by Becky Burns
Administrator, Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia
The one reason I didn’t ever want to consider missions or even teaching abroad was because I was afraid God would ask me to go to Africa. I don’t like things outside of my comfort zone.
Africa – specifically Ethiopia – was waaaaaaay outside the zone. I have a problem with claustrophobia and I’m a terrible eater when it comes to strange foods. I admit it – I have issues. I immediately wondered if this could possibly have anything to do with God answering my prayers that I would really know His love for me.
Oh yes it did.
It was Spring of 2008 and I was already working for Adoption Ministry of Youth With A Mission Ethiopia but I had agreed to work on the website, create a blog, do paper work, talk with families on the phone… not to do anything crazy like actually go to Ethiopia. But Joy (our ministry director) wanted me to go, the board paid for my ticket and my dear friend Liane was going too. It was clearly what God had in mind for me.
So my husband dropped me at LAX where I was going to fly to Washington DC and meet up with Joy and Liane and we’d continue on to Ethiopia. Then I got a call from Liane saying they had missed their flight and that I should just go ahead and go and that they’d meet me in Ethiopia – 2 days later. (There are only a few flights per week to Addis Ababa on this airline.)
Meet me in Ethiopia? Are you kidding me? Did they know this is a third world country? Did they forget who they were dealing with here?
Yes Becky, Abebe will meet you at the airport and everything will be fine. So I spent the five hours from L.A. to D.C. in unceasing prayer. I was very spiritual. (That’s what happens to you when you face an impossible thing.)
I’m sure I looked like someone with a serious mental health issue – no color in my skin, hands covering my face, rocking back and forth. I could not believe this was happening. But as we descended into Dulles, after wrestling with God the whole way, I finally told Him “Okay, I’ll do it. You are in charge, not me. But You have to be my Traveling Companion, Travel Agent, Concierge, Interpreter and in-country Host. And please help me not throw up.”
As it turned out, our flight was late and I missed the connection to Ethiopia so Joy and Liane met me there and we had two days in Washington D.C. during the peak of cherry blossom time, courtesy of United Airlines.
|Our luggage went on to Ethiopia so we ate, toured and slept in our clothes!
It was a gift. And so obviously God saying, “I love you Becky!” He would have given me whatever I needed if I’d gone on to Africa that day. But whether I went or not, He did want me to know whether or not I would trust Him.
Do you ever tell God, “Please don’t ever ask me to _______”?
I’m finding that if you’re praying (or even thinking) one of those prayers, while at the same time asking Him to help you know Him more, He just might use what you thought you could never do to get the other prayer answered. That’s not how I would do it but then, what do I know?
Ethiopia is a very hard place. Millions of people are homeless, living on the streets and sleeping on a scrap of tarp or under a piece of corrugated tin. There is no way to prepare for what you see there. For how it smells. For all the children wandering in the city.
I know I was not prepared. But the other thing I found and didn’t expect was the strong faith of so many of the people I met. They are full of joy, trusting every day that God will provide for them and serving Him in some extremely difficult circumstances.
Abebe is our representative in Ethiopia. He is one of the most gracious, hard-working and kind men I’ve ever met. This man loves Christ with all his heart. He also loves children and I’ve seen him cry more than once over a child who has no family. He strokes their face, hugs them and treats them as I’ve seen him treat his own children. He has also helped bring the Gospel to a remote village where persecution of Christians is very real. Hundreds of families have come to Christ, partly because this man has committed himself to live out what the bible says.
Tezera is our orphanage director. (Someone gave her an ipod and now she can listen to Amharic worship music whenever she wants!) This is one strong woman of God and, let me tell you, she can preach! She began taking in and caring for widows and children before God brought YWAM with the funding and the help she would need. She just does what the bible says to do – care for the fatherless and those in need.
The love and hospitality of Ethiopia’s people was very humbling to me. Homes in Addis Ababa are not too cozy or full of pumpkin bread smells…
I have never felt so unworthy of someone’s giving. Never.
There are so many times when I really can’t believe that I get to do this work. Me? It is God alone who prepares, arranges, equips and confirms what He calls us to do. I could never in a million years have imagined it or planned for it. It’s all Him.
I wanted to share this because I want to encourage you not to wait as long as I did to say ‘yes’ to God. It probably will look very different than my experience. Maybe He’s calling your family to get more involved in widow and orphan care. Maybe you need to go on a mission trip. Maybe it’s volunteering somewhere that would stretch you or giving in ways that cost a lot. Maybe it’s adoption.
I can tell you that there is nothing in the world like cooperating with God and taking a step of faith. He makes it WORTH IT.