By Kelly McGugan Thursday, June 9, I will be going back to Ethiopia for the third time in twelve months. While the previous two visits presented their own separate set of circumstances surrounding them, this trip will be the first of its kind for me. I am actually leading a group of short-term missionaries to work with our friends and partners in Addis Ababa.
Although this is my first experience leading a trip and the enemy is trying to attack me and lead me to believe that I am inadequate, honestly, I am not really that nervous about it. I have spent some time thinking over the trip and realize God has me right where he wants me. When we rely on the Lord to sustain us and guide us, He never gives us anything we cannot handle with His help.
Additionally, I can look back and see how He prepared my heart for this trip. My first time around, almost exactly a year ago, He sent me on a short term mission trip with my church and allowed me to see how I was not seeing the big picture (more on that in a bit). The second time, the Lord sent me back to Addis Ababa for a full month to learn the culture, develop relationships, and learn to rely on Him to provide.
Looking back on both trips, I could not have guessed what He had in store for me in the future. I certainly would have freaked out a bit had I known He planned to have me lead a trip and a full team back to Ethiopia. However, reading Matthew 6:34 (“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”) helped me understand I’m called to just focus on the NOW and God will take care of tomorrow.
"When we rely on the Lord
to sustain us and guide us,
He never gives us anything
we cannot handle with His help."
As we prepare to leave for Ethiopia, I pray that God opens the eyes and the hearts of the folks that are coming with me. I remember how my world was turned upside down by the Lord last year through my time in Ethiopia. There was a time when I thought I got it. I thought that because I went to church, put my family first, gave my tithe, sang the songs, was a good person, and here and there did some good deeds for the day, God would say – “Here is my son Kelly, with who I am pleased.”
That is what I thought was right. However, I was missing the point; I wasn't seeing the big picture. Much like the stories of how the people in Matthew 25 were missing the point, I was simply going through the motions of what I thought God wanted of me.
I was stuck in the mindset of “Hey God, I’ve lived a pretty good life, so what do you have for ME?” That kind of mindset that says I’ll do good for the less fortunate when I can, I’ll read my bible, pray, and go to church; but I am not doing that for God, because of my relationship with Him, or for the poor and needy ... I am doing that for me. Thus we serve out of narcissism, in the name of "good works", and we have not allowed God to work in and through us.
Jesus tells us whatever we do to the least of these we do it for Him (Matt 25:40). In that, He isn’t saying to help the poor because He identifies with them, He is saying HE IS THE POOR. God sent His son to save us in the poorest and most humble of beginnings. In knowing what He did for me, and all of us, I was able to see how I did not need to be given anything because of my actions or deeds. I was able to love for the sake of love.
While I can see these things in myself, what are the things in your own life that you're doing away from your relationship with the Lord? Are you stuck in religious habits? Or are you seeing the transformation work of Jesus Christ move in your life and those around you?
In saying all this, I pray that God moves in each and every one of the team members during our time in Ethiopia. I ask you to join in our adventure that God has called us all on, following on the blog and praying through our experiences and travels that God will reveal in someone’s heart, maybe even yours, that He wants more.