Mustard Seed Faith

Saturday, July 6, 2013

When I became a Christian in 1999 I told God I would do anything for Him...anything with just one simple request.  "Please Lord, I want to serve you with all I am but please don't ask me to go to a foreign country."  So a year or so later, the opportunity to go to Africa dropped in my lap.  I really didn't give it much thought even though there was this ever so slight tugging at my heart.  I thought surely that wasn't Him tugging at my heart...after-all, I did tell Him I'd do anything but just asked that He'd honor just that one small plea.  As time passed, I started seeing more signs and feeling even more tugging on my heart.  The Lord just wouldn't stop nagging until He finally spoke so loudly that I could no longer deny that He indeed wanted me to go.  However, the Lord has an interesting character, He can make things very clear to you in life and let you know He wants you to do certain things but He isn't going to make you do anything you aren't willing to do.  So as I struggled, I decided I would follow His leading, face my fear, and decide to trust Him and in August of 2001 I was on a plane headed to the far away place I asked him not to send me too.

When we finally arrived we met up with the missionaries there.  I remember loading up into a Land Rover and sitting in the back on some benches with a few of my friends.  We started driving down these roads...paved at this time (only 10% of roads in Tanzania are paved) and I remember looking out the windows at a bunch of homes, no businesses, just a lot of brush and land.  Every once in a while in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere I'd see a person, generally a man, standing on the side of the road dressed in tribal garb with a long "stick" as I called it.  One of my friends had been on a trip to Tanzania before so I asked her "What in the world do these people do all day?”  In that moment, my mind was perplexed.  All I could figure is that these people must be either very lazy or very bored.

We ventured down into the middle of nowhere until we finally arrived at one of the missionary homes near a Masai village.  This would be the beginning of a journey that would impact my life and I would be forever changed!  I was in Africa for about 3 1/2 weeks and we did some amazing safari but for the most part we were there with the people.  We helped them clean up, build, paint, and repair schools.  We went to church with them; we shopped their markets and bought forever-treasured souvenirs.   I had once in a lifetime experiences over the next few weeks...I'm talking about the stuff that you see in National Geographic and think you would never experience.  I was privileged enough to be welcomed into their traditions and villages. One night, they held a celebration, in our honor.  They killed and roasted a goat and later I joined in the tribal dance with them as they taught us how they danced.  I watched kids stand in line to be served porridge for lunch and as the line got shorter, the pot ran dry and kids were turned away without food.  I rode a quad across the field to one of the schools in a dress...stood in the back of a very packed and quite small Toyota pickup truck on a very bumpy road to get to the school each day.  I was offered a quite a few goats for my hand in marriage...Ha!  We had story time in which one of the men told us the story of being chased by a lion; he literally got in a fight with a lion!  He showed us the scars on his legs from the claws of the Lion and how told us his story of survival.

I was invited to a Masai man's home for Chai tea.  He had become a Christian and had several wives and children before coming to know the Lord.  He shared with us his experience, how after he came to know the Lord, he still had to care for all of his wives and children but choose just one to live with.  He traded in his life of polygamy to serve the Lord.  He shared with us how he would pray for us every day when we would leave and the passion in his voice and heart was so rich that I know he honors his word and prays, still today, for each of us.  He stood before us with a faith and belief stronger than what most of could even get close to.  He was a man who loved and served God with everything he had and knew God on a deeper level than we could probably imagine.

Another Masai woman invited us into her home...a hut made of sticks and mud that was no larger than a 5x5 ft. area.  I'll never forget the tears I held back as she welcomed us in, offered us food to eat and was so very proud of her home and how honored she was to be able to share it with us.  Tears...there were many tears.  Tears of joy, tears of hope, tears of living a journey that was so filled with material things in my own life and somehow I still wasn't filled with the appreciation and life that these people were filled with.  One Sunday morning I was blessed to have my ankle wrapped with a coil that they use to adorn themselves.  I sat on a chair as the woman wrapped this thicker than hanger copper wire around my ankle into a perfect coil.  To this day I still have no idea how she was able to coil that material from straight metal to a perfect coil around my ankle.  Blessed by her, myself and several of the other girls who had their ankles wrapped collected some money to bless her with.  We sat her down and the missionary handed her about $300 in US Dollars.  The Masai believe crying is a sign of weakness and did all she could to hold back tears of joy as she had just been blessed to the equivalent of winning the lottery.  That money would take care of her and her family for years and years to come...and we did our best to honor their belief and not just fall into weeping ourselves.

Then there were the children...I fell in love with the children.  I wasn't married at the time and did not have kids of my own.  I never really connected to kids unless it was my niece and nephews.  It wasn't that I didn't like kids but I just didn't have a reason to connect on a deeper level then.  The Masai have a tradition in which the kids when approaching an adult come "head first" or "forward" for lack of a better explanation.  They do this waiting for you to reach out and touch their head, which signifies that you are giving them your blessing.  I didn't understand it and thought it to be a little strange until I myself had one of them come to me in this manner and I touched their head giving them my blessing.  I can't explain it but there was just something that happened in my heart at that moment.  I connected on a level that I never expected and found myself wanting to give each of them my blessing.  Today, I may not know each name or even remember every face but that as I pray, I can pray for each and every head that I touched.  It wasn't long into our trip that I was nicknamed ''Miss Popularity'' by one of the guys leading the trip.  He thought this was the perfect name for me due to the fact that wherever we'd go, if there were kids nearby, the entire group would just flock to me.  It was as if they could sense that I was interested in them and wanted to connect with them...that they mattered.  The majority did not speak English but that didn't stop us from communicating on deep levels.  They were interested and in awe.  They didn't have hair on their bodies and would touch the hair on my arms, both women and men and children had short hair.  They were just enamored with my long hair and would sit and twirl it, play with my hair clips, look at my painted nails and look at me for hours.  Some of the best parts of my trip were sitting on the ground with children all around me, laying on my lap, sitting with me, looking at me and me looking at them.  There was a heart connection that was so strong and meaningful that I will never forget.

