You guys, God is doing a work in my heart! Jesus is calling to me. I have been processing with Him ever since we got back from our trip to Senegal at the beginning of June. I’ve been almost paralyzed; unable to write because there were just so many thoughts swirling around in my head. I still don’t know exactly what He’s up to, but there are some things I do know, and I’d really love to share them with you.
Before we go any further, if you haven’t read Mariama’s story from our first trip a lot of what I’m going to talk about just isn’t going to make a lot of sense. Please take a little time and read it now. It’s an incredible story and you will be blessed!
If this is the very first thing you’ve read here on this blog this will be new information to you, but if you’ve been around for a while, or follow me on social media you know – a part of my heart belongs to western Africa. Specifically, to the amazing little country of Senegal. I am head over heels in love with the people, the culture, (well, all except the bondage to Islam) the food, the landscape, all of it. I feel this irresistible pull to go back again and again. To do whatever I can to bring Jesus to those amazing people that I love so much and who need Him so desperately. (as we all do)
My dear friend Mariama (not her real name) is doing just that. So are my sister-in-law and her husband! What a joy it was to go along with them one afternoon to meet some of the people who have come to know Jesus as a result of Mariama’s ministry.
The Lord Knows Those Who are His
We got to visit a little village where Mariama began gathering a group of women each week several years ago. She would fellowship with them, read the Bible to them, pray with them, and whatever else the Spirit led her to do. Over time the group of women grew. Lives started to change. The men of the village noticed and had to make a choice. Would they allow their wives and daughters to continue meeting with this woman who was filling their heads with information traitorous to their sacred Muslim faith?
Miraculously they did! In fact, they liked what they were seeing in their wives and daughters and asked Mariama to come back more often. Over time, the chief of the village began meeting with Mariama to ask questions. The Gospel spread. Women were getting saved. Men were getting saved. And then, the CHIEF got saved!
The day we were there I got to sit and listen to Mariama read the Bible to those women. I got to watch her pray with them. I was inspired as I saw the overwhelming respect they had for my friend and the obvious impact her ministry had among them. I was humbled as one woman after another came up to me after and hugged me, thanking me for the vehicle that made it easier for Mariama to get to them.
I was overcome with emotion as we were taken to the chief’s home and as we sat down to have a talk he asked us to pray for him. My soul sang as I looked into the faces of dozens of children who had gathered around our vehicles as we were leaving to get a look. These precious kids are going to have a chance to hear about Jesus!
As we wove our way back to Mariama’s apartment through the dessert that afternoon in the little 4-wheel-drive car purchased with the generous donations of people from our church and several of you as well, I struggled to keep my composure. I just kept thinking of this verse in 2 Timothy:
But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.” 2 Timothy 2:19
Here we were, in the middle of nowhere. Seriously you guys… I’ve used the term “the middle of nowhere” before, but I have never been more in the middle of nowhere than I was that day. Maybe we were on a road, I don’t know – Mariama seemed to see a road because she would weave back and forth very intentionally as if following a distinctly marked out path, but all I saw was sand and rocks and thistles and every now and then some goats, and then more and more sand. In every direction. As far as I could see. It all looked exactly the same to me.
Anyhow… here we were, in the middle of nowhere, with a people deeply entrenched in a Muslim culture that has almost no tolerance for those preaching the name of Jesus Christ. There was absolutely no chance. NONE! That the Gospel would reach those precious people.
But the Lord knows those who are His.
He came after them like a shepherd searching for His scattered sheep. Praise His holy Name!
When One Person Says Yes
You know, the Bible says that if we refuse to proclaim the Name of Jesus, the very rocks will cry out in testimony to His Lordship. Those brothers and sisters in that village belonged to God and He would have gotten them no matter what. But what He decided to use was one woman.
One woman who had every reason to live her life too damaged to do anything for Him. One woman who has faced more pain and suffering because of her faith than anyone I’ve ever met. One woman who just says yes. Again and again. She lives her life saying yes to Jesus.
The enemy has thrown everything he can at her. She’s been beaten and abused. She’s lost her family and her children. She’s been betrayed by brothers and sisters in Christ. She’s had the resources she used to carry the Gospel to people in need taken away. You name it, she’s probably faced it. And yet,
SHE CAN NOT BE STOPPED!!!!!!!!
Because she isn’t doing any of it in her own strength. She is relying on the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies to carry out the work He’s called her to do. She simply answers yes, and steps out again and again in obedience. Oh how I want to live my life like she does! Don’t you?
Have You Come to the End of Yourself? Jesus is Calling.
Friends, there is something I’ve learned in the last year and a half: The best way to heal from any overwhelming pain is to step outside of ourselves and allow God to use us!
There is a song called, “Oh Come to the Alter” and it contains these lines:
“Have you come to the end of Yourself? Do you thirst for a drink from the well?
Jesus is calling.
Take your sorrows and trade them for joy. From the ashes a new life is born.
Jesus is calling.”
I’m here to tell you, it’s so true! He IS calling! If you find yourself with an ache that just won’t heal, He’s calling! If you can’t imagine a day when you’ll be able to think about anything other than your pain, He’s calling!
You weren’t created to stay in this place. You weren’t meant to wallow in your own troubles. They are real. I’m not taking that away from you. Believe me, I get it. I’ve been there. I AM there. Life hurts. But friend, you’re not the only one who’s hurting! There are people all over this world in unimaginable situations and they need Jesus!
What if you’re the one He wants to take it to them?
Are you willing? Will you be like Mariama and answer yes? I sure want to!
Will You Partner with Us?
Honestly, when it comes to Senegal, I’m still not sure what that looks like. I would love to see women partnered with Mariama through this ministry at some point down the road… but God hasn’t shown me how to do that just yet.
Perhaps you already know what God is asking of you. If that’s the case, just do it! Does He want you to start a support group at your church? Do it! Does He want you to lead a Bible Study? Do it! Does He want you to start a blog, or write a book? Do it friend!
But if you feel a tugging on your heart as you read this, but you’re just not sure what it means, then can I ask you to partner with me and my husband? Will you begin to pray every day that God will open doors according to His will, and will you ask Him how He might want you to be involved?
May we be women like Mariama! When we see the fields ripe for harvest, may we each turn to our Lord and cry out with all our hearts, “Here am I. Send me!”
11 thoughts on “How to Move Past the Pain: Looking Beyond Yourself when Jesus is Calling”
I love this Esther! I know the awe you were feeling because I felt it when we went on a mission trip to Brazil several years back! Beautiful people hungry for Jesus! Bless you for going to the ends of the earth with the Gospel Message!! Love you! ❤
That’s awesome Donna! I grew up in Brazil until I was about 8. My parents were missionaries there. Beautiful people hungry for Jesus is right! I miss it there too.
Such a beautiful story. I tweeted it so others could read it. I feel a tug often from the Lord, but I have also had to learn to wait on His timing!
It’s so hard to wait isn’t it? But I have found there is no sense in pushing open a door He has not opened. Nothing there but trouble! And so, I wait.
Beautiful post Esther!! Love the encouragement and the inspiration you offer through your story. Very meaningful!
I had to back up and read the two articles about Mariama. Blessings to her! What a beautiful story you’ve been invited into friend. Do keep us updated. I want to be that available to our Savior as well.
She is SUCH an inspiration! I wish everyone could be her friend. She just makes you want to be better. More obedient. Completely surrendered to and dependent upon the Lord! I love her!
I know a couple who are serving the Lord in Senegal . Their testimony about the people over there aches and warms my soul.
I love the encouragement you received there through Mariama (I love her name though)
Wow, awesome! Love, love, love Senegal!
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