Have You Ever Been Afraid to Do Something Because of Fear?
God had a unique and sure way to deal with my fear… and the answer came through participation on a short-term mission trip to Benín, Africa in November, 2021.
I had been to Africa once with Mission Partners for Christ. In October 2019, we had served in Ethiopia. Then there was a long pause on travel due to Covid. The Benín trip would be the first mission trip opportunity post-Covid, and I was so ready to serve again. But…there was a lot of FEAR about this trip.
In the forefront, was a fear of COVID and what that could mean for any of our team members. At that time, the travel rules were very strict, and if someone acquired Covid while in Africa, there was a likelihood that we would have to stay in Benín in quarantine, and I felt uneasy about all of the unknowns about this possibility. Also, I had some fear of Benín due to this country being the origin of voodoo. Honestly, I just didn’t have a good understanding of voodoo and if it could potentially impact or harm us.
I had prayed about the trip for weeks, and with every prayer, God’s answer was a solid YES, time after time!
God Used Unique Ways to Speak to Me
A few times, I would receive a text from a friend with a Bible verse about a specific fear or worry I had expressed to the Lord while praying about the trip earlier that very day. He used friends reaching out to me, saying they had been prompted by God to send me a note, text, call or Bible verse.
I even reached out to a Missions Pastor, to ask for some advice. He had very wise words for me. He said, “Stop staying in safe places…How can you be effective when you just choose to stay safe?” So I committed to the trip, literally, on the last day of the deadline to sign up.
Then the fear actually became worse. There were times, I would cry and feel so anxious, every time I thought of the trip. It was a crazy spiritual attack and I was so aware of that, but it was still ongoing. So I began to fight back! I began to speak the name of Jesus out loud, just so the enemy had to flee. I also began to perceive that God was about to do something huge, if the enemy was trying so hard to discourage me from going!
Volunteering in Benin
The actual mission trip itself in Benín was an amazing and stretching experience, as each mission trip that I have served on, has been.
We set up medical clinics in 4 remote villages and treated 2,155 people in 4 days, and 243 people accepted Christ!!
We had an incredible team consisting of 10 from America, and over 40 African partners who served with us. We worked long hours, we loved people deeply, by God’s grace -we served well, and we gave until we were empty. I remember a team member on the last day saying, “I don’t have anything left in me to give…I laid it all out there.” That was the common sentiment amongst all of us.
Then we got on the plane to head home, and right away I began asking God to fill me back up again so that I can do this over and over again.
So Where Did The Fear Go?
Do you realize that not once while we were in Benín did I experience fear? My fear stopped exactly 3 days before we left.
And it was replaced with a deep sense of pure peace. Just calmness. Assurance in the Lord. Security. A knowing. Like the saying goes, “when you know, you know.” I knew deep down that we were going WITH God.
I fully believe that the prayers of people around me helped to wash that fear away, as many, many were praying for us! Also, just the process of feeding your faith and starving DOUBT. Why should I ever doubt or worry?
In talking with others who have a desire to serve on a mission trip abroad, but haven’t yet, I commonly hear people say that they “don’t know if they have what it takes?” Many say they’re hesitant because of how far the travel to Africa is? Is it safe there? Where will we stay? Concern over clean water and food? All of these are natural questions….but is this fear or concern enough to stop you?
Now, let me share what happened AFTER the trip to Benín!
God Works Powerfully Through Medical Missions
Job 42:5 has come to mean a whole lot to me since returning from Benín. It says, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have SEEN YOU!”
To me, this verse speaks about the conversion of knowing God with our HEAD, to knowing God with our HEART. Truly experiencing Him.
Due to our work in Benín, God has opened many doors for the Gospel. Over the past 11 months, since we served there, many new churches have been planted. There have been so many open doors for the spread of the Gospel. Clean water wells have been placed in 2 villages that we served in. Latrines have been placed in all 4 villages where we served. Missionaries and pastors have been encouraged and supported in their Gospel mission work. We have even seen 3 of the pastors receive motorbikes to enable them in their missionary work of spreading the Gospel!
To be able to fully comprehend ALL of the ways in which God is working things out for HIS purposes and HIS people in Benín, is what has allowed me a greater perspective of what these short-term trips are all about.
Some people will ask, “What can you really accomplish in one week?” The truth is, that the team is only on the ground for one week, but God is not working on our timetable! He is the master and creator of time. His word tells us “A day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). So we may have eyes to see the perspective of what we need to do in one week, but God is not bound by that week.
He is setting a lot of things in motion during that week while we are serving, but really, that is just the launch pad for what is coming in the weeks, months and years to follow. As I have often reflected on this trip, I literally am in AWE of how God used that week in Benín to stir up the Gospel in those 4 villages, and beyond.
And I have only mentioned what God did in Benin…I haven’t even talked about the spiritual growth that has happened to me since this experience, which has been, quite literally, a change in the trajection of my own Christian walk. I know now, why the enemy was stirring up fear. It is so obvious to me now. If he can stop us from going, he will do anything in his power to do so.
There have been several times since the Benín trip, that God has asked me to do something out of my comfort zone, and it only takes a brief reflection back on this trip, to give me the courage to say YES, and remember God’s faithfulness, on so many levels.
I want to encourage anyone who is considering going on a short-term trip abroad, just say yes!
Take a step of faith, and just trust the Lord to work things out. Nothing is too much in front of God, and there is absolutely nothing He cannot do!
Can’t wait to see you on the next trip!
– Rosemary Fisher, MSN, RN, FNP (Guest Blogger)