Stepping Up

I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to start a business. I didn't ask to be responsible for 25 men. I didn't ask for the overwhelming burden of finances. I didn't ask for any of it because I didn't want any of it. But, I did ask God for two things. I first asked God to break my heart for what breaks His and than I asked for Him to use me. Two big prayers. Two scary prayers. Two prayers that would change my life. 
God shattered my heart and than began to open doors. I didn't have to walk through those doors. God knows that I sometimes hesitated, that sometimes it took me a little while to walk through, that sometimes I didn't want to walk through at all, that sometimes I would try opening the door myself, and that sometimes I would try walking through my own door, but in the end I choose obedience to my Father. I walked through each and every door He has opened since I've gotten to Rwanda and now here I am; starting a business, responsible for 25 men, burdened with the finances. 
I think the biggest struggle so far has been truly relinquishing all control to God. I know when I first started I said I trusted God. I trusted for Him to make it all possible and to provide, but as the weeks went on, the start date began being pushed further and further back, no money coming in, my trust began to waver.
You see, God broke my heart for these 25 men. Their stories and their circumstances. These men aren't lazy or unable, they want to work, they want to learn, they want to provide but until now have been unable to do so and as a result of suffered. I didn't offer them a handout, rather I offered them an opportunity that is sustainable, will allow them to learn a skill, work hard and provide. I desperately wanted to help them, and I wanted to do so immediately.  That's when I started to try to control and plan. In the end my trying to control and plan only led to my feeling drained physically, emotionally, and mentally. I felt like I had been run into the ground, that I had failed not only myself but the men as well. That's when I relinquished it all. I not only put my complete trust and faith back in God to make this all possible but I also surrendered complete control.
Right now I only have 1,450 dollars. That's not nearly enough to sustain this thing for even a month and yet we are still pushing along and God willing will start work officially on Monday (but I am completely prepared for God to change that as well. All part of relinquishing control). Is that good business sense? Probably not, but this thing has never been about good business sense or being comfortable. This is the moment when trust, faith, and surrendering control come into play. I have no idea where the money is going to come from or even when it will come, but God is opening this door and I am walking through it. 
I will continue to pray hard for that money, whether it comes from fundraising, a donator, or some other act of God that I can't even fathom, because I want to fight for these men, I want to be obedient. The greatest commandment God gives His followers is to love. First to love him, and than to love our neighbors. 
When I was still living in the states I had a very close minded idea of what loving my neighbor looked like, and even who my neighbor was. Every single person walking on this earth is our neighbor. Whether they are in Africa, Japan or your literal next door neighbor God has called us to love them. 
These 25 men I am working with are not only my neighbors, but yours as well. They don't have jobs and are doing everything they can to continue provide not only for themselves, but for some, their families as well. Their providing doesn't look like Americans version. We as Americans live a life of luxury and we actually believe we deserve these things, that without them, we would suffer. The reality is we are privilege and rarely step outside the box we have created to witness and experience true suffering. True suffering is not being able to feed your children a meal because you can't afford any food. True suffering is living a life without ever knowing the love of a mother or father. True suffering is a baby being drowned because the mother can't care for it. True suffering is being without legs, or arms, living life on the streets begging. They don't have spare change to go to Startbucks, eat out, go to a movie, or have a dresser full of clothes. They don't have iphones, digital cameras or laptops. Some of the people I have met don't even have the luxury of a mattress to lay their head on at night. I'm not ok with that. I'm not ok knowing how comfortable my life is in the states, knowing that there are people suffering and in need, knowing that I can help and than not actually doing a thing about it. That is not our calling. Our calling is to love. 
I am not saying having an iphone, and going to Starbucks with your laptop is a bad thing. I myself am typing this on a laptop with my iphone beside me (Starbucks hasn't quite made in to Rwanda). What I am saying is that we as Christians need to step up. We need to stop talking about loving our neighbors and actually do something to show we love them. Feeling guilty or sorry for the people and the stories we hear is not good enough. Being convicted is not enough. When we apply action to those convictions that is when we start to stir things up. 
When Christ walked on the earth he not only met peoples spiritual needs but he also met their physical needs. Christ is our perfect example of how to love our neighbors. We can make a difference, we need only to be obedient. It's time we step up. 

Photo by Alison Holcomb
Photo by Alison Holcomb

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