17. Malice–“hurtful intent”
Nona Freeman 1916-2009 was a foreign missionary to Africa. Even after her husband’s death in 1999 she continued to travel, preach and speak. She served Jesus in ministry 70 years until her death at 93 years old in 2009.
“I longed to make a bold move with my life. Yet I had no clue where to begin. Or how. With each passing day I grew more desperate. Nights were the worst. Awake and crying my way through most of them, I had only one prayer: “God, use me or take me out. Please, I am begging You. I don’t want to live this way. I can’t live this way any longer. I’m desperate to know why I’m here. Use me or take me out.” Although I was blinded to it at first, over time – painstaking time – doors began to open.” ~ Kimberly L. Smith (Author of Passport Through Darkness – such an incredible, incredible, book on missions)
For Kimberly her journey into missions began by a video of boys with no shoes in South Sudan. For me it was a documentary on HIV in Africa. I was so struck by the magnitude of pain and the avalanche of poverty and starvation and diseases on a people. Then before me on this screen was a debate not so much over the suffering though it was evident and not hidden but this documentary was a debate over responsibility – it seemed such a waste. I wanted to scream “WHO CARES!?!” but deep down I felt a burden of responsibility. I wanted to scream who cares who was right or wrong a generation ago?!? But yet generations can no longer speak up and answer for themselves and for their children that will never be now. So I scream – WHO CARES NOW??!! I tried not to finish watching but it was as though I were glued there. WHO CARES I cry as I watch…about those that are hurting and dying…because at the time I knew I had heard about HIV all of my adult life and I hadn’t cared at all until this moment. Sometimes I can’t even fathom how this heart I had could turn away so blindly at one time….but God was giving me a new heart in that moment. Yes, He was! and it was like a knife went into my heart and cut it out. My heart wasn’t pricked – it was cut out and replaced. Two hours later I felt a pain I had never experienced. It was a feeling of fervency and guilt. I was guilty and the blood of my old heart was now mingled with their blood and it was on my hands forever unless I did something. That is the way once you know. I was guilty! No, I didn’t cause their disease but I did just as much damage in the Father’s eyes by living my posh life and not caring at all what others suffer….. and in that moment I heard myself say, “Lord, what can I do? If you can use me Lord – Here am I, Lord. Send ME!!!” and then I heard the Father say, “I AM going to send you to Africa!” When God speaks you never have to question it again, though we do in the waiting.
I told my family that night on the way to Olive Garden what God had said. We were sitting at the intersection of Cox Road and Franklin Blvd. It was a moment that has since defined my life. They looked at me at first disbelieving – after all this was me. Me – someone who at the time had never traveled outside of this country or without my family anywhere. Me -who was too shy to even ask probing question on how to get involved in missions or to even speak to the cashier at the grocery store. Me – who had at the time only been saved a little while. Who did I think I was? At my age should I focus on short term home mission? Home missions are so important and I may do that one day as all missions have a place – but God didn’t say the USA. He didn’t say Costa Rica or the Dominican Republic or Jamaica or even Romania (though that was a breakthrough and special time for me). No God said “Africa!” I wondered and my family wondered what God could ever use me to do over there. It is a valid question that i have often posed myself. It is the question that I was asked when I first began to plan to go to Romania – what can you do? Everyone went around the table giving a list of things and accomplishments. At the time I didn’t have a clue what I could do for the Lord or for this team. I didn’t sing outloud. I didn’t preach or teach children or even pray aloud. I didn’t have any talents or special knowledge that seemed to be of value. No qualifications. No commissionings. No ordinations. No experience. I wasn’t medically trained. What could I do??? It is still a truly valid question.
I have the answer though, I always have since that day. I am called to GO and to CARE!
Me – who didn’t care at all honestly now cares like my life depends on it and I believe it truly does!