a lesson learned in the dust

FullSizeRenderWhen you look at me you see an introverted brunette. A lover of antiques, photography, strong coffee, and my totally amazing farming husband. A little deeper though, overflowing the capacity of my heart, is a place. A people. An experience that forever altered my view of the world, beauty, and life.

I was born into a family of 2nd generation Christians. I grew up in church. The Bible was fed to me by day and played on my tape recorder by night. At the age of 4 I asked God to forgive me for pinching my sisters and taking short cuts on my chores, and God forgave me of my sins. As I grew up, I grew away from what I had always been taught. I didn’t run away, start drugs, or live immorally, but I began to doubt the reality of my faith. I began to struggle with cynicism and bitterness; I wandered and pretended for years. During my senior year God used Psalm 139 to grip and destroy my hardened heart. Little did I know that God was forming those “ashes” into the stage from which He could begin His work.

The following May found me on a plane bound for adventure. I tried to mentally prepare myself for what I was about to see, but no amount of self-coaching could have taught my heart these new emotions I was about to experience. When our plane finally landed, this place was no longer just an outline on a map. It was real, and about to wreck my heart forever.

[custom_headline type=”center” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″]It was ZAMBIA.[/custom_headline]

I wish I could tell you the exact moment it happened. My new point of view came together in pieces. A mosaic. Feelings of helplessness, giggling dark skinned babies, and broken particles of my old calloused heart are what make up this work of art that God has put together. I want to share with you one pivotal moment that my mind will forever have bookmarked.

389211_402422273135262_2120319288_nI will never forget their faces. Scratch that. I can never forget their faces. Plans had been interrupted for that day for my team, and we stopped at a daytime “home” for abused children. God doesn’t make mistakes. I know for certain this “interruption” was orchestrated by God Himself. There were probably 40 souls present. All of these precious children came to this home for love, support and protection during the day and then had to return to their abusive homes at night. My heart screamed out knowing that these little ones would have to leave the safety of this place in just a few short hours to endure the horrors of “Hell” for yet another night. When we emerged from the bus, swarms of dirty, unkept children greeted us. One by one each child approached, shook our hands and curtseyed at our feet. What a humbling moment as these “untouchables” paid such respect to us who had never known hunger. Us who had secure and loving homes, stable upbringings, and every felt need provided for. My heart ached as I longed to grab their tiny hands, and show these bleeding souls who really deserved the recognition. Who the real brave ones were. We sang a few songs and tried to make them smile; but these children were serious. The nights of abuse etched deeply on their faces. I wanted to come in, snap my fingers and rescue every one of them from these horrors. The helplessness was suffocating. When our time was up, we walked back to the bus, shrouded by children who had given us all their love and trust. My thoughts ran wild and untamed. Outside my window was a little boy looking especially alone. He reminded me of my cousin Lincoln who was 3 at the time. Just then, like a bolt of lightning, the thought raced through my mind.

[custom_headline type=”center” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″]“What if that was Lincoln out there?”[/custom_headline]

562613_402424019801754_295080829_nThe revelation took my breath away. I sat there willing myself to not glance back into his sad eyes as the bus began to pull away. The kids began chasing after us waving and yelling their goodbyes. I couldn’t hold it back any longer and the tears began to flow. I turned around in my seat and watched as those tiny faces chased us until their legs couldn’t run anymore, and disappeared into the billowing dust. I couldn’t shake that God whispered question from my head. “What if that were Lincoln? What if that was ME?”

Sometimes my weak human mind falters. Has my Father missed this tiny village? Has His omnipresent eyes somehow forgotten to check on these despised children? Why have I never been truly hungry? Why do I have a house with heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer? Why do I belong to a family full of healthy people? How does it seem that the cards have been dealt so desperately unfair? God WHY?

In my weakness, God’s gentle answer revealed His strength. Not one child in a grass hut is unseen, ignored or without purpose. Not one tear falls uncaught. There is not one sleepless night where He is not there cradling their heart. He has them all in the palm of His hands and their names on His tongue.

My heart has been broken and rebuilt by dedicated bush pastors, cheerful blind villagers, brave malnourished children, and the prayers of weak lepers. It’s only by God’s grace I was born where I was. It’s easy to ask God “WHY”, but it’s not so easy when He asks that question back to us. The Bible reminds us in Luke 12:48 “to whom much is given, much is required.” God has redeemed us to be His hands and feet. What an honor!

God doesn’t have to bring us to Africa to make a difference in this world. My story is deeply entwined in Zambia’s grass huts in the same way that others are rooted in a personal tragedy or Vacation Bible School. Every story is unique. Hand crafted. The key is, what are we doing with those God orchestrated events? It doesn’t have to be big to make an impact. In fact, all through Scripture we see that God specializes in the small and mundane. He simply calls us to act. Share a smile with the cashier at the grocery store, leave change and a Bible verse for the next person to come to the laundry mat, invest in the child who can’t fit in at school, visit the lonely widow in the nursing home. No act is too small that God can’t use it in mind blowing ways. He just calls us to plant the seeds. He will take care of the watering.

This introverted doubter flew to Zambia to change lives, but left changed instead. My eyes have been opened to the reality of suffering all around me. It’s not just across the ocean – it’s here even in our own neighborhoods. May we strive to make our corners of the world better places.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]For the sake of the world, Kate[/custom_headline]

Kate Foster is 23 from Rochester, NY and recently moved to Athens, MI. She is a lover of Jesus, her husband Ethan and dark chocolate. She dabbles in many things but enjoys crafting, decorating, and photography. You can browse her work at www.etsy.com/shop/fosterhappiness

[content_band style=”color: #fff;” bg_image=”http://www.awriteheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/6465169545_619c9099d5_z.jpg” parallax=”true” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline style=”margin-top: 0; color: #fff;” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h3″]A new giveaway from our guest blogger, Kate![/custom_headline]

Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of June and be entered to win a basket full of gifts from our guest blogger, Kate! On mobile scroll to the end of any post to subscribe…On a desktop, subscribe on the right sidebar or in the footer below. OR just use the “Contact Us” tab in the main menu and we’ll do the work for you!

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giftbasketkateKate’s gift basket includes Foster Happiness designed coffee mug, gift tags and a framed Bible verse. There is also 1 set of Jamberry nail wraps, manicure set, a Zambian wall hanging, and coffee and candle donated from Cafe Macchiato in Spencerport, NY!

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