In May of 2000, I had the awesome privilege to go on a mission trip to South Africa and Lesotho. This was the year I first felt the call to missions in Africa. (Read more about the full story). This trip was amazing! We spent an entire month all over South Africa and Lesotho, meeting so many different people and seeing so many distinctly different cultures even in one country.
We had the opportunity to minister in churches, on the street, meeting with people personally, and spending time with some FANTASTIC missionaries and local pastors. The entire trip was truly a life-changing experience for me.
I remember ministering in a church one Sunday in a town called Soweto. The service that day was awesome! We enjoyed worshiping in this small, packed and very crowded church with some beautiful music and vocals filling the room. The room was filled with adults and children and I was surprised to see how attentive the children were in the service. One of our team members brought the Word in the service and he did an excellent job. At the end of the service, an altar call was given and there were SO many people who came down to the altar that day. Our team lined up on the front of the stage ready to pray for these beautiful people. I saw some children coming up to the altar trying to make their way to the front. I had my eyes focused on them. I had my mind made up that I was going to pray for them. After all, I’m a children’s pastor. Then an astonishing thing happened! Just as we were getting ready to start praying for people, the adults sent the children away from the altar. It was as though I was watching Matthew 19:13 happen right before my eyes. I was shocked and stunned! I didn’t know what to do. I desperately wanted to pray with these children. They obviously heard something in the service that made them want to respond. But I didn’t want to be offensive to the culture or disrespectful of anyone and tell the children to come back and let me pray for them. So, I remember staring at them, almost frozen, watching them walk away in disappointment and hurt and disappointment was welling inside me. I so desperately wanted to cry out “NO! Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” It was all I could do to contain myself in that moment.
As soon as the altar time was finished and we were saying our goodbye’s, I walked outside and wept! How could this happen?! How could they just send the children away like they didn’t matter?! How could they send them away like they had no value?! I was utterly disappointed and upset. My teammates were talking to me afterwards in the van, asking me what had happened to me. They had no clue what had just went down. But I certainly did. I saw every bit of it and that scene was etched into my heart. I knew on that day, I MUST come back! I HAD to come back! Someone needs to show these children that God loves them! Someone needs to show them how valuable they are to Him! Someone needs to teach them what God’s Word says! Someone needs to show them that God can use them to help others! I KNEW I HAD TO GO BACK! I had to do something about reshaping this culture. It felt so wrong. I had to do something to show these children they are valued and important. They need to know that God is yearning to have a relationship with them.
I didn’t know how I was going to make this happen. I didn’t know when it was going to happen. But I knew, I had to come back. I knew that God had shown me something that day that would stick with me never be forgotten. It was my “burning bush” moment – my Popeye moment “Thats all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.” – My moment of “Holy Discontent“. I remember sitting at a Willow Creek Conference years after this trip to Africa and hearing this talk from Bill Hybels. He talked about how Moses had a Holy Discontent at the burning bush. He HAD to go back to get God’s people out of Egypt. He talked about Popeye seeing Olive Oyl in danger and finally getting to the point to say, “Thats all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.” At that moment, God reminded me of that church service in Soweto and I lost it! I sat there and remembered and cried over that day again as though it just happened. I knew it was my moment of Holy Discontent. It is the moment that fueled the vision in my heart to do what God is calling us to do today.
Something MUST be done about lost children in Africa. Something MUST be done about them being forgotten, neglected, abandoned, and un-valued. I MUST go back!
It’s moments like this that fuel the vision that God gives us to serve Him and do what He has called us to do. What is you “vision fuel”? What is your “Holy Discontent”? We would love to hear about your vision fuel or your comments.