As I got on the plane ride to head over to my very first overseas mission trip to Peru, all sorts of emotions swept over me. I was dazed, panicky, ecstatic, nervous, joyful, uneasy...but within all of those emotions, most of all, I was afraid.
I was fearful of how much I thought I couldn't accomplish in the limited time given.
I was frightened of the language barrier between the children and me.
I was scared of what little impact I would leave on those kids.
I was terrified of what little relation, connection, and effect my testimony would have on the people.
I was petrified by all the things that made me feel trivial and unworthy of serving our God.
...and just within those five short days, I was simply scared...but just like always, God's faithful presence was graced upon me, and He managed to reverse those three, short, fearful days into three, meaningful, fearless ones.
On the very first day of our mission work, I was full of anxiety and nervousness as our team greeted the children in front of the school. Feelings of worry and uneasiness flooded me and negative thoughts were going through my mind: Are they going to remember my name when I leave? Are they going to like me? Am I even going to be able to show them Christ’s love in just three short days? Am I going to be able to do what all God has called me to do?
To my surprise, the kids came running to the gates of the school that morning with smiles bigger than their faces. They gave us the warmest hugs as if we had known them our entire lives and made huge efforts to talk to us despite the language barrier, asking us for our names, ages, etc. Anything and everything we would do around the children, they would laugh and smile as though their lives were perfect the way they were. They appreciated each and every little thing we gave them, showed them, and helped them with. These children had nothing, but as if they already had everything, they all greeted us that morning with hearts full of gratitude and affection. Not a single complaint came out of their mouths. They were happy. They were the perfect example of Christ’s love, and that is exactly what I needed to see that morning to be reminded of God’s great faithfulness and to restore my confidence from being belittled by angst.
Just when I thought my fears were starting to diminish, on the very last and final day, I was frightened more than ever. The entire day, I could not focus on anything else except the fearful thought of sharing my testimony at the revival that night. What if the people can’t relate to my story? What if the audience shows no response during my presentation? What if people don’t understand what I’m trying to say? What if I speak the wrong words? What if...
My heart was so unbelievably heavy, and I simply could not feel at peace. I spent every chance I could get asking Him for comfort. I could not eat, socialize, or smile as much as I wanted to. Because I did not want to admit to myself of my fears, I pretended to be okay. I told myself constantly to get over it and how it’s no big deal; it’ll all be okay at the end, just bear through it. I ate maybe a fourth of my dinner that night as I nervously went to go talk to the translator to give him the basis of my testimony. I acted super confident and happy to cover up my hidden emotions.
About ten minutes before the revival, I absolutely could not breathe. My heart was overwhelmed with anxiety, and I could not hear God’s voice. I could not feel his presence or feel at peace. One of our team members came up to me and asked me if I was okay. Right as he tried to reassure and comfort me, tears began to fall down my face. I was simply exhausted of being afraid all the time.
As soon as I tried to hide my face and my tears, a few of my team members put their hands over my head and started to pray for me. I was so touched and felt so incredibly loved at the moment—what was I exactly even afraid of again? As they finished their prayers and slowly started to lay their hands off of me, a strange but beautiful sensation of peace overcame my body, and I felt the pressure against my heart start to relieve. I found myself smiling again at the littlest things. I found myself laughing and feeling lighthearted again. Although I was still nervous, the fears within me were gone, and at that moment, I felt so blessed and loved. Graced by God’s unfailing love and faithfulness, I was once again released from all my doubts and worries.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Just when I thought it was becoming impossible to overcome my apprehension, Christ freed me and spoke peace to me. He is far greater than any fear of mine.