Preparing Hearts & Minds

By Katrina Smith |

“Wow! Africa?! Aren’t you afraid?!”

Fear is an emotion felt by all. It is normal to feel or experience fear, but it’s what we do with that fear that is the real issue. In 2009, I took a leap of faith and traveled to Uganda a country, place and people I had fallen in love with many years before. While there I became very ill and for the next month and a half my health was an issue. It was a very hard and taxing ordeal. Over the years I have often shared about my trip, I would share how amazing and wonderful it was but, how I ended the trip in really bad health. This wording and the way I thought about the country and continent of Africa became a fear, not for safety physically, but for my health. Even though I still felt my heart burning for Africa and wanting to love the people there, I was paralyzed by that fear.

In the summer of 2015 after reading a book called “Love, Skip Jump: Start Living the Adventure of Yes” by Shelene Bryan a book about saying, “yes” to God, I felt a move of my heart and the Spirit saying it’s time to say yes again. So when my friend John mentioned I should come with his team the following summer to Zimbabwe my heart leapt. I knew this was the “yes” God had been urging me to. This became more clear as I learned what this trip was about. I have always loved working with children and youth.  They bring such joy to my heart, and when I was informed that the time spent there was going to be about building relationships and pouring out love and encouragement on these orphans and those involved with Hands of Hope, I knew I would  once again be traveling to Africa. This time my heart didn’t clench in fear. Instead it jumped with excitement and anticipation of what was to come.

We are now so close to being there, and I cannot wait to meet the beautiful children we have been praying for in person. Hearing their stories and getting to know their hearts; to love and encourage them, and learn from them, is all I have dreamed about and been excited about since I first said, “Yes”. I know this trip is going to be life changing, and I can’t wait!

People ask me, “Why Africa, that is so far away. Isn’t that scary?!” There are so many reasons “Why Africa” and why I would choose to leave the safety and comfort of my own home and go so far away. The main reason is because everyone deserves love, and to know they are worthy of love, a love that is so deep and real it has the power to move mountains. Love that breaks chains, and brings hope and healing. An unconditional, never failing love; a love like no other.

So fear? No, I don’t have it anymore. The emotion that I carry most is joy. Joy, because I am going to have the opportunity to meet these amazing human beings. Joy in knowing that my God is bigger and stronger than any fear, and He is with us every step of the way. Finally, joy in knowing I get to share about this trip, and all these amazing children with so many people; those same people who say, “Why Africa?” and just maybe, help change their fear of the unknown into joy.