Questions, questions, questions.

Questions are something that really interest me lately. In my opinion, a good question is worth more than a thousand simple statements. Being a father of three wonderful children I get asked A LOT of questions all the time: “Daddy, what is for breakfast? Daddy can you help me with my homework? Daddy, how much supper do I have to eat before I can have desert? Daddy why do I have to go to bed so early.” You see, constant questions.

In a way my trip to Swaziland is all also related to questions. My questions have centered around my own journey into relationship with these wonderful people. So I have come to not only strengthen my relationships with them and fumble my way through trying to be a representative of Christ and our church community, but also to get some answers to my own questions about why God has connected me to this place.

In a way things have been very familiar, joyous reunions with great friends, smiling faces of children and the very real presence of Jesus permeating our time. Yep, pretty wonderful and much like what I experienced on my last trip in 2012. But, on Wednesday evening I experienced something that shattered the norm of my expectations, rattled me severely and caused me to ask some very hard questions I was not expecting to ask.

Three of us, including myself went on a visit to the homestead of a special friend of a member of the team. Although I had been on a home visit before on my trip in 2012, this experience was nothing like that. The home was small and in disrepair, quite far from the carepoint and quite a hike up the mountain. Once there an elderly Go-Go who was looking after two small children and one teenager alone greeted us. She had no possessions to speak of and no food at all. We provided her with a gift of some food and took some time to talk to her. She expressed profound thanks and stated we had been an answer to prayer. In fact she emphasized at several points in the conversation that she had nothing and relying totally and completely on God to meet her everyday needs. She also told us about her teenage granddaughter who had to walk a staggering three hours to and from school each day in the dark. This wonderful Go-Go asked us to pray for this young woman as she was struggling with some serious mental health issues. We prayed for her, her family and for God to work a miracle in the life of this young woman and left.

The experience of meeting such a faithful, gentle and dignified woman was more humbling that I can describe and I am grateful beyond words for it. But, the experience left me deeply shaken and asking some tough questions like:

“Father, why does this have to be like this?”

“God, you have unlimited power, why do some people who love you so much have to suffer like this woman?”

“God, aren’t you doing something about this?!”

I grant you that I was really upset when I blurted these questions out so forgive their rather unvarnished nature, but I worship a God who is not afraid of tough questions. After I calmed down they remained on my mind. As I was thinking about this the thought occurred to me that God often answers questions put to him with questions of his own. The rich young ruler who asks Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” is responded to not with an evangelistic speech but with, “Why do you call me good? There is none good but God.” Or Job, demanding an answer to the question of why he was suffering was consequently peppered with a series of questions by God. Questions force you to open up within your own assumptions about things. As I though about this I slowly began feel the sting of God asking me a question, “What makes you think I am not acting on this?” and “what makes you think you have the whole picture?”

As I pondered this I began to think about the people who serve here, the teams who have come and loved these people, the relationships that have been built and the perspectives that have been changed. I thought about the love that has been shown in real, tangible ways, the lives that have been changed and the number of people whose faith has been encouraged here. As I thought about all of this I began to think I could only answer God like Job did, “I know that You can do anything and no plan of Yours can be thwarted. You asked ‘Who is this who conceals my council with ignorance?’ Surely I spoke about things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know (Job 42: 1-3).”

I may not have the answers to these questions but I have seen enough to know that God is working in amazing ways here and that He has granted the privilege to me of being a part of it. It is truly amazing. To anyone who is considering this, or is feeling the “nudge” I encourage you to listen to it. You will see things that will shake you, that will challenge you and that will cause you to question. But in the end, you will also experience a trust and understanding of God’s character like nothing else.

Charlie, Rylie, Jordan – I know this was a lot to wade through but I also want you all to know that I am thinking about you all while I am here. I know that some day you will come with your mom and me on one of these trips and I am hoping that it will help teach you things about our God that you can learn no where else. I love you all and I am excited to come home soon to see you. LeeAnn, several Swazi friends have expressed their love, greetings and send you their best and have told me to tell you they miss you. I miss you too!

Well, that’s it from me! Goodnight from Swaziland everyone and thank you all for your prayers, words of encouragement and support. It means a lot to us.

All the best,

Adam

6 thoughts on “Questions, questions, questions.

