I Left my Heart Halfway Across the World

I’ve wanted to go to Africa ever since my freshmen year of high school. I remember exactly where I was when God placed this calling upon my life and I can still feel how anxious I was in waiting for God to open the door for me to finally be able to go. After three years of quite honestly impatient prayer, I began to give up. As soon as I had started to let this dream of mine fade, the Lord revealed his heart for me in a brand new way. During worship on this extremely powerful weekend with my youth group, the Holy Spirit whispered to me saying “Further my Kingdom”. I was overwhelmed by Jesus in a brand new way and I had NEVER heard His voice so clearly before. The first thing I did when I got home was Google search “Mission trips to Africa” and the first website to appear was a group called Love Africa Missions. Love Africa Missions sends teams to Kenya, Zambia, and Uganda during the summer time for two week periods beginning in May and ended in August. They have various partners within these three African nations, and each trip is spent with those missions partners furthering their ministry. The organization’s hope is that through short term missions, disciples will come home and have a passion for serving. I immediately requested an application, and things fell into place BEAUTIFULLY.  I was put on Zambia Team Two (shoutout to the ZAM FAM !!) where we served in Zambia for two weeks. The Lord orchestrated every bit of this trip for me and shattered every expectation I thought I had! To be 100% honest with you, I had no knowledge of Zambia whatsoever. I just completely submitted myself to the Lord in this situation and attempted to live out the Isaiah 6:8 scripture mentality of  “Here I am, send me.”

At the beginning of our adventure, we were shown Zambia from the tourist’s perspective. We stayed in Livingstone, Zambia for three days where we went bungee jumping in Victoria Falls (yes it was my choice to do this, and yes it was WILD), went on a safari, and hiked down a trail in Victoria Falls. Seeing the Lord’s creation in such a raw and natural way was overwhelmingly amazing. I still find myself in awe of the fact that out of all of God’s creation, he wants to pursue a relationship WITH US. How marvelous are his works!  After our time in Livingstone, we headed to Mazabuka, Zambia which is about a seven hour drive. In Mazabuka, we stayed with the Whitfields for a day before heading out to the village. The Whitfields are the most down to earth people I have ever met IN MY LIFE. Their passion for missions is so profound and the fact that they share it with so many others is extremely special. We stayed in the village of Ngangula for a week without electricity or running water. Not going to lie, this was a challenge for me, being that I’m a girl who loves long warm showers, my hair straightener, and some good ole AC. This is where calling over comfort kicks in. God never promised that we would always be comfortable in our faith. In fact, I believe in order for life to be an adventure, one must go through challenges. These things I saw as hard became normal by the end of the week, and when I returned home the feeling of clean feet felt somewhat foreign to me. There is beauty in this. There is beauty in the dirt, there is beauty in simple living because at the end of the day our God is bigger than the material things. This is lesson one of MANY I learned during my time in Africa. As soon as I had my first interaction with the children in Ngangula, I knew I was EXACTLY where I was supposed to be. The laughter from the precious little ones is something I want to bottle up and take with me everywhere. Their smiles are imprinted on my heart forever. As they ran so carefree through the fields, I could see Jesus running alongside of them. This childlike faith within me was so instantly restored. What a simple reminder of the joy of the Lord!

While the people of Ngangula have very little materialistically speaking, they have everything spiritually. Jesus revealed himself to me in the hospitality of the Zambian people, and I began to see with a new perspective. In the Lord’s eyes, we are all equal.  Love has no language, no skin tone, no social status, God is love and He sees us all as His children. Mission trips aren’t for self satisfaction, they are designed to spread the love of our Savior. As disciples, we are supposed to do things for the glory of the Lord and showing others the gift of His word. In doing this, we are in fact able to better ourselves and spark a flame back in our hometowns. It may be uncomfortable and challenging, but at the end of the day it is for the one who gave everything so that we may have life!  The impact of my time in Zambia affects me everyday, and I would not have it any other way. I left my heart halfway across the world in the mountains of Zambia and let me tell you, It is well with my soul.

Kristen Kinley

Zambia Summer 2017

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