Serving at an orphanage here in South Africa, and having the opportunity to read a bunch of great books and hear some awesome speakers, I’ve learned—or relearned—some important lessons.
• Comfort is my sworn enemy.It also is a great enemy of so many American churches. Jesus so did not call us to be comfortable. Having church in a tin shack in the cold with a bunch of youth who speak another language is not something I initially was at ease with, but God is moving there, and it is an amazing experience. We make it so much harder on ourselves to spread the gospel when we only do it in comfortable places.
• A lot of times, we like to see God as a nice, middle-class, American Jesus. We think Christ is not serious when he says to hate mother, father, sister, brother and so forth. We assume he won’t really ask any of us to sell all of our possessions and give the money to the poor. No, God absolutely can ask these things of us. Keep in mind, back in Jesus’ time, the cross was not a symbol for Christianity. It was a torturous way to kill criminals. Picking up your cross, your own personal torture device, suddenly doesn’t seem so easy.
• God loves us. He really does. And he protects those who love him, but not in the ways we might expect. I thought for a long time that since I love God, nothing bad or nothing too evil would happen to me. However, working in this orphanage with these kids, I realize how legalistic and selfish that is. Awful things have happened to so many people. Did they not love God enough? No. In the Bible, it says if you truly live this life, you will be persecuted.
Satan isn’t after those who “sorta kinda” are Christians. He’s after those who actively are pursuing the kingdom of God. But God’s protection is deeper than physical harm. It’s a guarantee I will see him when my final day ends. The couple of years of suffering we may endure here on earth for God’s glory is nothing compared to an eternity in his blissful, sweet presence.
Dominique Pettway, a student at Lamar University, is serving in South Africa with Go Now Missions.