Written by a Cafe 1040 Grad
“My grace is sufficient in you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9a, ESV)
As I stood, waiting for my departure to Southeast Asia, the reality of the next three months hit me. For three years I had waited for this moment. I had spent three years preparing, yet I felt completely inadequate for the task ahead of me. Why me? Why was I being called to go?
These thoughts stemmed largely from the pressures of American culture, but valid all the same, as there had been many reasons to doubt my ability to effectively serve the LORD cross-culturally. I had first been exposed to Cafe 1040 after serving short-term with one of Cafe's ministry partners. After receiving (and intentionally dodging) several calls from mobilizers with Cafe 1040, I made the decision to apply that winter for the North Africa team. This was not a popular decision in multiple circles. My parents wanted me to get a job and work for the summer. The pastor at the church I had been attending wanted me to do a summer leadership training program put on by my campus ministry. Most of my friends thought I was simply insane. What business did I have doing something so many people thought was wrong? Why me? Why was I being called to go?
Shortly after expressing my intent to serve with Cafe 1040, I experienced spiritual warfare that sent me into the hospital. My mind was completely overtaken by lies the enemy had planted, my body failing and my soul searching for something more. Over the following three years the LORD would stitch together my entire identity in Him from this experience, which in hindsight has been a major blessing, but at the time seemed never ending.
In light of the changes in my life, I would be accepted onto a North Africa team, but I would have to wait an additional year to serve with Cafe. That year would turn into two, as the money did not come in during my initial fundraising effort. While difficult, I trusted that God had bigger plans. The second delay was a much more bitter pill to swallow. I spent much of the following summer seeking the LORD’s direction over my life, during which He ultimately led me back to Cafe 1040.
When I did eventually board a plane, it was not to North Africa, but to Southeast Asia, which, in hindsight, I took surprisingly well given I had been preparing to serve in North Africa for over two years at that point. I suspect my desire to simply go and serve massively trumped location at that point.
As I wandered through the airport, I reflected upon all of this, especially how the LORD had pieced my life back together. Throughout my meandering waltz from departure gate to departure gate, I couldn’t shake that nagging question. Why me? Why would the LORD call this broken, insufficient vessel to go serve Him on the other side of the world?
What Did It Take To Get Here?
As I frequently do in times of confusion or uncertainty, I pondered all of the events in my life which had brought me to the airport that morning my entrance into the Kingdom my freshman year of high school, a week-long humanitarian trip after graduation which sparked an interest in missions, a month-long stint in Western Europe after my freshman year in college which would eventually result in my name arriving at Cafe 1040 as a potential candidate for the three-month program. God's hand had clearly been guiding me towards Cafe's program long before I had even heard about it. As I prepared to board alongside a handful of my teammates there was no doubt in my mind that I was where God had called me to be.
As I stood in line, ticket and passport in hand, to board the plane, the LORD provided a flash of wisdom which would prove foundational in the coming months. All along I had been asking the wrong question. Instead, I felt the LORD asking me, “why not you?” A deluge of complaints would be my response. I'm not smart enough. I don't have enough experience. I'm just not talented in any capacity that would be useful. To each objection, the LORD replied with the same question, “is my grace not sufficient?” I quickly ran out of excuses. Suddenly, none of it mattered. The only thing of significance was that God had called me to go.
Taking off, in the wee hours of the morning, cramped next to people I barely knew, I could not know that the LORD would radically change me over the next three months. I could not know the triumphs I would experience, the hardships I would face, or the wisdom I would gain. A few short weeks ago, a friend asked me that question which had plagued me for so long, “why you? Why are you called?” It was a question I joyously answered in vivid detail, for my Father has given me understanding in His own time. But, as I left for Asia, I didn't need an answer. All I needed to know was that while I had a multitude of flaws and imperfections my Father's grace and mercy was far more than enough, and that He would work in me and through me in spite of my many shortcomings. After all, nothing I had done up to that point or would do afterwards was of my own accord, but rather God working through me, a sinner. And for that, I praise Him daily.