At age 11, I participated in a Freedom from Hunger walk. I saw it as my opportunity to help those in need, and I foresaw myself feeding the Word of God to unreached people groups in distant lands. Little did I know what the Lord had in store.
A number of years later, with a newly minted master’s degree, I saw an advertisement for an English teaching position in a war-torn Muslim land. I had been taught about tentmaking missions by Dr. Bruce Moyer and was inspired. Now was my chance to be a tentmaker and fulfill a childhood dream. I applied. A few weeks later, I attended the interview and was accepted.
Eagerly I shopped for long dresses and headscarves—my new wardrobe. The words of my supervisor, an influential Canadian Muslim lady, rang in my ears, reminding me not to mention to anyone in my new country that I was a Christian. If I were to let this information slip, she took no responsibility for bringing back my corpse.
I wondered if it was safe to carry my Bible and my mission books. My supervisor said it wasn’t, but then I made a deal with God: “Lord, You know that I only have You where I am going. As I carry my Bible and my missionary books, I may get stopped and searched.
When this happens, I ask of You one thing: You who made the blind to see, in that moment please make the seeing blind.”
I recall my mother standing beside me at the airport, worried about my trip and whether I would return alive or not. My new country of residence was still fighting a war. I said to my mother, “You taught me to obey Jesus. I am but His gift to you. Release the gift back to the Giver. If I die, be glad you will see me on resurrection morning. If I return alive, my work is not done, and God will use me still. Go home. Leave me in my Father’s arms.”
As our plane came in for a landing, I saw someone chasing goats off the airstrip. Sitting beside me, my supervisor reminded me to cover my head. As we got out of the plane, the heat struck me. Nevertheless, I knew that God was answering my prayer.
On my first day of teaching English to 32 women, some refused to listen to me. How could such a young girl teach them anything? They struggled. My first prayer need stared me in the face. I knelt in my room. “Lord, not only am I not at liberty to speak of You as the Son of God, but I am also facing rejection for being too young. What should I do?” The Lord urged two things upon me: to keep a song in my heart and to write down the vision.
I leaned heavily on the promises of the Lord as I worked to keep a song in my heart. Discouragement stalked me. How could I be a missionary when I couldn’t share Christ with anyone? I was told that death would be inevitable if I shared openly, and my murderer would be filled with joy at the thought of the seven wives he would gain in paradise for killing me.
I had no opportunity for fellowship with any other Christian. There were simply none around me. All had fled or been killed. So I got myself a little box and labeled it “Joy Box.” During my devotions, I would write down the gems the Lord placed on my heart, and I put these in my Joy Box for later reading when I needed encouragement. Sometimes I put them to music. These gave me tangible joy.
The Lord impressed me to write down in a journal the names of the women I taught. Every day, I would pray for one of them. I asked the Lord to send that woman to me to begin a conversation about her struggles, challenges, joys and sorrows so that I would know how to pray for her. Over the following year, the Lord honored my request by bringing to me the exact woman I prayed for each day! I love rereading these pages and remembering what the Lord did for me.
My heart still breaks when I reflect on my time of service in that country. I remember carrying malnourished refugee children from a flight that brought them back home. Seeing these little babies with ribs sticking out, their little nostrils flaring as they gasped for each breath, took a huge toll on me. I couldn’t eat, and I lost a lot of weight and began to feel weak. I was humbled that God had allowed me to be a part of this mission to bring relief to children in need.
On one occasion we took a trip by road to a village where I would teach women English. Our vehicle was loaded with guns, and most of the men and boys we met along the way were armed as well. My supervisor had a way with them. I remember the chills that went down my spine when my worried eyes met their burning eyes as they peeped through the vehicle windows.
When we arrived in the village, it pained my vegetarian Seventh-day Adventist heart to discover that a young goat had been slaughtered to celebrate my coming. We all ate together cross-legged on the floor, a big tray of rice and meat before us. I enjoyed plenty of rice!
“Why are there so many cats here?” I asked my supervisor as we got ready to rest for the night on our shared mat in a little room with reed walls dotted with gaping holes.
“Oh, because there are lots of snakes around,” she said. That terrified me to the core. For a time I couldn’t remove the snakes from my mind. But I asked the Lord to give me a good night’s rest, and He did.
I woke up to a bright morning. A bottle of water was given to me so I could take a shower behind a small bush that was half my height (I am 5’ 1” tall). I was reminded of the scarcity of water—not just of H2O, but of Living Water.
Working in that village, I soon became accustomed to seeing guns. They seemed to be part of every man’s standard attire. However, my ears never got accustomed to the frequent sounds of gunfire nearby.
While my supervisor and I were away in the village, a rumor had spread that the tiny girl from Kenya (me) had come with Western philosophies to brainwash the Muslim women. I was told I had become unwelcome in the territory, and if I wanted to stay alive, I needed to leave immediately.
Alone in my house that night, I heard the sounds of gunfire very close. Then I realized the bullets were aimed at my building! I had nowhere to go. But why would I need to go anywhere when I was where my Lord had put me? “Lord, if this is the night I die, let it be. You will wake me up when You return. If You choose to protect me, then help me find opportunities to serve You. I am young; I can’t afford to be idle. I must tell others about Your goodness.”
Amid the continuing hail of bullets, I opened my Joy Box and read promises until I fell asleep in perfect peace.
Lots of sand came in through my room window that night and settled on my skin. It gave me the thought of being buried. I didn’t know if I would wake up to a new day to shake the sand from my skin, but I knew I was ready for the Land of Pure Delight. I had no idea if my supervisor knew what was happening to me at that moment, but I knew God’s eyes never left me. I had no idea if I would return to the home of my birth, but I knew that I had been born again, and there was a permanent home waiting for me.
The gunfire went silent.
Early the next morning, I arose and got ready for the day. My three Muslim dresses, my one pair of plastic shoes, my two pairs of socks and one pair of sandals were packed in my teeny-weeny bag, and the UN flight was waiting for me to depart!
I got to the flight and struggled with a few questions to God. “Father, I am young and willing to stay here for this work. Where am I going now? What plans do You have for me?”
No sooner did I whisper that prayer and step toward the waiting door of the plane than my cell phone rang. “Hi, my name is C.G., and I am wondering if you will come to Togo to work.” God had answered my prayer yet again.
That was a few years ago. Four months ago, my husband and I moved to the Philippines to be tentmakers. We are learning and being taught by the Lord day by day.
I truly believe the Lord is using AFM’s GoTential program to guide us and help us achieve His dreams for us. Dear Reader, let Him lead you, too. “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4:18).