It’s been a while. Sorry about that. Since my last post, I’ve spent 11 weeks in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and 3 weeks in the country of Croatia! Leading an outreach (or missions trip) proved to be a little bit more difficult than I had expected. But it was still amazing. Looking back over the past 14 weeks, I can see that I grew through that time – which is always encouraging. And yet even more so encouraging, I have seen how the students have grown throughout outreach and DTS as a whole.
There’s this saying we have about outreach here on the base: “It’s hard, but good.” Ask any one of these students how their outreach was, and I’m sure the response will be something along that line.
Hard, but good.
It’s really the best way to explain it. As a DTS student, you voluntarily put yourself in a place that allows people to push you beyond your comfort zone. You basically ask to be placed in a culture that you know little or nothing about. You end up in places over and over that test your humility and patience. And then you’re faced with a choice. You can say, “This sucks. I want to go home.” and disconnect from the outreach completely. Or you can look around at the broken people you meet on the streets and allow God to break your heart with the things that break His. You can choose to continue to look for what God is doing and remember that you are carrying His presence wherever you go. You can be motivated by the fact that God can use you in something as simple as smiling at the girl you pass every afternoon on the street.
It’s easy to get discouraged on outreach. In a city like Sarajevo, still so broken and hurting from a civil war that ended over 20 years ago, it’s easy to see all of the painful reality around you and wonder if what you’re doing has any impact on the city at all. Sarajevo is a very special place to me. Even amidst all of the brokenness there, somehow I can still see the beauty of what it could be. When we were there this year, we would spend time as a team worshipping over the city. There’s an old fort overlooking the entire city, and we would hike up to it and spend time there praying for the people of Sarajevo. And over and over, my heart would break when I would stand and look out over the buildings. I would be overwhelmed with God’s love for that place and it’s people. As my mind would be flooded with thoughts of what needed to be “fixed,” I would become overwhelmed. I was painfully aware of how small I was. How could I make a difference? I’m just one person.
And then I remember that I serve a Big God.
He knows the need of every single person in Sarajevo and in all of Bosnia. He sees them all and loves them more than I ever could. And suddenly, I realize that I just need to walk in what He has called me to. Even if that’s something as simple as painting an indoor playground at a children’s center run by missionaries. If that’s what He has asked me to do, He can use it in much bigger ways that I can see.
All He asks is that we are faithful to what He has called us to.
So that’s what we did. We painted for more hours than I would care to count. We spent time with the missionaries living in Sarajevo and worshiped and prayed together. We played with children and got to see the joy on their faces when they played on and in the playground we spent so much time on. We had the chance to become friends with some students in the city and share Jesus’s love with them. We got to see God touch the hearts of Bosnian believers through worship. We were able to feel His love for Sarajevo.
At the end of the day, we might not have saved the whole city. But we were faithful with what God called us to do and I can honestly say that God is moving and changing people in Sarajevo. God loves Sarajevo. And He’s not done working there yet. I’m just happy that I got to be some small part of it.
On top of all of that, I’m so incredibly proud of the students on my team. They stepped way beyond their comfort zones and grew in so many ways. They’re different people than they were when they first stepped onto this base. It’s been a joy to watch them grow and see how God gently shapes their hearts. They are all amazing and I know that God will take them to some amazing places!
Hard, but good.
It’s also a joke around the base that everyone goes on outreach to find love. And while that might not be highly recommended by everyone, hey. Sometimes it actually happens. I can’t explain how God works. But you may have noticed some changes to my Facebook profile, and all I have to say is…
Stay tuned. 🙂