The American holiday of Thanksgiving is a natural time to reflect on all the blessings God bestows. Thanksgiving means so much more to me as a Christian because I have someone to whom I can offer thanks, the source, so to speak, of all the good that comes in my life. I don’t take that for granted.
When I look back at a life on mission, I have so much for which to thank the Lord. I was going to try to put it all in one post, but I cannot, so I decided to break it up by country. Each place I’ve lived and served allowed me to experience the blessings of God in unique and beautiful—and sometimes painful—ways.
I thank God for allowing me to serve in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), West Africa.
I thank the Lord that he allowed me to begin my mission career in such a country. Full of loving, gentle people, God used my time in this place to teach me more about him, myself, and how easy it is for a person who says they are serving God to fall into sin. I’m thankful for gracious and patient supervisors and co-workers who put up with me and saw me through some not-so-pretty times in my life.
I’m thankful that as I confessed sin, he was faithful to not only forgive but, as Peter learned, continue to let me serve him. I’m thankful that a ruined linen blouse, lice, and amoebas were used by him to help cure me of my perfectionistic tendencies and pride.
I’m thankful that I returned a different person than I arrived.
I’m thankful for delicious beignets and French bread, for sauce d’arachide, and fried plantains.
I’m thankful for the experience of studying the Bible and worshiping with my Ivorian brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m thankful that God used my time in this country to reveal to me that my Sunday School answers were not enough for those who lived in West Africa. I’m thankful that it gave me a hunger to study God’s Word in a deeper way, leading me to enroll in seminary upon my return.
I’m thankful that I was able to sing in the Marcory Baptist Church choir and be the only white face. I’m thankful that I learned something about being a minority of the population. I’m thankful for the rhythms and ease with which Ivorians praise God. I’m thankful that it helped me to loosen up in my worship of him.
I’m thankful for my single girls’ Bible study class and for what they taught me about life in their culture. I’m thankful for Pasteur Brice, who preached God’s Word in a great way. I’m thankful I still have my notes from his sermons. I’m thankful for the joy expressed when souls were saved and baptized. Oh, that we would so rejoice in our American churches today.
I’m thankful that I added French as a second major in college, so I could work in the Baptist publication house in Abidjan.
I’m thankful for the experience I gained in working in publications. I’m thankful for the Ivorian staff who did such a great job in putting out quality materials for all of West Africa. I’m thankful for the other ex-pat workers who served there and the great times we had together.
I’m thankful for my adopted parents, Doug and Paula, and their daughters. They let me be a part of their family, especially at holidays, when I missed mine. I’m thankful for Barbara, my supervisor, for everyone who served in the country on our team. Their lives and examples gave me new insight on what it takes to serve cross-culturally, and the sacrifice required.
I’m thankful that my mother and father were able to come visit me while I was in Ivory Coast. What a great trip that was! I’m thankful for parents who supported me in my desire to serve God wherever he took me and their willingness to visit, despite the heat!
I’m thankful I survived those two years in Ivory Coast, not because of any danger or problems, but because of my naiveté and stupidity.
Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to experience life in Ivory Coast and to love and be loved by her people. She will always have a part of my heart.
What place brings to mind prayers of thankfulness today? Share them with God.
Grace and Peace