If you had told me three years ago that I would soon spend three weeks in Liberia, Africa I would have laughed so hard at you. First, I would have asked you where exactly Liberia is located on the continent, and then I would have told you I have absolutely no desire to go to Africa. I probably would have gone as far as saying that even if the trip was paid for there would be no chance that I would go. My reasoning would mostly have been out of fear. Fear of catching some terrible disease would’ve been near the top, however I was mostly fearful of leaving my comfort zone. It’s ironic how much God can teach to a person in three years, and it’s even more amazing how much God can teach someone over three weeks. God opened the door for me to go to Liberia for three weeks this summer and I can honestly say I have never learned so much in a three-week time period before. During these past three weeks God has used many different people and situations to teach me more things about life than I ever would have imagined. One major theme that I found was that God was continually teaching me how to get out of my comfort zone.
My comfort zone is something that God expanded on greatly during these last three weeks. The first step was actually taken a few months ago when I accepted the opportunity that MOAM gave me to go to Africa. When we arrived at the village my comfort zone expanded again as I began to share a small house with three people that I had just met face to face for the first time earlier in the day. God continued to expand my comfort zone the next day as I began eating the food served in the dining halls, and meeting/trying to remember the names of the sixty-seven different children whom I would be working with. Over the course of the next three weeks he was continually expanding my comfort zone by: helping me find unique ways to excite and motivate the children to participate in sports that they did not want any part of, guiding me to find questions that would help even the shyest children to relax and open up so we could have conversations about their life, and giving me the courage to share with a few different children the bridge illustration that shows every human’s need for God. Most of these situations and were obstacles that I had never dealt with before. None of these things were easy for me to do. However, I have learned that God can work with and use someone who may not be the best or most talented, as long as they are willing to trust him.
To leave your comfort zone is not something that is ever easy to do. However, I do not believe that it is possible to continue to grow our faith in Christ if we only serve God in ways that we are comfortable with. In my experience God has grown me the most in my faith in him when he has made me leave my comfort zone. These past three weeks are a giant testimony to this. Getting out of my comfort zone and going to Liberia for three weeks was very hard. I am comforted by the knowledge that God holds all the new friends I have made in his hands and that he has great plans for each of their lives. I hope and pray that God will continue to bring each of us out of our comfort zones so that he can continue to help us grow in him.
Ben Gonzales, University of Florida Men's Basketball Manager
To God Be the Glory!
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