A team of 10 college students travelled with us to Liberia for a week-long camp with student leaders from our 7 different schools around the country. Jesse W. from Lenoir-Rhyne University shares her experience with us today.
Entering into the trip to Liberia, I was completely heart-broken and going through a season of loss and grieving. This past year, I had experienced a friend’s suicide, the death of my grandmother (who was my largest spiritual mentor and sweetest friend), a failed relationship, the temporary loss of my best friend and roommate who was married and unable to live with me for our senior year, and I was having a difficult time raising support.
Through this difficult time, I wanted nothing more than to believe that the Lord loved me and had a sovereign plan, but it was so hard to trust God among all of these trials. Throughout the summer, I watched the Lord prove His faithfulness to me in so many ways, though. I continued hearing the Lord speak Matthew 5:4 to me, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” As my faith began to rise despite my circumstances, the Lord continued showering His love on me and reminded me that He would bring refreshment and comfort in Liberia. Africa has been a place laid on my heart from a young age, and I had been once before. Something in my soul comes alive when I step foot in the beautiful continent with the most humble, welcoming, and loving people I have ever met.
So, I eagerly awaited my time in Liberia; however, due to all of the loss I had just experienced, I was so fearful of being vulnerable and allowing myself to love the Liberians. I knew the Lord was about to do a great work in me, though.
On the plane into Brussels, I was actually seated beside a woman from Kenya who had such a passionate love for Jesus. She shared a little about her life to me, and it was so sweet that we were able to pray before our meals together, and read our Bibles beside one another. This was a sweet reminder of how Heaven will be and the Lord’s love for all people. At one time, I looked over, curious as to what she was reading, and was spoken to so sweetly by the Lord, “Count it PURE joy when you meet trials of various kinds.” James 1:2 Mmm. He was already beginning to give me comfort.
Landing in Liberia was so refreshing, and overwhelming. It was definitely sensory overload, experiencing all of the sounds, colors, smells, and sights. I could already feel the Lord stirring up a love, but I pushed it down out of fear. The first few days, I was extremely guarded, but I felt the Lord slowly chipping down my wall. The very first Liberian I met was a young man who wanted to be a heart doctor because his grandmother had died of a heart attack. I was able to share about my grandmother’s death and that I aspired to be a teacher as she had in her lifetime. It was so humbling that the Lord was already showing me that my loss did have a purpose and allowed me to relate with others to offer encouragement.
As the week continued, I met the young woman who I would be with in a discipleship relationship. The pairs were randomly selected, but there is NO DOUBT that the Lord specifically picked our partnerships. When meeting my girl, I learned her name was Comfort… COMFORT… What?! Those who mourn will be comforted. The Lord had literally given me Comfort. With the most beautiful smile, gentle-spirit, and huge servant’s heart, Comfort made a way into my heart. The Lord used her to remind me that genuine love has no fear. How dare I guard the Lord’s love that He had allowed me bestow on the Liberian people? True love looks like loving fearlessly and fully, despite the response of others, or despite the time frame in which the Lord intends for us to actively and intentionally love others. In doing so, we can lead others to Christ in the way He intended.