Why I’m Traveling to the Other Side of the World In January

December 16, 2013

In little over a month, I’m leaving the country.

I’ve been looking forward to telling you about this for a whileRwandan Girl and Boy

In January, I will going to Rwanda and Uganda with World Help and four other bloggers and storytellers.  We will be visiting orphans, widows and villages that are struggling to rise up out of poverty and war.  We will be raising money and awareness for their orphan rescue operations and some specific building projects that are going on.

Guys and gals, I cannot tell you how excited I am about this.

Not just because I’m going to places I’ve never been.

I’m not excited for all the things I hope to do over there.

No, I’m excited for an entirely different reason.

Here’s why:

Providence is Always More Fun Than Planning

A few years ago, I went on a trip to Mexico on a whim.  I prayed, God answered, and I went with little thought about where I would be going.

For a few years now, I have been envious of bloggers who have traveled around the world to do humanitarian work.  I expressed my interest to some places.  I waited for invitations, but for one reason or another, things never worked out.

This last summer, I got pretty close.  I almost went to Guatemala with Zack Hunt from The American Jesus and some other bloggers.  But I quickly realized that the September schedule just did not bode well for me.  Ten days, at the beginning of the school year, when I was already taking days off for conferences.  I was heartbroken, but I declined the offer.

And somehow, just two weeks later, I got this invitation.  Not to travel to Central America, but the other side of the world. 

Totally out of the blue.  The most beautifully orchestrated moments of my life – from meeting my wife to finding my teaching job – I can take no credit for.  They are all providence.

I Am Not Going to Save the World

As I prepare, I am trying to get into a state of mind that is ready to go.  I’m trying to be physically ready, but just as important, I need to be spiritually and emotionally ready.

And here is my meditation for preparing to go to the other side of the world:

I’m not going to save the world.

Nothing that I accomplish in those few days will save the world.  I will not come back to America and brag to you all about what a huge impact I had.

No, the few days I spend in Africa are not about me, not about my efforts, not about my story.

I am going to Africa to witness God’s story unfolding.  I am going to see how God is saving the world.  I am going to see God’s redemption pouring through the pain.  And whatever I contribute to that will be a drop in the ocean of God’s love.  If God decides to use me, I’ll be grateful.

All the best things that happen in the world are not God answering our prayers, but doing things that are so big, we don’t know to pray for them.  I hope you’ll pray for me and the work that is being done by World Help.  Check out our page and see what’s going on.  I’ll be trickling out a few stories here and elsewhere over the coming weeks.

Wherever you are going to be in the world, over Christmas, or in the coming year, I hope you see just how much God saturates this world.

10 responses to Why I’m Traveling to the Other Side of the World In January

  1. So very excited for you and the team headed to Africa! I will be praying that God uses each of you to glorify Him!

  2. Love the perspective you have here! Praying for God to use you. And I hope to one day make it over there for same reasons.
    Donald McAllister recently posted..Kill Your Inner Pharisee

  3. I am so excited to be traveling with you in just a few weeks. Thank you for your words … I needed them today. And I love your perspective – we are not going to save the world, but to see how God is saving the world and tell his story of hope and restoration. Thanks Matt! See you soon.

  4. dude… i’m SO stinkin’ excited to be going on this journey with you! it’s going to be amazing to witness this work of His unfolding in front of our eyes. like you, i’m very humbled and honored to be on this team. so. cool.
    dan king recently posted..#theunlikelymissionary is going back to africa!

  5. I love this entire post. Every. Word. Especially these…”No, the few days I spend in Africa are not about me, not about my efforts, not about my story. I am going to Africa to witness God’s story unfolding. I am going to see how God is saving the world. I am going to see God’s redemption pouring through the pain. And whatever I contribute to that will be a drop in the ocean of God’s love. If God decides to use me, I’ll be grateful.”

    So glad you are on the team!

  6. As this really smart guy I know wrote just the other day (I’m paraphrasing and adapting) — you don’t have to save the world. But you CAN be the person of the year to just one person. Praying for those opportunities to present themselves to you on this journey.
    Kelly Stanley recently posted..Amazement — and another giveaway

  7. I am so crazy excited for you! We just returned from Ethiopia a few months ago and I can’t even begin to tell you how much it will impact your life, how you will see God in ways you never dreamed imaginable and how much you will learn. It’s a life changing experience! Many blessings for your preparations and for a safe trip!!
    Americas Next Top Mommy recently posted..Holding Hands

  8. You are in for an adventure. I was in Swaziland in October, visiting a Children’s Hope Chest CarePoint for (mostly) AIDS orphans. I went out of obedience (I was the team photographer), realizing that one week of time with these beautiful people isn’t nearly long enough. I was praying that God would work through me, and that HIS fruit would last.
    Yes, we got to see God in action. Somehow, God is often easier to see when we’re out of our comfort zone. There is a major story going on in Swaziland, we we got a glimpse.
    But what surprised me was how much the Swazis cared that I had come. “You came all the way from America just for me!” Apparently, even though I didn’t expect it, God did use me to make a difference in some lives–blessing them and blessing me.
    Can’t wait to hear all about your trip when you get back!

  9. Congratulations. It will be an adventure…. writing the stories of Africa is a task that needs to be tackled by people who can write, and write well. I’m not one of them, but I am a humanitarian none the less.

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