When I met the woman on the plane who said that she runs an NGO in Uganda with a “more holistic” focus on helping women, I shrank. When I was in the crowd with 50 long-term missionaries, with so little experience of my own and in awe of what they were doing, I wilted.
I’m just not sure how much good many short-term missions can do. Sure, we go for ourselves, we go to be changed. But it has to be more than that, or we’re just doing poverty/sad story tourism.
It was more. I believe in Mercy for Mamas, and I saw the positive work we’re doing to support existing ministry.
But every step along the agenda, I stood back, observing, questioning, analyzing, unpacking. Skeptical. Needing proof. Wanting answers and certainty and assurance.
And then God put a beautiful friend in my life who said to me, more than once, give it space. Let it be. See what happens. You can’t see the whole story.
So when I wasn’t sure about something we were doing, when I couldn’t quantify the sustainability of a certain activity for an afternoon, when all my alarm bells were ringing, God still didn’t need me to defend him.
He needed me to trust him.
God doesn’t need me to test everything out, make sure it meets his approval, to stand back and not get involved because it might not be perfect. He calls me to jump in anyway. He gives me freedom to use my brain but reminds me not to forget my heart. He asks me to follow him even if I can’t see the whole story.
He reminds me that even in the messiest situations and in the worst examples of American gospel-pounding missions, he can still work. That he doesn’t need me to protect him. He doesn’t need me to be certain, and he doesn’t even need me to approve. He will work anyway.
It’s just one of his best and most beautiful qualities. That no matter how ridiculous it looks to me, no matter how little I can understand and how much I rage at him for something that’s been done or left undone, he finds the shard of truth, the scrap of beauty, and he says that’s mine.
And then he redeems it, one tiny, gorgeous shard at a time.
Which, when you think about it, is exactly what he’s doing in my little heart, too.