This week’s devotional was written by Kara Hathaway.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:1-2
I recently got home from a 23-day mission trip to Cameroon, West Africa. We spent time working at a lakeside camp in the mountains painting a building and digging a rain trench. The following week we helped with and attended a national youth camp in Buea, Cameroon. Throughout the trip, we went through a devotion series based on the book of Acts. Fitting right? The apostles were simply missionaries and helpers of the new Christian church. One day, near the end of our trip, the devotion went into Romans. There were multiple passages, but Romans 12:1-2 stood out to me.
So, how does this fit in with my recent trip and even writing this devotion? I’m just an 18-year-old student. Yes, but I have a few stories of how I watched an awesome God work in just a short three week period.
The first Cameroonian church I went to was in Kumbo (Banso). A small girl came up to where I was sitting along with two of my other female team members. Why am I writing this? As this girl sat on my lap, she had a wonder and a curiosity about these three white women sitting there. I had been struggling with why I was in Cameroon, but in that instant, I knew that this little girl was just one reason I was there. This little girl, with her wonder, reminded me that I was there because God had a plan. She had unknowingly made this three week trip start to have a deeper meaning.
My journal from that Sunday mentioned her… “She, I felt, was just another reason I am here. She had a wonder, curiosity, and awe about us–our skin, nails, hair and even my glasses.” One girl, one act of courage on her part. God doesn’t always use only big things, sometimes it’s just a small act that creates something bigger inside of us–if we let Him.
The trip continued to be smoother than anyone of us could’ve imagined. We became like a family, a family who cares for each other. We had spent time in community, and community was creating in me a desire to change my focus back in the states. By the last Sunday, my journal entry reflected the change in my attitude.
“Life should be about building and maintaining relationships. God created us as relational beings, and we need to do things to honor Him through those relationships. My life has been focused on building me, it now needs to be focused on building relationships and showing the love of God to others.”
In Cameroonian culture, community is one of the most important things. Without community, they lose hope. We visited a leprosy colony while between our work project and the youth camp. The residents at New Hope Village are cured of leprosy, yet even though they are cured, they still suffer from the effects. These people had become outcasts in their societies because of leprosy, but they found that community at New Hope. We spent a short amount of time with a few of the residents, worshipping God through singing and spending time together. As I looked around the gazebo, I saw residents intermixed with my fellow team members, and I saw joy. Even though the residents have lost so much, they have a divine joy that just radiates off of them. Joy in the midst of suffering. Powerful, right?
God worked in many ways over such a short period of time. I could continue to write about different experiences and different journal entries for probably a long, long time, but how does this tie back in with Romans 12:1-2? Paul tells us to give our bodies as a living sacrifice and to discern what is the will of God.
God sent me to Cameroon, a small, partially coastal African country. The person who started that adventure was not the same as the one who finished it. God used Cameroon to show me just a bit of what His will is for me, and that I should trust Him in all things. I don’t have all the answers of why I went to Cameroon or even all of the ways that it changed me. God will show me those things over time, as long as I continue to put my faith, hope and joy in Him.
It doesn’t always take a mission trip to get closer to God and have your world shaken up. Sometimes all it takes is deciding to be a Christian on fire for God. That’s what I want to be, and what I will try to continue to be. Can I challenge you to do the same? Let God have control of your life and He will do amazing things. Sometimes He will (and does) work in ways that we can’t even see, but He’s always working. The Lord is good, all the time. And all the time, the Lord is good.
Because I made my best attempt to present myself as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2) I experienced some amazing things at the hand of God.