  1. Rachel, just wanted to let you know that I played worship with your husband the other day and he was looking fed. He has apparently “just happened” to be invited to join someone for supper every day since you left. I’m sorry, but he is being enabled. Also, I miss texting you whenever something awkward happens so I’m excited for you to come home. Love you! 🙂

  2. Hey Adam and Team! Thanks for sharing the raw, heart-wrenching tension and haunting questions that confront you when your somewhat sanitized, definitely privileged, North American upbringing and culture collides with sheer poverty and unanswered hardship! In fact, more personally to each one of you, thanks for allowing your hearts to be wounded and torn! Let’s be blunt: you could have easily taken less money than what you invested on this trip and the same amount of time and had a wonderful couple of weeks on a warm beach! You didn’t! Instead, you made the decision to go fall-in-love-with (or, for some of you…fall-in-love-all-over-again) with a bunch of rural kids, many who live in shacks, in the middle of a country with the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world! You decided to let them climb on you, play with your camera, sit on your knee and chase you around! You decided to not simply see yourselves as ‘international aid’…but rather, you decided you would celebrate every child you could! You decided you would follow many of them home to meet their family! You decided you would build a relationship with them…and re-arrange a bunch of stuff in your heart so that you could make some special room for them! DON’T YOU KNOW HOW DANGEROUS THAT IS!?! It will wreck you! It will mess you up! Quite simply…it will hurt!…and that’s what i love about what you have been doing in Swaziland team!!! You haven’t decided to play it safe! You decided to love with a costly love!…and this is where i begin praying just a little harder for you! Leaving these precious friends…and going on safari…and then boarding a plane for the long trip home can be the hardest part of all! You’re going to be exhausted. You may feel tempted to let your guard down…(after all…the mission is over, right?)…and then, how do you simply go back to life as normal? (The life that’s been going on without you…back home?) Soon the people whom you shared all this with and understand what you feel won’t be at the breakfast table. Yup! Re-entry can be a bear! So, tonight, i begin praying for new waves of protection, strength, courage, patience…and much needed sleep! i especially pray that what God has done in your hearts…He will shield and protect…and allow to fuel you in ways you never thought possible! Praying you all the way home! – t

  3. Adam, I am so proud of you for sharing your heart and your internal struggle but also for going back to Swaziland to allow God to teach you and to put your heart on the line again. As we’ve learned over the years, especially in the past couple of months with losing S’petho, this is not an easy step to take. To invest and love and give of yourself as the teams do when they’re there and as we offer our prayers once we’re back home. What I keep telling myself is that all the love and joy is worth the heartache. The pain has been so great at times that it’s hard to understand how the joy has exceeded it. It can only be through God’s love and faithfulness that we feel that way.
    Thank you for your insights and sharing what the Holy Spirit showed you through your questioning. I am happy to see that you truly opened your spirit and mind up to receive what He might be whispering to you.
    Rest well team, knowing you gave all you had. Soli Deo Gloria (Only for His Glory).
    Try not to fall asleep on the safari. Adam and Jon, as tempting as it may be, please no playing slap the rhino, wrestle the lion or punch the hippo. 😉
    See you soon!

  4. Thank you for sharing Adam. It is always an encouragement for me to hear a fellow Christ follower asking the same questions I often struggle with. For some reason chasing after God often seems to lead us to the places where we are forced to ask hard questions. Questions that, frankly, usually don’t get answered to our liking. Questions that are inevitable when confronted with hopelessness, poverty, and injustice. As I have found myself in those places God has blessed me with a few important friends/mentors, men I regard as titans of faith. Watching and listening to them I am learning to lean into those unanswerable questions and joyfully accept those situations that wound us deeply. It sounds to me that all of you have been doing that during your time in Swaziland. Thank you for giving all you had.

  5. Hey all! Just letting you know you’re still being prayed for everyday! My heart is so impacted as you share the stories that are breaking your hearts. Thank you Adam for letting us “in” to your heart. I can see why Karl really loved your apologetics class (even though he didn’t make it to many!). The way you unpack these deep things of the heart makes me look into my own unanswered questions and how I respond to God in them. To all of you – You guys are such big-hearted representatives of God’s own heart and every day I look forward to the new Swazi stories! Praying especially today and (tonight for you!) “Lord please strengthen, refresh and fill each one of my friends with Your amazing presence as they process so very much. Thank you for all You’ve done thru them and in them as they have let their hearts be broken for the things that break Your heart. ” Love you all and have a restful evening together. Rhoda

  6. So many of the comments above echo my heart, Praying courage to continue, courage to reenterr our Western world forever changed, courage to carry the truths that you have witnessed and share them with us, and comfort and replenishment! have an amazing few more days out there! Remember to pause and “breath in”, let implant memories and smells, sounds of the moments in your hearts, and what God wants to whisper to you right there in Swaziland….. thanks for doing that and sharing so deeply Adam, and others who have shared
    Blessings, Cindy

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