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My official countdown began approximately forty-two hours before I boarded the plane. Twenty-eight hours and two transfers later, I stepped off that plane and into South Africa. And two months later, I will return.
Physically, I will be right back where I started. But I know that after this trip, I will never be able to return to the place I was before – spiritually, emotionally, or intellectually.
To say it so starkly sounds melodramatic. In the weeks and months leading up to this trip, it didn’t feel so significant. I was going because it made sense, because I wanted a career in development, because I am passionate about unlocking the potential in others.
I signed up for this because it felt like God was leading me here. Yet hours before arrival, I couldn’t help but wonder what I had gotten myself into, where it would take me, and what it might cost.
I suppose in some ways, I felt a little like the Israelites. Leaving their homes in Egypt and traveling towards a promise they crossed the Red Sea. As the sea closed behind them, did they think about the journey ahead or wonder how hard it might be? Did they hesitate, too?
I know South Africa and the life before me this summer has wonders I can only imagine now. I will be working among people of Lily of the Valley, who are shining brightly in the midst of the worst epidemic in human history.
I will learn at the feet of those who are living out God’s command to look after the oppressed, the widows, and the orphans (Isaiah 1:17). I will be collecting and telling stories even as I start a new chapter in my own.
There is nothing that feeds me more than stories. True, honest stories of people from all walks of life and every situation. Because in hearing these stories, in telling them and in being a part of them, we brush up against who and what people truly are – unique image bearers of an almighty, loving God.
When I catch a glimpse of that, I’m filled with a wild, overwhelming joy. So for the next two months, my job will be to find hope in the amazing, broken, and untamed battlefield of the HIV/AIDS crisis, to immerse myself in all of its joys and sorrows, and to share its stories with you.
What more could I possibly ask for? How can it get any better than this?
Yet that twinge of hesitation lingers, because I know that once the sea closes my only choice is to travel on to the Promised Land.
But what a promise that lies in store!
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- Feel free to email me! I would love to hear your thoughts or questions on my articles, travel, LSA, or anything at all. I’ll respond as soon as I can!
- Get your community involved! Invite your friends, family, or small group to read along this summer or commit to pray for us and our partners in South Africa.
About the Author: Brad Miller is a year-long fellow with WND. A student of Psychology, Biology, and Theatre, he's worked as an actor, teacher, balloon artist and last-minute fill-in guy for any number of projects. He loves camping and tinkering with broken and discarded things. Brad's passion in life is to unleash the potential in others.