Transformed by short-term missions
By Amanda Hogshead | Nigeria in West Africa
For many years, I have felt that the Lord was calling me to something. I prayed for wisdom and clarity, but a restless and unsettled feeling plagued me.
Was I supposed to change jobs? I am a teacher and I have always viewed my classroom as my mission field so that didn’t feel right.
Was my husband supposed to transfer to another city? He had received offers, but none of them felt right for our family. Month after month rolled by, and I continued to feel this restlessness but did not have a clear understanding of what God was asking me to do... until the day I heard about an upcoming mission trip to Egbe, Nigeria. My neighbour and fellow teacher, Ashley Beebe, had told me for years about her experiences in Egbe and with the ECWA Hospital revitalisation. She had talked about her work with CARE Africa and with the International School the missionary kids attended.
These trips intrigued me, but how could I do that? I had a husband who had decided to take his career in a new direction and was just getting started in a new job. I had two children who were very active in sports, church, and social activities. There was no time an or extra funds to take such a trip.
As Ashley continued to talk about her upcoming trip, it became increasingly clear that this was meant for me, too. Ministry leaders were looking for teachers to work with Nigerian teachers and help lead some training events at CARE Africa. As clearly as I heard the words my friend was speaking to me, I felt the Lord saying: "You are going to Nigeria.”
The laundry list of reasons I should not go began to stack up in front of me like bricks in a wall.
"It’s too expensive, where are you going to get the extra money? You will be gone too long, how are you going to take care of your family? You have always suffered with anxiety, how are you going to travel half way around the world? You are just a 4th grade teacher, what do you know about leading other teachers?"
And on and on the Enemy peppered me with doubt and fear. Day after day, the nagging continued until I finally approached Ashley and told her what was going on in my heart.
As I started to explain, tears flowed. And while I listed all my excuses, tears flowed again. I finally ended by asking her if I was totally crazy. I expected her to agree with me but she spoke truth to me: “No, you’ve been called."
So I committed to the trip, and all my doubts evaporated. All my needs were met in only ways that could be God’s work. And one day I boarded a plane bound for Paris, France, and then on to Nigeria! Armed with nothing more than what little knowledge I’ve acquired over the last 40 years, a passport, and a Bible, I became the hands and feet of Jesus!
Egbe, Nigeria is one of the most fascinating places I have ever visited. The people of Nigeria are beautiful, gracious, and welcoming beyond anything I have ever experienced. The small community of Egbe is literally alive with the love of Jesus. I have never felt God so vividly. He was tangible and palpable in every place we went.
During my short two weeks we were able to participate in so many different ministries. We worked with International School teachers and decorated the classroom for the missionary kids that would be attending next term. We led training sessions for teachers. We led Bible clubs at CARE Africa. We visited patients from the "Spring of Life" HIV clinic, we did prayer rounds at the hospital, we painted the new preschool that is being opened at the CARE Africa centre, and we participated in a sports camp for local Nigerian children. There truly was something for everyone. All ages (our group ranged from 11-40ish!) were valuable, needed, and appreciated.
My greatest connection was with the staff of CARE Africa. All my life, I've had a passion for children. I knew at a very early age I was going to be a teacher, and now, after 20 years in the profession, I am still going strong.
Meeting Emmanuel and Tofunmi Salako and the staff renewed my soul and encouraged me as I returned to home and prepared to start another year of school. They were my kindred spirits. Their love for the Lord and for the children of Nigeria was real. Their purpose in life is to serve the children in this small town of Egbe, but their reach is so far beyond the borders of this town.
Throughout my time in Nigeria I was told what a blessing I was. This did not sit well with me. How was I a blessing to them? How did my insignificant contributions bless anyone? Could they not see what a blessing they were to me? Do they not know the change they made in my life?
Maybe, maybe not… but God does. My family does, my friends do and just about anyone who will give me a few minutes of their time does. A short trip, to a small village in a remote section of Nigeria, Africa changed me.
It planted a seed in me and opened my heart. Now I know what God had been asking of me. That restless, unsettled feeling has been extinguished and replaced with a burning to Go and Serve. I have been called.
Have you been called as well? Contact SIM today to find out where you might fit in overseas ministry.