4 Things God Taught Me During My First Year In Africa

A missionary discover’s God’s power on display in unique ways in Mango.

From Message magazine issue "The Doctor Is In"

1. It’s all moment-by-moment grace.

Often, I try to do things in my own strength, but in Togo, I am regularly pushed far beyond my capabilities. In my helplessness, God’s infinite grace is my sustaining breath of life. When sleepless nights, 100+ degree temperatures and the frustration of not having electricity hit me like a wall, I fall on His grace to sustain me. When I feel overwhelmed by the needs all around me and am cloudy from exhaustion, I pray for His grace so that I can care for the patients He has given me. And when I feel that I can’t handle losing another patient, I feel His arms of grace wrap tightly around me. It is only by living in God’s grace, moment-by-moment, that I have been able to see all that I am in light of all that He is.

2. Compassion isn’t spoken. It is shown.

In Togo, there are days I can’t wipe the smile off my face, and then there are days when all I can do is weep. Through it all, I am reminded that Jesus understands. He’s been there. He not only spoke of His love for us, he showed it. He tasted death for our broken, helpless, and hopeless race. I often find myself in situations where I cannot communicate with others through spoken words, but I’m thankful that sometimes no words are necessary — just feet willing to go, hands ready to work, and most importantly, eyes and hearts filled with the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.

3. We’re resource poor but rich in the sovereignty of God.

In a resource-poor region of the world, there are times when my belief in the sovereignty of God is tested, and my humanity screams out, “Why?!” My human eyes see a death that could have been prevented, but I must remind myself that God knew. He numbered their days even before they took their first breath. So I grieve for a life lost and thank God that He never leaves or forsakes us. Then I return to the hospital floor and pray for the strength to care for the others He has called me to serve.

4. The God of the impossible brings hope to Mango.

I recently took care of a Togolese woman who was one of the most hostile patients I’ve ever seen. But when she learned she had HIV, God used this terrible news to pry open her heart. She began really hearing the gospel for the first time. I have never seen “the old has gone, the new has come” so clearly displayed.

It doesn’t seem possible that such a beautiful change could come from such an ugly diagnosis, but I was reminded that God brought us here for this very reason — to do the impossible by bringing His hope. Every day, our God of the impossible is accomplishing great and mighty things in Togo, and I am so humbled to be a part of it.