love for this little boy continued to grow and I dreaded the idea of him leaving. Although there were times when he was up to trouble and I would have to tell him to stop doing something, he would turn around and look at me with a huge smile from ear to ear that totally won my heart. There wasn’t a chance that I could be mad at him, but simply give him a big ‘ol hug!

The relationship that was formed in a matter of only a few days is that of one that often takes years to form. But this little boy was so accepting of the love I had to offer and craved that love, he changed my life in more ways than I could ever offer him. It wasn’t till just a few days ago that I realized why God had put that boy in my life and the relationship that was formed with him. I was with my mentor walking through a prayer exercise of how I see God and my relationship with Him.

As I was in this prayer state of just me and God, He gave me an image…an image I was very familiar with that I often have when I reminisce my time in South Africa. It was the image of my relationship with that boy in South Africa; playing with him, holding him, sitting with him, and simply loving him. A huge grin on both of our faces laughing as I held him in my arms. This was so significant because God revealed that this was the way He wanted to love me. For so often I forgotten to come to God as my Father, simply for Him to hold me tight and whisper in my ear…”I love you.” This was a moment of complete and utter joy, so overwhelming I found myself in tears. God took a moment that I cherished so much and reminisced about often to give me a glimpse of a tangible relationship that He wanted with me. It was simply beautiful, just as the the little boy in South Africa was.

I was reminded that God wants us to come running to His is arms simply to be held by His sweet embrace. He wants to hold us and laugh with us through every good and bad experience. He wants to love his child unconditionally. My prayer is that you would not forget this and that you would accept this love God is offering to you. The relationship I had with that little boy in South Africa is something I can only describe, but I hope that you may feel that type of love someday and maybe some of you already. But I hope you get to feel that love with our Almighty Father because who knows it just might change your life…

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Open Letter After My South Africa Mission Trip

Dear Friends and Family,

            I hope this letter finds you well! I bet you’re probably wondering why you haven’t heard from me or why this letter is coming so late as I’ve been home from South Africa for a whole month now. But if I’m being completely honest with you it has been one of the hardest things for me being home. I want nothing more than to sell everything and move to South Africa, but we all know that’s not logical. I know God has me here for a purpose and He took me to South Africa for a reason, but I do miss it. As much as I prepared for God to send me to South Africa, I was not ready for the reality of coming home. Since being home I have been trying to process the trip as a whole and it’s been extremely tough; as cliché as it sounds I left my heart in South Africa. God stirred something up in me and I fell in love with South Africa; the kids, staff, community, and people.

            While I was in South Africa God completely transformed my heart. He opened my eyes to appreciate the little things and I got to experience His love in a totally new way. I felt so at home and at peace while I was there. I never knew you could fall in love with people in such a short amount of time so fast. I can honestly say I love the people I met in South Africa and they are family to me now. No matter the distance between us I know that we are bonded together in the love of Jesus Christ. And that brings such joy to my heart; to know that they have Jesus into their hearts. I don’t know whether I will ever see them here on this earth, but I can find comfort in the fact that I will see them again in our Heavenly home with our Almighty Father.

            As I prepared for the trip I thought that I was preparing to pour into the lives of the people of South Africa, but when I got there I was in for much more than I had imagined. I went with no expectations because I knew I could not hinder the work of God. But the people of South Africa filled me with so much more than I could ever offer to them. They embraced me with so much love and joy it literally brings a smile to my face. On the last day when we were leaving I was in tears saying our good-byes and the kids were encouraging me telling me, “Don’t worry, God is with you” and “God loves you.” I thought I should have been telling them that, but because I had showed them God’s love continuously over the two weeks they knew it was exactly what I needed.

            As most of you know a month before I left for South Africa my Gramma passed away. It was a really difficult time, but I knew God had picked me for the team for a purpose so I put my trust in Him and I went. While I was in country I saw people who had so much joy and happiness, despite their losses. God showed me that even through the pain and sorrow there is hope. These kids who had lost their parents to AIDS had suffered so much pain and hurt in their short lives, yet they were still filled with so much joy. It’s crazy that God had to take me all the way to South Africa just to tell me that He was with me through my pain; that He was embracing with love in my pain and hurt just as He was with the people of South Africa.

            Since being home I have been constantly thinking and praying for the people I met in South Africa. They have captured my heart and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to go. And I personally want to thank you for all your love and support. I never would have been able to take this leap of faith without your prayers and encouragement. I am so thankful to have had you on this journey of faith, but I must admit this is only the beginning. I don’t know where God is calling me next in mission, but I know God has put South Africa on my heart. The love I encountered in South Africa was something I’ll never forget; it was true genuine unconditional love. I found peace in South Africa amidst a broken world, but it’s evident that God is doing work in South Africa and I’m blessed to have been a part it and I’m excited to see His Kingdom further in South Africa.

 

This letter is only a glimpse of the work God is doing in South Africa and how He used me. There are plenty of other stories and encounters, but I would have to write a novel to just touch the surface. So I encourage you if you would like to hear more or simply just want to talk I am open to get coffee or dinner or simply meet up anywhere. I would love to share my heart for mission and South Africa with you. I will leave my contact information at the bottom if you wish to get together or you can check out my blog. I thank you again for all of the ways that you have supported me; It means more than I can ever express in words.

I ask that you would please pray for the people of South Africa and the work God is doing there. I also ask that you please pray for me as I continue to process the trip and transition being home, even though I’ve been home for a month I still find it hard at times. Thank you again and I will be praying for you my friends! I love you!

Thank you taking the time to read this! I value your time and I thank you. Continue to seek Him and All His Glory!

-Steven

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