I just returned to Joburg a few days ago after a nearly three-week visit to Kenya. A few months ago, I began planning this trip to visit my friend Jeff who serves in Nairobi. Jeff and I met in Virginia last year during training with the IMB. Over the months, Jeff has become like family to me and one of my closest friends in the world.
Originally we planned for my visit to last only one week. As the trip drew closer we decided one week wasn't enough and I knew my supervisor, Wade, would be in Nairobi that week so why not stay a couple extra days and fly back to Joburg with Wade? Done. I changed my ticket to depart June 6. A few days later I was asked to work a sectional meeting in Nairobi so my trip was extended even longer. Jeff and I were excited my visit had gone from one week to almost three and were praising the Lord for giving us so much time to hang out.
As my trip began changing and we knew we had more time we planned a trip to the coast of Kenya for the weekend before the week-long sectional meeting began. We were both in need of some time away from a large city to relax for a couple of days on the beach.
Little did we know God's purpose for me to be in Kenya at that time would be revealed in Mombasa. The Saturday I would have returned to Joburg Jeff received a call from home with news his cousin had passed away. Jeff was heartbroken over the news as his cousin, Sidda, one of his closest family members.
Over the next few days God continually impressed on my heart He had planned for me to be with Jeff in one of the toughest moments he'll endure while on the field. Jeff was facing something we were all told to prepare for before we departed the States. I felt totally inadequate to help someone during such an emotional time but the Lord reminded me I had to put aside my own concerns to walk with Jeff as he grieved because He chose me to be part of His perfect plan at that time.
Through it all God showed His provision by allowing me to be with Jeff during those days and made His sweet presence known daily through tears, laughter, talking with family in the States and especially when we asked the Lord to specifically reveal to Jeff a way he could honor Sidda and be part of the celebration of her life. Almost immediately after praying Jeff's brother Jason sent a message asking Jeff to write the eulogy for the service.
Dealing with the loss of someone close to you is tough especially when you're on the other side of the world from your family. But as God showed Jeff and I, His plan is always perfect and nothing like this happens without Christ being glorified. I love my brother Jeff and his family and I continue praying for them as their hearts are still hurting over their loss. It humbled me to the point of leaning solely on Christ my Savior to be able help my friend through His pain.
Thank you Lord for your mercy and grace. Thank you Lord for the years you blessed Jeff and his family with Sidda. Thank you Lord for surrounding her family in Alabama with people who will love on them and encourage them during the difficult times. Thank you Lord for speaking to Jeff's heart and for his obedience to stay in Africa where you have called him when he wanted to be with his family in the States. And I humbly thank you Lord for your provision and choosing me to be where I was, when I was, and reminding me I can do nothing without walking hand-in-hand with you. In your name, Jesus, be glorified. Amen.
Jeff and I on the beach in Mombasa, Kenya