“Lord, let me always be led to praise You with people who You care about so much.” This was the prayer I prayed at church the other day. You see, here in Darling, church looks a lot different than what we are used to in America. There’s no stage or hundreds of seats. Mostly here, it’s an old church building, a guitar, and people who are willing to love the Lord with all they have. At a farm called Klipvlei, I had a moment that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
Often times, as someone who works in the mission field, I pray for God to break my heart for His children. Many days, I wrestle with walking out of the situations we see and leaving the kids or adults there. Not because anything was done to them, but the poverty is so high because of circumstances they find themselves in. On the farms especially, alcohol use is prominent as well as drugs, violence and more. Many times in church, the alcohol smell lingers and it’s not uncommon for someone to be drunk. It’s not a very comfortable atmosphere, but the ways God moves is always incredible.
“Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and positively broken.” – C.S. Lewis
I read that this morning and can actually feel the heartache. Heartache of knowing the type of pain these people are feeling because that was me drinking my life away. Heartache for the shame that goes with it because I had to deal with the consequences of drinking. Heartache for the circumstances I see and their lack to want to rise out of it. Heartache that I can only do so little. Heartache that a hug and a prayer sometimes doesn’t feel like enough. Loving people is hard. Loving them how God wants us to love is heartbreaking.
Today as we were worshipping, I saw a lady who was crying. Our eyes locked for maybe one second but almost immediately tears welled up in my eyes. As we sang and clapped and shouted praise to Jesus, my heart was breaking for the tears in her eyes. She was very old and had a face where you can tell she has lived a lot of life. She was singing and crying and I was crying knowing her heart hurt. God was stirring in my heart for me to share how much He loves her and I almost leapt over to hug her. As the service finished, she asked the Pastor if someone could pray for her and she literally opened her arms and walked to me and I was able to pray right then and there for her. After praying, we talked and laughed and her story was as heartbreaking as I saw in her eyes.
I don’t say this story because of anything I’ve done but to show how big our God is. In that moment, a girl from America, and an older lady from Africa were able to share the love of God and how big it is for all of His children. No matter her circumstances or her past, God’s love for her was evident. We laughed and cried together. God broke my heart for her without ever hearing her name knowing that later in the service we would meet and I would get to pray and hug her neck.
I’m so thankful for a God who goes to the ends of the earth for us. I’m thankful that He is a God who loves us so much to break our hearts for what breaks His. I’m ultimately thankful for Jesus, and that through the heartache and through the pain, the love of the Father is so evident that I am allowed the opportunities to share His love. There is something so special about Africa. The way people worship. The way people depend. The way they praise without abandon. The way they love. If there’s anything I am holding onto, it’s the grace of a Father who knows my heart so much that He allows me to share a little of my story each passing day here. I’m able to love and positively have my heart broken in the best possible way. Thank you, Jesus.