This was my first Missions trip with Nurses for the Nations and my 3rd trip to Liberia overall. In many ways it was probably my “best” experience so far. This was not because of anything that I did, but because of the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that was evident in what God showed me and how he used our team to do His work in the villages of Kpassigizia, Liberia and Zenge,Guinea. A Scripture that our team spent time with before the trip was 1 Peter 4:7 – 11. I thought these verses were a great foundation for the trip and looking back, I can see many ways that God brought these to life while we were there. I could recount much about how that occurred, but will focus on three points.
Reflection #1: Distractions and Challenges
From prior mission trips I have found that the frequency of distractions and challenges right before the trip seem to escalate. I believe this is a ploy of the enemy to get us to focus on ourselves rather than on God and the work before us. This trip was no different for me and the team. For example, in the week prior to departure I experienced a very painful physical challenge along with a last minute international trip to the Netherlands for my work. These distractions continued while we were in Liberia. One of the team members experienced a cancelled flight. We experienced travel difficulties due to bad roads and vehicle repairs that turned into a 17-hr journey to go 150 miles. We could not drive the last 6 – 7 miles from Liberia into Guinea because of the roads, so we traveled by foot and motorcycle through the bush each day to do the medical clinic in Zenge.
I won’t try to speculate as to the “Why?” behind these distractions, but will offer that none of this surprised God and He was with all of us. The overall spirit of the team was one of patience and perseverance to press on to the work God had for us. This was God-driven. He graciously enabled and protected all of us to stay the course and we experienced many unexpected blessings as a result of these “distractions.”
Reflection #2: Measures
In past trips, I had fallen into defining the success of the trip based on some type of measure. How many wells were drilled? How many people did I share the Gospel with? While these types of things are interesting from man’s point of view, God has taught me that His measures are different from mine and not try to assess the impact of His plan based on way’s that I might consider important (Isaiah 55: 8–9). The team interacted with and provided medical treatment to hundreds of people, but an even greater impact may come from the additional doors that were opened for CRCA’s ministry; the little boy who had a leg wound that the nurses treated while we were waiting for the Land Cruiser to be repaired, or even from how He worked in the life of the N4N team or the CRCA Pastors.
Reflection #3: Incredible blessings
Keeping Reflections 1 & 2 in mind, I experienced and witnessed many incredible blessings from God during this trip. Here are some of them:
- A firsthand look and experience at what Nurses for the Nations is all about. I am not a medical professional, yet I had many opportunities to help the nurses meet physical needs for the men, women, and children of Kpassigizia and Zenge.
- Two villages of people desperate for simple medical treatment. At times I wondered if this was similar to what Jesus experienced during His travels from village to village
- The 6–7 mile walk from Kpassigizia to Zenge was not a hardship. It was an opportunity to see and experience the bush of West Africa in a way never anticipated. The countryside was beautiful in its own way. We saw a better picture of day to day life for the people there. It was a great time to talk and build relationships among the N4N team as well as with the CRCA pastors and missions leaders.
- The team had an impromptu opportunity to meet the Commissioner of the Nzérékoré district, Guinea (basically like a state governor) who extended an open invitation to CRCA for work in his district.
- All my life I have heard people ask me to pray for the missionaries and people inAfrica. A trip like this brings that request to life in the vivid sights, sounds, and direct experiences that are etched into my memory forever. I have a very clear sense of how to pray for the CRCA pastors and people of Kpassigizia and Zenge.