Saturday, September 3, 2011


The night before we were set to depart for the long-awaited journey to change lives for the Kingdom in Burkina Faso, a dear sister came to me who had before walked in the dry African dust to speak the name of Jesus.  As she wrapped her arms around me, both of us full of emotion, she whispered through her tears, "It will change your life. You will never be the same."

I had no idea the impact of her words would begin in only a few short hours as we circled together hand-in-hand ...a team...a family...a body, united as one.  It was as if our hearts beat in unison with one another and the mission upon us would soon be the very blood that ran through our veins.

The next ten days brought a roller coaster of overwhelming excitement, depression, helplessness, eagerness, joy, suffering, laughter, tears, exhaustion, frustration, hope, and undying eternal love.  Love for a people.  Love for a place. Love for a life of intentional Christ-sharing purpose. Love for a God that is bigger than the details.  Love for a Jesus that offers peace.

As I close my eyes each night, I can still feel the African sun beating on my skin and the dry, red, dust on my feet.  I can still see the glowing smiles of the children as they listened intently to the Gospel, hanging on every word...and the greatness of the baobab tree as it stood with God's majesty on the hill...and the amazing display of color and power in the lightening show as we watched from the top of the mountain praying for His work to continue in us.  I can still hear the African rhythms of the djembe and the voices singing praises as we poured our hearts out in dancing together for Him.  I can still smell the earth, and the food, and the fragrances of  insect repellent mixed with sunscreen and hand sanitizer...and the burning rubber from the tires of the Mighty Warrior Yaho Bus.  And I can still taste the delicious mango and bananas and the thirst-quenching water and the salt from the sweat pouring down my face as the heat and excitement drenched us unknowingly.

But I can still feel the longing to reach out and hold the dry, cracked hands of those precious babies, wanting to take each of them home with me so that I could take care of them, and teach them, and love them as my own.  I can still see the overwhelming poverty...the exhaustion in the eyes of the women as they worked long, tiring hours often sick with illness...the frustration of the men who built a school only to see the rains wash it away before it could even be used once.  I can still hear the voice of the sweet Laticia asking her mother if she could go home with me...and the voice of the man declaring God's word with a power unlike any I've ever heard before, using only his hands to read the braille Bible that he held.  I can still smell the filth that lie in the streets and the chemicals we had to use to wash the fruit because of the water being unclean for use.  I can still taste the rice that I could barely force down knowing that my hunger paled in comparison to the children who would be able to have it if I didn't partake.

Sometimes I wish I would've listened to the voices.  The voices that said to me, "It is too dangerous.  You have too many responsibilities. There is too much at stake.  DON'T GO!"  Then, I could have foregone all of the heartache and the relentless tears I've shed because of the breaking of my heart over the things that I experienced in Africa.  But, I am learning through my tears that sometimes God has to break hearts in order for His love to shine forth through the cracks and before hope can make something new with the pieces.

And if I had not gone, I would not have known as fully as I do now the ever-present awareness of my need for a Savior in a world that is hopeless without Him. I would not have held in my arms a little girl who has become to me like my very own daughter.  I would not have seen the tiny glimpse of Heaven that He gave us through the rejoicing of many tongues and many nations worshiping Him together with nothing to prove, nothing to show, but our grateful praise to a Jesus that unites us all.  I would not have heard the Gospel taught in lands that had never before known the name of Jesus.  I would not have seen that even though He doesn't need me, He chooses to use the smallest, most unworthy of His children...even in all of our brokenness, even in all of our undeserving share His love and testify of His grace to a world in desperate-dying need.  And I would not understand that in our abundance we lack everything without Christ as the cornerstone of our lives...and even in the poorest of lands, He is still enough to sustain us in this dark, difficult world in which we live.

To a team that grew to be a family; to a family whose tremendous service and sacrifice has inspired my heart; to the forerunners whose excitement, fervor, and faith contagiously reached heights that I never knew existed; to a church that gave of their own lives to financially and prayerfully support my journey so that hearts could be reached; to a God who reached out His mighty finger and engraved His name upon my heart and filled it with a love that has changed my life forever...With tears streaming down my face, overflowing from the depths of my soul...because the words I want to say I cannot find...hear my pleading, grateful heart as I simply say, "Thank you."  "Barka."  "Merci."  You have changed my life and I will never be the same.

In the Grip of His Amazing Grace,

Leslie Allison Carr

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