In December, I received a phone call from our campus pastor inviting me to join a team of twelve people headed to Karuzi - a small city located in the northeastern part of Burundi, Africa to host a conference for pastors and their wives with ALARM (African Leadership & Reconciliation Ministries ) - an organization that works to train and equip African leaders by providing them with the tools, knowledge and skills to serve and influence those affected by conflict and injustice. to host a pastors conference alongside ALARM. I was a bit shocked by the invitation - knowing that it was a huge honor but at face value, I was not really sure why I had been invited. I knew that God had purpose in the trip, but I wasn't quite sure what He had in store.
I'm not foreign to the short term missions world. I've spent a decent amount of time in developing nations - both on visual communication projects & helping lead trips. Historically I've brought some element of tangible value to trips - whether that be managing and organizing people and details or creating a visual representation of what God is doing through photography. This trip is different. It's asking me to do something that terrifies me and it is requiring me to trust God with the story that He has written.
I've never publicly shared my own journey of loss and suffering with a group, and certainly not an audience who's suffering I cannot even fathom. I've always prayed that there would be a very specific call to share all that the Lord has taught me through grief and suffering, and I sincerely believe that this is an answer to that prayer. The topic that I have been asked to teach (by way of drawing out of a hat!) is Post Trauma Healing - focused on lament and how we can heal from traumatic loss & severe suffering. Those of you that know me, and know my story, know that there was divine purpose in that being the topic I was given. I'm nervous and simultaneously so excited to see how God uses this week!
If I've learned anything in the last few years, it's that God accomplishes nothing through us alone, but through a village of believers - each of whom are used for different purposes. Some to pray, some to encourage, some to give. If you are reading this, our primary need is prayer! I've included a link below to list of things that I would specifically love prayers for - both for myself and for our team. I've also included a way to give if you feel called to do so.