I am an armchair traveler... heard of that? Like the Sunday morning quarterback? I never really liked to travel... we found out later in life that I have Fibromyalgia, which is a chronic pain disease (boring!) Only to say that traveling can be a very uncomfortable thing for FM people. I travel to distant lands every week though... through PBS. We love PBS! However, I have been to a lot of neat places for someone who can't travel much. Been to Canada twice, which doesn't count really since it's just an extension of America. (KIDDING! HA!) Been to Mexico a lot... never had a bad time there. We went to China to get child # 4 and believe me, at 5'8 and 6'4, we stood a head over... everyone. I saw people actually point at Paul. Hahahaha... my awkward time was coming, but in a different country.
Paul asked me to go on a missions trip to Africa once back in '98. I was telling my friend/mentor about it before we left... and she just goes, "Oh Beth, you're not ready." When we go on car trips across America, I am so tense by the time we get home... do you know why? Public restrooms. Can't stand 'em... just the thought of them makes me queasy. So to say I wasn't ready to share a hut surrounding a hole in the ground, with an entire village is an understatement to be sure. We actually had to pee in the forest a few times. At one point as I was using the "facilities" and man walked right past me... looking right at me! How do you say, "I want to die" in Swahili? Except for the "white part" this event seemed to appear normal to him... but it was new to me.
I kissed a little boy on the head when he asked Jesus into his heart. His name was Bill Clinton. He had a cough. By that night I was coughing up blood. I was SICK!!! Paul didn't really know how ill I was... he couldn't stop telling people the good news... news they hadn't heard... that God in Heaven, the one true God, adored them and wanted them to be a part of His family. So as he walked the streets alone, the other missionaries in bed, I was in a cement hut. The bed I lay in was used for prostitutes normally. I had already been awake the whole night before sick with some sort of stomach virus. We pressed on. What else could we do.
There are so many stories from Africa that I like to share, cause they are powerful. So many! I think I will share some later... but the one that always sticks out for me the most is more a picture than anything else. It's the eyes of our translator. He knew how ill I was. My cough was hard to keep secret... I was dragging for sure. They dropped us off in a village somewhere and as he began to drive away, he looked at me... only at me... and he said these two words, "Win souls." His eyes were filled with seriousness and sadness for his beloved people.
I know people talk about "evangelical Christians" a lot. I've never claimed to be anything, but a Christian... that's the only word that matters to me... everything else is just a box someone puts you in. But there was a reason that people started telling the story in the first place. It wasn't because Jerry Fallwell said to do it... it wasn't because we became guilted into speaking out to an angry world. It was because Someone loved His beloved so much... that He sent His only Son to save them. When did that message become something to be ashamed of? He asked us first... before anyone else... to "Win souls." It was a love thing... it still is.