Written by a Cafe 1040 grad and staff
I was 25 before I truly understood that God was not American. Two months later I boarded a plane to North Africa with Cafe 1040. I found Cafe 1040 while fasting in order to seek the Lord’s guidance on my next step of obedience and God providentially bringing me into the life of one of Cafe 1040’s staff. Cafe 1040 found me because I was a 25 year old follower of Christ who felt a tremendous pull to know God’s heart for the nations and I was ready to be a part of that firsthand, but who had no idea in which direction this first step of obedience needed to occur. We had the same heart, but they actually knew how to work that faith out. So I obeyed, committed and went.
I hit the ground steeped in ignorance regarding Muslims, missions, life overseas & other cultures outside of my own. Cafe 1040’s dedicated staff had taught me in the months leading up to my arrival how to go as a learner into a foreign culture, so I had the tremendous advantage of walking into North Africa with an open mind, focused eyes and a tuned ear. Those things matched with the willing heart God had granted me were all the Spirit required to drench my soul in love and desire for the people of North Africa.
I learned that the Bible wasn’t kidding when it said that all peoples of the earth were fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, not just the people I had grown up with. I learned that the South Georgia hospitality I had been so proud to espouse all my life paled in comparison to the welcoming hearts and faces of total strangers in North Africa. I felt fear dissolve in close proximity. I learned through hand signals, hugs and humor how to have a deep conversation and an intimate relationship even when you don’t speak the same language.
I also learned a whole lot about their greatest need, Jesus Christ. To them, God was aloof, above all the muck and mire down here on earth. God would never belittle Himself to live among us they would say. I watched men walk out of mosques with callouses on their heads from praying five times a day for forty years, yet never uttering an intimate word to their Creator. I felt the cloud hanging over people who had about as much assurance that God would want them in heaven as the weatherman knows whether it will rain in 10 days. I lived on the couches of people who had huge hearts, but almost no hope. Most of them were more moral, righteous and kind than I may ever be, yet none knew that Christ died for them, loved them and desired that they have a relationship with Him.
My three months in North Africa with Cafe 1040 not only showed me the depth of the need for Christ, but also the depth of the challenge. Truth be told, taking the Name of Christ to the hardest places on earth is going to take much more than three months. It’s going to take years, decades, lives. Christ chose to make His glory known by reconciling those who were far off through the Cross. Now we are called to live as His witnesses by taking the Gospel of the Cross to those who are far off. Just as Christ withheld no cost to die for us, so we withhold no cost to live for Him.
The most powerful lesson my experience with Cafe 1040 instilled in me is that I can do it. God has created me, Jesus has saved me and the Spirit has equipped me. All we need do now is to turn over our heart and obedience to Him. So Cafe 1040 helped me to humbly, yet confidently, place my “yes” on the table for whatever God desires for my life, whenever He wants it, and wherever He wants it done. And until the last ear has heard of the beauty of Christ our Savior, I’ll count the cost and deep within my heart sing the old hymn: “But if by death to living they can Thy glory see, I’ll take my cross and follow close to Thee.”