When the plane landed in Liberia, West Africa, our family stepped into a world that was very foreign to us. Of course, we had been told that we would feel this way, but still…
Nobody looked like us or spoke like us. We felt hot, humid, and distinctly “lost.” Someone came up to me and said that he was there to collect me but that he needed $20 to get our bags out of Customs. As soon as he walked away, I was pretty sure that he was not there for us. Lesson 1.
We ended up sitting on our luggage as the airport shut down around us and we waited pensively for our ride. Since there was no Uber or Lyft, or cell phones, we just waited patiently. Finally, we were picked up and taken to a guest house to spend a few days until we could find a flat in the downtown area.
Over the next few days, we began to get our living situation organized and attempted to create some normalcy for our 3 small children.
But we were a different sort of missionary. We didn’t move into the area where all the American missionaries lived. We were there to work alongside and under a local, indigenous leader. We had never done this before, in fact, we had just recently put our real estate business on hold and offered ourselves to a mission agency that specialized in working with nationals, or local Christian leaders. We had no preparation, schooling, language study, or any other education. We don’t recommend this course of action.
But God used our lack of preparation for his own Glory. Our lack of proper missionary training meant that any progress or “achievement” would be by God’s own hand and not because of our incredible knowledge and skills.
Throughout our time in West Africa, God used us to do wonderful Kingdom work, and by the time we left, we were thoroughly convinced that God could use us to do anything that he desired. So clear was this lesson that it has carried us through a lifetime of ministry. Every time we have been faced with an insurmountable problem or goal, we have been able to look back at the many, many times that God has caused ministry to take off, despite our shortcomings, or our lack of proper…. Anything!
Working alongside national, indigenous leaders have been our life work and we have seen God do amazing things over and over again. Instead of us getting the proper preparation to go to Liberia, God used the time there to prepare us for a lifetime of ministry dependent on Him.