About half way through the trip I hit a level of emotional fullness.  I had seen and experienced so much with the people that I simply could not take one more thing in without gathering my thoughts.  I went to a safe place not to far from the building we were working on at the school to be by myself for a while.  I sat and chatted with God...I cried my eyes out and tried to process everything I possibly could.  When I left for Africa, I went with the idea that I would be bringing Jesus to a people who needed Him.  That I would be changing lives and reaching to help them.  I had no idea when I went to Africa that they would impact me.  In fact, I am quite certain that they changed me more than I changed them.  In the big picture of things, we have it all.  We have big houses, food on our table at each meal, jobs, cars, lots of "stuff" and things to do to keep us busy and entertained.  And when I first arrived, I could not fathom walking around with a stick all day in the middle of nowhere.  We think they are poor and do nothing but struggle in life.

True, it is not easy to have to figure out where you are going to get your next meal, how to get medical help when you need it, how to take care of your basic needs on a daily basis, keeping clear of wildlife and lions of all things!  However, the fact of the matter is, they have what matters most.  When we die we aren't taking a thing with us to Heaven except our soul.  We aren't taking our houses, our cars or all of the things we think we love to Heaven.  Where does this all this "stuff" we are chasing fit in when we look at the importance of life?  It doesn't!  What does matter is the other souls that will or won't be in Heaven with us someday.  What matters are the relationships that we have with people, with Jesus.  When I think about that, I realize how poor we are in America.  Most of us have our basic needs met to survive but we have to fight to have relationships with people!  We don't have a clue what's it's really like to struggle for basic needs.  If you ask me, our battle and struggle is different.  We have to fight against the daily schedules we have in place so we can do what we have to in order to pay our bills and get more "stuff" and in that daily way of life we don't seem to make much room for others or getting to know Jesus on a deeper level.  Most of us don't count on Him to have our daily needs met, we do it ourselves and then lack in relationship, trust and faith in how great and more than capable He really is!

The people in Africa told stories of miracles that happened in front of their eyes.  A boy named Moses that they buried dead and was alive a few days later.  I know and have heard of miracles happening here but when the people in Africa tell of these miracles, they tell it as if it is no surprise to them.  As I see it, they have a different and deeper level of belief than we do.   They are not busied with the nonsense that we are chasing.  They are not competing to have bigger and better things like we do.  Instead they are focusing on a relationship with Jesus (those that know Him), their daily schedule is not getting in the way of knowing Him.   Jesus is not a God put on a shelf while they try to meet their own needs each day.  Instead they trust the Lord; they believe He is a God of miracles and provision.  They TRUST Him, they KNOW Him, and pray for miracles and daily provision in their lives and because they believe without a shadow of a doubt that He is faithful, things happen!!

There are plenty of verses in the Bible that I could use in connection here but this one talks about the Disciples when they try their hand at driving out a demon in a boy.  When they were unsuccessful, they asked Jesus why they were not able to drive out the demon.  Here is what He answered:

"Because you're not yet taking God seriously,”  "The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain,  'Move!' and it would move.  There is nothing you wouldn't be able to tackle.'  Matthew 17:20-21 MSG

Be Blessed!


  1. Missy - I hope everyone reads this post. It is through the sharing of these experiences that God continues to work in the lives of others and one of the reasons He sent you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to write this and to post it.

    "He stood before us with a faith and belief stronger than what most of could even get close to. He was a man who loved and served God with everything he had and knew God on a deeper level than we could probably imagine."

    "...tears of living a journey that was so filled with material things in my own life and somehow I still wasn't filled with the appreciation and life that these people were filled with."

    O' Lord revive and awaken our hearts with a fresh vision of You in all your worth and glory!

  2. Missy, I love this post. Thank you for bringing us on this journey with you. Your retelling of your experience in Africa was so filled with glorious details that I almost felt like I was there. My sister and her family were missionaries for two years in Mozambique and she shared so much with me about life there as well. I wish we all could experience in person both the poverty and the faith found there, perhaps we would come fully awake and really "see" the truth of our lives... relationship is everything.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your meaningful as this trip was to me, it is so awesome to know and hear that this impacts others! I'm glad I was able to make you feel close to it Maggie. If you can ever is so worth it! If I can return there or to another country, I will!!

  4. So awesome to hear what our Father does in the hearts of those who listen and hear His voice. He is GOOD! Always! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Chill bumps right now! This near brought me to tears!

    1. Just posted this on my FB! thanks for sharing this Missy!

  6. Missy, I really identify with your post, love it! I certainly can identify with your emotions here as I experienced something similar when I went to my first missions trip to India. I had 3 children then and was gone 3 weeks. I so missed my kids! I came back so changed. We are spoiled with more than enough financially here in the US but not so much spiritually. I saw how grateful these people were and so humble of heart. I felt so much love coming from them and yes the cost is great for them. These young ladies didn't have anything left except their christian brothers and sisters. Once they turn from hinduism to christianity their families want nothing to do with them and sometimes want them dead. Thank you for writing this post, it helps me to keep things in perspective again!

  7. Wonderful post!! Re-reading it now, it's just so great to hear your heart and your story, and your passion. God really shines through you, Missy dearest!! What an awesome experience, and I see that you carry with you the lessons you learned at that time to this day. Love you!



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