Every week I face the extremes of poverty and hopelessness. I look into faces of children who have been through more in their short life than most senior adults I know. And yet every day I fight the feeling of getting too comfortable here. Because life here could be easy if I let it. Most days I sit in an office and am easily able to communicate with loved ones in the States. I have a washer and a dryer and can go see a newly released movie for $2. The restaurants here are nicer than anything we have in my hometown, my complex has a swimming pool, and because Joburg is so high in elevation, the weather here is really great.
Basically, I’m not sweating and bucket bathing and suffering for Jesus in the African way that so many may assume.
But Johannesburg comes with its difficulties. It is an extremely dangerous city. Several friends’ purses and cars have been stolen and everything closes before 6:00 pm because of the crime. It is too dangerous to ride public transit, and we are not able to drive, so Katy and I are completely dependent on others to take us to work, ministry, the grocery store, and wherever else we may need. It is a large, fast-paced city similar to America, where you may meet someone and never see them again. This makes building relationships with nationals very difficult. This also makes it not feel like Africa most of the time, because what I love most about Africa is the ability to just sit with someone for hours with no pressure and no agenda. Joburg is a dark city in need of the Gospel. It is littered with cults, ancestral worship, and false prophets. The thought of trying to impact such a place with the Gospel can be incredibly overwhelming.
I do not want to portray to the world that life here is perfect. I also do not want to portray that I am this perfect, brave, sacrificial missionary that you should look up to. Trust me, I have come face to face with the fact that missionaries, myself included, are definitely not perfect. But what I have learned is that God doesn’t need you to be perfect to use you. The beautiful thing is, our imperfections prove that it is in no way about us and our abilities. It is only about being available.
There is a balance to life in Johannesburg and, most of the time, finding the balance means making the hard decision to make myself uncomfortable. It means seeking the face of God daily, so that my actions and thoughts are motivated by His glory. And it means making sure that you guys don’t think of me as having any more ability than you. If anything, I am sure you are much more suited for this life than I am.
What is God asking you to do? Do you feel inadequate? Like you won’t live up to the task? So do I. Every day. But living in a state of complete dependence on Him sure does make life an adventure.