Something has been stirring in me lately that I should have seen coming, but I never thought I’d feel so strongly about it. Since the first time I heard about mission trips being a thing that people do, I’ve thought “That’s an amazing thing to do! But I’m probably never going to do it.” Every common excuse you could think of has run through my mind by this point:
“That’s really expensive! I could never afford to do something like that.”
“I don’t really have anything to offer people in need,”
“I wouldn’t last long so far out of my comfort zone.”
“Sure I could try to raise money or something but I’m really bad at that.”
“Plenty of other people already do it, so why should I?”
That’s just a few of the many excuses that I’ve used to rationalize not taking the leap and if I’m honest, I still worry about those things. There’s an important truth that I’m learning to live by that’s slowly but surely giving me the courage and boldness I need to look past those excuses and finally embark on a long journey to a foreign land, come face to face with extreme poverty, like I’ve never seen before, and allow God to give me something valuable that He will in turn use me to give to the people I’ll meet there. It seems like a simple truth to know and understand, but it’s really difficult to live like you don’t have to do everything on your own. That one truth counters just about everything I’m worried about.
“I could never afford it.” — “Other people can help me afford it.”
“I don’t have anything to offer” — “There will be people there who are already giving their lives to serve these people. They can certainly find some way for me to be helpful.”
“It’s out of my comfort zone.” — “I’ll be serving alongside friends that I already know and trust in these places.”
“I’m bad at raising money.” — “I have plenty of friends here to help me raise money.”
I serve with an organization with the word “community” in the name, existing for the complete purpose of debunking all those fears. Wow, so much irony here.
I’ve always had this lingering feeling deep down that taking a trip like this would be worth the risk. I’m really excited to finally share about the people and places that have inspired me to take a step out of fear and into a world full of unknowns.
I guess it truly started about a year and a half ago when a good friend of mine named Rebekah Lowery decided to fight her fears, take a trip to Zambia and visit one of our partner missions, Kwathu Children’s Home. We had lots of conversations as she went through the process of raising support, booking flights, making arrangements with her schedule, etc. Through that experience of ironically trying to encourage someone I care about to do something I myself didn’t have the courage to do, I learned a lot about overcoming fear. Many of the thoughts she struggled with are the same thoughts I’ve always had. We both obsess over details that are mostly out of our control, but we want so badly to be in control of them. We both shared a fear of being inadequate and have to fight against the lie that if we’re not specifically needed or requested to do something that it’s not worth trying. Watching her take that risk, even with all of those fears welling up inside her, did something substantial to me. I learned more than I could ever fully express.
I saw her come face to face with most of the fears we shared. It was a really tough time for her, but not only did she still go through with it, she has thrived in it! It was the first time she’d ever been on a flight in her entire life. Her trip got postponed multiple times and her luggage got lost so she spent the entire 10 days with literally the clothes on her back and the small bag she was able to carry on. She was terrified and uncomfortable, but to see her face and hear her speak when she returned, you’d think everything went perfectly without a hitch. She connected with the kids there in such a powerful way that nothing else mattered. In my eyes, she broke the myth that you have to be fearless in order to live and love courageously.
She’s currently back in Zambia, where she’s been for about 6 months, loving and serving the kids that tugged at her heart back in 2016. I’m honored to know her and be her friend and she is requesting that some of her friends here in the States come spend a little time with her at Kwathu and fly back to the US with her in May. I’ve given her words of encouragement, songs to help keep her faith strong when things get hard, and even some financial support for this endeavor; but I feel that the best way that I can support her is by showing her how much she has taught and inspired me in a tangible way. I want to follow in her footsteps, and those of all the other incredible missionaries I’ve met over the years, and finally take that first leap of faith.
In the interest of full disclosure, supporting Rebekah and Kwathu is not the only opportunity inspiring me to take a trip to Africa. I recently met a Zambian man named Cornelius who is part of a mission called Beats and Books in South Africa that has me extremely excited. The basic goal of their work is to equip and empower young people through education in music and literacy. Just typing that sentence makes me realize even more that I was made for work like that. I’ve been given a gift and passion for music and, strangely enough, mastery of the English language has been a priority of mine since I started taking vocabulary classes in elementary school. One of my most prized possessions during childhood was my dictionary; we had a family dictionary and my mom actually bought a bigger one specifically for me. I’ve navigated adulthood constantly trying to find ways to make my passions and gifts useful. An opportunity to lend them to an endeavor like Beats and Books seems pretty uncanny.
I’m still not sure precisely what I can bring to Kwathu and Beats and Books besides my presence and support, but I’m fully convinced that whenever I’m able to visit for the first time, it won’t be the last time. I’m more excited about the possibilities than I have been about anything in a long time. I’m absolutely positive that God has equipped me to serve these people in some way or another even if the specifics won’t be revealed until I arrive.
I want to take this chance to step out of living in fear and into freedom. I can’t do it alone. I need help and support from you, my amazing friends whom I constantly brag about. I seriously do tell people that my friends are the best people on Earth because to me, you really are. Even by just reading this long-winded letter, you’ve loved me by using your time and attention to do so. Thank you so much for supporting me at least that much. It really does mean a lot to me that anyone would care enough to pay attention to what I have to say. If you’re able to contribute financially, that is a very big aspect of trips like this and any amount at all is a huge blessing. If all you can offer is a little time or maybe some encouraging words, stories and/or songs, I appreciate it all the same. The life and legacy of Jesus proves that even a small community cooperating in love can accomplish unimaginable things that leave a lasting impression on the world. Thank you for being a part of such a community with me!
Join me in faith. Pray for me this minute and hopefully tomorrow and every time Jesus brings me to your mind. Mail a check to Grace Klein Community, Inc. 1678 Montgomery Hwy #104, Hoover, AL 35216. Give online at gracekleincommunity.com/donate and notate in memo: Gio GO as a reminder that I really need to obey God.
Love you people,