Written by Sarah Baudendistel
I never expected for my life to be so different, for my heart to get so attached to Uganda. Before taking the leap of faith to go on the New Year’s trip with Sozo, going to Africa had never really crossed my mind. I had always been set on Asia. I had a “heart” for Asia, and in my mind, that automatically crossed out everywhere else on the map. The truth is, pride was placing a thick shell around my heart that had the words “Sarah knows best” written all over it. My own ideas blinded me to what the Lord wanted to do in this season of my life. The beautiful thing about grace and mercy is that God wasn’t mad with me. He wasn’t frustrated. He didn’t punish me. He delights in showing mercy (Micah 7:18), and His mercy was displayed so beautifully through His children. He sent children… children with smooth, glowing skin, radiant white smiles. He sent giggles, hugs, handholds and dancing. He sent beautiful worship and praise in words that were foreign and new. He sent children to break down those walls and whisper, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb” (Jeremiah 1:5). He sent these children to teach me so much about His love and to reveal desires in my heart that I didn’t know existed.
One specific instance that will forever be branded into my mind was the day we went door-to-door in the village. Within the first couple of days after the New Year, the teams prepared bags of daily essentials to take out to the village. We split up into small groups of people and we went door-to-door in the village, ministering and praying with people. The group I was a part of went to an older woman’s house. She was sitting outside with empty packets of medicine strewn about her feet. Looking at her swollen joints, it was clear that this woman suffered from arthritis. Uncle Alfred began to converse with her in Lugandan and shortly after, asked if I would be willing to pray for her. I said that I would love to and asked if she would be okay if we laid hands on her. The woman said yes, so the team and the numerous kids that were walking with us huddled around her. I knelt down and laid my hands on her bare feet. I began to pray while Uncle Alfred interpreted. In that moment, I saw God. His Spirit was there in the hills of Uganda, along a dirt road, in front of a mud brick house, amidst a circle of children and Muzungus (white people), displaying His love in a way that I had never before experienced. In all of time, He orchestrated that moment for our team to be in that place, with those people, so that He could minister to each of our hearts. That absolutely blows my mind. The Lord taught me an important lesson in that moment. Ministry is never simply about what we can give others. It’s getting in the trenches of life with people, letting them know you care, being the hands and feet of Jesus and making room for Him to come in and change you as you continue to say “yes” to Him.
His love came crashing through every pre-conceived idea that I had about Him and showed me that His love is without borders. Language, culture differences, age, money, what we see on the news, you name it… nothing can stop the love of God from reaching His children. His love is relentless. You cannot walk away unchanged when you see God’s love like that.
I feel as if I gained about one hundred new brothers and sisters over the course of my trip. Will I ever see those beautiful faces again? I pray that I do in this lifetime. But if not, I know that His plan is still good and I find peace in knowing that I will see them in eternity. What I know with certainty is that there are God-given desires in my heart that have yet to be discovered. If you had asked me six months ago if I would ever go to Africa, I would have looked at you as if you were crazy. God is showing me that He knows me, knows us (His children), so much deeper than we know ourselves (Psalm 139). If we can give Him a “yes” He will never, never make us regret it. My prayers have changed since traveling to Uganda. Rather than planning my own life for myself, I simply ask the Lord for opportunities to say “yes” and the courage to take the leap. I encourage you to take that leap, whatever it looks like. Make space in your heart for Him to come in and change you. Love with abandon. Be His hands and feet without restraint. Be the physical embodiment of Christ that we are called to be. This world is aching for it. Follow those crazy desires in your heart that He has placed there. You won’t regret it.