Africa: Everyone Can Go! By: Debby Sefton

Two years ago, I planned to go on a mission trip to South Africa with Saint Louis Christian College. It would be a five week trip designed for mission interns. My son had previously journeyed on this trip and I was excited this could be available for me to experience as well. I weeded my way through the plans, got permission to be gone from work for an extended period of time, and gave the Professor my “yes” that I could go. By the time I and several others had responded back to him, the airline tickets he had on “hold” were no longer on “hold.” He had to scramble to find the airline tickets he needed, and was able to secure 10 to fly together and I was the 11th person. I could still go, but that would mean me flying in alone, and then taking a smaller plane to another area. We were not comfortable with that journey for a “first time” traveler to another country, so my dream dissolved at that point.

Over the next year, I started seeing my niece (Raelenna Ferguson) post things on Facebook about Africa. How Jeremy and her were excited to go on this missions trip, would be leaving their young children for 10 days, and going to love on little children in orphanages. I didn’t even remember it was Swaziland they were traveling to, just that they were going to AFRICA!!! She started mentioning different things about a fundraiser, a baby home. etc. Still all just random thoughts in my mind as I read her posts. When my husband told me Raelenna had raised $125,000 to build a baby home – THAT got my attention, and I was curious to know what this was all about.

As leader of our community outreach ministry, in the church where I work, I was interested in “filling a spot” with someone to share a global mission. At this point I had asked Raelenna if I might be able to go this trip. I didn’t know if just “anyone” could go and I wondered if I physically could hand it. I have rheumatoid arthritis for 30+ years now, and I could not go on the mission trips, where there was a possibility of sleeping on the floor, walking great distances, doing building projects, etc.

I decided to obtain more information that I personally wanted.   Raelenna was also given the opportunity to share this ministry at our church on a Sunday morning. Raelenna agreed to come and I was excited. I “knew” I was going to Swaziland, and she would give our crowd some food for growth in the area of global missions. In the three minutes, Raelenna shared how God did some powerful things. She had a crowd surrounding her after church buying the HOW jewelry, Janine’s books, and asking how they could find out more about the trip.

Soon we had 9 people committed to traveling to Swaziland from Christ’s Church of Effingham, wondering for the next 9 months what we needed to know, plan, and expect. How FUN!!! We got our Hep A and B shots, exchanged our money, got packed and away we went. Never did I dream the impact that this trip would make on my life!

The highlights were being surrounded by people from all over the world. We fellowshiped, broke bread, and served with people from all over the United States, Canada, and Taiwan. It was a multicultural trip before we ever made it to Swaziland. Once we made it there, our accommodations were very safe and clean to where there was no worry with my low immune system.

But when we got to the community, that is where IT truly started. I saw people who lived a very simple life, had to walk miles for water, got to eat once a day if they were blessed, were conscious of having clean and bright colored clothes in this dry dusty land, and had strong “community” among themselves. They are very aware of who God is!!! Yes, these people knew God and knew it was HE they could depend on!

Janine just spent a weekend with us in Effingham, Illinois speaking about her story and Heart for Africa to various groups. I heard her mention several times, these people need discipleship. It is not about evangelism as much as it is about discipleship. They are ripe for the harvest of learning about how God wants us to live. What a difference we can make if we are willing to go and “do life” with this people and let God’s word and our example of living for Jesus penetrate their lives. Yes I’ve got IT, “the bug” that my Dad was afraid I might have after he read Janine’s book, while I was in Swaziland.

I don’t know where my personal experience and the love of these people might lead from here, but I do know that as of now I cannot imagine a year without traveling to Swaziland to see my new friends in Christ. And I want EVERYONE to know that it is possible for them to GO and have a chance to experience the beautiful faces and lives of God’s creation in the country of Swaziland!

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