Will You Go to Africa? by Scott Garner

By Scott Garner

787 cabin

In less than two weeks I’ll be boarding a 777, flying for over 14 hours to Zeway, Ethiopia…and visiting some of the poorest orphans on earth (most of their parents died of AIDS). For many people I know, this would be nothing out of the ordinary. But to anyone who knows me, this is anything BUT ordinary. You see, I don’t do mission trips…ever. I also don’t do international travel…willingly. And lastly, I don’t do orphan visiting…especially when the orphans are likely to be HIV+. From the human perspective, everything about this trip looks backwards, not right, and frankly impossible. So why on earth am I going? Well, the God of the Universe asked me to.

Until a few months ago I was satisfied that I was “living life to the fullest”. I’d been employed at Dell for 17 years and felt secure about my future. I was making plenty of money, and most importantly, I felt extremely safe and comfortable. One Sunday morning, as my wife and I sat in our regular seats in the early service, our pastor gave a life-altering challenge.  His first question was: “What would your life look like if you removed fear from the equation?”  Next he asked, “If you removed fear from the picture, what would you be doing for God?” Lastly he challenged us to consider saying this prayer…”God, I am Your servant. May Your will be done. Anything. Anytime. Anywhere. With anyone.”

The next morning I sat down to pray as usual. Remembering the pastor’s questions, I felt the goose-bumps elevate on my arms as I realized that the Spirit of God was moving in me. Everything in my bones tried NOT to say the words that Pastor Matt had spoken the day before, knowing full-well what the consequences might be. But it was too late. The Lord had already convicted me of the safe life that I had been living, and He was about to change that forever. I fell to my knees in tears, and muttered these words to my God: “Father God, I realize that I’ve been living my life my way, and that I have been paralyzed by fear for many years now. Father God, on this day I surrender all. On this day, I am letting go. I am letting go of the control that gave such a false sense of security.”  And then the words that I had been trying so hard not to say came flowing from my lips. “Father God, on this day…may Your will be done. I am Your servant. Anything. Anytime. Anywhere. With anyone”.  I sat in silence, wondering what might happen next. I knew in my heart that my words were sincere, and I was fully aware of what God can do with a sincere prayer. So I waited for His response. Soon I heard His Spirit say: “Thank you, Scott. Will you go to Africa?”

I heard these words and smiled, thinking God was simply giving me an extreme example of what full obedience might look like. I quickly convinced myself that this wasn’t a real question for me at all, so I rushed out of the room and went on with my day. You see, for my entire life I’ve always had one absolute certainty as it relates to mission work: it’s NOT for me — it’s something that I would never do. Not only would I never do it; I had a hard time funding other people’s mission work. I used to feel so inconvenienced when people would ask for money to go on some trip to Africa. My philosophy was…if you can’t afford to go, you shouldn’t go. And yet here was the God of the Universe asking me if I would go to Africa myself.  I decided to ignore the conversation and hope that it never came up again.

Well, as you can imagine, the topic didn’t go away. For two weeks I said the same prayer, and God kept giving me the same answer. During this period our good friends, Will and Ellen Tuthill, approached me personally and asked if I would consider the upcoming trip to Ethiopia…but still I resisted.

Zeway June 2012 037Another two weeks went by, and I talked myself into NOT going to Africa.  I was sure that God had forgotten the matter, which was perfectly fine with me. But then one morning, it happened.  I was reading about Moses, and how God came to him and asked him if he would drop everything and go to Pharaoh and tell him to free the Israelites. I thought of how much fear he must have had, and yet he obeyed. And then I saw something that I had never noticed before. In Exodus 4:24, the Bible says that as Moses was on his way to obey, the Lord met him and was about to kill him. About to kill him? God was about to kill the man who had just agreed to obey Him? Yes. God was literally about to kill Moses because he had neglected to circumcise one of his sons. The Lord ended up sparing his life (thanks to some quick work by his wife Zipporah), but the point had already been made. God was NOT kidding around, and when He tells you to do something…you had better do it and do it completely!

Reading this passage, I was overwhelmed with fear, wondering if I had missed anything that God had commanded me to do. I fell to my knees and prayed, “Father God…if there is anything that I have missed…anything that I have not obeyed…please make it known to me.”  At that very moment, in the same, gentle voice that I had heard 4 weeks before…the Spirit of God said, “Thank you, Scott. Will you go to Africa?”

In less than two weeks I’ll be boarding a 777, flying for over 14 hours to Zeway, Ethiopia… and visiting some of the poorest orphans on earth… and I can’t wait to see what God does next.

Comments

  1. Ricci Allen says:

    Thanks for sharing what God is doing in your heart. I am so encouraged.

  2. Julie Kouri says:

    Outstanding! What Joy I have! Smiling big and crying too. What a testimony.. I CANT WAIT to hear why God would have you in Africa, Scott.

  3. Lisa Henke says:

    Thanks for being bold enough to share and courageous enough to listen and go!!!

  4. Thomas Sanchez says:

    Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather overcoming fear with faith in action. It took great courage for you to make this decision to go to Ethiopia. It also took great courage for you to share your journey with us so that we can be, both encouraged and challenged, to face our own fears and choose trust and obedience in God’s unfailing faithfulness. Thanks for this glimpse into your heart.

  5. Ray Anderson says:

    Thanks for giving me one more look at the good work God is doing in your life. Your journey has been a series of obedient steps to get you to this step of faith and obedience. At any point in our journey we can say, “No further will I go” but by doing so we would miss what God has ahead. Keep stepping out in faith. The next view is more incredible that the last.

  6. Sandy Burton says:

    YESYESYESYESYES!!! My story is very similar. All my revelation came on one day, having woken up thinking it would be a normal Sunday. All day long, from the subtle to the NEON. The last one was so randomly orchestrated it was abundantly clear it was from God. I found myself saying…”There are 20 good reasons why this is impossible. I have NO idea how this is going to happen, but I can’t NOT go.” As I was about to hit send to tell Matt Kouri I would go, I had this horrifying realization that I still really had the choice. I *could* choose to ignore that which had been made obvious to me. While in Ethiopia and to this day it I think, “Look at what I would have missed! So much..of God. So much love. So much joy. Praying everyday for what you will do and who you will be:) Thank you for sharing your journey! It’s already begun!

  7. Greetings from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia! I was greatly moved and inspired by your story Scott. As you embark on this trip in faithful obedience to God’s call, may He reward you with more of Himself. Stay blessed!

  8. Kebede Lule says:

    Dear Scott Garner,
    After I read your Blog I feel lucky because I am going to host you and those who obeyed God in faith to come to Ethiopia and visit children in different needs. God bless you for obeying, trusting and following His voice. Kebede Lule, your host on behalf of FH Ethiopia

  9. Morgan Vyssotski says:

    Scott – Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your journey of faith with us. I am thankful for what the Lord is doing in your life and Your willingness to listen and yield to His Lordship. You are embarking on an adventure that will last well beyond the next days and weeks – it will change your life in a beautiful way as you take the road less traveled and step higher up and higher in into a still deeper relationship with the Lord Almighty and continue onward in discovering the life and the good works the Lord has prepared for you and your family before the foundations of time. You have blessed us by sharing your heart. Blessings upon you, Tara and family as you prepare. Let us know how we can support you through prayer in specific needs as they arise.

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