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No running water for a week. Electricity outages because someone stole the power lines. The walk to work being interrupted by a warthog. Dust storms and spider invasions.
My past summer in South Africa had no shortage of challenges. Working as an intern with World Next Door and having the chance to experience the daily life at Lily of the Valley as they serve orphans of the HIV/AIDS crisis has been an unforgettable, life-changing experience.
I was warned that it would be difficult, heartbreaking, and often uncomfortable, but I discovered a life greater than I knew possible. I’m going to spend this next year chasing that, and I want to invite you along.
Growing up, I’d heard all about the difficulties of following Christ, and how hard it can be to say “yes” to His promptings, both big and small. But what I had missed was how incredibly wonderful life can become when we do so.
As a World Next Door intern in South Africa I discovered a life I never knew possible. I saw it in the volunteers there, in the teachers and the houseparents and the doctors, it was a life that was good.
Better, in fact, than I had ever seen or hoped for. Better than living in the suburbs. I don’t mean that in a sentimental “you know you’re doing good so that makes up for all the bad” sort of way. I mean that, in my experience, it is a far more enjoyable life to live with orphans in rural South Africa than with suburbanites in North Indianapolis.
I had heard for years about the brokenness of the suburbs. I had heard people talk about it. There were books and articles and sermons about what was wrong with my community.
I felt it too. I knew it was broken. I knew it was imperfect. But being in one of the most privileged communities in the world, I thought it was the best available. I never imagined a better life was waiting for me.
Now I’ve caught a glimpse of it. I’ve seen the incredible, unstoppable, life-giving power of a community dedicated to God. A power not limited or reserved for the people being served, but filling up and overflowing from the servants themselves. And I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend the next year chasing after such communities.
As a 2012/2013 writing fellow, I will be spending this next year traveling the world and seeking out such life. After tasting the fullness Christ offers, I know two things: there is nothing else I want to pursue, and I want to bring this kind of life to everyone I meet.
I want to invite you to follow me this next year. I want to bring you glimpses of not only how God is helping the hungry and sick and exploited, but how He is offering life, the best possible life, to all who embrace Him. Be that a volunteer in Eastern Europe, an orphan in South Africa, a farmer in South Asia, or a suburban American in North Indy.
My fondest hope is that you, too will glimpse life unexpected and start your own journey to pursue life wherever it leads you. Read along, and let us discover together what God has waiting for us.
- If you’re not already, be sure to subscribe to the World Next Door newsletter. This will keep you up-to-date with not only my adventures, but all the happenings at World Next Door.
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.